Pierre Amédée Jaubert

Napoleon's "favourite orientalist adviser and dragoman".


Kim Philby

A high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union.


The Great Locomotive Chase

A military raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War.


Sir Francis Walsingham

Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, popularly remembered as her "spymaster".

Robert Townsend (spy)

One of the most brilliant spies of the the American Revolution.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pierre Amédée Jaubert

Pierre Amédée Emilien Probe Jaubert (3 June 1779 – 28 January 1847) was a French diplomat, academic, orientalist, translator, politician, and traveler. He was Napoleon's "favourite orientalist adviser and dragoman".

William Wickham

William Wickham PC (11 November 1761-22 October 1840) was a British politician who acted as a spymaster during the French Revolution, and was later a Privy Counsellor and Chief Secretary for Ireland.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Indian Political Intelligence Office

The Indian Political Intelligence Office was an Intelligence organisation initially established in England in 1909 in response to the dissemination of anarchist and revolutionary elements of Indian nationalism to different countries in Europe after the liquidation of India House (where it was based between 1905 and 1910) in London in 1909.

Choctaw code talkers

Choctaw code talkers were a group of Choctaw Indians from Oklahoma who pioneered the use of Native American languages as military code.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Robert Townsend

Robert Townsend (November 25, 1753 - March 7, 1838) was a member of the Culper Ring during the American Revolution. With the aliases “Samuel Culper, Jr.” and “723,” Townsend operated in New York City and gathered information as a service to General George Washington.

Abraham Woodhull

Captain Abraham Cooper Woodhull, Esq. (October 7, 1750 – January 23, 1826) was a member of the Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution. After the Revolution, he served as a magistrate and a judge.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Culper Ring

The Culper Ring was a spy ring organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge under the orders of General George Washington in the summer of 1778 during British occupation of New York City at the height of the American Revolutionary War. Their name was derived from the aliases taken by two of its main members, Samuel Culper, Sr. and Samuel Culper, Jr.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

François de Broglie

Charles François de Broglie, marquis de Ruffec (19 August 1719 – Saint-Jean-d'Angély, 16 August 1781), second son of François-Marie de Broglie, 1st duc de Broglie, was a French soldier and diplomat from a distinguished French military family.

Secret du Roi

For a period of over twenty years, King Louis XV split his diplomacy into official and secret channels. The secret channels became collectively known as the King's Secret (Secret du Roi in French), established in 1745.

Chevalier d'Éon

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont (5 October 1728 Tonnerre – 21 May 1810 London), usually known as the Chevalier d'Éon, was a French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason whose first 49 years were spent as a man, and whose last 33 years were spent as a woman.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Allan Pinkerton

Allan Pinkerton (25 August 1819 – 1 July 1884) was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

Belle Boyd

Isabella Marie Boyd (May 9, 1844 – June 11, 1900), best known as Belle Boyd or Cleopatra of the Secession, was a Confederate spy in the American Civil War. She operated from her father's hotel in Front Royal, Virginia and provided valuable information to Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in 1862.

Confederate Secret Service

Confederate Secret Service is an umbrella term for a number of official and semi-official secret service operations conducted by the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kim Philby

Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby (1 January 1912 – 11 May 1988) was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union. A communist, he served as an NKVD and KGB operative.

The Great Locomotive Chase

The Great Locomotive Chase or Andrews' Raid was a military raid that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the American Civil War. Volunteers from the Union Army, led by civilian scout James J. Andrews.

American Civil War Espionage

Tactical or battlefield intelligence became very vital to both armies in the field during the American Civil War. Units of spies and scouts reported directly to the commanders of armies in the field. They provided details on troop movements and strengths. The distinction between spies and scouts was one that had life or death consequences.

Elizabeth Van Lew

Elizabeth Van Lew (October 25, 1818 – September 25, 1900) was a well-born Richmond, Virginia resident who built and operated an extensive spy ring for the United States during the American Civil War.

Lafayette Baker

Lafayette Curry Baker (October 13, 1826 – July 3, 1868) was a United States investigator and spy, serving for the Union Army, during the American Civil War and under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Elizabeth R (TV Series 1971)

Elizabeth R is a BBC television drama serial of six 85-minute plays starring Glenda Jackson in the title role. It was first broadcast on BBC2 from February to March 1971, through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia and broadcast in America on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.

Elizabeth (Film 1998)

Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett, loosely based on the early years of Elizabeth's reign. In 2007, Blanchett reprised the role in the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, covering the later part of her reign.

A Dead Man in Deptford (1993)

A Dead Man in Deptford (1993) was written late in Anthony Burgess's life, and is the last of his novels to be published during his lifetime.

It depicts the life and character of Christopher Marlowe, one of the greatest playwrights of the Elizabethan era.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ridolfi plot

The Ridolfi plot was a plot in 1570 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.

