This book investigates the work of the Elizabethan secretariat during the fascinating decade of the 1590s, when, after the death of Francis Walsingham, the place of principal secretary remained vacant for six years. Through original sources in the collections of the State Papers and Cecil Papers, this study reconstructs the activities of the clerks and secretaries who worked in close contact with the Queen at court. An estimated fifty people, many unidentified, saw to every minute detail of the production of official documents and letters in an array of offices, rooms and locations within and outside the court. The book introduces the staff of the Elizabethan writing offices as a community of shared knowledge with a privileged and constant access to papers of state, working behind the scenes of court display and high politics. While the production of the state papers is explored as a means to re-construct the functioning of the inner mechanisms of state, it also provides a lens through which to access the knowledge of the administration in a pre-bureaucratic age.
1. The Context
2. The Cecil Papers at Hatfield House
3. Work in the Signet Office
4. The Royal Secretariat and the Signet Office