Elizabeth R (1971–…): Season 1, Episode 4 - Horrible Conspiracies - full transcript

It is 1586 and Mary Queen of Scots has been imprisoned in England for nearly 20 years, Walsingham is determined to strike Mary and the catholic faction down. Elizabeth tries to protect her doomed fellow Queen,but is slowly drawn into Mary's tragedy.

# Great England's empress

# Brave Albion's queen

# Of matchless grace

# And stately being

# To whom the gods bow down before

# So praised in peace

# So skilled in war

# No living thing

# No name so fair

# Can with her beauty

# Her beauty compare

# She reigns supreme o'er all she sees

# O'er rustic fens and swirling seas

# O'er man and woman, duke and lord

# O'er farm and castle, beast and sword

# She reigns supreme 'er all she sees

# O'er rustic fens and swirling seas

# O'er man and woman, duke and lord

# O'er farm and castle, beast and sword

# She has conquered all

# She has conquered all

# Sweet Elizabeth

# See, I am vanquished

# Towards

# Death #

Following her various marriages,

Darnley's murder, and the rising against Bothwell,

your royal cousin, Mary Stuart, fled to this country
and threw herself upon your great mercy.

She rewarded Your Majesty's protective kindness
by inspiring numberless plots,

encouraging hellish priests,
popish conspiracies and...

all manner of dangerous wickedness.

For well—nigh 20 years, she's infected this realm

while her son James sits upon the Scottish throne.

And yet, madam, you refuse
to recognise her as your enemy

and do nothing to rid yourself
and your kingdom of this bosom serpent.

Caution I can understand,
Walsingham, none better,

but your great fears
go beyond the bounds of reason.

—You see danger in every shadow.
—By no means...

The coils of your brain must be writhing
with anxiety like a pit of vipers.

It is merely a proper concern
for Your Majesty's safety.

No, it is more than that. It lies deep within you,
Sir Francis, a melancholy humour.

—I advise purgatives.
—Purgatives, madam?

Quickbeam, borage and white wine.
They will rid your body of its corrupting blood.

Even so, and with respect,
my anxiety will still remain.

—Because of my cousin.
—Mary of Scotland is a constant threat.

Oh, how can that be?

Safely stowed at Chartley with Sir Amyas Paulet
in charge of her keeping close,

Mary is a threat to no one.

Her very presence in England
is a threat to your life!

—My life?
—Men will conspire. Assassins will be found.

You tire me, old moor.

The matter drags its feet
and something must be done!

Well, later, then. Tomorrow.

—I am in no mood for this sombre business.
—But, madam...

Besides, I am quite content
with the present arrangement.

She is watched day and night.
All correspondence is forbidden her.

All contact with her friends is prevented.
She can do me no harm.

Remember, she is no stranger to cunning devices.

Ways can be found to deceive
the most watchful jailers.

Sir Amyas Paulet is my faithful servant.
He will not fail me.

I can but repeat, madam.
Her very presence endangers your life.

Only by your death can she hope
for full freedom and a restoration of her estate!

She is still a sovereign princess!

I wish no further discussion on this matter,
Sir Francis.

My cousin will remain at Chartley.


I did not call, Sir Amyas.

Your pardon, madam,
I came only to inquire for your health.

More like you came to spy on me,

to make sure that I was not engaged
on some unlawful act.

Conspiring with the birds perhaps,
or bribing the rats for means of escape.

Even your smile strikes a chill into my heart.

Great Elizabeth could not have chosen
a better guard dog.

Your work is your pleasure, is it not?

It is certainly a pleasure to serve Her Majesty
in whatever way she chooses.

And does she choose
that I be denied converse with my servants?

I fail to understand you, madam.
No such denial has been enforced.

Why, then, was my laundress questioned
this morning?

A sensible precaution, nothing more.


I wanted reassurance that she was not employed
in secret matters on your behalf.

—A laundress employed in secret matters?
—She might have been carrying letters.

Yes, she might indeed.
The possibility had not occurred to me.

I think, Sir Amyas,
you are the strangest man I have ever known.

You profess a devotion to religion,
but your life seems based on cruelty.

Not cruelty, madam, strictness.
A close observance of Her Majesty's command.

Was it not cruelty that prompted you
to burn my embroideries and other harmless gifts

because you thought
they might bring me comfort?

The embroideries, as you call them,
were nothing but symbols of Catholic blasphemy.

Besides, I'm instructed to ensure
that you receive no gifts, harmless or otherwise.

I was merely carrying out my duties.

What great sins are committed
in the name of duty.

Now, one thing more, Sir Amyas.

Why am I now prevented from offering charity
to the village people?

—Well, I considered it unnecessary.

Many of them are poor. They deserve our charity.

Well, if they are poor,
it is because of their own lewdness.

No virtuous man requires charity.

Likewise, ma'am, I propose to stop any
further payments from yourself to your servants.

Upon what grounds?

The distinction between reward and bribe
is uncomfortably narrow.

I wish there to be no, uh, misunderstandings.

I have no doubt that these restrictions spring
not from Elizabeth herself,

but from your own hatred towards me.

If that is your opinion,
then may you cling to it for comfort.

It is opinion well—based.

Why, even at Tutbury, when I was grievous ill,
even then you showed me no kindness.

—Your immediate needs were taken care of.
—My bed sheets were never changed.

—Indeed they were, madam.
—Only when I complained most vigorously.

Then perhaps you would have been wiser
to complain sooner.

You did nothing for my comfort
in that wretched house.

Small wonder I fell ill.
Every corner was a pissing place.

The middens bred vermin,
the damp knotted my bones,

and the bad air mortified my spirits.

That was Tutbury, ma'am.

Surely you are more content
now that you have removed.

How can I be content in a prison?

There is a place in England, I am told,

a wood at St Leonard's,
where nightingales never sing.

Some unseen evil drives them away.
They sing all around, but never in that wood.

And it is the same with me, I fear, in this house.

I think only on death.

God give you comfort, sir?

Such white nakedness,

so soon to be torn apart.

I am Richard Topcliffe.

The faithful servant of
Her Glorious Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

Rack Master.

Her Glorious Majesty has entrusted me
with the careful destruction of her enemies.

Oh, I am very close to the throne, sir priest.

I have seen her bare above the knee.

She trusts me well.
I am to rid her of the Catholic scourge.

My life's work.

Now whence, I wonder, have you sprung.
From the English college at Rheims, perhaps?

Or the seminary at Douai?

Yes, you have a jesuit look about you.

No doubt you believed you would convert
the whole of England with your popish tricks.

Alas, but you were sadly mistaken.

Where have you been hiding?

In whose house have you said mass?

How came you hither?

You will not be silent long, traitor priest.

No man is silent on the rack.



—Forgive me, sir.
—Who are you?

—Who am I?
—I wish to know your name.

There's no need for this, sir. I meant no offence.

