Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tudor England - The Importance of Being Thomas IV

Battle of Pavia
William Carey was given responsibility for the monies Henry intended to use in his war on France; £49,000[i]; sure proof of Henry’s trust in William. Two years after the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Thomas’s brother-in-law, the Earl of Surrey was leading English troops to fight over the same land that had seen the embrace between Henry and François.

By 1525 Emperor Charles V had captured François at the battle of Pavia and his promises to Henry of renewed domination in France and hints to Wolsey of the Papal tiara faded away. Henry and Wolsey were furious and another volte-face took place. Wolsey was soon negotiating with the Pope and when François was released in 1526 he too joined the anti-imperial league against the Hapsburg family machinations. Out of control, Charles’ troops sacked Rome in 1527 and Charles was forced to hold his coronation by a captive Pope at Bologna in 1529.
It may have seemed to the contrary to his compeers but Charles claimed an indifference to worldly affairs in a conversation with the Venetian ambassador;
‘Some people say I want to be monarch of the world. My ideas and my achievements prove the contrary: my intention is to fight not Christians but the infidel, and to see Italy and Christendom living at peace.’[ii]
In early 1529 Imperial troops again bested the French at the battle of Landriano; François sued for peace at Cambrai. The continent was left mainly under the control of the Hapsburgs and England, much to Henry’s chagrin, was ignored. He had poured money into this war and was left with nothing; the treasury left full by Henry VII was now empty; emptied not just by war, but also by Henry’s personal extravagance.

