The Ridolfi Plot, 1571
The failure of the Plot, writes Cyril Hamshere, forms a complex story of espionage and counter-espionage; its events caused Elizabeth I to give up all ideas of restoring Mary Queen of Scots to the Scottish throne.
The first of the three main plots to replace Elizabeth I by Mary Queen of Scots as Queen of England, known as the Ridolfi Plot, started as a revival of the motives behind the Rebellion of the Northern Earls which had come to an ignominious end in 1569. That abortive rising had been prompted chiefly as an attempt to restore the Roman Catholic Church by the removal of Elizabeth who for the past decade had been established by her Parliament as Supreme Governor of the English Church.
The Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland had fled abroad; but the Duke of Norfolk, the Spanish Ambassador, Don Guerau de Spes, and the Pope’s secret agent, Roberto Ridolfi, were still present to revive their schemes.