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Encyclopedia > Babington Plot
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Walsingham's "Decypherer" forged this cipher postscript to Mary's letter to Babington. It asks Babington to use the—broken—cipher to tell her the names of the conspirators.
Walsingham's "Decypherer" forged this cipher postscript to Mary's letter to Babington. It asks Babington to use the—broken—cipher to tell her the names of the conspirators.

The Babington Plot was the event which most directly led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. This was a second major plot against Elizabeth I of England after the Ridolfi plot. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (575x740, 112 KB)Thomas Phelippes forged cipher postscript to Mary, Queen of Scots letter to Anthony Babington, sourced from UK National Archives article on Mary. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (575x740, 112 KB)Thomas Phelippes forged cipher postscript to Mary, Queen of Scots letter to Anthony Babington, sourced from UK National Archives article on Mary. ... This article is about algorithms for encryption and decryption. ... Mary I of Scotland; known as Mary, Queen of Scots Mary I of Scotland (Mary Stuart or Stewart) (December 8, 1542 – February 8, 1587), better known as Mary, Queen of Scots, was the ruler of Scotland from December 14, 1542 – July 24, 1567. ... In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of persons united in the goal of usurping or overthrowing an established political power. ... Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England, Queen of France (in name only), and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ...

Contents

Mary's Imprisonment

In January 1586,Queen of Scots, found herself in the strictest confinement she had experienced in the eighteen years she had been imprisoned by the English as a result of an increasing number of plots surrounding her. She was confined to Chartley Hall in Staffordshire, placed under strict observation, under the control of Sir Amyas Paulet. Paulet was a Puritan, and therefore was rather biased against Mary. He made her life even more miserable. Having been instructed to watch the comings and goings of servants and visitors to Mary, he stopped all open correspondence. Sir Amias Paulet (1532-1588) was the son of Hugh Paulet and Philippa Pollard. ...


Because of increasing concern surrounding Queen Elizabeth's safety, Parliament passed an act which provided for the execution of anyone who would benefit from the death of the Queen if a plot against her was discovered. Whilst Mary had escaped formal reprimand as she had not actively participated in a plot, now she could be executed if a plot was initiated that would lead to her acceeding the throne of England.


Although Elizabeth was reluctant to act against Mary, some within the English government feared her status as a figurehead for English Catholics. Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I's Secretary of State and a strict Protestant, realised that if she could be implicated in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth, then Mary could be executed and the Catholic threat diminished. He infiltrated much of Mary's correspondence network. Taking advantage of Mary's lack of communication, he instituted a system for secret messages to be passed to the Queen. Francis Walsingham by John de Critz (detail) Sir Francis Walsingham (c. ... In the United Kingdom, a Secretary of State is a Cabinet Minister in charge of a Government Department (though not all departments are headed by a Secretary of State, e. ...


The Plot

It is named after the chief conspirator Anthony Babington (1561–1586), a young Catholic nobleman from Derbyshire. John Ballard, a Jesuit priest and Catholic agent, persuaded Babington to become involved in a plot to overthrow and/or murder Queen Elizabeth I of England, replacing her on the throne with the Roman Catholic Queen of Scotland. Anthony Babingtons coat of arms Anthony Babington (October 24, 1561 – September 20, 1586) was convicted of plotting the assassination of Elizabeth I of England and conspiring with the imprisoned Mary I of Scotland. ... Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. ... John Ballard (d. ... Seal of the Society of Jesus. ... Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) was Queen of England, Queen of France (in name only), and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ...


Walsingham ensured that a line of communication was opened up between him and double agent Gilbert Gifford, who had been trained as a Catholic priest, to act as an intermediary between him and the English Queen. A double agent pretends to spy on a target organization on behalf of a controlling organization, but in fact is loyal to the target organization. ...


