Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents episode 3: Elizabeth I is dead and King James of Scotland travels south to take the throne at the invitation of Robert Cecil. Meanwhile, John Gerard, a Catholic priest who has dedicated his life to the destruction of the Protestant state that developed in Elizabeth’s England, has escaped and made contact with a splinter cell in the Catholic underground containing an extremist called Guy Fawkes, who has a plan to blow up parliament with the king inside.
Cecil hears about the gunpowder plot, but is unaware of when and how they will strike, and his investigation is hampered as he’s also trying to manage King James, who has a wildly ambitious idea of unifying Scotland and England in a new kingdom of Great Britain.
Elizabeth I’s Secret Agents episode 3
James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death in 1625. The kingdoms of Scotland and England were individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments, judiciaries, and laws, though both were ruled by James in personal union.
James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a great-great-grandson of Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland, and thus a potential successor to all three thrones. He succeeded to the Scottish throne at the age of thirteen months, after his mother was compelled to abdicate in his favour. Four different regents governed during his minority, which ended officially in 1578, though he did not gain full control of his government until 1583.
In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died childless. He continued to reign in all three kingdoms for 22 years, a period known as the Jacobean era, until his death. After the Union of the Crowns, he based himself in England (the largest of the three realms) from 1603, returning to Scotland only once, in 1617, and styled himself “King of Great Britain and Ireland”. He was a major advocate of a single parliament for England and Scotland. In his reign, the Plantation of Ulster and English colonisation of the Americas began.
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury was an English statesman noted for his direction of the government during the Union of the Crowns, as Tudor England gave way to Stuart rule (1603). Salisbury served as the Secretary of State of England (1596–1612) and Lord High Treasurer (1608–1612), succeeding his father as Queen Elizabeth I’s Lord Privy Seal and remaining in power during the first nine years of King James I’s reign until his own death.
The principal discoverer of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Robert Cecil remains a controversial historic figure as it is still debated at what point he first learned of the plot and to what extent he acted as an agent provocateur.
In 1584, Cecil sat for the first time in the House of Commons, representing his birthplace, the borough of Westminster, and was re-elected in 1586. He was a backbencher, never making a speech until 1593, after having been appointed a Privy Councillor. In 1588 he accompanied Lord Derby in his mission to the Netherlands to negotiate peace with Spain. He was elected for Hertfordshire in 1589, 1593, 1597 and 1601, was made a Privy Councillor in 1593 and was leader of the Council by 1597.
Following the death of Sir Francis Walsingham in 1590, Burghley acted as Secretary of State, while Cecil took on an increasingly heavy work-load. He was also knighted and subsequently appointed to the Privy Council in 1591, and began to act as Secretary of State in 1589, although his formal appointment came later. He participated in the social life of the royal court, on 15 September 1595 he went hawking with the queen and they caught three partridges, which they gave to Elizabeth Wolley.