Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Thomas Howard, the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, was born in 1473. He married Anne of York, the daughter of Edward IV and sister-in-law of Henry VII, in 1495. He was a good soldier and in 1497 he served first against the Cornish rebels and then, in September, against the Scots.

In April 1510, following the accession of Henry VIII, he was made a knight of the Garter, After her death in December 1511, Howard married Elizabeth Stafford, the daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. On 22nd May 1512 he was appointed lieutenant-general of an army sent to Spain to co-operate with Ferdinand of Aragon in an Anglo-Spanish invasion of southern France. Lack of Spanish support caused the expedition to return home. (1)

On 4th May 1513 Howard became lord admiral and on 9th September he was prominent in the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Flodden. The English army was commanded by Thomas Howard, who appointed his son to lead the vanguard ahead of the rest of the army and his own artillery. During the fighting King James IV was killed. According to Jasper Ridley the "Scottish losses were heavy" including "nearly all the Scottish nobility". (2)

As a reward for his achievements at Flodden he was created the Earl of Surrey and granted two castles and eighteen manors in Lincolnshire. He also became a member of the king's council. On 10th March 1520, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. It was a difficult time for "England's control of that island, never very secure, was slipping from royal hands". Surrey's was unable to pacify the island and suggested that Henry VIII should attempt a military conquest. He rejected the idea and instead wanted to concentrate on his "continental enterprises". (3)

Thomas Howard and Ireland

Thomas Howard now had another idea to help solve the problem of Ireland. Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond, was the most powerful noble on the island. Howard suggested to the king that his niece Anne Boleyn, should marry Ormond's son and heir James Butler, who at that time was living in the household of Thomas Wolsey. Howard argued that the "marriage would smooth the way for Piers Butler to be recognized as Earl of Ormond and appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in his place." Wolsey supported the idea but it appears that negotiations between the Earl of Ormond and Anne's father, Thomas Boleyn, ended in failure. (4)

While he was away, his father-in-law, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was arrested, tried, convicted, and, on 17th May 1521, executed for treason. (5) It has been suggested that Thomas Wolsey was the person responsible for the death of Buckingham.

John Guy, the author of Tudor England (1986), disagrees with the idea that Wolsey was the reason Buckingham was executed: "If Wolsey had sought Buckingham's downfall, a suggestion for which there is no hard evidence - in fact, he had made at least one attempt to steer the duke into safer paths - Buckingham had played into his hands... When in February 1521 he sought a licence to visit his lordships in Wales with 400 armed men, it was all too reminiscent of his father's revolt against Richard III." (6)

In June 1522 Thomas Howard acted as admiral in escorting the Emperor Charles V back from England to northern Spain. He then raided Brittany, sacked Morlaix, and "sailed home laden with booty". In August and September 1522 he led an "Anglo-Burgundian force from Calais through northern France on an expensive and destructive march which served no military purpose and which had to be abandoned in October as winter approached". In December 1522 he replaced his father as lord treasurer. Howard continued to serve Henry VIII in his military campaigns. He was appointed Lieutenant-General of the army against Scotland. During the summer of 1523 he ravaged parts of southern Scotland. (7)

3rd Duke of Norfolk

On the death of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, on 21st May 1524, he became the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Now aged 51 he was allowed to retire to his Norfolk home of Kenninghall. However, he remained in close contact with Henry VIII. Alison Weir has argued that Norfolk was a constant source of advice: " Thomas Howard... male contemporaries considered him to be a man of the utmost wisdom, solid worth and loyalty.... He had the common touch, and associated with everybody regardless of rank. What made Norfolk valuable to Henry VIII was his astute judgement and his ruthless expediency. He had great experience in the administration of the kingdom, and could discuss affairs of state in depth. Like all his clan, he was ambitious." (8)

Over the next few years Norfolk and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, were often in conflict with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who was the King's main adviser. It is said that Norfolk and Suffolk were "irritated and frustrated by the proud way in which Wolsey had flaunted his possessions and power... the wealthy palaces, the expensive banquets, and the practice that probably galled them most of all, the assertion of his right as legate to take precedence over them in court rituals." (9)

