Robert Beale and the Elizabethan polity
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Robert Beale (c. 1541-1601) was one of the foremost (and certainly the best documented) of the 'second-rank' figures that inhabited the inner rings of the Elizabethan polity, and who in many senses characterised the politics of the age. Beale was educated first at Coventry and then abroad during the Marian exile. Here he imbibed of the cosmopolitan Protestantism that was to characterise and also control his subsequent years of service to Queen, Country and commonwealth. His academic, linguistic and legal training also formed the basis of his secretarial and administrative skills that provided the backbone to his public political life. Beale became an integral figure in mid-Elizabethan political society first through his connections with Cecil, Leicester and Walsingham and then through his service as a diplomatic specialist and as a Clerk of the Privy Council. His entire public political life was motivated and controlled by a complex matrix of conceptions of service. First, service to Walsingham in Paris as a secretary and familiar; second, service to Cecil and Leicester and other Privy Councillors as an administrator and a source of counsel, and third service to Elizabeth as Queen and figurehead of the nation. The final controlling ideological impulse for Beale was his service to the more intangible concepts of a distinctly protestant English commonwealth, combined at the same time with a more widespread notion of a pan-European community of reformed protestants. Beale's public political life provides an exceptionally well-documented microcosm of many of the concerns that motivated his contemporaries and of the arenas in which these concerns were acted out. As such, the clearer and more detailed picture of Beale that emerges also adds considerably to our understanding of mid-Elizabethan political society.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy