Thomas Phelippes
Historical Figure
Nationality: England
Date of Birth: 1556
Date of Death: 1625
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Occupation: Forger, Spy
Turtledove Appearances:
Ruled Britannia
POD: July-August, 1588
Type of Appearance: Direct
Occupation: Forger, secretary, co-conspirator, later knight
Thomas Phelippes (1556–1625) was a forger and intelligence gatherer. He served mainly under Sir Francis Walsingham, in the reign of Queeen Elizabeth I, deciphering the codes of those plotting against her. He is most remembered for his adding of a postscript to the "bloody letter" sent by Mary Queen of Scots to Anthony Babington regarding the Babington plot. This postscript asked Babington for the names of the plotters involved in the planned assassination of Elizabeth and hence Walsingham was able to "prove" Mary's direct involvement in the plot, and have her executed.

Thomas Phelippes in Ruled Britannia Edit

Thomas Phelippes was an English cryptographer in the 16th century. When the Spanish Armada invaded and conquered England in 1588, Phelippes became secretary to Don Diego Flores de Valdes, the overall commander of Spanish occupation troops.[1] Phelippes was also in the employ of William Cecil and collaborated with Cecil in his plot to overthrow Queen Isabella and King Albert. To that end, Phelippes contacted William Shakespeare and acted as an initial liaison between Shakespeare and Cecil.[2] Shakespeare also suspected that somehow Phelippes was responsible for Shakespeare's being tasked with writing King Philip.[3] It was Phelippes who wrote out scripts for Boudicca for use by the actors of Lord Westmorland's Men.[4]

After the Spaniards were expelled from England, Phelippes was initially taken into custody by vengeful rioters.[5] By good luck, Shakespeare was present and vouched for him.[6] When Queen Elizabeth was restored to the throne in 1598, she expressed her gratitude to Phelippes by knighting him.[7]

The question of where Phelippes' loyalties truly lay could never be answered with absolute certainty, but by far the likeliest answer seems to have been "himself." This made him very suspect in Shakespeare's eyes and the latter detested the man. 

References Edit

  1. Ruled Britannia, pg. 34.
  2. Ibid. pg. 30, 51-53.
  3. Ibid. pg. 88.
  4. Ibid. pg. 247.
  5. Ibid., pg. 402.
  6. Ibid. 402-404
  7. Ibid., pg. 434.