Anne Boleyn

During this period Henry VIII became romantically involved with Norfolk's niece Anne Boleyn, As Hilary Mantel has pointed out: "We don't know exactly when he fell for Anne Boleyn. Her sister Mary had already been his mistress. Perhaps Henry simply didn't have much imagination. The court's erotic life seems knotted, intertwined, almost incestuous; the same faces, the same limbs and organs in different combinations. The king did not have many affairs, or many that we know about. He recognised only one illegitimate child. He valued discretion, deniability. His mistresses, whoever they were, faded back into private life. But the pattern broke with Anne Boleyn." (10)

For several years Henry had been planning to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Now he knew who he wanted to marry - Anne. At the age of thirty-six he fell deeply in love with a woman some sixteen years his junior. (11) Henry wrote Anne a series of passionate love letters. In 1526 he told her: "Seeing I cannot be present in person with you, I send you the nearest thing to that possible, that is, my picture set in bracelets ... wishing myself in their place, when it shall please you." Soon afterwards he wrote during a hunting exhibition: "I send you this letter begging you to give me an account of the state you are in... I send you by this bearer a buck killed late last night by my hand, hoping, when you eat it, you will think of the hunter." (12)

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Henry VIII

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Henry VII


Anne Boleyn

In January 1531, Henry and Anne had a violent quarrel and she threatened to leave him. According to Alison Weir, the author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) the Duke of Norfolk and Thomas Boleyn had to sort the problem out: "At the prospect of losing her, Henry went hotfoot to Norfolk and Anne's father, and begged them with tears in his eyes to act as mediators. When the quarrel was made up, he placated Anne with yet more gifts: furs and rich embroideries. This charade was repeated on several occasions, with Anne lamenting her lost time and honour, and Henry weeping, begging her to desist and speak no more of leaving him." (13)

Thomas Wolsey

Henry's relationship with Anne improved Norfolk's political fortunes. He used his new influence to get Thomas Wolsey removed from power. (14) Anne was encouraged to poison the King's mind against him. Norfolk and other members of the Boleyn faction repeatedly warned Henry that, far from working to secure an annulment, Wolsey was actually doing his best to prevent Pope Clement VII from ever granting one. (15)

In October 1529 Cardinal Wolsey was dismissed from office. Wolsey's palaces and colleges were confiscated by the crown as a punishment for his offences, and he retired to his home in York. He began secretly negotiating with foreign powers in an attempt to get their support in persuading Henry to restore him to favour. His leading advisor, Thomas Cromwell, warned him that his enemies knew what he was doing. He was arrested and charged with high treason. (16)

In November 1530 the Venetian ambassador Lodovico Falieri reported that after the fall of Wolsey the Duke of Norfolk became the King's most important adviser. He "makes use of him in all negotiations more than any other person … and every employment devolves to him". He managed to persuade the King to appoint his friend, Sir Thomas More, as his Lord Chancellor instead of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. (17)

When Henry VIII discovered that Anne Boleyn was pregnant, he realised he could not afford to wait for the Pope's permission. As it was important that the child should not be classed as illegitimate, arrangements were made for Henry and Anne to get married. King Charles V of Spain threatened to invade England if the marriage took place, but Henry ignored his threats and the marriage went ahead on 25th January, 1533. It was very important to Henry that his wife should give birth to a male child. Without a son to take over from him when he died, Henry feared that the Tudor family would lose control of England. (18)

The Duke of Norfolk profited handsomely while Anne was Queen. He was created Earl Marshal on 28th May 1533 and received grants of monastic lands in Norfolk and Suffolk and he had the opportunity to purchase other East Anglian estates. Meanwhile the king employed him on diplomatic service in 1533, on a futile embassy to France. However, his influence declined as Thomas Cromwell, with whom he disagreed with in the Privy Council, rose in the king's favour and confidence. (19)

Elizabeth was born on 7th September, 1533. Henry expected a son and selected the names of Edward and Henry. While Henry was furious about having another daughter, the supporters of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon were delighted and claimed that it proved God was punishing Henry for his illegal marriage to Anne. (20) Retha M. Warnicke, the author of The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) has pointed out: "As the king's only legitimate child, Elizabeth was, until the birth of a prince, his heir and was to be treated with all the respect that a female of her rank deserved. Regardless of her child's sex, the queen's safe delivery could still be used to argue that God had blessed the marriage. Everything that was proper was done to herald the infant's arrival." (21)

The Duke of Norfolk eventually fell out with Queen Anne Boleyn. One of the reasons for this was that he was a staunch Roman Catholic and disapproved of her progressive religious views. (22) He was also worried about the way she was treating Henry VIII. Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V about what was happening: "She (Anne) is becoming more arrogant every day, using words in authority towards the King of which he has several times complained to the Duke of Norfolk, saying that she was not like the Queen (Catherine of Aragon) who never in her life used ill words to him." (23)

