Sir Francis Walsingham

By Wes Weems

Sir Francis Walsingham (1530-90), a strict protestant, left England at the age of 23 and entered a self induced exile in the European mainland. During his exile he studied vigorously, educating himself in, among other things, the language and politics of the most powerful European countries. Upon his return to England, after the death of Mary I and after the ascension of Elizabeth I to the throne, his education on foreign soil made him one of the foremost experts in foreign relations and diplomacy of his time. Sir William Cecil was partly responsible for his return to England's political sphere. He became one of Queen Elizabeth's most trusted advisors; so trusted in fact that Walsingham found himself in the unique position of being able to question the temperamental Queen Elizabeth and still keep his political position and influence. Elizabeth and Walsingham, both temperamental people, would become notorious for their frequent barbed arguments. One of his most significant political accomplishments was the establishment of one of the first organized espionage groups. Walsingham valued information above all else and was well equipped with the cunning needed to excel in the world of international espionage. He served Queen Elizabeth as a advisor until his death.