How Did Spy Services Develop in England?
Spying has existed since early historical societies in the Middle East, China, and southeast Europe. However, spy services are generally a later development, where groups of government individuals and ultimately agencies within government became responsible for external and internal spying. England, one of the first countries to have a formal spy service, greatly professionalized spying and made it one of the birthplaces of what ultimately became modern espionage.
The rise of espionage or spying services could be traced to the Catholic and Protestant conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. In England, there was both a fear of a Catholic invasion and attempt to take the English throne and a desire to shape events in Europe, particularly the Netherlands. Under the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), one of the first official spymasters in English history arose in the figure of Francis Walsingham, who was also the Secretary of State for Elizabeth I.