Execution of Anne Boleyn

In April 1536, a Flemish musician in Anne Boleyn's service named Mark Smeaton was arrested. He initially denied being the Queen's lover but later confessed, perhaps tortured or promised freedom. (24) Another courtier, Henry Norris, was arrested on 1st May. Sir Francis Weston was arrested two days later on the same charge, as was William Brereton, a Groom of the King's Privy Chamber. (25)

Anne was arrested and was taken to the Tower of London on 2nd May, 1536. Thomas Cromwell took this opportunity to destroy her brother, George Boleyn. He had always been close to his sister and in the circumstances it was not difficult to suggest to Henry that an incestuous relationship had existed. George was arrested on 2nd May, 1536, and taken to the Tower of London. David Loades has argued: "Both self control and a sense of proportion seem to have been completely abandoned, and for the time being Henry would believe any evil that he was told, however farfetched." (26)

On 12th May, the Duke of Norfolk, as High Steward of England, presided over the trial of Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton at Westminster Hall. (27) Except for Smeaton they all pleaded not guilty to all charges. Thomas Cromwell made sure that a reliable jury was empanelled, consisting almost entirely of known enemies of the Boleyns. "These were not difficult to find, and they were all substantial men, with much to gain or lose by their behaviour in such a conspicuous theatre". (28)

Few details survive of the proceedings. Witnesses were called and several spoke of Anne Boleyn's alleged sexual activity. One witness said that there was "never such a whore in the realm". The evidence for the prosecution was very weak, but "Cromwell managed to contrive a case based on Mark Smeaton's questionable confession, a great deal of circumstantial evidence, and some very salacious details about what Anne had allegedly got up to with her brother." (29) At the end of the trial the jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the four men were condemned by Lord Chancellor Thomas Audley to be drawn, hanged, castrated and quartered. Eustace Chapuys claimed that Brereton was "condemned on a presumption, not by proof or valid confession, and without any witnesses." (30)

George and Anne Boleyn were tried two days later in the Great Hall of the Tower. Once again the Duke of Norfolk presided. (31) In Anne's case the verdict already pronounced against her accomplices made the outcome inevitable. She was charged, not only with a whole list of adulterous relationships going back to the autumn of 1533, but also with poisoning Catherine of Aragon, "afflicting Henry with actual bodily harm, and conspiring his death." (32)

George Boleyn was charged with having sexual relations with his sister at Westminster on 5th November 1535. However, records show she was with Henry on that day in Windsor Castle. Boleyn was also accused of being the father of the deformed child born in late January or early February, 1536. (33) This was a serious matter because in Tudor times Christians believed that a deformed child was God's way of punishing parents for committing serious sins. Henry VIII feared that people might think that the Pope Clement VII was right when he claimed that God was angry because Henry had divorced Catherine and married Anne. (34)

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Eustace Chapuys reported to King Charles V that Anne Boleyn "was principally charged with... having cohabited with her brother and other accomplices; that there was a promise between her and Norris to marry after the King's death, which it thus appeared they hoped for... and that she had poisoned Catherine and intrigued to do the same to Mary... These things, she totally denied, and gave a plausible answer to each." She admitted to giving presents to Francis Weston but this was not an unsual gesture on her part. (35) It is claimed that Thomas Cranmer told Alexander Ales that he was convinced that Anne Boleyn was innocent of all charges. (36)

George and Anne Boleyn were both found guilty of all charges. The Duke of Norfolk, who presided over the trial left it to the King to decide whether Anne should be beheaded or burned alive. Between sentence and execution, neither admitted guilt. Anne declared herself ready to die because she had unwittingly incurred the King's displeasure, but grieved, as Eustace Chapuys reported, for the innocent men who were also to die on her account." (37)

Anne went to the scaffold at Tower Green on 19th May, 1536. The Lieutenant of the Tower reported her as alternately weeping and laughing. The Lieutenant assured her she would feel no pain, and she accepted his assurance. "I have a little neck," she said, and putting her hand round it, she shrieked with laughter. The "hangman of Calais" had been brought from France at a cost of £24 since he was a expert with a sword. This was a favour to the victim since a sword was usually more efficient than "an axe that could sometimes mean a hideously long-drawn-out affair." (38)

Pilgrimage of Grace

On 28th September 1536, the King's commissioners for the suppression of monasteries arrived to take possession of Hexham Abbey and eject the monks. They found the abbey gates locked and barricaded. "A monk appeared on the roof of the abbey, dressed in armour; he said that there were twenty brothers in the abbey armed with guns and cannon, who would all die before the commissioners should take it." The commissioners retired to Corbridge, and informed Thomas Cromwell of what had happened. (39)

The following month disturbances took place at the market town of Louth in Lincolnshire. The rebels captured local officials and demanded the arrest of leading Church figures they considered to be heretics. This included Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Bishop Hugh Latimer. They wrote a letter to Henry VIII claiming that they had taken this action because they were suffering from "extreme poverty". (40)

Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, and Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, were was sent to Lincolnshire to deal with the rebels. In a age before a standing army, loyal forces were not easy to raise. (41) "Appointed the king's lieutenant to suppress the Lincolnshire rebels, he advanced fast from Suffolk to Stamford, gathering troops as he went; but by the time he was ready to fight, the rebels had disbanded. On 16th October he entered Lincoln and began to pacify the rest of the county, investigate the origins of the rising, and prevent the southward spread of the pilgrimage." (42)

A lawyer, Robert Aske, was travelling to London on 4th October when he was captured by a group of rebels involved in the uprising. (43) Aske agreed to use his talents as a lawyer to help the rebels. He wrote letters for them explaining their complaints. These letters insisted that their quarrel was not with the King or the nobility, but with the government of the realm, especially Thomas Cromwell. The historian, Geoffrey Moorhouse, has pointed out: "Robert Aske never wavered in his belief that a just and well-ordered society was based upon a due recognition of rank and privilege, starting with that of their anointed prince, Henry VIII." (44)

Aske now returned home and began to persuade people from Yorkshire to support the rebellion. People joined what became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace for a variety of different reasons. Derek Wilson, the author of A Tudor Tapestry: Men, Women & Society in Reformation England (1972) has argued: "It would be incorrect to view the rebellion in Yorkshire, the so-called Pilgrimage of Grace, as purely and simply an upsurge of militant piety on behalf of the old religion. Unpopular taxes, local and regional grievances, poor harvests as well as the attack on the monasteries and the Reformation legislation all contributed to the creation of a tense atmosphere in many parts of the country". (45)

Within a few days, 40,000 men had risen in the East Riding and were marching on York. (46) Aske called on his men to take an oath to join "our Pilgrimage of Grace" for "the commonwealth... the maintenance of God's Faith and Church militant, preservation of the King's person and issue, and purifying of the nobility of all villein's blood and evil counsellors, to the restitution of Christ's Church and suppression of heretics' opinions". (47) Aske published a declaration obliging "every man to be true to the king's issue, and the noble blood, and preserve the Church of God from spoiling". (48)

By the end of the month the rising had engulfed virtually all the northern counties, roughly one-third of the country. (49) Scott Harrison has suggested that: "Twenty thousand men, women and children may have actively supported the rebellion at some stages, and many more may have taken the rebel oath before returning to their homes... If one accepts an estimate for the total population of the region of approximately seventy thousand in 1536, the fact that over one-third of the inhabitants were active rebels indicates a high level of involvement." (50)

Robert Aske and his rebels entered York on 16th October. It is estimated that Aske now led an army that numbered 20,000. (51) Aske made a speech where he pointed out "we have taken (this pilgrimage) for the preservation of Christ's church, of this realm of England, the King our sovereign lord, the nobility and commons of the same... the monasteries... in the north parts (they) gave great alms to poor men and laudably served God... and by occasion of the said suppression the divine in divine service of Almighty God is much diminished." (52)

Aske arrived at Pontefract Castle on 20th October. After a short siege, Thomas Darcy, running short of supplies, surrendered the castle. Richard Hoyle has pointed out: "Darcy's actions are in fact perfectly plausible when taken at face value and especially when the Pilgrimage of Grace is seen as a widespread popular movement in opposition to expected and feared religious innovations. When disturbances broke out in Yorkshire, he sent the king a long and accurate assessment of the situation and sought reinforcements, money, supplies of munitions, and the authority to mobilize. On two further occasions he wrote at length describing a deteriorating situation. On all three occasions his information and advice were ignored... It was Aske's contention that Darcy could not have resisted a siege, but would have been killed if the commons had stormed the castle." (53)

Henry VIII summoned the Duke of Norfolk, out of retirement to deal with the Pilgrimage of Grace. Norfolk, although he was 63, was the country's best soldier. Norfolk was also the leading Roman Catholic and a strong opponent of Thomas Cromwell and it was hoped that he was a man who the rebels would trust. Norfolk was able to raise a large army but he had doubts about their reliability and suggested to the King that he should negotiate with the rebels. (54)

Thomas Darcy, Robert Constable and Francis Bigod took part in negotiations with the Duke of Norfolk. He tried to persuade them and the other Yorkshire nobles and gentlemen to regain the King's favour by handing over Robert Aske. However, they refused and Norfolk returned to London and suggested to Henry that the best strategy was to offer a pardon to all the northern rebels. When the rebel army had dispersed the King could arrange for its leaders to be punished. Henry eventually took this advice and on 7th December, 1536, he granted a pardon to everyone north of Doncaster who had taken part in the rebellion. Henry also invited Aske to London to discuss the grievances of the people of Yorkshire. (55)

Robert Aske spent the Christmas holiday with Henry at Greenwich Palace. When they first met Henry told Aske: "Be you welcome, my good Aske; it is my wish that here, before my council, you ask what you desire and I will grant it." Aske replied: "Sir, your majesty allows yourself to be governed by a tyrant named Cromwell. Everyone knows that if it had not been for him the 7,000 poor priests I have in my company would not be ruined wanderers as they are now." Henry gave the impression that he agreed with Aske about Thomas Cromwell and asked him to prepare a history of the previous few months. To show his support he gave him a jacket of crimson silk. (56)

Following the agreement to disband the rebel army in December 1536, Francis Bigod began to fear that Henry VIII would seek revenge on its leaders. Bigod accused Robert Aske and Thomas Darcy of betraying the Pilgrimage of Grace. On 15th January 1537, Bigod launched another revolt. He assembled his small army with a plan to attack Hull. Aske agreed to return to Yorkshire and assemble his men to defeat Bigod. He then joined up with Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and his army made up of 4,000 men. Bigod was easily defeated and after being captured on 10th February, 1537, was imprisoned in Carlisle Castle. (57)

On 24th March, Robert Aske, Thomas Darcy and Robert Constable were asked by the Duke of Norfolk to return to London in order to have a meeting with Henry VIII. They were told that the King wanted to thank them for helping to put down the Bigod rebellion. On their arrival they were all arrested and sent to the Tower of London. They were all later executed. (58)

Thomas Cromwell

The Duke of Norfolk disapproved of the religious reforms introduced by Thomas Cromwell. In May 1539 the bill of the Six Articles was presented by Norfolk in Parliament. It was soon clear that it had the support of Henry VIII. Although the word "transubstantiation" was not used, the real presence of Christ's very body and blood in the bread and wine was endorsed. So also was the idea of purgatory. The six articles presented a serious problem for Bishop Hugh Latimer and other religious reformers. Latimer had argued against transubstantiation and purgatory for many years. Latimer now faced a choice between obeying the king as supreme head of the church and standing by the doctrine he had had a key role in developing and promoting for the past decade. (59)

Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk by Hans Holbein (1539)

Bishop Hugh Latimer and Bishop Nicholas Shaxton both spoke against the Six Articles in the House of Lords. Thomas Cromwell was unable to come to their aid and in July they were both forced to resign their bishoprics. For a time it was thought that Henry would order their execution as heretics. He eventually decided against this measure and instead they were ordered to retire from preaching.

On 10th June, 1540, Thomas Cromwell arrived slightly late for a meeting of the Privy Council. The Duke of Norfolk, shouted out, "Cromwell! Do not sit there! That is no place for you! Traitors do not sit among gentlemen." The captain of the guard came forward and arrested him. (60) Cromwell was charged with treason and heresy. Norfolk went over and ripped the chains of authority from his neck, "relishing the opportunity to restore this low-born man to his former status". Cromwell was led out through a side door which opened down onto the river and taken by boat the short journey from Westminster to the Tower of London. (61)

Thomas Cromwell was convicted by Parliament of treason and heresy on 29th June and sentenced him to be hung, drawn and quartered. He wrote to Henry VIII soon afterwards and admitted "I have meddled in so many matters under your Highness that I am not able to answer them all". He finished the letter with the plea, "Most gracious prince I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy." Henry commuted the sentence to decapitation, even though the condemned man was of lowly birth. (62)

