<!-- اكتب تحت هذا الخط -->
The duties of the principal secretary were not defined formally, but as he handled all royal correspondence and determined the agenda of council meetings, he could wield great influence in all matters of policy and in every field of government, both foreign and domestic. During his term of office, Walsingham supported the use of England's maritime power to open new trade routes and explore the New World, and was at the heart of international affairs. He was involved directly with English policy towards Spain, the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, and France, and embarked on several diplomatic missions to neighbouring European states.
Closely linked to the mercantile community, he actively supported trade promotion schemes, and invested in the Muscovy Company and the Levant Company. He supported the attempts of John Davis and Martin Frobisher to discover the Northwest Passage and exploit the mineral resources of Labrador, and encouraged Humphrey Gilbert's exploration of Newfoundland. Gilbert's voyage was largely financed by recusant Catholics, and Walsingham favoured the scheme as a potential means of removing Catholics from England by encouraging emigration to the New World. Walsingham was among the promoters of Francis Drake's profitable 1578–1581 circumnavigation of the world, correctly judging that Spanish possessions in the Pacific were vulnerable to attack. The venture was calculated to promote the Protestant interest by embarrassing and weakening the Spanish, as well as to seize Spanish treasure. The first edition of Richard Hakluyt's Principal Navigation, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation was dedicated to Walsingham.
Walsingham advocated direct intervention in the Netherlands in support of the Protestant revolt against Spain, on the grounds that although wars of conquest were unjust, wars in defence of religious liberty and freedom were not. Cecil was more circumspect, and advised a policy of mediation, a policy that Elizabeth endorsed. Walsingham was sent on a special embassy to the Netherlands in 1578, to sound out a potential peace deal and gather military intelligence.
The pro-English Regent of Scotland James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, whom Walsingham supported, was overthrown in 1578. After the collapse of the Raid of Ruthven, another initiative to secure a pro-English government in Scotland, Walsingham reluctantly visited the Scottish court in August 1583, knowing that his diplomatic mission was unlikely to succeed. James VI was angered when Walsingham told the king flatly that "young princes were many times carried into great errors upon an opinion of the absoluteness of their royal authority and do not consider, that when they transgress the bounds and limits of the law, they leave to be kings and become tyrants." A mutual defence pact was eventually agreed in the Treaty of Berwick of 1586.
Walsingham's cousin Edward Denny fought in Ireland during the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond and was one of the English settlers granted land in Munster confiscated from Desmond. Walsingham's stepson Christopher Carleill commanded the garrisons at Coleraine and Carrickfergus. Walsingham thought Irish farmland was underdeveloped and hoped that plantation would improve the productivity of estates. Tensions between the native Irish and the English settlers had lasting effects on the history of Ireland.
Walsingham's younger daughter Mary died aged seven in July 1580; his elder daughter, Frances, married Sir Philip Sidney on 21 September 1583, despite the Queen's initial objections to the match (for unknown reasons) earlier in the year. As part of the marriage agreement, Walsingham agreed to pay £1,500 of Sidney's debts, and gave his daughter and son-in-law the use of his manor at Barn Elms in Surrey. A granddaughter born in November 1585 was named Elizabeth after the Queen, who was one of two godparents along with Sidney's uncle, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. The following year, Sidney was killed fighting the Spanish in the Netherlands, and Walsingham was faced with paying off more of Sidney's extensive debts. His widowed daughter gave birth, in a difficult delivery, to a second child shortly afterward, but the baby, a girl, was stillborn.
Charles IX died in 1574, and Henry, Duke of Anjou, inherited the French throne as Henry III. Between 1578 and 1581, the Queen resurrected attempts to negotiate a marriage with the Duke of Alençon, who had put himself forward as a protector of the Huguenots and a potential leader of the Dutch. Walsingham was sent to France in mid-1581 to discuss an Anglo-French alliance, but the French wanted the marriage agreed first, and Walsingham was under instruction to obtain a treaty before committing to the marriage. He returned to England without an agreement. Personally, Walsingham opposed the marriage, perhaps to the point of encouraging public opposition. Alençon was a Catholic, and as his elder brother, Henry III, was childless, he was heir to the French throne. Elizabeth was past the age of childbearing, and had no clear successor. If she died while married to the French heir, her realms could fall under French control. By comparing the match of Elizabeth and Alençon with the match of the Protestant Henry of Navarre and the Catholic Margaret of Valois, which occurred in the week before the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, the "most horrible spectacle" he had ever witnessed, Walsingham raised the spectre of religious riots in England in the event of the marriage proceeding. Elizabeth put up with his blunt, often unwelcome, advice, and acknowledged his strong beliefs in a letter, in which she called him "her Moor [who] cannot change his colour".[c]
These were years of tension in policy towards France, with Walsingham sceptical of the unpredictable Henry III and distrustful of the English ambassador in Paris, Edward Stafford. Stafford, who was compromised by his gambling debts, was in the pay of the Spanish and passed vital information to Spain. Walsingham may have been aware of Stafford's duplicity, as he fed the ambassador false information, presumably in the hope of fooling or confusing the Spanish.