Roberto Ridolfi, a Florentine banker and ardent Catholic, had been involved in the planning of

Sir Francis Walsingham

Sir Francis Walsingham (c. 1532 – 6 April 1590) was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security. He oversaw operations which penetrated the heart of Spanish military preparation, gathered intelligence from across Europe, and disrupted a range of plots against the queen, securing the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Early years

Walsingham studied at King's College, Cambridge from 1548 with many Protestants .In 1550, he travelled abroad, returning two years later to enroll at Gray's Inn. Upon the death of Edward VI and accession of Catholic Queen Mary I, he fled to continue his studies as a law student at the University of Padua. Between April 1556 and November 1558, he visited Switzerland. He cultivated contacts among the leading Protestant statesmen on the continent.

When Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, Walsingham returned to England and, through the support of Sir William Cecil, was elected as the representative to the House of Commons for Banbury in 1559 and then Lyme Regis in 1563. In 1569, Cecil assigned Walsingham to unravel the Ridolfi plot, his first government role.

In 1570, the Queen chose Walsingham to support the Huguenots in their negotiations with Charles IX. After his return, Walsingham was appointed joint principal secretary (the position which later became "Secretary of State") with Sir Thomas Smith, succeeding Sir William Cecil. Smith retired unexpectedly in 1576, leaving Walsingham in sole charge.

He was sent on special embassies to the Netherlands in 1578, and again in 1581 to the French Court, suggesting both the Queen's high confidence in his abilities, and also that she knew how to exploit his standing as a committed Protestant statesman to threaten the Catholic powers.


In the realm of counter-espionage, Walsingham was behind the discovery of the Throckmorton and Babington plots to overthrow Elizabeth I, return England to Catholicism and place Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne.

Prior to the attack of the Spanish Armada, he received a large number of dispatches from his agents from mercantile communities and foreign courts. Walsingham's recruitment of Anthony Standen in particular represented an intelligence triumph, and Standen's dispatches were deeply revealing. However the close security enforced by Philip II,King of Spain, meant that Walsingham remained in the dark about the Spanish strategy and the planned destination of the Armada.

In foreign intelligence, the full range of Walsingham's network of "intelligencers" (of news as well as secrets) may never be known, but it was substantial. While foreign intelligence was part of the principal secretary's duties, Walsingham brought to it flair and ambition, and large sums of his own money. He also cast his net more widely than others had done hitherto, exploiting the insight into Spanish policy offered at the Italian courts; cultivating contacts in Constantinople and Aleppo, building complex connections with the Catholic exiles.

Walsingham in Fiction

In Anthony Burgess' novel A Dead Man in Deptford about the life of Christopher Marlowe, the protagonist is shown fatally caught up in the webs spun by Walsingham.

The film Elizabeth gives considerable, although historically inaccurate, prominence to the espionage skills of Walsingham (portrayed by Geoffrey Rush). The film overstates Walsingham's influence, showing him triumphing over Burghley, and paints him as a Machiavellian, irreligious and sexually ambiguous politician. It inaccurately suggests that he himself murdered Mary of Guise, or personally had her killed. Rush reprised his role as Walsingham in the 2007 sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Walsingham was played by Stephen Murray in the BBC series Elizabeth R (1970).

Walsingham was portrayed by actor Patrick Malahide in the Channel Four miniseries Elizabeth I

Walsingham appears as Christopher Marlowe's taskmaster in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series The Christopher Marlowe Mysteries.
Walsingham and his fictional niece appear in Lucy's Blade by John Lambshead

Walsingham provided the basis for Sir Nicholas Fury in Neil Gaiman's comics miniseries 1602

Sir Jack Wilton in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier is the analogue of Walsingham in the "Glorianan Era". Wilton is also stated as being the first "M".

In Samuel Blumenfeld's The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question (McFarland, 2008), playwright Christopher Marlowe's connection to the spymaster Walsingham and his cousin Thomas Walsingham is detailed.

In Mark Chadbourn's novel "The Silver Skull", Walsingham appears in his role as Elizabeth I's spymaster and secretary.

Learn more about the Elizabethan era and Sir Francis; Walsingham

Non-Fiction Books

Fiction Books 




Babington Plot

The Babington Plot was a Catholic plot in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, on the English throne. It led to the execution of Mary. The long-term goal was an invasion by the Spanish forces of King Philip II and the Catholic league in France, leading to the restoration of the Catholic religion in England. The chief conspirator was Sir Anthony Babington (1561–1586), a young Catholic nobleman. The actual designers were Don Bernardino de Mendoza in Paris and King Philip II in Madrid.

Throckmorton Plot

The Throckmorton Plot was an attempt by English Roman Catholics in 1583 to murder Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with her second cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. The plot is named after the key conspirator, Sir Francis Throckmorton (cousin to Elizabeth Throckmorton, Elizabeth's first lady in waiting) , who confessed to the plot under torture.