—I believe your name is Babington.
—Then you have no cause to ask it.

Sir Anthony Babington.

Why do you smile at me thus?

One day you will understand.

Take care, Sir Anthony. Take great care.

ELIZABETH: Sir Francis.

—So, what is your news?
—Letters from Paris, madam.

From them I learnt that Bernardino Mendoza
is urging war—like action against Your Majesty.


The Spanish ambassador,
he was dismissed on your instructions.

-Oh, yes, the sour—tempered Mendoza.
—He now represents Spain at King Henry's court.

I pity the French.

One of my men intercepted a letter written
by Mendoza and addressed to Secretary Idiaquez.


"The insolence of these people

"so exasperates me that I desire
to live only to be revenged upon them."

He refers, of course, to England.

"I hope to God that time will soon come and
that I may be an instrument in their punishment.

"I will walk barefoot over Europe to compass it."

And there is much more in the same vein.

The rantings of a Spanish courtier
do not interest me greatly.

Nonetheless, Catholic tempers
are rising high throughout Europe.

Mendoza represents a very general opinion.

In your opinion, Sir Francis,
his opinion, your opinion...

In my opinion,
Mendoza is suffering from injured pride.

Besides, he is scarcely a man of influence.
You waste your time in this matter.

By himself, Mendoza is unimportant, I agree,
but taken in the proper context...


I feel I should tell you, madam, that I've been
reflecting upon our recent conversation

about Mary of Scotland.

I'm sure you have, Sir Francis. Your mind
revolves around that particular problem.

—And with good reason.

The situation with regard to your cousin
has changed of late.

—I am not aware of any change.
—I refer to Catholic Europe.

10, 20 years ago,
your royal cousin was held in some disrepute.

The Bothwell marriage angered Pope Pius

and many believed
that Mary had betrayed the Catholic cause.

More recently, though,
she has been viewed quite differently.

Indeed, some have described her as a martyr.

Her youthful errors are forgotten.
Forgiven, at least.

And she is now revered as
the shining glory of English Catholicism.

It has even been suggested that she renounced
your throne for the sake of her faith.

—God's death.
—Hence my concern over the Mendoza letter.

It is just one example of
a growing opposition to Your Majesty.

—In Europe?
—In Europe, yes, but...

such men would find allies here
with no great difficulty.

It requires just one spark.

The net must be tightened around her
and around the whole Catholic rabble.

No. The rain is too heavy. I shall not ride today.

—No doubt that pleases you, Sir Amyas.
—Pleases me?

To know that I shall be shut away
for another 20 hours.

At least it spares your men
the trouble of riding with me.

-Perhaps tomorrow the rain will clear.

Leave me, Sir Amyas.
Your company is more cheerless than the storm.


I, um, almost forgot, ma'am.

—There is a gentleman present.
—A gentleman?

Sent here on matters of state.

It occurred to me that he might fulfil your desire
for some conversation.

—What of your duties?

I thought I was to be denied such quiet pleasures.

Well, he is well—trusted.
Besides, I have no wish to be your tormentor, lady.

Very well, Sir Amyas.

I shall be very pleased
to see your well—trusted gentleman.

—Gilbert Gifford, ma'am.
—Good morning, Gifford.


Thank you, Paulet. You may go.

This is your first visit to Chartley, is it not?


—Gifford, you are a Catholic.
—Son of a loyal Catholic family, ma'am.

I am a gentleman and love the Virgin Mary.

—Then you are in much danger.
—No, not I.

The path has been carefully prepared.

I have crept into favour
with the mighty Walsingham

and through him, Sir Amyas Paulet.

Gifford, you are very welcome.

And with your gracious consent,
I will do all I can to help, Your Majesty.

—In what way?
—In whatever way you command.

—I must have news.
—Of your friends?

Is that possible?

There are letters from France. Secret letters.

—I shall try to devise a plan to bring them here.
—Take care.

I am closely watched, by day and by night,
and with much cunning.

What's more,
Sir Amyas has acquired a new lieutenant,

a man I mistrust and dislike above all others.
His beard stinks of vomit.

—And his name?

Thomas Phelippes.

—You know him?
—You are right to fear him, ma'am.

—Deceit and false dealing are his greatest virtues.
—Then what hope is there for my delivery?

—You face an impossible task, brave Gifford.
—No task is impossible, Majesty.

Remember, you have many friends,
both abroad and in this country,

who desire only your deliverance from this place.

We shall not fail.

You've done well, Phelippes. I'm reassured.

The lady grumbles much
but Sir Amyas will not yield.

Regards her present discomfort
as just reward for her former licence.

I suspect he believes himself
to be an agent for the Almighty.

Yes. That would please him well.

—Which is for him a sacred trust.
—And for us a constant anxiety.

-Her Majesty has not consented to further action?
—No. Alas, she has not.

I have warned her in the strongest possible terms.

She listens with obvious reluctance and then
insists that the situation be left without change.

—Cousinly love perhaps.
—Fear most probably.

Fear of revenge by Mary's supporters.
If one queen is killed, why not another?

Well, there is some truth in that, no doubt.

The problem is, wherein lies the greater danger?

—Mary alive or Mary dead?
—That is your problem, Sir Francis.

I thank the Lord it is not mine.


Has the pain returned, sir?

Seldom leaves me these days.
Indeed, I've grown used to it.

—Shall I call the physician?
—No, no. just...

Help me to sit.

You should rest more, sir, and seek proper advice.

Well, the spasms are short.
I shall be...well again soon.

So, was there anything more?

One small item of intelligence
has come my way, sir.

—The priest Ballard has returned to this country.
—He's in London?

Swathed in a cloak of secrecy,
calling himself Captain Fortescue.

Dressed as a soldier I'm told.

—Captain Fortescue?
—Sir Anthony Babington. I'm honoured, sir.

—My man said that you wished to see me.
—Yes, sir, that is correct.

It is very late.
I'm not used to receiving visitors at this hour.

—My business cannot be delayed.

-Oh, we have then business together?
-Oh, yes, sir, and of the greatest moment.

Forgive me, Captain, but I am not aware...

You may regard me as a stranger, Sir Anthony,
but I know you like a friend.

—Like a friend?
—Close and trusted friend, sir.

I know, for example,
that you are Squire of Dethick,

25 years old, rich and acquainted
with many brave young gentlemen.

You attend Elizabeth's court
and are well—favoured there.

Furthermore, sir,
I know that you are of the Catholic faith

and have much love for our gracious lady,
Mary of Scotland.

-Are these not true facts?
—I'm not obliged to answer you, um, Captain.

Believe me, sir, you have nothing to fear.

I am no captain. My name is john Ballard.
I'm a priest ordained.

This was merely a device to deceive your servants.

Then you are welcome, Father.
Most welcome to my house.

Thank you, sire. Thank you.

—Will you take some wine?
—Later, perhaps, when we have spoken.

