In the late sixteenth century, England and Spain were at war. At stake was England’s religious future: would the Protestant reformation, started in England by Henry VIII in the 1530s, continue, or would Catholicism be reestablished as England’s state religion through Spanish military might? The major battles of the Anglo-Spanish war are famous — most notably the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 — but these battles were just one aspect of this ideological struggle.
In this talk, Jonathan Roche explores the shadowy world of spies, double agents, codebreakers, and agents provocateur to reveal the secret struggle for England’s religious and political future which also occurred. He shows how both England and Spain developed extensive espionage network and that the intelligence these networks gathered was integral in shaping the conflict.
This lecture evokes an era of surveillance, paranoia, plots, and the perpetual threat of invasion; an era when the right piece of intelligence could have changed England’s future forever.
Jonathan Roche is a British-Spanish Society scholar. PHD researcher University of Nottingham