In July 1586, Gifford delivered his first message from Mary to Anthony Babington. The letter from the imprisoned queen said that there were reported supporters of her in Paris. The reply to Mary from Babington said that Babington had a hundred followers to assist in delivering Mary from Elizabeth, and the conspiracy had six personal friends of Babington who were carrying out Mary's release. In the message, Babington, a Catholic, betrayed his feelings about Elizabeth and described her as an usurper, claiming that he was free from obedience to Elizabeth as a result of her excommunication. Elizabeth had been excommunicated by Pope Pius V in 1570, and many Catholics in England believed they were released from duty to the excommunicated queen of England as a result. Saint Pius V, né Antonio Ghislieri, from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri (January 17, 1504 – May 1, 1572) was pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. ... Events January 23 - The assassination of regent James Stewart, Earl of Moray throws Scotland into civil war February 25 - Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth I of England with the bull Regnans in Excelsis May 20 - Abraham Ortelius issues the first modern atlas. ...


The messages between Mary and Babington were encoded using symbols for some words and phrases and letter substitutions (23 symbols for letter substitutions and 36 characters for words and phrases). The messages were smuggled in and out through beer barrel stoppers where a nearby brewer delivered and picked up the barrels. Queen Mary's servants would retrieve the messages from the beer barrels and place messages back into the hollow of the beer barrel stopper.


Walsingham already had the conspiracy identified and was attempting to find out the identities of all six conspirators who formed the inner circle of the plot. Gilbert Gifford, who delivered the messages to and from Queen Mary, was a double agent, actually working for Walsingham since 1585. Each message between Mary and Babington was first read by Walsingham, copied by Walsingham's spy school, and sent to its destination intact. Walsingham's spy school decoded each message by trial and error by starting with letter substitutions and using the frequency of common characters (see frequency analysis) until a readable text was found, and then the rest was guessed at by the message context from what was decoded until the entire cipher was understood. After the cipher was found the messages were read the same day they were copied. Each message was returned in good enough condition that it was not evident that it had been read and copied. In mathematics, physics and signal processing, frequency analysis is a method to decompose a function, wave, or signal into its frequency components so that it is possible to have the frequency spectrum. ...


The correspondence between Mary and Babington was about the conspiracy. Without the endorsement of Queen Mary the plot would fail, since the supporters would have no future crown to support. In July 1586, Babington proposed to Mary that Elizabeth be assassinated, and he referred to an invasion by Spain — King Philip II had promised to send a military expedition to England when Queen Elizabeth was no longer in power, and had a plan for Mary's release from her imprisonment. The July 1586 letter also described plots to kill Walsingham and Lord Burghley, Elizabeth's chief minister. Sir Francis Walsingham thus had the evidence he needed, but he needed the identities of the six conspirators. Philip II (Spanish: Felipe II de Habsburgo; Portuguese: Filipe I) (May 21, 1527 – September 13, 1598) was the first official King of Spain from 1556 until 1598, King of Naples and Sicily from 1554 until 1598, King of England (as King-consort of Mary I) from 1554 to 1558, King... William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (13 September 1520 – 4 August 1598), was an English politician, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign (17 November 1558–24 March 1603), and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. ...


In Mary's last letter to Babington, in which Mary acknowledged Babington's enterprise, Walsingham had Thomas Phelippes, a cipher and language expert in his employ, forge a postscript asking for the identity of the six conspirators. Babington received the forged postscript and message, but he never replied with the names of the conspirators, as he was arrested while seeking a passport in order to see King Philip of Spain. The identities of the six conspirators were nevertheless discovered, and they were taken prisoner by August 15, 1586. August 15 is the 227th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (228th in leap years), with 138 days remaining. ... 1586 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. ...


The Babington plot was one of the four most important known plots against Elizabeth, the four being:

  • The Ridolfi Plot.
  • The Throckmorton Plot.
  • The Parry Plot.
  • The Babington Plot.

This does not cite its references or sources. ...