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The Duke of Norfolk's daughter, Mary Howard, had been married to Henry VIII's illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy. After his death he attempted to persuade Mary to marry Thomas Seymour, the younger brother of Jane Seymour. This was part of a "Triple Alliance" which also involved the offspring of Edward Seymour. However, she rejected the match and "remained determined to secure recognition of her status as dowager duchess of Richmond". (63)

The Duke of Norfolk's son, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was one of Henry VIII's main military commanders. However, he suffered a terrible defeat on 7th January 1546 at St Étienne. His unpaid and underfed troops, fled from the battleside. It was later claimed that he considered committing suicide by "falling on his sword". On 19th February, Sir William Paget sent Surrey the news that Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, would replace him as lieutenant-general. On 21st March the privy council summoned him home, as Henry VIII had received reports of "treachery, of irregularities and mismanagement regarding victuals and munitions".(64)

Jasper Ridley has pointed out that for some time the behaviour of Henry Howard had been causing concern: "The file on the Earl of Surrey went back for some years. This handsom, brave, bragging and much admired young nobleman, soldier and poet wrote charming love poems to the ladies of the court; but he had a less delicate side to his nature, and took rooms in the city of London, where he could indulge his vices more safely than at court or in his father's household." (65)

On 2nd December 1546, Richard Southwell came forward with evidence that Henry Howard was involved in a conspiracy against Henry VIII. Howard was arrested and held at Ely Place, where he was interviewed by Thomas Wriothesley. After several days of strongly denying his guilt he was taken to the Tower of London.

At his trial at the Guildhall on 13th January he pleaded not guilty and defended himself throughout a whole day. Evidence against him was given by former friends such as Edward Warner, Edmund Knyvet, Gawain Carew, Edward Rogers. David Starkey suggests that his friends thought "his tempestuous temperament unsuited him for power: he was fun as a friend; he would be deadly as a ruler." (66)

Henry Howard wrote to Henry VIII begging for mercy. He denied plotting against him and as for religious questions, he would always obey any law that Henry made, knowing that Henry was "a Prince of such virtue and knowledge". He pointed out that during the Pilgrimage of Grace he had fought against Robert Aske, Thomas Darcy, Robert Constable and John Bulmer. (67)

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, admitted that he was guilty of high treason for having worn the arms of Edward the Confessor in the first quarter of his coat-of-arms ever since his father died in 1524. He was sentenced him to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The King commuted the sentence to beheading and he was executed on Tower Hill on 19th January 1547. (68)

Edward VI

Henry VIII died on 28th January, 1547. Edward VI was only nine years old and was too young to rule. In his will, Henry had nominated a Council of Regency, made up of 16 nobles and churchman to assist Edward VI in governing his new realm. It was not long before his uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, emerged as the leading figure in the government and was given the title Lord Protector. Somerset was a Protestant and he immediately ordered the arrest of the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Stephen Gardiner and Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall. (69)

Somerset soon began to make changes to the Church of England. This included the introduction of an English Prayer Book and the decision to allow members of the clergy to get married. Attempts were made to destroy those aspects of religion that were associated with the Catholic Church, for example, the removal of stained-glass windows in churches and the destruction of religious wall-paintings. Somerset made sure that Edward VI was educated as a Protestant, as he hoped that when he was old enough to rule he would continue the policy of supporting the Protestant religion.

Somerset's programme of religious reformation was accompanied by bold measures of political, social, and agrarian reform. Legislation in 1547 abolished all the treasons and felonies created under Henry VIII and did away with existing legislation against heresy. Two witnesses were required for proof of treason instead of only one. Although the measure received support in the House of Commons, its passage contributed to Somerset's reputation for what later historians perceived as his liberalism. (70)

Queen Mary

King Edward VI died on 6th July, 1553. As soon as she gained power, Queen Mary ordered the release of the Duke of Norfolk and the other Catholic prisoners from the Tower of London. "Raising them up one by one, she kissed them and granted them their liberty." (71) Norfolk was restored to his rank and estates. However, he was in a poor state of health and one contemporary commented "by long imprisonment diswanted from the knowledge of our malicious World". (72)

The following year, aged 80, the Duke of Norfolk agreed to lead the Queen's army against the rising led by Sir Thomas Wyatt. As David Loades, the author of Mary Tudor (2012), pointed out "that venerable warrior, the Duke of Norfolk, set out from London with a hastily assembled force to confront what was now clearly a rebellion". (73) Unfortunately, most of Norfolk's troops consisted of the London militia, who were strongly sympathetic to Wyatt. On the 29th January, 1554, they deserted in large numbers, and Norfolk was forced to retreat with the soldiers who were left.