The Rewards of a Royal Affair
Coat of Arms of Thomas Boleyn
Mary Boleyn seems to have been almost invisible at court; Henry preferred to keep his amours secret. Whether the gifts and tasks heaped on Thomas Boleyn, while his daughter was the king’s mistress, were as a result of that liaison or because Thomas was valued by Henry in his own right is a moot point. But Thomas’s appointment on an embassy to Spain in October 1521 was surely based on his own merits; he had undertaken many such missions in the past.
But the stewardships and keeperships in Kent, Norfolk, Essex and Nottinghamshire and other honours are more suspect. In April 1522 Thomas was appointed Treasurer of the Royal Household and on 23rd April 1523 Thomas was made a Knight of the Garter. He was further honoured by being appointed Vice Chamberlain of the Household and then Chamberlain.
Thomas was made Viscount Rochford on 18th June 1525, a title that came down to him through his mother’s side of the family. Thomas was not pleased when, at the same time, he was forced to resign from the post as Treasurer without any financial restitution and for this he blamed Wolsey.
Ditton Park House
William Carey also received marks of appreciation from his king; in addition to the Keepership of Beaulieu he was given a joint wardship on 12th May 1522; the following year he received an annuity of 50 marks[iii], another annuity of £100[iv] was granted later. Carey was appointed Steward of the Duchy of Lancaster and keeper of the royal castle of Pleshey.
Further grants and estates followed; in May 1526 William was given the keepership of Greenwich Palace and the keepership of Ditton Park; both were royal properties. By the following year William Carey had landed estate worth £333, 6s 8d[v] for tax purposes. But William was not greatly endowed with the cash needed to uphold his place at court; courtiers and their wives were required to dress sumptuously.
Henry Parker by Durer
In July 1524 Henry gave George Boleyn the manor of Grimston; in late 1524. In early 1525 George was married to Jane, daughter of Henry Parker, Baron Morley and a remote cousin of the king’s. According to Weir George was;
"[A] talented young man... he was very good-looking and very promiscuous. In fact, according to George Cavendish[vi], he lived in 'bestial' fashion, forcing widows, deflowering virgins."[vii]
George was given the post of Cup Bearer to the king in 1526 and was appointed as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber two years later; by then Henry was in the grip of another passion.
The Younger Sister
By 1525 it is likely that Henry’s sexual interests were now fixed on Anne, who had attracted the attentions of Henry Percy, heir to the Earldom of Northumberland, rather than her sister. According to George Cavendish, Wolsey’s secretary, Henry first became attracted to Anne in 1523, but kept his feelings secret.
Henry Percy
Anne and Percy had different ideas and solemnly betrothed themselves before witnesses. Percy was already betrothed to Lady Mary Talbot[viii] and Wolsey, as Percy’s master, laid the matter before the king, who was not amused. Cavendish, in his biography of his master, says that Henry confessed his secret desires to Wolsey who arranged for the betrothal to be cancelled by the Earl, telling Percy that
‘His Highness intended to have preferred Anne Boleyn unto another person, although she knoweth it not.’[ix]
Anne was furious with Wolsey’s interference in her affairs; she had become known at court as a trendsetter with her French manners and innovations in dress and now she was being proclaimed as unfit to marry a Percy. She was ordered to rusticate at Hever, where she remained for a year, returning to court in 1524 or 5.
The King in Earnest
Sir Thomas Wyatt
On Shrove Tuesday 1526 Henry appeared in the lists in a jousting costume of cloth of gold, bearing the motto ‘Declare je nos’[x], surmounted by a heart engulfed in flames. The object of his passion was undoubtedly Anne Boleyn.
Anne was refusing to barter her virginity for a tumble in Henry’s bed, presumably having learned from her sister’s downfall. The refusal must have intrigued Henry, who was very much in the habit of getting his own way. Anne started to show a preference for Thomas Wyatt, a married man whose wife was well known for her adulteries. George Wyatt claimed that Anne told Henry;
‘I think your Majesty speaks these words in mirth to prove me, but without any intent of degrading your princely self………..I beseech Your Highness most earnestly to desist………I would rather lose my life than my honesty, which will be the greatest and best part of the dowry I shall have to bring my husband.’[xi]
Anne informed Henry that she knew that marriage between them was impossible. Henry was smitten and sent Anne expensive presents that she kept; the keeping of which gave Henry hope that Anne might relent. In late 1526 or early 1527 Henry informed Anne of his firm intention to marry her, once he was divorced from Katherine.
Clement VII
In 1527 Henry started proceedings to annul his marriage to Katherine, but Katherine had an ace in the hole; her nephew had the Pope in his custody and Charles V was not prepared to allow his aunt to be discarded;
‘The Emperor is determined to maintain the rights of his aunt, and will never consent to the divorce.’[xii]
When Clement VII escaped from captivity, Henry’s secretary was given an audience and Clement agreed that if Henry was divorced from Katherine, he could marry again within prohibited degrees. Dr Pedro Ortiz, a Spanish lawyer sent by Charles to defend Katherine’s case, claimed in 1533;
‘It is certain that some time ago [Henry VIII] sent to ask His Holiness for a dispensation to marry [Anne Boleyn] notwithstanding the affinity between them on account of his having committed adultery with her sister.’[xiii]
In 1527 Thomas’s sister Alice Clere became involved in a legal dispute with Lady Fineaux, widow of Sir John Fineaux, a former Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, over an outstanding debt of £400[xiv]. She retained Thomas Cromwell, who advised Thomas that there was no remedy for the case in Common Law;
‘Unless your lordship will move my lord’s grace [Wolsey] to grant an injunction to Lady Feneux[to] no further prosecute the [writ] of execution and to allow no writ of liberate[xv] to go out of Chancery until the whole matter be heard.’[xvi]
Cardinal Wolsey – Mandell Creighton, McMillan & Co 1891
Thomas Cromwell – Robert Hutchinson, Phoenix 2008
Henry VIII – Robert Lacey, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson & Book Club Associates 1992
The Earlier Tudors – JD Mackie, Oxford University Press 1992
Thomas More – Richard Marius, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1993
Rivals in Power – David Starkey (ed), Toucan Books 1990
The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir, Pimlico 1992
Mary Boleyn – Alison Weir, AudioGO Ltd 2012

[i] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £29,310,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £797,800,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £10,430,000,000.00
[ii] The Holy Roman Empire - Heer
[iii] Worth £4785 in 2014
[iv] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £57,960.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £1,568,000.00economic power value of that income or wealth is £20,700,000.00
[v] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £199,400.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £5,684,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £72,130,000.00
[vi] A biographer of Wolsey’s and Bess of Hardwick’s brother-in-law
[viii] Daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury
[ix] The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Weir
[x] Declare I dare not
[xi] The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Weir
[xii] Ibid
[xiii] Mary Boleyn - Weir
[xiv] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £239,300.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £6,821,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £86,550,000.00
[xv] A writ demanding that lands, tenements and chattels are returned to their rightful owner
[xvi] Thomas Cromwell - Hutchinson

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Tudor England - The Importance of Being Thomas III

