Babington Plot - The Plot

The Plot

The plot grew out of two originally separate plans:

  • the first involved a Spanish invasion of England with the purpose of deposing Elizabeth and replacing her with Mary;
  • the second was a plot by English Catholics to assassinate Elizabeth.

However, both plots were hatched under the guidance of two of Mary's chief agents in Europe, Charles Paget and Thomas Morgan, the latter being Mary's chief cipher clerk for all her French correspondence. Philip II of Spain and the Spanish ambassador to England Don Bernardino de Mendoza had been trying to re-establish Spanish influence in English affairs which had been considerably diminished by the death of Mary I of Spain in 1558, not the least through various marriage proposals to Elizabeth (including by Philip himself, who was Mary I's widower). As it became evident that Elizabeth was not inclined to accept such proposals, the only alternative would be to depose her and replace her with someone more receptive to their interests, and Mary was the best candidate. Ever since the issuance of the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis by Pope Pius V on February 25, 1570, Philip was prepared to assist English Catholics who plotted to overthrow the English queen. It was thus with the support of the papacy and Spain that Morgan and Paget sought to find those in England who would be prepared to meet this objective.

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