Little Bits of History

Plot Goes Awry

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 7, 2014
Thomas Howard

Thomas Howard

September 7, 1571: The Duke of Norfolk is arrested for an assassination plot against the Queen. Thomas Howard was the son of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. As a child, he was tutored by John Foxe, a Protestant clergyman and author. Howard’s father predeceased his grandfather so on the elder man’s death, Howard became the Fourth Duke of Norfolk. He was also the second cousin of Queen Elizabeth I through her maternal grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Howard. He was trusted with public office even though his family had some Catholic tendencies (despite his having been raised Protestant).

Roberto di Ridolfi was an international banker from Florence. Because of his occupation, he was able to travel without drawing undue notice and did so between Brussels, Rome, and Madrid. The Duke had three wives in his young life. They were heiresses and each left land and monies to their bereaved husband as they died. They also left him with several children. He was the wealthiest landowner in the country after his third wife’s death. A fourth wife was looked for and Mary, Queen of Scots seemed possible. Mary and Elizabeth were not friendly, in fact Mary was imprisoned for nearly two decades. The Ridolfi plot was set to overthrow Elizabeth, have Howard and Mary marry and restore the throne to the Catholics.

Elizabeth’s intelligence network got wind of an assassination plot. Spain’s ambassador to England, John Hawkins, brought information regarding the plot his government had managed to obtain. He brought this to Elizabeth so that she might arrest the plotters. The Grand Duke of Tuscany also sent a private message to the Queen after he, too, had learned of a plot against her. Charles Baillie, Ridolfi’s messenger, was arrested at Dover. He was carrying compromising letters and under torture, revealed the plot. On this day, Howard was also arrested and sent to the Tower. Ridolfi was not in England when all this took place and escaped reprisals. He never again stepped foot in the country. He became a Florentine senator in 1600. He lived until 1612 and died at the age of 80.

Howard was executed for treason in 1572 and is buried at the Church of St. Peter ad Vincula within the walls of the Tower of London. Mary was not considered to be part of this plot against the Queen, but instead was implicated in the Babington Plot. She was executed in 1587 and wished to be buried in France. Elizabeth did not allow this and left the corpse sealed in a lead coffin until it could be buried at Peterborough Cathedral about six months later. Elizabeth managed to hold on to her head and the throne until she died, childless and without a clear succession to the throne, in 1603 at the age 69.

God has given such brave soldiers to this Crown that, if they do not frighten our neighbours, at least they prevent us from being frightened by them.

Do not tell secrets to those whose faith and silence you have not already tested.

God forgive you, but I never can.

Brass shines as fair to the ignorant as gold to the goldsmiths. – all from Elizabeth I

Also on this day: Ann and Andy – In 1915, a patent is granted for the making of a rag doll.
She’s Gone – In 1911, Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested for an art theft.
Not Soccer – In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened.
Get Out – In 1652, the Guo Huaiyi Rebellion began.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: