Shaker_coverThe ambassador of the Duke of Anjou requests that Elizabeth’s two boys be “eliminated”.

“I would like to review briefly the conditions regarding a possible marriage with Elizabeth.”
“Well,” said Simier, as he placed his cup gently on the table, “the Duke sees this as a three way alliance between France, England and Scotland; possibly, and hopefully, a four way alliance to include the Netherlands, depending on his success there. It is the Duke’s wish to establish the premier power in Europe, one that cannot be threatened by Spain, provided of course, that we agree on a mutual defence policy if Spain should take action against any one of the allies. He would, of course, become Prince Consort of England and Scotland, and any issue of the marriage, which is a primary goal of his, would be heir to the throne of England and Scotland.”
“And in return?” asked Burghley.
“In return, the marriage would fulfil Queen Elizabeth’s wish to unite England and Scotland under her rule. And she can be assured that France stands firmly on England’s side in any conflict. And, of course, you, my dear friend, would be the prime minister of both England and Scotland as the first among equals. The Duke’s intent is to assure you sufficient property and income to make you the wealthiest man in the realm. He is a very generous man.
“The Duke is also very sensitive to the importance of the religious issue, and will accept the continuation of Elizabeth’s policy of religious tolerance in England. He has no intent to disturb the status quo.”
“At this time,” added Burghley.
“At this time,” repeated Simier coolly.
“I see. And let us review the question of the succession, barring a natural heir from the marriage, which seemed to be the sticking point last time we talked.
“Two things. For the first, it is a condition that parliament pass a law specifically naming Mary, Queen of Scots, or her issue in the case of her death, as official heir to the throne of England and Scotland in such case. I believe we were agreed on that.”
“Secondly, the Duke requires that the two natural sons of Elizabeth and Leicester be, shall we say, eliminated.”
“ ‘Eliminated’. Please be more specific, ” said Burghley with a frown.
“The Duke will not risk a ‘Wyatt’ uprising by the Protestants, using one of her sons as revolutionary symbol, as happened with Queen Mary and Elizabeth in ‘54. He needs to be satisfied that that cannot happen and will not happen.”
Simier leaned forward, and said in a low voice, “In France, they would be summarily executed, family or not, without sentimentality. Standard procedure. That would be his preferred solution.”
“Well this is not France, Simier. The Queen would never go along with that.”
“Well now, that might depend on how much she wants to unite England and Scotland under her rule,” said Simier.
“I would not even dare suggest it for fear of my own head,” said Burghley. “Besides, you have to realise that the general public knows nothing of the two boys. The secret has been well kept.”
“Ah, yes. We know that. But we also know that key Protestant leaders, members of the Privy Council — I could mention the Earl of Pembroke for one, know the whole story very well, and have the credibility to convince the Protestants of the truth, possibly even with written documentation for all we know. No, Burghley, that argument does not hold water. Not with the Duke of Anjou. Besides, the Duke knows Francis Bacon from his time in France. That young man is very ambitious. He expects to be King some day. He is a threat to François.”
He stroked his beard as he gathered his thoughts. “And the young lad, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex? He is wealthy; he is handsome. He has a temper. He is a natural leader. We are watching him closely.”
“My God, Simier, he is only eleven years old. Just a lad.”
“Young lads become young men very quickly. This one is potentially dangerous, possibly more so than Francis. Mark my words. And then,” said Simier with a pause for effect, “there is another young man with great ambition who must not be ignored. One Robert Cecil, who, I understand, is very close to the Queen. Surely his outlook for position in the future would be much improved if two formidable competitors like Francis and Robert were, shall we say, out of the way. N’est ce pas?” he said with a devious smile.