From his appointment as principal secretary to Elizabeth I in 1573, Sir Francis Walsingham was instrumental in every sphere of English diplomacy. He was particularly interested in maintaining friendly relations with Scotland, though this was complicated by his suspicions of individual Scots, especially the king, James VI, who embarked on his personal rule after the execution of the last regent in 1581. Walsingham’s keen interest in Anglo-Scottish diplomacy was partly occasioned by his office, but more importantly by his own concerns about the implications a weak or hostile Scotland would have for England. His extensive network of contacts among both English and Scottish diplomatic personnel enabled him to exert influence over this area of policy. Walsingham’s view of Scotland and his preferred policy drew him into conflict with other members of Elizabeth’s government, who espoused a different policy and outlook and had their own networks of influence. Using particularly the acrimonious falling out between Walsingham and another privy councillor, Lord Hunsdon, over Scottish policy in 1584, this essay analyzes the influence of personalities, political allegiances, and ideological factors on the formation and implementation of England’s Scottish policy.

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