Arrests and Executions

The conspirators were sentenced to death for treason and conspiracy against the crown, and were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. This first group included Babington, Ballard, Chidiock Tichborne, Thomas Salisbury, Robert Barnewell, John Savage and Henry Donn. A further seven men, Edward Habington, Charles Tilney, Edward Jones, John Charnock, John Travers, Jerome Bellamy, and Robert Gage, were tried and convicted shortly afterwards. Ballard and Babington were executed on September 20 along with the other men who had been tried with them. Such was the horror of their execution that the queen ordered the second group to be allowed to hang until dead before being disembowelled. Traitor redirects here. ... Seventeenth century print of the execution, by hanging, drawing and quartering, of the members of the Gunpowder plot. ... Chidiock Tichborne (1558–September 20, 1586) is remembered as an English conspirator and poet. ... Thomas Salisbury or Salusbury (c. ... John Savage (born 25 August 1949) is an actor. ... September 20 is the 263rd day of the year (264th in leap years). ...


Queen Mary herself went to trial at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire and denied her part in the plot, but her correspondence was the evidence; therefore, Mary was sentenced to death. However, at no time had Mary given consent of the assassination or overthrow of her cousin. Elizabeth signed her cousin's death warrant, and on February 8 1587, in front of 300 witnesses, Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed. Sir Francis Walsingham, the Queen's spymaster, had saved England from invasion, and saved Queen Elizabeth I from supposed assassination. This may have ended the Babington Plot, but it set a dangerous precedent for the future. For years, Elizabeth had dragged her feet about ending Mary's life, much to the chagrin of her advisors; they were so busy worrying about her life that they could not see things logically as she did. Elizabeth's stubbornness to execute her cousin was well founded; she realized that once a sovereign became answerable for the common man's crimes, the belief that a king's or queen's actions were accountable only to God would be undercut and ultimately challenge the structure upon which her authority was founded. Fotheringhay is a village in Northamptonshire, England. ... Northamptonshire (abbreviated Northants or Nhants) is a landlocked county in central England with a population of 629,676 (2001 census). ... February 8 is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ...


The story of the Babington Plot is dramatised in the novel Conies in the Hay by Jane Lane. (ISBN 0-7551-0835-3). One episode of Elizabeth R is devoted to the Babington Plot. Jane Lane is a British historical novelist, best known for her books about the Stuart period, such as The Escape of the King and The Escape of the Princess. ... Background - Elizabeth R was a BBC TV drama serial broadcast in six parts on terrestrial channel BBC Two during February to March 1971. ...


See also

The history of cryptography dates back thousands of years. ... Chidiock Tichborne (1558–September 20, 1586) is remembered as an English conspirator and poet. ... Anthony Babingtons coat of arms Anthony Babington (October 24, 1561 – September 20, 1586) was convicted of plotting the assassination of Elizabeth I of England and conspiring with the imprisoned Mary I of Scotland. ... John Ballard (d. ...

References

  • Military Heritage did a feature of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Babington conspiracy (David Alan Johnson, Military Heritage, August 2005, Volume 7, No. 1, p. 20, p. 22, and p. 23), ISSN 1524-8666.

External links

  • Babington Plot at UK National Archives

  Results from FactBites:
 
Luminarium Encyclopedia: Anthony Babington (c. 1561-1586) and the Babington Plot (708 words)
ANTHONY BABINGTON (1561-1586), English conspirator, son of Henry Babington of Dethick in Derbyshire, and of Mary, daughter of George, Lord Darcy, was born in October 1561, and was brought up secretly a Roman Catholic.
Babington then applied for a passport abroad, for the ostensible purpose of spying upon the refugees, but in reality to organize the foreign expedition and secure his own safety.
Miller, Margaret J. Plot for the Queen: The Babington plot.
Babington Plot - Biocrawler (248 words)
The Babington Plot was the event which most directly led to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
John Ballard, a Jesuit priest and Catholic agent, persuaded Babington to become involved in a plot to overthrow and/or murder Queen Elizabeth I of England, replacing her on the throne with the Roman Catholic Queen of Scotland, who had for many years been imprisoned at Fotheringhay in the east of England.
The story of the Babington Plot is dramatised in the novel "Conies in the Hay" by Jane Lane.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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