Very well. Please, be seated.

Tell me, Father,
what is this business you have to discuss?

Briefly, it is for the setting up of plans
to dispatch the English queen

and to place our gracious Mary
upon her lawful throne.

To dispatch the English queen?

Only by her death can this realm hope
for rightful monarchy and true religion!

—And, for this, you come to me?
—It is known that you are gallant and adventurous.

Moreover, your friends hold you in
the highest regard. Already you are their leader.

Even so!

-Are you afraid?
—I know not what I am. I need to think.

Then think on this.

Recently I have been in Paris
and there I talked with Bernardino Mendoza,

the Spanish ambassador.

He knows of our plan
and promises armed troops for our assistance.

—And will he honour his promise?
—Without any doubt.

A Catholic league of 60,000 men
has already been prepared for this very purpose.

Elizabeth shall be killed,
then Walsingham and his crew.

The armies will invade
to put down any opposition

and Mary shall be placed upon the throne.

—This is a lofty scheme, john Ballard.
—You fear it will not work?

—How can I tell?
—Believe me, sir.

—All Europe is waiting for you to act.
—For me?

Gather your friends together.
Discuss the plan with them.

What exactly do you expect us to achieve?

First, the assassination of Elizabeth.
Second, the rescue of Queen Mary from Chartley.

—And when is this to be?
—As soon as you can prepare yourselves.

The hour is ripe, Sir Anthony.
You should act without delay.

Oh, it's a heavy burden you cast
upon my shoulders.

A heavy burden, but a rich reward.


Yes, that is true.

If it were only Queen Mary's escape,
I wouldn't hesitate.

—Is it the killing of Elizabeth that gives you pause?
—I wish her dead, as well you must know.

But where to find a man
both willing and trustworthy for the act?

—Have you forgotten John Savage?

You met him last year, I believe.

A good faithful Catholic who hates the Queen.

He has sworn to be the means of her death
and would subscribe to any plan you may devise.


—Yes, he would do it.
—Meet him, Sir Anthony. Talk. Confer.

Should I not also talk with the Spaniard Mendoza?

For what purpose?

To ensure that his armies are prepared,
that we shall strike together.

Fine, if you so wish,
but this will require travelling to France.

—Well, that is no problem.
—Your passport?

Walsingham thinks I'm loyal.
He has no reason to deny me a passport.

Then you are agreed?

I need time to consider.

—Give me two days.
—Two days is two days too long.

—Has Queen Mary been informed?
—As yet, she knows nothing.

Sir Amyas Paulet keeps her very close.
Correspondence is impossible.

Then a way must be found
to inform her of this plan!

—So you will do it?

Yes, I will.

God give you strength and courage, my son.
God preserve you from our enemies.

—And God save Queen Mary.

—Omens? What omens?
—Signs of death, Majesty.

—Visions and ghostly apparitions.
—You have seen them yourself?

Not I, ma'am, but Sir Edward Kelley here,
through his great gifts.

Sir Edward?

A man, dressed all in tattered robes.

His face, hideous to behold, ravaged and
split open like the head of a corpse long buried.

I saw him walk abroad, outstretching his arms
and crying with the voice of a mighty beast.

Around his head flew carrion crows...

and wolves followed at his heels.

What do these visions mean, Dr Dee?

I cannot say with any exactness, ma'am,
but they foreshadow death.

Death? You speak to me only of death.

I have lived long under its dark shadow
but I fear it above all else.

More and more as I grow older.

All mortals are afraid of dying,
be they queen or commoner.

Cannot you interpret these signs more precisely?

To question the dead requires much time
and skill and courage.

It is necessary to feed a black cat on human flesh,

to slice off its head and to prepare
an incense from it with blood and herbs.

But such things are forbidden, Majesty.

And men who practise the craft
run the risk of losing their ears.

But I must know whose death is pronounced.

—That of some great personage, ma'am.
—A queen perhaps?

—Or the cousin of a queen?
—It could be...either, madam.

—The news is good, ma'am. All is arranged.
—Tell me, Gifford.

As you may know,
there is no private brewery in this house.

Thus all supplies of beer
are procured from a man in Burton.

It is brought here once every week in large kegs.

This same brewer has been bribed
and will act on my instructions.

I have a leather wallet
small enough to slip into the barrel

—and into this wallet, you will place your letters.
—Good. This is excellent.

Once away from the house,
the wallet can be removed

and the letters sent to the French Embassy
in London and thence to Paris.

Likewise, you'll be able to receive correspondence
from your friends abroad.

—When, Gifford? When can this traffic commence?
—The brewer comes tomorrow.

Have letters ready and I will ensure
that they are dispatched.

—Gifford, you have served me well in this.
—There is still much danger, madam.

Remember, God may send a man good meat,
but the devil sendeth an evil cook.



—Forgive me, madam, I thought you were alone.
—I was on the point of taking my leave.

Farewell then, Gifford.
I have much enjoyed our conversation.

It is my honour, ma'am.
I will see you tomorrow, I hope?

Yes. Tomorrow.

And their names?

Edward Abington, Robert Barnewell,
Chideock Tichbourne, Edward Charnock,

Sir Thomas Gerard and Thomas Salisbury.
Of these I am sure.

—And you have conferred together?
—We have, and we are agreed.

Good. Good.

And you, john Savage,
are you prepared to play your part in this venture?

I have sworn an oath
that I shall be the means of her death.

—I have sworn and I will act.
—I knew we had chosen well.

Two things must be done though
before we can proceed.

A meeting with Mendoza
and correspondence with Queen Mary.

Well, the first I leave to you, Sir Anthony.
The second is already underway.

How so?

A good faithful Catholic and a man known to you,
I believe, Gilbert Gifford.

I knew Gifford when we were
at the college at Rheims.

Gifford has devised a plan whereby letters
may be safely exchanged with Queen Mary.

—And the plan has been tried?
—Not as yet, but Gifford is sure it will work.

—And if it does?
—There are no further obstacles.

We shall move with all haste.

My gloves.

So, Priest Ballard has been
visiting Sir Anthony Babington.

The young gentleman should choose his friends
with greater care.

What's more, sir, Ballard was not alone.
John Savage kept him company.


—Not the soldier who swears brave oaths?
—Aye, and shuns brave action.

—The coward from Rheims.
—The very same, sir.

Well, Sir Anthony must have
an inclination for rogues.

They flatter him, no doubt.
His head is easily turned.

—Were these meetings prolonged?
—One hour, two hours, then they would disperse.

Time enough, Thomas.
They must be carefully watched.

There's no difficulty in that.

Like all fools,
they believe themselves safe from discovery.



—It worked, Sir Francis.

—Mary of Scotland has written to France.
—Let me see. Let me see.


—As you said, Thomas, it's written in code.
—If I may, sir?



A substitution code. A simple matter, sir.

—A few hours and we shall know all.

