The Impact of Lord Burghley and the Earl of Leicester’s Spanish-Speaking Secretariats


  • Hannah Leah Crummé University College London | King's College London


Essex, Burghley, Leicester, secretaries, dictionary, Spanish


Whilst the literature of the Spanish Golden Age is itself filled with problems of representation, I will argue in this paper that the greatest misrepresentation of all did not occur in fiction but rather in the English court. During Elizabeth’s reign Lord Burghley, working with his secretary Sir Francis Walsingham, systematically misrepresented Spanish culture, deliberately obscuring the English perception of Spanish Golden Age and casting over it a veil of fear. The Earl of Leicester, by contrast, working only to improve his own reputation as a literary patron and man of letters, inadvertently increased English access to Spanish literature as he patronized a coterie of Spanish-speaking scholars at the University of Oxford. These Spanish secretaries translated Spanish literature and created Spanish dictionaries. By analysing the propaganda created under Burghley and the dictionaries created under Leicester, I will show how the English perception of the Spanish Golden Age developed. How, one might ask, was Antonio del Corro’s arrival at the university tied to the printing of the first Spanish books in England at the university press?


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