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The Babington plot, which was the undoing of Mary, Queen of Scots, was one of several conspiracies against Elizabeth I that were uncovered.

The Ridolfi Plot

In 1571 a plot was discovered involving Philip II of Spain, Pope Pius V and the Duke of Norfolk, as well as Mary’s advisor, the Bishop of Ross, and Mary herself. At its heart was Roberto Ridolfi, a Florentine banker based in London. Ridolfi traveled to Rome and Madrid to raise support for an invasion of eastern England and an uprising of Catholics, which would be followed by the marriage of the Duke of Norfolk to Mary, Queen of Scots, who would seize the English throne. When Ridolfi’s messenger was arrested at Dover, incriminating letters were seized and Norfolk was arrested, tried for high treason and found guilty. He was executed on Tower Hill on 2 June 1572. Ridolfi was abroad when the plot was uncovered and escaped this fate. Elizabeth was reluctant to authorise the execution of a fellow queen, but Mary was kept under ever-tighter surveillance.

The Throckmorton Plot

Francis Throckmorton was arrested in November 1583 by Sir Francis Walsingham’s agents. Under torture he revealed a plot to invade England and place Mary on the throne, naming several allies in his confession. Throckmorton was executed and Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador, was sent back to Spain. This conspiracy was one of the reasons the symbolic Bond of Association was devised in 1584 to protect Elizabeth’s life against all threats from enemies within the realm and without. Again, Parliament and Council believed the Queen of Scots should be executed. Again, Elizabeth refused to admit that Mary had been plotting against her.

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The Babington plot  
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