|Lady Jane Grey|
Desperate to retain power the Duke of Northumberland persuaded the young Edward to nominate Lady Jane Grey as his successor. Jane was a great granddaughter of Henry VII and was married to Northumberland’s son Guildford Dudley. Her accession to the throne was announced on 10th July 1553.
Edward had agreed that his Protestant cousin could be his successor, but had died before the prepared act could be placed before parliament in September. A Protestant successor, who stood waiting in the wings and had a much nearer claim on the throne, the Princess Elizabeth was ignored.
Mary Tudor, Edward’s half-sister was at Kenninghall Palace when she learned that Jane was to take the throne Mary assumed was rightfully hers. On 14th July Northumberland rode with an army to East Anglia, the new Queen having begged that her father stay with her; Northumberland answered
‘Since ye think it good, I and mine will go, not doubting of your fidelity to the Queen’s majesty, wh0m I leave in your custody.’[i]In his absence the privy Council switched sides. On July 18th, following the desertion of many senior officials and nobility a warrant for the arrest of Northumberland was issued.
Mary moved to Framlingham Castle with its better defences. Northumberland hoped that the people of the lands he marched through would flock to his banner, but many seemed to prefer to support Mary, the old king’s daughter and the young king’s sister, rather than a remote cousin. The Protestant revolution was only just over twenty years old. Many must have felt that having a Catholic monarch would not be an issue.Howards Resurgent
Mary rode up to London accompanied by the Duchess of Norfolk[ii]. On 10th August Norfolk was given back his Order of the Garter, having already been released from the Tower. And as Earl Marshal, Norfolk now in his eightieth year, was responsible for the preparations for Mary’s coronation. He was joined by his grandchildren. Northumberland was executed on 22nd August, with his son and heir.The Duchess of Norfolk accompanied Mary’s litter in the procession from the Tower and carried her train in the Abbey. At the Coronation banquet in Westminster Hall the Duke was assisted in his ceremonial duties by his grandson and heir, the young Thomas.
In a letter to Mary Jane agreed that she should never have accepted the crown and had thereby done wrong
‘Not only to myself but to a good part of the realm……….it being known that the error imputed to me has not altogether been caused by myself.’[iii]Jane and her husband were charged with treason; the two lambs were led to the slaughter. They were tried by a special commission on 13th November and the Duke of Norfolk was among the commissioners who convicted them, along with Thomas Cranmer and two of Dudley’s brothers.
Thomas Wyatt the Younger
On 12th February 1554 Lady Jane Dudley was executed. There had existed the possibility that she would be saved but her fate was sealed by the Protestant rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the Younger[iv] in January; an uprising her father the Duke of Suffolk had used to stir up the midlands against Mary’s proposed marriage.
It was the ambassador from the Holy Roman Empire, Simon Renard, who helped seal Jane’s fate, persuading Mary that her reign would be destabilised by Jane’s continued existence. He also tried and failed to have the Princess Elizabeth executed too[v].Mary’s relationship with her subjects was not assisted by her reliance on Simon Renard, whose principal job was to ensure that the marriage between Mary and the Emperor’s son Philip II of Spain went ahead. Emperor Charles V planned to expand the Hapsburg Empire to include England, to be ruled by Philip. The marriage produced no children and Philip spent little time with his elderly wife, whom he did not find attractive.
The Howards in Mary’s Reign
The Duke of Norfolk now took his grandchildren’s education in hand; he did not approve of the Protestant dogma that Foxe had been inculcating them with. Thomas joined the household of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor as a page. Thomas and Henry were then moved to study with John White[vi]. Thomas did stay in contact with Foxe, who left for the continent and safety shortly thereafter[vii]. The boys’ mother remarried and had little contact with them.
