ProQuest have announced the launch of The Cecil Papers online, an intimate look at the inner workings of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. The 30,000 startlingly clear digital images virtually recreate documents gathered by William Cecil, Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil, First Earl of Salisbury, two of Elizabeth I's closest advisers. The collection consists of state papers, political memoranda, legal documents, and treaties as well as hand-drawn maps, tables and letters that shed light on events such as the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot and the imprisonment and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Until now, the Papers were only available to view by visitors to Hatfield House, the 400 year old home of the Marquess of Salisbury where they have been housed since the 16th century, or on microfilm.
Among the tens of thousands of items in The Cecil Papers are documents detailing negotiations, correspondence, and questions of marriage relating to Elizabeth, as well as the succession to the throne. Mary, Queen of Scots' fate unfolds through a look at the famous "casket letters," as her son - James VI of Scotland and I of England - begins his journey to power. Personal lives can be witnessed through the wealth of letters - loving and otherwise - sonnets, and pleas. And the expansion of the Crown is documented through correspondence that details expeditions, wars and conquests.
Pictured is a letter from Sir Walter Raleigh to the King, written in 1603-4.