—So she believed you, Gifford?
—And praises God for my ingenuity.

—There were no problems?
-None, sir.

—The brewer played his part?
—And with enthusiasm.

He is being paid twice after all.
Once by Queen Mary and once by you.

When the letter's been decoded, you must take it
straight to the Embassy of France.

—With all speed, sir.
—Make it known that you act as courier

and that any reply or any further communication
for the Queen of Scotland

—is to be delivered into your hands.
—And then brought here.

Brought here while Master Phelippes translates
the code and then carried back to Chartley.

You can rely on me, Sir Francis.

—Indeed I can, as you value your life.
—My life, sir?

Remember under what circumstances
you were brought to me?

A Catholic house rat squeaking for mercy.

I could have ordered your hanging 12 months ago.

I could find it in my heart to pity Mary of Scots
for placing her trust in a man like you.

—Yes, sir.
—One thing more, Gifford.

No man is to know that the letters pass this way.

If this is discovered,
then you shall carry the blame.

—No one shall know, sir, not one soul.
—Very well, that is all.

Thank you, sir.

Yes. Now we shall know all, Thomas.

Her very mind is open to us.

—Good day, Master Topcliffe.
—Sir Francis, I'm honoured.

-Are you still tearing limbs from jesuits?
—Whenever I have the good fortune, sir.

—No doubt they cry aloud, Rack Master.
-Oh, yes, sir.

Most piteously.

—Do any of them cry of conspiracy?

Have you any word or whisper of this present plot?

No, sir, not even the most secret whisper.
Why, is there then some new suspicion?

I have good cause to think so.
The principals are already in my sight.

—I look to you to entrap the lesser people.
—I will do all that I can, sir.

Indeed, I'm sure you will.

But it would be helpful, sir,

if the flow of priests from Europe
to this country could be stemmed a little.

At present, they cross the channel
with comfortable ease

and I fear that many of them go unrecognised.

Sterner restrictions would require
the consent of the Queen.

But such consent she surely would not withhold?

You have her ear, Sir Francis. She loves you well.

Maybe so.

No, Sir Francis,
I do not favour these extreme measures.

They are traitors, madam,
and the men who shield them are traitors also.

You cannot enforce too rigid a law.

Only by moderation will this kingdom be united.

—The risk is great.
-Are you so afraid of a few fugitive priests?

I am sore afraid of the power of Rome.

Our country must be cleansed
of this Catholic infection.

—I would give my life to achieve it.
-Oh, yes, Sir Francis, I do not doubt your zeal.


—May I?
—Stand off.

You cannot aid me.

Oh, God's death.

First teeth, now stomach.
My belly croaks like yours, old moor.

I have no love for Rome, as well you know,

but we must exercise great care
and circumspection.

Religious observance is a personal matter.
Spiritual needs vary from person to person.

I have no wish to open windows into men's souls.

Besides, I am well—protected
by you and Richard Topcliffe.


All these are from France?

Remember, sir, Mary has been
forbidden letters for many months.

Much of this is now outdated.

But they've all been kept for her
by the French ambassador?

Yes. De Noailles has been a faithful friend.

These two, sir, are from the Spaniard, Mendoza,
promising arms and assistance.

—They alone are evidence enough.
—We shall have more, Thomas.

If we wait, we shall have much more.

—And these, these are from Thomas Morgan.
—Mostly, sir.

As Mary's agent in Paris, he gives her any items
of intelligence that might be of interest.

There's little or nothing here
that we do not know already.

Apart, perhaps, from...


In this letter, sir,
Morgan speaks highly of Sir Anthony Babington.

He recommends the young gentleman
to Queen Mary,

saying that he would doubtless prove
a good and tireless servant.

Let us send it on, Thomas.
Who knows, it may lead to some greater design.

Do you wish me to give everything to Gifford?

Yes, and with firm instructions to carry
the letters forthwith to Chartley.

We must not keep the lady waiting.

—Sir Francis...
—I'm not to be disturbed, Davison.

—A gentleman is asking to see you, Sir Francis.
—Send him away.

It is Sir Anthony Babington.

—He's here?
—And wishes to apply for a passport.


—Shall I wait in there, sir?
—Yes, do.

Leave the door partly open. I want you to hear.

Very well, Davison.

This way, if you please.

—This is most kind of you, Sir Francis.
—No, no. My pleasure.

—I'm sorry you were kept waiting.
—Only a few minutes.

My secretary tells me
that you're planning a journey.

Yes, sir.

—And for this you now require a licence.
—That is correct, yes.

—Where will you travel, Sir Anthony?
—To France.

—To Paris?
—Yes, sir.

Yes, I see.

—For what purpose, may I know?
—To visit friends.

Nothing more.

—You have many friends in Paris?
—Not many, no.

-But some?
—Yes, some.

You will remember, Sir Francis,
I am of the Catholic faith.

Oh, yes, of course.

I enjoy visiting my Catholic friends
from time to time.

Yes, I understand that.

—The journey is urgent?
—Not urgent, no.

—Good. You see, there may be some delay in this.

With the licence.
Regrettable, but alas, unavoidable.

Not too great a delay, I hope?

—That depends.
—On what?

Administrative details. Again, unavoidable.

Sir Francis,
I may be able to, um...help you in France.

—Help me?
—I have friends.

—So you said.
—They, too, have friends.

One hears many things.

Do I understand you, Sir Anthony?
Are you offering your services to spy for me?

If I can be of assistance, I will gladly do all I can.

—To be frank, I had not expected this.
—I should not disappoint you.

No, no, that is not my fear.

—We are agreed then?
—I must consider...

consider what you can most profitably achieve.

—And the passport?
—You will be informed.

—I am grateful, Sir Francis.
—No, it is I who owe you gratitude.

—It's been a most interesting conversation.
—Thank you, sir.

Sir Anthony.

We shall meet again
and discuss this thing further.

Sir Francis.

—What scheme is this, do you suppose?
—Self—protection most probably.

—He seeks to worm himself into my favour.
—Will you employ him in France?

Sir Anthony is not going to France, Thomas.

—Sit down, Gifford.

Much news from France.

My friends are eager
to assist me out of this place.

—There are plans?
—Not yet.

-But I am urged to trust a man called Babington.
—Yes. Yes, I know him.

—And like him?
—Sir Anthony is your devoted servant.

Is he indeed?

He was, I believe, page to Shrewsbury
when you were committed into the Earl's care.

He often speaks
of his profoundest admiration for you.

Yes, I partly remember him.

What's more, he is accepted at court
and has a wide circle of brave Catholic friends.

—So you think I should write to him?
—With all haste, madam.

I have no doubt he will serve you well.

She is, I think, the noblest woman I've ever seen.

Beauty of spirit and dignity of form
so wonderfully fused.

I tell you, Father, ever since I first saw her,
I've dreamed of serving her.

