Royal Oak Lecture: Ciphers, Secrets, and Spies in the Elizabethan Age
with Carol Ann Lloyd
The Elizabethan era (1558-1603) is often depicted as the “Golden Age” in England’s history—an era of great exploration and military victories in which Queen Elizabeth I is represented in sumptuous clothing and jewels. But the reality, which included religious conflicts that tore families apart; political challenges to Elizabeth’s authority; high levels of poverty and crime; and vulnerability to foreign invasion, was far grimmer. The Queen was considered a Protestant heretic by the rulers of Europe and numerous plots were hatched to dethrone her and replace her with Catholic Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth’s closest courtiers tried to protect her. William Cecil (later Lord Burghley) was the first to oversee the gathering of intelligence and was aided by Francis Walsingham, another of Elizabeth's most loyal ministers known as the "Spymaster.” Walsingham's network of clandestine agents moved throughout England and Europe using their contacts and skills in navigating court politics to safeguard their Queen. They unearthed a series of threats, including one led by an invasion of priests who had been trained abroad and were sent to prepare England for a Catholic rebellion. The priests scattered throughout the country and were hidden in “priest-holes” by Catholic families in places such as Baddesley Clinton and Coughton Court in Warwickshire. Other houses involved in this period of intrigue include Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, and Scotney Castle in Kent—all National Trust houses.
Carol Ann Lloyd will describe this tumultuous time with its secret plots, intercepted and decoded messages, and assassination attempts. She will explore dark corners of Elizabethan English history and reveal how the ability to control information became the most potent tool of the realm.
Carol Ann Lloyd is a popular speaker and author who specializes in Early Modern History, particularly English royal history, the Tudors, and Shakespeare. She has enjoyed speaking audiences across the country about Spies in the Tudor Court, Henry VIII and his Six Wives, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, the Wars of the Roses, Jane Austen, Mothers of the Monarchs, and Shakespeare. She is a popular speaker for Smithsonian, Royal Oak Foundation, Agecroft Hall, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University, TEDx, and numerous community venues. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and holds graduate degrees in Education from the University of Virginia and English from the University of Utah. The former Manager of Visitor Education of Folger Shakespeare Library, Carol Ann now takes interactive Shakespeare programs into schools. She also delivers corporate communication workshops for organizations in the Washington, DC area and is the author of Building Relationships, One Conversation at a Time: A Guide for Work and Home. Carol Ann is currently writing a book about the Tudors and her Great Courses program about conversations will be released in spring 2020. She loves traveling to London and experiencing history up close and personal.