Thursday, September 30, 2021


The Insurrection

Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1992), p. 147 (on the Babington Plot):
It is hard to say exactly when the 'plot' took shape. In a sense it never did. There was a lot of wild talk — heads filled with wine, with dreams of Catholic rebellion, with an overheated, cultish devotion to the imprisoned Queen Mary — but what shape it had in terms of real action was largely provided by the government itself, whose agents infiltrated the conspiracy not so much to destroy it, as to encourage it. In the words of a priest named Davis, who was with Babington on the night before his capture, the plot was a 'tragedy', in which 'the chief actor and contriver' was Sir Francis Walsingham. This is a partisan view, but on the evidence it is true enough. The Babington affair was a classic piece of Walsingham 'projection': a piece of political theatre, conjured up for reasons of cynical expediency.

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