And now it's within our grasp
to make her Queen of England.

There is still much to be done.

Details are easily accomplished,
especially with God on our side.

Remember, by placing her upon the throne,
we restore true faith to this country of ours.

It's a great cause, Father, a crusade.

It is also an enterprise
that carries much danger in its wake.

Let a wise man look ere he leap.
We must be ever cautious.

Aye, and so it shall be.

Though, with Gifford as our true ally,
there can be little to fear.

Oh, now, this letter.

We must tell her all, every particular.

First, that an invading force
is being prepared abroad.

Second, that there are many Englishmen who will
join that company and fight on her behalf.

Third, that she shall be delivered from Chartley.
This by myself and a band of friends.

And fourth, the dispatch of the usurper Elizabeth.

—That is all, is it not?

—Aye. Everything.

At last, the business begins.

He then goes on to assure the Scottish Queen

that Elizabeth will be put to death
by six noble gentlemen,

his own faithful friends,

while he himself promises to take her from
Chartley with a band of 100 faithful followers.

Finally, he asks that suitable rewards
be forthcoming when the mission is completed.

—Though he could not ask for more than that.
—Indeed not.

It is very full and comprehensive.

—More than I had expected, I do confess.
—Shall I close the seal, sir?

—You have copies?
-Oh, yes.

—Then dispatch it this day to Chartley.
—It shall go within the hour, sir.

We await her very heart next.



It is, of course, possible
that my cousin will reject his scheme.

Possible, yes, but...most unlikely.

Then she is a fool. Worse.

She degrades the high office
to which she was born.

These men, these friends of Babington's,
are they dangerous?

Scarcely more than boys, madam.

Callow youths spurred on
by misplaced dreams of glory.

I'm told they've commissioned a portrait
to be painted

so that their likenesses
may be admired by posterity.

—They invite discovery with every move.
—Should they not be arrested?

I counsel delay, madam.

It is of the utmost importance
that we see how the Scottish Queen replies.

—We must be sure of her deep complicity.
—Delay means danger.

—To me.

You place my life at risk, Sir Francis.

You are quite right, old moor.

—I will abide by your decision.
—Have no fear, madam.

You are surrounded by loyal and loving subjects.


All my life, I have been shadowed by conspiracy.

Axe, the dagger, the block,
they are as familiar to me

as spring flowers to a countryman.

Fears and doubts circle my head
like black crows around a copse.

Yet every time a new treachery is revealed,
I am strangely surprised.

Foolishly, I expect good
in a world where men pursue evil.

All will be resolved, madam.
Your enemies never prosper.

Not yet. But one day.

Who knows what end awaits me?

Be comforted, madam.

Let me live out this humour.
Leave me to my melancholy.

—Shall I return to bid you good night?
—As you please, Sir Francis.

Good evening, Sir Francis. How fares the Queen?

Much overburdened with matters of state.

I, um, trust you have not forgotten
our talk of France.

By no means, Sir Anthony.
You are forever in my thoughts.

Leave me.

May they perish in great agony.

May their bodies be torn apart
and their souls damned to everlasting torment.

Grave news, Sir Anthony. I am discovered.

—As I guess.

-But how?
—One of my servants. A man I trusted.

He is in Walsingham's pay.

—Is it certain?
—Almost without doubt.

—Then we're finished.
—Not so.

We're finished, Ballard!

I have been discreet.
Your name has not been spoken.

-But what of you?
—I can hide in safety for a day or two.

—May God protect you.
—And God give you speed.

Kill the Queen and kill her now!

Well, Sir Edward,
do wicked spirits still surround us?

The clouds thicken, Majesty.
The storm approaches.

And death?

The red spectre sharpens his sword.
Be always ready to die.


—So Ballard has fled?
—Aye, for his life.

—This is bad indeed. What remedy now?
—None but to kill her presently.

Get you to the court tomorrow
and execute the fact.

Nay, not tomorrow, Sir Anthony.

—Why not?
—My apparel is unready.

—Your apparel?
—I cannot go to court in this.

Then get you clothes this day
and do as you're bid.

But, Sir Anthony...

If the Queen be not killed,
we're all of us dead men!

—What news, Thomas?
-None, I fear, sir.

The Scottish Queen maintains her silence.

How much longer will she wait?

—Have patience, sir. She must reply soon_
-REPly, yes, but what?

That is the centre of my concern.

What if she deals lightly with young Babington
and dismisses the plan?

We still have enough to condemn her.

My good Phelippes, it needs a direct acceptance
before Elizabeth will act.

She will seize any excuse to postpone the matter.

The Queen fears that Europe will descend on us
if Mary is brought to justice.

Above all else, she wishes
to preserve her Catholic cousin.

—Then there is nothing we can do.
—Save wait.

Therefore, have patience, Sir Francis.

Yes, I will try.


Take these to Davison, if you will.
They've all been approved.

Oh, I meant to tell you, sir,
Babington himself is waiting next door.

Yes, so he has been for these two days
from time to time.

Will you not see him?

An anxious man is more likely
to act in foolish haste.

Let the fears grow in his mind.

—What sayeth Sir Francis? Will he see me now?
—Later perhaps. He is too busy at present.

—It is urgent that we talk. Most urgent!
—Calm yourself, Sir Anthony.

—Cannot you tell him?
—Tell him what?

—That I am here.
—He knows that already.

—Then why does he refuse me?
—Is it matters of state you wish to discuss?

—Davison, it is a plot against our sovereign lady.

I have names.
Full knowledge of all the conspirators.

—Most likely just a rumour.
—It is more. Much more.

—They plan her death.
—Is that so?

—These men, they must be captured.
—Do you hope for a reward, Sir Anthony?

—I hope for nothing.
—Then you are wise.

Very well. Give me their names.

One is Ballard. john Ballard, a priest.

Your urgent news is news no longer.
John Ballard is taken.

He already lodges in the Tower.

—Good day, madam. Are you well?
—Well enough, Gifford.

Oh, madam, the weather is fine.
The flowers bloom in glory. It is a rare summer.

I would it were dark winter, and I were free.

Ah, yes, that must be so.

But be cheerful, madam,
you are not without loving servants.

No, and it brings me much comfort.

I have been reviewing my life, Gifford,

considering the steps
that have brought me to this place,

and wondering what else
I should have done to prevent it.

That is a melancholy pastime, madam.
I do not recommend it.

No, you mistake me. I regret nothing.

I know my faults and my virtues.

I know that I am a creature of impulse,
seldom thinking before I act,

driven on by passions,
delighting in the unexpected

and bored by sensible caution.

And disliking all who are not of my humour.

This is my alchemy, and I rejoice in it.

Even though it has brought me
much unhappiness,

even though it has led me here,

I would not have been created differently.

And this is not self-love, Gifford.

Merely an acceptance of what I am
and what I ever shall be.

God made me thus and I am glad he did so.