Thomas, as Earl of Surrey, was one of seven gentlemen of the chamber of Philip of Spain. He was present when Philip arrived in England and was in attendance at the marriage in Winchester.The New Duke
On 25th August 1554 the third Duke of Norfolk died and his grandson and namesake Thomas became the fourth Duke. He was to be a good landlord to his tenants, becoming known to later generations as ‘the good duke;’ perhaps inspired by Ket’s Rebellion. Not only did Thomas become Duke of Norfolk, he also inherited his grandfather’s role of Earl Marshal[viii]. At some point in 1554 the citizens of Cambridge made Norfolk High Steward of the city[ix].As Earl Marshal, Norfolk was head of the College of Heralds and he decided to sort out the college which was suffering from internal dispute. In 1555 he obtained a new charter of incorporation from the queen and established the college in new surroundings at Derby House. Norfolk also put in place reforms of the college and instituted regular progresses of the provincial kings of Heraldry, Clarenceux and Norroy, into the counties. Norfolk’s reforms were embodied in constitutions covering;
‘The ancient manner and order of offices of arms.’[x]Norfolk insisted on the highest standards of scholarship and record keeping, at a time when the records of monasteries had been taken to be used as scrap paper and priceless documents littered the High in Oxford.
Norfolk was now in a position where he could indulge a passion for precious objects. Kenninghall had been ransacked when his grandfather had been sent to the Tower, but much of what was taken had been recovered. Over the next few years Norfolk was to enrich and update Kenninghall, which was the first house in England recorded as having a room designated as a bathroom, hung with tapestries and where there were
‘Twelve pieces of copper, great and small, to bathe in.’[xi]Encouraged by the example of his uncle John de Vere[xii] Norfolk revived his grandfather’s patronage in a dramatic company. In 1556 the Duke’s Company gave performances in Norwich and by 1559 had become one of the four principal dramatic companies in England.
Mary FitzAlan, Duchess of Norfolk
In 1556 Thomas married Mary FitzAlan, heiress to the Arundel estates after the death of her brother Henry. The wedding had been approved during his grandfather’s lifetime; as one of her wards Thomas had to obtain the Queen’s permission. Mary’s father the Earl of Arundel was Lord Steward of the royal household.A special act of parliament was passed to allow Thomas sufficient monies to support his new bride. As a minor under the terms of his grandfather’s will he had £249[xiii] per annum; when he reached his majority he would have £2,489[xiv] a year.
Mary died the following year, eight weeks after the birth of her son Philip[xv] on 28th June 1559. All the heralds were present for the funeral.
‘With many banners and banner rolls borne about her.’[xvi]the seventeen year old duchess was buried at St Clement Danes church in London in great state. Not long before Philip’s birth Norfolk had accidentally killed one of his manservant’s when a gun he was carrying discharged, killing Thomas Baynes;
‘A man well liked by and in good repute with him, sported with him in a friendly and joking manner.’[xvii]Norfolk was pardoned for manslaughter at an inquest held later the same day.
Norfolk’s second choice of wife fell on a cousin of his, Margaret Audley an heiress. A papal dispensation was required for the two to marry and an emissary was sent to Rome in the spring of 1558. The Vatican was dilatory and negotiations were still ongoing when on 17th November 1558, Queen Mary’s poor tortured body gave up the fight and she died, possibly from cancer of the uterus. She was to be succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth.Bibliography
Walsingham – Alan Haynes, Sutton Publishing 2004The Boy King – Diarmaid MacCullough, Palgrave 2001
Lady Jane Grey – Alison Plowden, Sutton Publishing 2006Mary Tudor – HFM Prescott, Phoenix 2003
Elizabeth I – Anne Somerset, Fontana 1992Elizabeth – David Starkey, Vintage Books 2001
Rivals in Power – ed. David Starkey, Macmillan London Ltd 1990A Tudor Tragedy – Neville Williams, Barrie and Rockcliff 1964
[i] Mary Tudor - Prescott
[ii] She and her husband had long been at odds over his treatment of her and his having a mistress living at Kenninghall
[iii] Lady Jane Grey - Plowden
[iv] The aged Duke of Norfolk was sent out against Wyatt’s men, but he was outnumbered and had to seek refuge in Gravesend.
[v] Mary was urged on a number of occasions to have her younger and once much-loved sister executed and each time she resisted the temptation.
[vi] Bishop of Lincoln
[vii] Norfolk became Foxe’s patron
[viii] Still headed by the current Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshal
[ix] To obtain a powerful patron. Norfolk was also made High Steward of King’s Lynn and Yarmouth. Norfolk remained High Steward until 1569.
[x] A Tudor Tragedy - Williams
[xii] 16th Earl of Oxford
[xv] Philip was to inherit his maternal grandfather’s title of Earl of Arundel in 1580 and was made a saint by the Catholic Church in 1970.
[xvi] A Tudor Tragedy - Williams