On 1st February, 1554, Mary addressed a meeting in the Guildhall where she proclaimed Wyatt a traitor. The next morning, 20,000 men enrolled their names for the protection of the city. The bridges over the Thames within a distance of fifteen miles were broken down and on 3rd February, a reward of land of the annual value of one hundred pounds a year was offered to the person who captured Wyatt.

By the time Thomas Wyatt entered Southwark, large numbers of his army had deserted. However, he continued to march towards St. James's Palace, where Mary Tudor had taken refuge. Wyatt reached Ludgate at two o'clock in the morning of 8th February. The gate was shut against him, and he was unable to break it down. Wyatt now went into retreat but he was captured at Temple Bar. (74)

Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, died at Kenninghall on 25 August 1554 and was buried at St Michael's Church, Framlingham, Suffolk.

Primary Sources

(1) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007)

Thomas Howard might have been brutal and callous in hiss domestic life, but his male contemporaries considered him to be a man of the utmost wisdom, solid worth and loyalty. His portrait by Holbein shows a granite-faced martinet, and it is difficult to imagine him being the prudent, liberal, astute and affable man he was reputed to be. Nevertheless he had the common touch, and associated with everybody regardless of rank. What made Norfolk valuable to Henry VIII was his astute judgement and his ruthless expediency. He had great experience in the administration of the kingdom, and could discuss affairs of state in depth. Like all his clan, he was ambitious.

Norfolk, like most of the older nobility, hated Wolsey. Because he and several other lords believed the Cardinal was preventing them from enjoying the power that should rightly be theirs, they meant to use Anne Boleyn as "a sufficient and apt instrument" to bring what Cavendish calls "their malicious purpose" to fruition. To this end, they very often consulted with her as to what was to be done, and she, `having a very good wit, and also an inward desire to be revenged upon the Cardinal, was as agreeable to their requests as they were themselves'. Thus Anne began her long campaign to discredit Wolsey in the King's eyes, and then bring about his ruin, not only for the sake of her pride but also in the interests of her family.

(2) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989)

In May 1520, when he arrived in Ireland as the King's Lieutenant, a more prestigious title than Deputy Lieutenant, England's control of that island, never very secure, was slipping from royal hands. Traditionally, English monarchs had selected Anglo-Irish lords, most recently the earls of Kildare, as deputies to rule the Pale, the area around Dublin that was under the crown's direct control, and to keep order in the remainder of the island by a combination of force of arms and local political associations. From September 1519, Gerald Fitzgerald, ninth earl of Kildare, who had most recently served as deputy, was retained in England, while Surrey was sent to the island to pacify it. In one of his "spasmodic fits of reforming energy," Henry VIII had decided through the agency of his Lieutenant to reorganize the government, the church, and the bureaucracy of Ireland. After spending only a few months in Dublin, a frustrated Surrey, who was unable to pacify the island or to obtain needed legislation from its parliament, such as a salt monopoly for the king, became persuaded that the proposed reforms could be implemented only after a military conquest, a solution that was not a viable possibility because it would require the use of resources that were scarce and that the crown would prefer to apply to its continental enterprises.

Student Activities

Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

Henry VII: A Wise or Wicked Ruler? (Answer Commentary)

Henry VIII: Catherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn?

Was Henry VIII's son, Henry FitzRoy, murdered?

Hans Holbein and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

The Marriage of Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon (Answer Commentary)

Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves (Answer Commentary)

Was Queen Catherine Howard guilty of treason? (Answer Commentary)

Anne Boleyn - Religious Reformer (Answer Commentary)

Did Anne Boleyn have six fingers on her right hand? A Study in Catholic Propaganda (Answer Commentary)

Why were women hostile to Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn? (Answer Commentary)

Catherine Parr and Women's Rights (Answer Commentary)

Women, Politics and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

Historians and Novelists on Thomas Cromwell (Answer Commentary)

Martin Luther and Thomas Müntzer (Answer Commentary)

Martin Luther and Hitler's Anti-Semitism (Answer Commentary)