Consider, if you like, the consequences
of being born a thing like Sir Amyas.

-Are you not surprised I give thanks?
—Yes, and so do we all.

—You do not condemn me, then?
—For what?

All those failings others rebuke so loudly.

Madam, I am too aware of my own vices
to censure others.

Dear Gifford, I am always glad of your company.

It is my honour to serve Your Majesty.

When I awoke this morning, I was curiously happy.

It was as though I had forgotten where I am
and what I am.

I sang like a bumble bee in the fresh sunlight.

Those few moments were like a living memory.

—A glimpse of life as it used to be.
—And shall be again.

Aye. God willing.

Gifford, take this and send it
straight to my friends in London.

—Madam, I will.
—And keep it safe, I beg you.

It contains my life and freedom.


"Trusty and well—beloved", that is how she begins.

She then questions Babington
as to the manner of her rescue,

making emphatic note that it will be necessary
to employ a good army

or some very good strength
to free her from Chartley.

She further demands that she be immediately
informed of the progress of the conspiracy

for fear that Paulet might learn of the plan
and transport her elsewhere,

or otherwise, reinforce the house
with soldiers and fortifications.

She further writes, "Orders must be given

"that when the design has been carried out,
I can begot out of here."

The design in question
being Your Majesty's death.

Following more detailed instructions
concerning her rescue and flight,

your cousin concludes,
"Consider and consult together,

"if, as it is possible, you cannot execute
this particular purpose,"

her escape from Chartley that is,
"it will then be expedient to proceed

"with the rest of the enterprise.
If the difficulty be only with myself,

"if you cannot manage my rescue
because I am in the Tower

"or some other place too strong for you,
do not hesitate on that account.

"Go on for the honour of God."

There she ends it, madam.


Vile, plotting murderess. She seeks my death.

I, who have been the protector of her life
for many a year,

to the intolerable peril of my own.

May God forgive her.

It is as I said, Majesty. As I foretold.

Yes, you get great joy from this,
Sir Francis, do you not?

—No joy, madam, from such wickedness.
-Oh, yes. I know you well.

God's death, you sicken me, Walsingham!
A piss bowl of self—righteousness.

Thin-blooded like a maid.
Why am I served by men such as you?

—I meant no offence, Majesty.
-Oh, yes, humble yourself. Bow low.

I am surprised this news did not disturb
your feeble stomach.

No doubt the flux
will gush forth later in triumph.

Walsingham's fountain of glory.

Some move must now be made
against my treacherous cousin.

What do you advise?

I shall consult with Paulet, Majesty.

The lady should be removed
from Chartley for a spell

while her personal papers are examined.

This to be done with all secrecy
for fear that necessary proofs be destroyed.

She should then be charged with
conspiring your Majesty's death

and brought to trial on that account.

For the moment,
I will leave this matter in your hands.

This man, Babington, is he still at liberty?

No, no. He is taken, madam.

He was found at St John's Wood,
hiding in a forester's hut.

He should be well punished for his sins.

The punishment prescribed by law
is terrible indeed,

if the executioner takes care
to exact the extremity of pain.

He is no ordinary traitor.

Tell Richard Topcliffe to create some new device.

You know me, do you not, Sir Anthony?

You know my business here?

I am to die this morning.

Indeed you are, brave Sir Anthony.

Oh, death has no mystery. Be assured of that.

Indeed, it is quicker to end life
than to engender it.


It takes longer for a man
to thrust his seed into the belly of a woman

than to plunge a dagger
through his enemy's heart.

—It will be quick, then?
-Death is always quick.

It is the path to death that can be tedious slow.

Tell me, I pray you, what has been arranged?

Through the city to Holborn
and thence to the fields of St Giles.

That will be your last road.

Yoked with John Savage,
you will be led in solemn procession.

Many will have gathered
to hear the last words of a traitor.

I am no traitor. I swear it.

It was not my doing. I was led by others.

I'm not guilty, Topcliffe...

Peace, Sir Anthony, peace.
Save your cries for the gallows.

You will need breath later on.

Recall my words
concerning conception and death.

There are some men, I am told,

such skilled lovers who can prolong
the divine moment for a full half—hour.

So in death, either the soul can be shocked
from the body with abrupt suddenness,

or it can be enticed forth.

In such matters,
I have the delicacy of a practiced seducer.

As in conception, so in death,
the business begins here,

with the privates.

Castrated. Ripped up.

Bowelled alive, brave Sir Anthony.

Quartered...and yet still living.

So many wonders await you in St Giles' fields.

Almighty God, have you no mercy?

None, I fear, for the Queen's enemies.


Well planned, Sir Amyas, I give you credit.

Yes, the scheme is not without
pleasing ingenuities,

—nor indeed without some irony.
—How so?

She will be seized near Tixall. That is the plan.

Sir Thomas Gorges and his men will ride towards
her across the moor. Well, that's the irony.

Will she not hesitate
as she sees the horsemen approach?

Might she not think it is Babington
and his band of rescuers?

Her heart will beat fast for those few seconds,

her final moments of happiness, I suspect.

—Will she be imprisoned long?
—That I do not know.

Much depends on Great Bess and upon Sir Francis.

Yes, there is much to be done in London.
Evidence to be gathered and sorted.

—It will all take several weeks.
—No doubt.

Put it here upon the table. Open it.

Look at this, Thomas.

Popish trinkets.

The lady's toys.

Ah, yes. Here we have it.



Her very closest secrets.

Mary Stuart must now be removed from Tixall.

Well, return her to Chartley.
There's no problem in this.

—Alas, there is some difficulty.
—How so?

Sir Amyas Paulet fears that Chartley
might now be insecure.

What possesses Paulet?
She was safe enough before.

The situation has changed, madam.

Besides, she should be lodged
where she will presently be tried.

—Very well. What do you suggest?
—I have a list drawn up.

Here it is.

—Well, there is the possibility of the Tower.

No. Woodstock, perhaps?

No queen could lodge there.

—Too far from London.

—Too near.





—Is this all you can suggest?
—Seven in all, madam.


Excluding the Tower.

Well, we will discuss it later. Tomorrow.

I should send word tonight.

—Very well. Let it be Fotheringhay.
—Thank you.

Oh, leave me to rest!

God's death...

—Your letter to Queen Mary, ma'am.
—Thank you.

"You have in various ways and manners
attempted to take my life

"and to bring my kingdom to destruction
by bloodshed.

"I have never proceeded so harshly against you,
but have, on the contrary,

"protected and maintained you like myself.

"These treasons will be proved to you
and all made manifest.

"Yet it is my will that you answer...

"Answer the nobles and peers of the kingdom

"as if I were myself present.

"I therefore require, charge and command
that you make answer,

"for I have been well informed of your arrogance.

"Act plainly without reserve and you
will sooner be able to obtain favour of me."

Very good.
See that this is dispatched immediately.