Lady Anne Hastings
The King’s Mistresses

Henry was only 25 when his daughter Mary was born and he was not sexually faithful to Catherine. Henry embarked on a series of casual affairs as soon as Catherine was pregnant in late 1509. He had been kept closely confined until the death of his father; and had attendants every time he left home. His bedroom was accessible only through that of his father’s bed chamber. One ambassador wrote;
‘The king is a youngling, who thinks of nothing but hunting and girls, and wastes his father’s patrimony.’[i]
Catherine publicly protested about only one mistress; Lady Anne Hastings, whose affair with the king was covered up by Henry’s close friend Sir William Compton. Catherine berated her husband, who felt ill-used as he had been discreet about the affair. The Spanish ambassador, afraid that Catherine would lose her influence with Henry, advised caution and belatedly Catherine complied. She never again made the same mistake.
Henry’s affair with Elizabeth Blount, which produced Henry Fitzroy[ii] on 5th June 1519, was the first to last any length of time; starting in October 1514. Henry did not confine himself to one woman at a time and Elizabeth Blount at one time may have been a lover of the Duke of Suffolk and a close friend of the king’s.
Allegedly the affair with the king ended shortly after the young Henry Fitzroy’s birth, when Henry allegedly began an affair with Mary Boleyn. Elizabeth was married off to Baron Tallboys in 1520. There were even rumours that Lady Elizabeth Boleyn had been the king’s mistress, but these rumours did not surface until the marriage with Anne was being mooted. Then Sir Thomas Dingley reported a conversation;
‘I told your Grace that I feared if ye did marry Queen Anne your conscience would be more troubled at length, for it is thought that ye have meddled with both the mother and the sister. And your Grace said “Never with the mother.”’[iii]

Francois I
Mary Boleyn seems to have succumbed to temptation at some point during her stay at the French court. English observers were shocked by the lax morality at François’ court. The king led from the front, indulging in affairs and mounting a number of mistresses.
‘Rarely did a maid leave the court chaste’[iv]
wrote one observer. It is possible that Mary slept with François, although the evidence for this is one letter written twenty years later[v]. If the liaison did take place it was short-lived. John Barlow[vi], who was Thomas’s chaplain for a period, considered Mary to be the more beautiful of the two sisters. Meanwhile Anne had become one of Queen Claude’s maids of honour.
Whoever Mary had fallen with, her family were not pleased; Mary had to be removed from the new Duchess of Suffolk’s household. From now on Mary was viewed as of little worth by the Boleyns; she could no longer be of use in a dynastic marriage. Later rumours claimed that Anne too lost her virginity at the French court; in July 1535 Henry VIII himself claimed that Anne had failed to live virtuously all her life[vii].
Marguerite de Valois
But for whatever reason Mary Tudor was to range herself in Catherine’s camp when Henry was looking for a divorce from his wife. Anne; for her part
‘Blamed Mary Tudor for her sister’s wild behaviour and all its consequences.’[viii]
After her service with Queen Claude, Anne then moved on to serve Marguerite de Valois[ix] Duchess of Alençon. She was not to return home until 1522. George Boleyn was made one of the king’s pages sometime after 1514 and he stayed in post until 1524. Clearly Mary’s downfall had not affected her siblings.
On 3rd August 1519 Thomas’s grandfather the Earl of Ormond died, leaving Thomas’s mother Margaret as his co-heiress along with her sister. Margaret and her sister inherited 36 manors and of her share Margaret had the lordship of Rochford, which included Rochford Hall and New Hall in Essex which was sold to the king two years later[x].
Rochford Hall
Margaret appears to have allowed Thomas to manage her inheritance, but by 1519 she was insane and Thomas assumed responsibility for her estates. Thomas Butler’s nearest male relative was Piers Butler who assumed the title of Earl of Ormond, but Margaret and her sister took steps to stop Piers gaining his rightful inheritance.
An Advantageous Marriage
Mary Boleyn was lucky; her family were able to arrange a good marriage for her, despite the loss of her virginity. There had been connections between the Boleyns and the Carey family for some time. William Carey was the king’s cousin[xi] and Henry attended the wedding. William Carey was a member of the Privy Chamber[xii] and an Esquire of the Body to the King; he was a younger son, but no less attractive as a match for the rising Boleyn family.
Sir William Carey
The marriage was arranged and took place while Thomas was absent in France as ambassador to the French court. It is inconceivable that he was not cognisant of the arrangements or that he did not approve. The marriage was held on 4th February 1520 at Greenwich palace in the newly built chapel royal. The King’s Book of Payments records Henry’s presence;
‘For the King’s offering on Saturday, at the marriage of W Care and Mare Bullayn, six shillings and eightpence[xiii].’[xiv]
William was about twenty four when he got married to Mary. He was a man much to Henry’s taste; William jousted, gambled and played tennis. He was also one of the limited few who was allowed to breakfast in the king’s house.
Life at Court

