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William Cecil (Lord Burghley)

Born in 1520, Burghley was Elizabeth's principle Secretary of State. More Protestant than the Queen but less Puritan than Walsingham, Burghley was a consummate handler of the Queen at her best and worst.

Burghley had acted as guardian for the Earl of Southampton between the ages of 9 until 12-years, effectively prohibiting his pursuit of his family's traditional Catholic faith. Burghley later commanded Southampton to marry his granddaughter, but Southampton refused.

Lord Burghley was keener than Elizabeth on taking robust action with Scotland, and on having allegedly dispatched Mary Queen of Scots' death warrant without Elizabeth's express command, was excluded from court for some time. Many believe, however, that Elizabeth simply couldn't handle her own complicity in the death of another monarch.

Elizabeth relied heavily on Burghley, calling him "my spirit" and allegedly hand fed him during his final days. He died in 1598.

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