This was your fate if you plotted against England's great monarch, Elizabeth 1, and were captured. Elizabeth's network of spies discovered a number plots to overthrow the queen and replace her with the Catholic, Mary, Queen of Scots. As this BBC History story reports, "it is a testament to the success of this secret service that Elizabeth died peacefully of old age and not at the hands of an assassin."
Elizabeth's secret service was headed by Francis Walsingham, and as the story and slideshow suggest, some of the exploits of Walsingham rival some of the best CIA plots today. For example, Walsingham intercepted coded letters, from Mary, like the one below, and hidden in beer barrels.
The BBC tells this exciting story in pictures, which you can view here. My thanks to my colleague, Jeff Feinstein for sending me the link.