First, thank you for such a helpful and informative blog!
My questions are in regard to using ladies-in-waiting to spy on a queen's doings, particularly Catherine of Aragon, and how such "arrangements" were made.
Firstly, do we actually know of any instances where a lady-in-waiting was known (or at least highly suspected) as a spy who willingly and freely passed on information about her mistress to a third party? Would love some definitive documentation (e.g. letters to/from said spy, financial transactions, arrest warrants, etc), but would also love to hear what courtiers thought or suspected as well (e.g. if someone like Chapuys thought a particular woman was untrustworthy or betraying the Queen, etc) Also, do we know if there's any truth to that habit in period Tudor dramas where the Queen always dismisses her ladies before important conversations, and if so, was this due to fear or knowledge of spies?
Particularly, do we have any evidence of Cardinal Wolsey using Catherine of Aragon's English ladies-in-waiting to spy on her? I remember hearing somewhere that he used his influence to dismiss CoA's Spanish ladies-in-waiting and replace them with English ladies that reported to him (or at least ladies that CoA couldn't trust), but I can't remember if I heard it from a "factual" source or from fiction. It does seem something that Wolsey (or Cromwell) might do, though! What do we know of CoA's ladies informing other parties about her private dealings?
In a more general sense, if someone like Wolsey did wish to use a lady-in-waiting as a spy on the Queen, how would such an arrangement be made? For example, would he approach the woman directly, or would he approach her family so that her father/male relatives could instruct her? Would he likely suborn an existing lady-in-waiting, or might he try to arrange for a loyal family/woman to be placed with the Queen's household? Would these likely be long-term and all inclusive arrangements, or would they likely be negotiated for specific incidents (e.g. "The Queen is meeting with Bishop Fisher tomorrow. Tell me what they discuss.")? What sorts of bribery might be used? Would the lady be likely to use letters to pass on the information, or would she do it person, and if so, how and with who? (meeting in private areas with loyal servants, knocking on Cromwell's office door, etc?) Lastly, what would be the potential penalties for a woman who refused to inform on her mistress, or passed along lies/glossed over important information?
(Thanks so much for your answers! I will likely be back with other questions re: CoA and ladies in waiting. As a side note, if anyone could recommend some good texts about Catherine of Aragon and her ladies-in-waiting, I'd definitely appreciate it. I would even love some fiction recommendations for that topic, as long as they're not too wildly inaccurate.)