Delving into a netherworld of treachery and intrigue in Elizabethan London, John Bossy attempts to solve a centuries-old mystery: who was "Fagot," the spy working within the French embassy in London to subvert Catholic efforts to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and her government?
Author Biography: John Bossy is emeritus professor of history at the University of York
In 1583, Giordano Bruno, a Catholic priest from Italy, arrived in London and joined the household of Michel de Castelnau, the French ambassador. It was an uneasy time, with Spain and France plotting to replace Queen Elizabeth with Mary Queen of Scots and make England a Catholic realm. While researching Castelnau's activities, Bossy (a history professor at York University in England) became convinced that Bruno, under the alias Henry Fagot, had secretly provided information about goings-on in the ambassador's home to one of Elizabeth's ministers, aiding the effort to keep Mary from the throne. ``Fagot'' was never unmasked, but Bruno aroused the Church's wrath in other matters and was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600. Potentially an absorbing adventure, Bossy's unraveling of the centuries-old mystery of the identity of Henry Fagot is too wordy, didactic and repetitious to satisfy either general readers or those with a special interest in the period. ( Nov. )