Tell Paulet.


—I had not thought to see your face again.
—There are things you must know, madam.

Having deceived me so shamefully,
I had imagined that you would shun my presence.

But I was forgetting that you are
without such delicate feelings.

The deception was not mine, lady.

You conspired and planned to escape, did you not?

I do not deny that
I have earnestly wished for freedom

and done my utmost to procure it for myself.

In this I acted from a very natural wish.

—And the conspiracy?
—What of it?

Was it not deceiving thus to conspire
with Babington and his friends?

I cannot be held responsible for
the criminal projects of a few desperate men,

which they planned
without my knowledge or participation.

Without your knowledge?

Madam, we have much evidence that you
wholeheartedly approved of their plan

to set you upon the English throne.

I do not aspire to public position, Sir Amyas.

Advancing age and bodily weakness
prevent me from such a wish.

And I have no desire to hold high office
in a world so full of crime and trouble.

So what are these things I must know?

You have been brought here to Fotheringhay
to be examined by certain lords.

And you are required to make answer
to the grave charges

that you did conspire to displace
our sovereign Lady Elizabeth of England

and to ruin her kingdom
by the shedding of blood.

Does Bess acknowledge me as true kin
and rightful heir to her throne?

—No, ma'am. She does not.
—Then she has no claim on me.

I am no subject, Paulet, but a queen.

I owe England nothing.

You would be wise, madam,
to confess your grievous faults and crimes

before you are brought to trial.

I am not a child to be advised thus.

Keep your counsel for I will have none of it.

—Pray remember that the matter is treason.
—Who calls it so?

—The Commons have named it thus.
—I care nothing for the Commons.

They have always hated me.
And as for the charge of treason, it is groundless.

I merely sought protection from Catholic princes,
since my position here is so vulnerable.

—You deny the charges, then?
—I do most certainly.

They are devices by which means
I may be put to death, nothing more.

—We have firm proof, madam.
—Assembled by Walsingham, no doubt.

Yes. He would stop at nothing
to see me speedily removed.

It is not a personal matter but law.

Since you are in England, madam,
you are bound by the laws of our country.

Who says this?

My instructions come from Her Majesty the Queen.

I am myself a queen, daughter of a king,

a stranger, and the true kinswoman
to the Queen of England.

As an absolute monarch,
I cannot submit to orders,

nor can I submit to the laws of this land.

For myself, I do not recognise the laws of England,

nor do I know or understand them.

I came here on my cousin's promise of assistance
and was at once imprisoned.

I am now alone, without counsel
or anyone to speak on my behalf.

My papers and notes have been taken from me,
and I am destitute of all aid.

How, then, can you expect me
to stand before a court that I do not recognise

and which has been assembled
only to connive at my death?

We shall proceed tomorrow

and we shall proceed even though you be absent
and continue contumacious.

Who sits in judgement upon me?

The Chancellor, nine earls, 13 barons,
the privy councillors

and ChiefJustices Ray and Anderson.

In such company, I am condemned unheard.

Tell your masters I shall attend.

But remember this, Paulet.

The theatre of the world is wider
than this little realm of England

and my death, should it presently occur,
will blaze wide and dangerously.

Madam, I am commanded by Her Majesty
to deliver this letter to you.

Mary, you have in various ways and manners
attempted to take my life

and to bring my kingdom to destruction
by bloodshed

I have never proceeded so harsh/y against you,
but have, on the contrary,

protected and maintained you like myself

These treasons. ..

Davison, you have made good speed.

—The messenger spoke of great urgency, ma'am.
—Indeed, that is so.

Will the commissioners at Fotheringhay
have reached an end of their business?

Most likely, madam.
If not today, then tomorrow without fail.

Then write a letter. Dispatch it immediately.

Say the sentence upon my cousin must be stayed.

Write just a few lines
saying that this is my command.

—As you wish, madam.
—Say they must adjourn their meeting

until I have had time to consider further.

This is madness, Gifford.
She has been publicly charged and found guilty.

—And now we are told to stop all proceedings.
—Only the execution is delayed.

Even for this there is no cause.
Mary Stuart had no defence but denial.

And you yourself know the plainness
in evidence of the proofs against her.

—Nevertheless, I am told she spoke well.
—Not so. By no means.

It was all sham.

Long, artificial speeches blaming Elizabeth
and the council, protesting her innocence,

wringing tears from her eyes.
Counterfeit acting from start to end.

Fortunately the court was wise enough
to hear her case with proper indifference.

You seem quite distressed
that the lady is not to die.

It is a mark of weakness.
Traitors should die, with all haste,

so that good men may live in safety.

Take comfort, Sir Amyas.
Her death cannot be far away.

As I came to the throne
with the willing hearts of my subjects,

so do I now, after 28 years' reign,
perceive in you no diminution of goodwill.

And though I find my life has been
full dangerously sought,

yet still am I clear from malice.

I have had good experience and trial of this world.

I know what it is to be a sovereign,
what to be a subject,

what to have good neighbours
and sometimes evil—willers.

I have found treason in trust,
seen great benefits little regarded.

In this late act of Parliament,
you lay a hard hand upon me

that I must give direction for my cousin's death,

which cannot but be most grievous
and an irksome burden to me.

I, who in my time have pardoned so many rebels,
winked at so many treasons,

am now required to proceed thus
against such a person.

If I should say unto you that I mean
not to grant your petition,

by my faith,
I should say perhaps more than I mean.

But if I say unto you
that I mean to grant your petition,

then I should tell you more
than it is fit for you to know.

Your judgements I condemn not.
Neither do I mislike your reasons.

But, pray, accept my thankfulness,

excuse my doubtfulness,
and take in good part my answer answerless.

Her Majesty's words
clearly displeased you, Sir Francis.

I had hoped for a firm decision,
My Lord Archbishop.

So had we all.

Sometimes I fear the Scottish Queen
will outlive us all and laugh upon our graves.

There is still one path open to us,
as yet unexplored.

—Indeed so.

I have spoken to Robert Leicester
and he well approves the plan.

—What plan is that?
—The lady could be removed in secret.

—In secret?
—A vial of poison, a soft pillow.

Such means would spare her
the torment of the axe.

There is mercy as well as convenience
in this method.

A man called Wingfield will perform the deed.
He is well experienced and reliable.

—I think not, my lord.
—Your reasons?

The act should be legal, publicly performed.

Otherwise she will be
more dangerous dead than alive.

Very well, Walsingham. Whatever you please.

But let me know if you change your mind

and I will contact the man Wingfield
on your behalf.

Thank you, My Lord Archbishop.

I am grateful for your offer of assistance.

—You wished to see me, madam?
—Yes, I did.

I am much displeased that you have removed
the Royal Cloth of State from my chair.

You are now only a dead woman,
without the dignity and honours of a queen.

How your mind hovers around death.

You are a true Englishman, Paulet,

for the history of your country
is a bloody business indeed.

