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Under the Molehill: An Elizabethan Spy Story (Yale Nota Bene) Paperback – 1 Jul 2002

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Frequently Bought Together

Under the Molehill: An Elizabethan Spy Story (Yale Nota Bene) + Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair (Yale Nota Bene) + Elizabeth's Spy Master : Francis Walsingham and the secret war that saved England [ Spymaster ]
Price For All Three: £34.99

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300094507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300094503
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,080,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A gripping story of Elizabethan realpolitik revealed in step-by-step detail. Bossy knows more about this intriguing chapter in Elizabethan politics than anyone else.." -- Charles Nicholl, Sunday Times

"Bossy tells the story with all his familiar narrative flair." -- Ralph Houlbrooke, Times Literary Supplement

"Bossy’s case is most persuasive and his sleuthing is meticulous and exhaustive. He is also a witty writer." -- Frank McLynn, Literary Review

About the Author

John Bossy, emeritus professor of history at the University of York, is also the author of Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair (ISBN 0 300 0, new NB paperback, [pound]8.99*), also published by Yale University Press.

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A focussed look at an incident in Elizabethan intelligence work 1 Dec. 2011
By Elizabeth A. Root - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the 1580's, Walsingham's spy operations somehow gained access to the correspondence of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau, Seigneur de Mauvissière. In this book and its earlier companion to Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, Bossy has attempted to determine the identities of the agents involved.

I liked this book much better than the earlier one. It is still a very scholarly work, with copies of original documents appended, but the writing is much clearer and livelier. In addition, Bossy has translated foreign language quotes. I am also more convinced of his conclusions. Bossy seems to really sympathize with Michel de Castelnau, Seigneur de Mauvissière, who seems very likable and took the fall for the leaks in his embassy.

Bossy also revisits the vexed issue of William Parry, who was at one time claimed to be working for the English, and at another time executed for plotting against them. I felt that he handled it very poorly in his other book, but it was much better explained here. It is still not entirely clear, but that apparently isn't for lack of digging by Bossy.

He seems to have backed off a little on his identification of 'Fagot' as Giordano Bruno, and he is also less harsh towards the English, especially the intelligence community. Whether the reader finds these improvements or not is best left to them.

I would recommend this to people interested in Elizabethan intelligence work, especially in Walsingham. Readers may be interested to know that the two books form part of the basis for the thriller Prophecy by S. J. Parris (i.e. Stephanie Merritt)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Diplomatic intrigue ...... 11 April 2006
By D. Bowen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fairly scholarly work. Although it is not overly long, and it does allow a reader that is less well informed on the Elizabethan period to get a feel for the politics of the period, the book is not so dramatic as to be compelling to the average reader, and would be better suited to large institutional collections and those with a particular interest in Elizabethan England.

Bossy writes in an erudite style, and appears to have attempted a more novelistic style for the structure of the book, but the nature of the book remains unchanged, and unfortunately, the literary gymnastics seem to reduce clarity in the account.

Still a good book for interested parties.
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