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Detail of a portrait of Sir Francis Walsingham, circa 1587, by John de Critz. NPG, London. Queen Elizabeth's Spymaster
Sir Francis Walsingham, brilliant spy master to Queen Elizabeth I.
This painting is of Queen Elizabeth’s spy master, the ruthless Francis Walsingham. Walsingham ran a vast network of spies and secret informers, who helped bring about the execution of Elizabeth's arch rival, Mary Queen of Scots, and played a key role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But Elizabeth was strangely reluctant to fund his secret service, and Walsingham was forced to sink much of his personal wealth into the operation.