Blood runs through all countries in times of peril.

There can be no peril now, surely,
for I am safely locked away.

You threaten us all, lady, until your head be off.

There are those who think otherwise,
even among your friends.

—That I doubt.
-Oh, yes, I observed them at my trial.

The lords Rutland and Warwick
looked kindly upon me.

You deceive yourself, madam.

—Not one of them is favourable to your cause.
—You think not?

And everyone else is astonished
to see you so calm

under the circumstances
in which you find yourself.

No living person has ever been accused of crimes
so frightful and odious as yours.

—Is it then a crime to stand by the truth?
—Your truth is not mine, madam.

No, indeed, for mine is the truth
of the Catholic faith.

You parry words and shift their meaning.

You are angry because I ever outwit you. You see?

You stand there like a fish gaping for a reply.

I do not desire to see you, madam.
Your presence disturbs me.

Well, then go, Sir Amyas,
I have no wish for your company.

With death at my side, I have much to think on.


Good morning, Davison.

—How is Sir Francis today?
—Somewhat better, Majesty, I thank you.

-But still in his bed.
—I fear so.

—Give him my good wishes.
—Yes, madam, I will.

—Now, those are to be signed, I believe.
—Yes, madam.

—The weather is kind to us this February, is it not?
—Indeed it is, ma'am.

I was delighted to feel the strength of the sun
upon my face this morning.

-Perhaps we shall have an early spring.
—That certainly is to be hoped.

Do you often travel abroad, Davison?

—Abroad, ma'am?
—To the country.

As often as I am able.

—Town dwelling is not to my taste.
—Very wise.

Bright air comforts the brain, does it not?

—So I believe.
-Oh, yes.

All evil humours spring from the town.

Foul air doth putrefy
and corrupt the blood of man.

—Yes, madam.
—May God send us good spring sunshine.

—Amen to that.
—There, Davison, all is done.

Thank you, ma'am.


—You know what has occurred.
—Yes, madam, I do.

And does it not affect you in any way?

—Affect me, ma'am?
-Distress you.

I prefer to see the death of a guilty person
to the death of one who is innocent.


And so would all good men.

You will tell Sir Francis what has occurred,
will you not?

—Yes, madam, I will.
—Take care.

I feel the grief thereof
may go near to killing him outright.

—Send Paulet to me.

And, Davison, I wish to hear no more
of this matter until it is quite finished.

—Faithful Amyas, I am glad to see you.

Great business has been done here this morning,
did you know that?

Yes, ma'am, and I am much relieved at the news.

But there will be still delay
before this matter is concluded.

The warrant goes now to the council.
There will be argument, discussion.

It is always so in such business, madam.

But I am in deadly peril while Mary still lives.
Hourly, I am in peril.

There have been signs
of death in the heavens, Paulet.

You are well guarded, madam.
There is nothing to fear.

I am disappointed in you, Amyas.

—I thought you loved me well.
—So I do, Majesty. No man more.

My good livings and life are at your disposition.

Then why have you found no way
to shorten the life of this captive queen?

Shorten the life? Madam, I...

—Surely you knew of my reluctance to shed blood.
—I knew you were in doubt.

And yet you did nothing.

I was not aware such action was expected of me.

—There is still time, Sir Amyas.

To do it privily.

You will not do it.

God forbid that I should make
so foul a shipwreck of my conscience

—and leave so great a blot to my posterity.
—You fail me, then.

—I will do anything to serve you, Majesty...
—You fail me nonetheless.

I should have known yours would be
a dainty conscience, Sir Amyas.

Brave words but very little else.

You profess great zeal for my safekeeping,
but will perform nothing.

Like all great matters, this act is my burden
and no one will aid me.

You may go, Paulet.

You must make sure that they act
before the Queen changes her mind yet again.

Davison has already carried the warrant
to the Lord Chancellor,

who has affixed the great seal.

The privy council is resolved
to end the business without delay.


See to it that the axe man is well paid.

—£10 should be enough for his labour.
—Very well, sir.

And Thomas, let no word be buzzed abroad
before the head be off.

—It must...
—Trust me, Sir Francis.

It shall be as you say.

So, it is over.

The bosom serpent will now be crushed.

Even as thy arms, oh Jesus,
were spread here upon the cross,

so receive me into thy arms of mercy...


...and forgive me all my sins.

The end of Mary Stuart's troubles is now done.


Who dispatched the warrant of execution
to Fotheringhay?

William Davison, ma'am.

I gave no orders that the warrant
was to be dispatched.

—It was signed, Majesty.
—For safety's sake, Paulet!

I gave no further orders.

Seize Davison this night
and commit him to the Tower.

You have all acted against
my most earnest desires.

I am innocent of her death,
as God himself may judge.

You may continue, Paulet.

And thus, she departed this miserable world.

Her blazing hair was false, madam. It was a wig.

In truth, she was grey and ageing,
her beauty gone.

The executioner raised up the severed head
and cried aloud, "God save the Queen,"

whereupon the Dean of Peterborough pronounced,
"So perish all the Queen's enemies."

And still the dead woman's lips moved,
trembling, as if trying to speak.

They continued to move thus
for a full 15 minutes.

As the body was lifted, the queen's terrier dog
crept from beneath the skirts

where it had been hiding,
and lay down beside the displaced head.

Women bore the animal away
and washed the blood from its hair.

The block was burnt.

Her clothes and few possessions
were cleaned or burnt.

No trace of her blood remains.

She is quite removed from this earth, madam.

You are recovered, then, Sir Francis?

Thank you, madam. The pain is less severe.

And the deed is done. Your work is accomplished.

The dog died, did you know? The terrier?
It refused food, grew thin and died.

The dog and its mistress, both dead.

There was no other path, Majesty.

You acted with great wisdom.

You think there is great wisdom
in killing a queen?

She is at rest, madam.

And with God's good grace,
she will find eternal peace.


You are much mistaken, Sir Francis.

There is no peace for the dead.

This is a busy time for my royal cousin.

Already the creatures are at work,
crawling between her lips,

entering her nose, burrowing beneath her eyes.

Worms cluster in her belly, competing
with foul maggots for the tastiest morsel.

Even now she is being invaded
by a legion of grey flesh—eaters.

Even now the body writhes and moves
with the activities of countless parasites.

There is no peace for my cousin, Sir Francis,

and will be none until she is consumed and rotten.

Only then will her white bones be at rest.

This is our common end, old moor,
picked clean by worms,

flesh curdling with corruption,
stinking like a blocked midden.

So do not talk to me of peace
and God's good grace.

Dying is a fearful process.

I have known death since I was a child.
I have stared long into his white, unseeing eyes.

I know his dread cruelty.

When you are lying on your last bed,
remember my words.

Cry out for mercy.

Bite deep into your lips

and recall how you plotted
my cousin's most terrible end.