Mary Boleyn
As William’s wife Mary became part of Henry’s close knit circle. She attended Queen Catherine when the court decamped to France for the expensive fiasco known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, where Henry and François attempted to outdo each other in splendour. William Carey and Thomas Boleyn helped organise the event held between Guînes[xv] and Ardes where Wolsey had arranged the erection of an amazing palace built of wood and glass;
‘The foregate of the same palace or place with great and mighty masonry by sight was arched, with a Tower on every side of the same portered by great craft, and inbatteled was the gate and Tower, and in the fenesters, and windows, were images resembling men of warre redie to cast great stones: also the same gate or Tower was set with compassed images of ancient Princes, as Hercules, Alexander and other, by entrayled worke, richly limned with gold and Albyn colours,’[xvi]

Field of the Cloth of Gold
The pageant came to an end on 24th June after a mass celebrated by Wolsey. Little had been gained by the enormous expenditure and the two exceptionally egotistical kings had failed to bond.
Henry had already decided to deal with Emperor Maximilian. Two weeks after his trip to France Henry, with Thomas in his entourage, rode to Gravelines
to meet the new Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and escort him back to Calais. The two men signed a treaty to make common cause against France in late 1521.  
Sometime around 1520 both the young Boleyn boys, Henry and Thomas, died. This double tragedy must have caused Thomas much grief; two of his pawns that were no longer available to assist his rise at court. Thomas redirected his attention to seeking a suitable marriage for Anne. His eye fell on James Butler, the son of his wife’s cousin, who called himself the Earl of Ormond.
Thomas and his brother-in-law Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey[xvii], laid the proposition before Henry. Henry decided that this was an admirable solution to the suit between the heirs of Thomas Butler over the Earldom of Ormond and gave his consent. The marriage negotiations took over a year and in November 1521 Wolsey, who was James Butler’s master, assured the king that he was endeavouring to bring the matter to a conclusion. He hoped;
‘To devise with your Grace how the marriage betwixt [James Butler] and Sir Thomas Boleyn’s daughter may be brought to pass.’[xviii]
Wolsey dragged the matter out until the following summer when the negotiations fell apart. Anne returned from France in January 1522.
Cardinal Wolsey – Mandell Creighton, McMillan & Co 1891
The Holy Roman Empire – Richard Heer, Phoenix 1995
Thomas Cromwell – Robert Hutchinson, Phoenix 2008
Henry VIII – Robert Lacey, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson & Book Club Associates 1992
The Earlier Tudors – JD Mackie, Oxford University Press 1992
Rivals in Power – David Starkey (ed), Toucan Books 1990
The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir, Pimlico 1992
Mary Boleyn – Alison Weir, AudioGO Ltd 2012
The Hapsburgs – Andrew Wheatcroft, Folio Society 2004

[i] Mary Boleyn - Weir
[ii] Duke of Richmond and Somerset
[iii] Mary Boleyn - Weir
[iv] Mary Boleyn Weir
[v] Written by the Papal Nuncio in Paris at a time when Queen Anne had miscarried a son and her future looked insecure
[vi] Later involved in Henry’s attempts in Rome to obtain a divorce from Catherine
[vii] At this time Henry VIII was casting round for ways to get rid of his ‘unvirtuous’ queen
[viii] Mary Boleyn - Weir
[ix] François’ sister and later Queen of Navarre and grandmother of Henri IV of France
[x] Henry rebuilt New Hall creating the palace of Beaulieu
[xi] His grandmother Eleanor Beaufort was the first cousin of Henry’s grandmother Margaret Beaufort
[xii] For which he received the sum of £33. 6s. 8d; In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £18,640.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £522,500.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £7,011,000.00
[xiii] In 2013 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £186.30 economic status value of that income or wealth is £5,220.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £70,040.00
[xiv] Mary Boleyn - Weir
[xv] In English hands
[xvii] Later 3rd Duke of Norfolk
[xviii] The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Weir