Martin Luther and the Reformation (Answer Commentary)

Mary Tudor and Heretics (Answer Commentary)

Joan Bocher - Anabaptist (Answer Commentary)

Anne Askew – Burnt at the Stake (Answer Commentary)

Elizabeth Barton and Henry VIII (Answer Commentary)

Execution of Margaret Cheyney (Answer Commentary)

Robert Aske (Answer Commentary)

Dissolution of the Monasteries (Answer Commentary)

Pilgrimage of Grace (Answer Commentary)

Poverty in Tudor England (Answer Commentary)

Why did Queen Elizabeth not get married? (Answer Commentary)

Francis Walsingham - Codes & Codebreaking (Answer Commentary)

Sir Thomas More: Saint or Sinner? (Answer Commentary)

Hans Holbein's Art and Religious Propaganda (Answer Commentary)

1517 May Day Riots: How do historians know what happened? (Answer Commentary)


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(2) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 68

(3) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989)

(4) David Starkey, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003)

(5) C. S. L. Davies, Edward Stafford : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(6) John Guy, Tudor England (1986) page 97

(7) Michael R. Graves, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(8) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 168

(9) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) pages 88-89

(10) Hilary Mantel, Anne Boleyn (11th May, 2012)

(11) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 57

(12) Henry VIII, letter to Anne Boleyn (1526)

(13) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 211

(14) Michael R. Graves, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(15) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 182

(16) Roger Lockyer, Tudor and Stuart Britain (1985) page 17

(17) Michael R. Graves, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(18) David Starkey, The Reign of Henry VIII (1985) page 15

(19) Michael R. Graves, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(20) Patrick Collinson, Queen Elizabeth I : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(21) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 168

(22) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 237

(23) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 219

(24) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 227

(25) David Loades, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 81

(26) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 324

(27) David Loades, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 82

(28) Alison Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 324

(29) Howard Leithead, Thomas Cromwell : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(30) David Loades, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 82

(31) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 243

(32) Eric William Ives, Anne Boleyn : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(33) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 227

(34) David Loades, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2007) page 82

(35) Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, report to King Charles V (May, 1536)

(36) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 271

(37) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 253

(38) Retha M. Warnicke, The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn (1989) page 227

(39) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 285

(40) Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Pilgrimage of Grace (2002) page 48

(41) Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) page 271

(42) S. J. Gunn, Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(43) Richard Hoyle, Robert Aske : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(44) Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Pilgrimage of Grace (2002) page 74

(45) Derek Wilson, A Tudor Tapestry: Men, Women & Society in Reformation England (1972) page 59

(46) Anthony Fletcher, Tudor Rebellions (1974) page 26

(47) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 287

(48) Peter Ackroyd, Tudors (2012) page 109

(49) Sharon L. Jansen, Dangerous Talk and Strange Behaviour: Women and Popular Resistance to the Reforms of Henry VIII (1996) page 6

(50) Scott Harrison, The Pilgrimage of Grace in the Lake Counties (1981) page 96

(51) Peter Ackroyd, Tudors (2012) page 109

(52) Roger Lockyer, Tudor and Stuart Britain (1985) page 58

(53) Richard Hoyle, Thomas Darcy : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(54) Roger Lockyer, Tudor and Stuart Britain (1985) page 59

(55) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 290

(56) Peter Ackroyd, Tudors (2012) page 115

(57) Anthony Fletcher, Tudor Rebellions (1974) page 37

(58) Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Pilgrimage of Grace (2002) page 297-298

(59) Susan Wabuda, Hugh Latimer : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(60) Peter Ackroyd, Tudors (2012) page 148

(61) Howard Leithead, Thomas Cromwell : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(62) Roger Lockyer, Tudor and Stuart Britain (1985) page 79

(63) Beverley A Murphy, Mary Howard : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(64) Susan Brigden, Henry Howard : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(65) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 409

(66) David Starkey, The Reign of Henry VIII (1985) page 149

(67) Jasper Ridley, Henry VIII (1984) page 411

(68) Susan Brigden, Henry Howard : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(69) Michael R. Graves, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(70) Barrett L. Beer, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(71) Anna Whitelock, Mary Tudor: England's First Queen (2009) page 181

(72) Michael R. Graves, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(73) David Loades, Mary Tudor (2012) page 145

(74) Jane Dunn, Elizabeth & Mary (2003) pages 134-136