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England has a new monarch, King James I, and Elizabeth’s former spymaster Robert Cecil faces his toughest test. A group of religious extremists plans to blow up the Houses of Parliament with the king inside—what we call the Gunpowder Plot.
Elizabeth’s enemies grow in strength, but her spymaster Robert Cecil also fights an enemy within. An ambitious aristocrat is trying to take over his network. At stake is control over the aging queen and the power to choose the next King of England.
Mary Queen of Scots is taken to the Great Hall of Fotheringhay Castle where she is to be executed on the scaffold. Mary has one last trick up her sleeve: When she takes off her cloak she reveals a scarlet dress, the Catholic color of martyrdom. This is her one last chance to tell the story for herself.
Cecil’s network is put on high alert by intelligence from a source in Catholic Europe. As a result he catches Charles Bailly, a Catholic courier carrying coded letters addressed to someone called Forty.
Cecil makes a breakthrough with the coded letter. Cecil’s agent arrests two men carrying a large amount of gold and another coded letter. After being interrogated in London the two men admit they are servants of the Lord of the Realm. The Lord’s home is searched and the key to the coded letters are discovered. The Lord is the Duke of Norfolk.
With William Cecil banished from Queen Elizabeth I’s court after entrapping and arranging the execution of Mary Queen of Scots his son Robert Cecil waits in the wings to take over his father’s role and inherit his spy network.
Elizabeth feels like she has spent all her life in little rooms, in a world of spies and conspiracies where she feels as if she never safe and danger is all around. Cecil is partly responsible for this. As he tries to keep her protected he also shields her away from the world to have her manageable and contained.
Elizabeth must choose who will be the next heir to the throne as her reign comes to an end. Elizabeth’s court including Robert Cecil gathers around her deathbed. At this moment Robert Cecil leans and asks if the King of Scots will be her next successor. Elizabeth puts her hand to her face and Cecil interprets this as confirmation that James I will be King.
Gerard knows Cecil is searching for him after the failure of the Gunpowder Plot so stays with Eliza in her home at Harrowden Hall. Eventually the King and Cecil’s men come to Eliza’s home to search for them. To keep safe Gerard hides himself in a priest hole, a secret compartment of the house. The house is searched for nine days and Eliza is taken to London accused of sheltering a Catholic priest.
Upon Cecil’s request the cellars underneath the House of Parliament are searched. Guy Fawkes is found by the barrels of Gunpowder with matches in his hand. He reveals the Gunpowder Plot conspiracy and is arrested. The other plotters run for escape, chased by Cecil’s men. They engage in a shootout with their chasers and eventually they are captured or killed.
Cecil takes his intelligence letter about the Gunpowder Plot to King James I directly. He knows that James will only get involved with the conspiracy if he thinks he’s uncovered it himself. James interprets the words in the letter about the use of gunpowder and boasts about how smart he is for working it out.
James ignores Parliament's request and issues a coin called the unite, which on one side describes him as King of Great Britain, a title he’s adopted despite objection. This puts Cecil in a difficult position as he must manage the ideas of the new king alongside the resistance of the English Parliament.
This series uncovers the secret state that helped keep Queen Elizabeth in power for over 40 years. During a time when Britain was divided, unstable and violent, the world's first secret service was born. Run by William and Robert Cecil, this father and son team had the duty of protecting the Queen and the Country.