Elizabeth I came to the throne at a time of insecurity and unrest. Rivals threatened her reign; England was a Protestant island, isolated in a sea of Catholic countries. Spain plotted an invasion, but Elizabeth's Secretary, Francis Walsingham, was prepared to do whatever it took to protect her.
He ran a network of agents in England and Europe who provided him with information about invasions or assassination plots. He recruited likely young men and 'turned' others. He encourage Elizabeth to make war against the Catholic Irish rebels, with extreme brutality and oversaw the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
The Queen's Agent is a story of secret agents, cryptic codes and ingenious plots, set in a turbulent period of England's history. It is also the story of a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the threatened English state.
British historian Cooper's biography of Elizabethan spymaster Francis Walsingham is as thrilling and suspenseful as any modern spy novel. Plumbing both primary and secondary sources, Cooper deftly sets Walsingham's life and accomplishments in their historical context, from his birth in the 1530s to his death in 1590. It was a life that spanned one of the more turbulent periods in English history: during the Tudor era, England moved away from the Roman Catholic Church to establish a separate Church of England, with the monarch as its head. Elizabeth's reign was a time of great insecurity for her and for her government, which had to contend with external threats, as well as the efforts of those working from within to depose Elizabeth in favor of Mary Stuart, the Catholic claimant to the throne. Knowledge was power in Elizabethan England, and Walsingham obtained both with promises of "patronage and profit" for informants. Cooper, an Oxford-trained historian at the University of York, paints a sympathetic portrait of the spymaster, who built up an efficient and effective espionage network out of a "web of relationships." This engaging narrative makes it clear how much England's transformation into a nation-state during the 16th century had to do with Walsingham's intelligence operations.