The Throckmorton Plot


The Catholic son of the disgraced Chief Justice Sir John Throckmorton, Francis Throckmorton spends the early 1580s on the Continent. He then returns to act as a go-between for Mary Stuart and Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish Ambassador in London.

Throckmorton was arrested in Nov 1583 by Sir Francis Walsinghamís agents, and a list of Catholic conspirators and details of ports to be used in a possible invasion were found.  His brother Thomas Throckmorton, along with his brothers-in-law Sir William Catesby and Sir Thomas Tresham, were amongst the leading rebels. Under torture he revealed a plot to invade England with the help of foreign troops and place Mary on the throne, naming several allies in his confession. Throckmorton was executed and Mendoza was sent back to Spain threatening to return with an army.

Panicky Londoners knelt in the streets to give thanks for the Queenís delivery, and the Privy Council, her executive body, convinced Parliament to pass the Bond of Association in 1584, calling on all Englishmen to take an oath to seek out and kill anyone plotting to murder the Queen within the realm and without.

Mary Stuart was also shown a copy of the document so that she could be left in no doubt that she would be engulfed in the wave of vengeance that would sweep England if any harm came to Elizabeth. With grim satisfaction, Walsingham instructed her custodian to have "some good regard. . . both to her countenance and speech after the perusing thereof", but if he had hoped that Mary would be abashed to see what primitive passions had been aroused in the name of the Queen's safety, he was in for a disappointment. Far from being discomfited, with typical aplomb Mary appended her own name to the document.

Again, Parliament and Council believed the Queen of Scots should be executed. Again, Elizabeth refused to admit that Mary had been plotting against her.

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