Sir Francis Walsingham, English Secretary of State 1532-1590

Sir Francis Walsingham was born into a well-connected family in 1532. When his father died two years later, his mother Joyce Denny, remarried Sir John Carey, brother-in-law of Mary Boleyn, who was Elizabeth I’s aunt. He studied at King’s College, Cambridge. After travelling in Europe, he decided to become a lawyer and, in 1552, enrolled […]

John Erskine, 1st and 22nd Earl of Mar (17th Earl) d. 1572

Note: The numbering of the Earls of Mar causes confusion. There were two titles, the ancient earldom of Mar, which passed through the female line, and a title originally created for Lord James Stewart on his marriage. When Lord James became Earl of Moray, John Erskine received the new Mar Earldom, but it passed only […]

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, 1535-1578

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell was a ladies’ man, powerfully attractive to women; he had a string of mistresses, and was noted as an able and swash-buckling soldier. He was a person of strong language and sexual appetite, although by repute he was not averse to homosexual relationships and enjoyed anal sex. He was […]

Francis II, King of France 1544-1560

Catherine de Medici was aged twenty-four and had been married to Henry II of France for ten years, before she at last conceived a child. In desperation she had turned to a Doctor, Jean Fernel, for advice. No one knows what he said, but he proposed a solution to the problem said to involve a […]