Tuesday, 31 January 2017

A Tudor Poet – Henry Howard V

Henry Howard
A Momentous Year Begins

At some point in 1536 Frances moved to live at Kenninghall with her husband, the couple were both eighteen. Their daughter Jane was born sometime between the end of that year and the beginning of the next. The year started off badly for the Howard family; in January Queen Anne lost the baby she was carrying, a male child, and Henry VIII blamed his wife for the miscarriage. He had already started romancing one of her ladies-in-waiting, one Jane Seymour a member of the powerful Seymour family.

It was not long before the king’s thoughts turned to divorce and Cromwell was able to create reasons for his master to eschew Anne who was accused of adultery with a number of men at court including her brother, George Boleyn, among others. By April Cromwell was ready with proof[i]; the indictment stated that the queen;

‘Daily her frail and carnal lust, did falsely and traitorously procure by base conversations and kisses, diverse of the King’s daily and familiar servants to be her adulterers and concubines, so that several of the King’s servants yielded to her vile provocations.’[ii]

Fitzroy had been ailing for some months, despite that he still attended the execution of Anne Boleyn on 19th May along with Norfolk[iii]. For his reward Cromwell was made Lord Privy Seal, replacing Anne Boleyn’s father the Earl of Wiltshire. Cromwell now controlled most of the machinery of government. Norfolk was now almost powerless.

Poets in Peril

Sir Thomas Wyatt
The reversal of his fortunes was made quite clear when Norfolk was unable to assist when his half-brother Thomas who was arrested on 8th July for his presumption in plighting his troth to the king’s niece Lady Margaret Douglas[iv].. The pre-contract had been signed sometime after 17th May when the Princess Elizabeth had been declared a bastard and the paranoid Henry VIII viewed the affair as treasonous[v]. Lady Margaret who, as the daughter of Margaret Tudor, had a claim to the throne now that both Henry’s daughters had been pronounced illegitimate.

Lady Margaret and Thomas Howard were both poets and they and Henry and Mary Howard[vi] (also poets in their own right) formed a mutual appreciation circle, along with others at court including Sir Thomas Wyatt, to discuss their own poetry. The circle recorded their favourite poems in the Devonshire manuscript.

Lord Thomas found himself in the Tower and an Act of Attainder[vii], to which his half-brother was forced to assent[viii], was passed against him. He was to remain incarcerated until his death in 1537. The 20 year old Margaret was also sent to the Tower and they both feared the worst. On 23rd July the imperial ambassador reported that Margaret;

‘For the present, has been pardoned her life considering that copulation had not taken place.’[ix]

On the same day Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset died, his marriage with Mary still unconsummated, at St James Palace in London. He was buried at Framlingham parish church, the burial place of the Howard family, in a very private funeral[x] with only two mourners in attendance.

Henry was heartbroken by the loss of his comrade in arms; at the funeral he rode Fitzroy’s favourite jennet along with its saddle and harness of black velvet. Henry’s grief was exacerbated the following month when he received the news of the death from pleurisy of his friend the Dauphin François.

Banner of Wounds similar to that carried on Pilgrimage of Grace
Norfolk, who barely escaped being sent to the Tower himself, was annoyed to miss out on the plums on offer following the dissolution of the monasteries, as the Church of England separated itself from the church in Rome. Cromwell, in charge of the dissolution and picking up many of the plums for himself, allied himself with the Seymours and Archbishop Cranmer to Norfolk’s detriment. He and Bishop Gardiner found themselves in the leading ranks of the conservatives.

In early October in Lincolnshire there was an uprising protesting against the break with Rome and the associated loss of the monasteries. The spark was the closing of Louth Park Abbey. The king sent a force under his brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, to deal with his rebellious subjects. Suffolk had been building a powerbase in the region.

Duke of Suffolk
Twelve days later Yorkshire went up in flames as what became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace flared up. Like the Lincolnshire uprising, this was a protest against the religious changes across the country. While ordinary folk might approve the death of the traitorous Queen Anne, they did not appreciate the loss of their religion, any more than did the conservative northern lords who failed to keep law and order in their lands once the rebellion took hold.

While the Lincolnshire uprising was being suppressed one Robert Aske[xi] was raising the banner of the five wounds of Christ in Yorkshire. Many of the Lincolnshire protesters joined Aske’s band, swelling their ranks with tens of thousands of adherents.

The king originally planned to lead his army north in person. Norfolk, who had anticipated being given a leading role in putting down the rebellion, found himself packed off to East Anglia to prevent trouble occurring there. His son Henry would fight on his behalf; the sixty-three year old duke wrote a shocked letter to the king;

‘Alas, sir, shal every noble man save I eyther come to your person or els go towards your enemys? Shall I now sit still lyk a man of law? Alas, sir, my hert is nere ded as wold to God it wer.’[xii]

Norfolk threatened to march north in any event and soon he received new orders sending him up to join the fighting in Yorkshire.


Earl of Shrewsbury (C)
On 11th October 1536 Norfolk left Kenninghall with Henry in his train. Henry helped his father with the mustering of his men, he bragged that;

‘A company of so able men and so goodly personage as I do think the like in such number upon so sudden warning assembled hath not been seen, which those here do judge as have seen many musters.’[xiii]

Thomas was left at home with several hundred men to preserve order in the Howard back yard. As soon as Henry VIII heard of Henry’s attendance upon his father he ordered him back to Norfolk where the two Howard boys would be hostage for their father’s loyalty.

Norfolk met up with the Earl of Shrewsbury at Doncaster. On 27th October Norfolk and his eight thousand men met with the rebels, forty thousand strong, at Doncaster Bridge. He promised to present their grievances at court. The two armies separated; Henry VIII did not listen to the representations of the rebels, he’d been primed by Norfolk’s enemies at court to consider Norfolk a rebel sympathiser.

Norfolk was forbidden to address the rebels’ demands; the king was confident that the rebels would see things his way and would disperse. Henry VIII seemed to be unaware of the disparity of the two forces. Meeting with the rebels on 4th December Norfolk promised them the moon, including the temporary restoration of the monasteries and the coronation of Queen Jane at York. Trusting Norfolk’s integrity the rebels dispersed.

Early in 1537 a number of trouble spots flared up[xiv] and Norfolk declared martial law. He had around two hundred former rebels rounded up and hung from the trees and steeples of their villages. In March he summonsed Henry to come and join him in subjugating the region. The new uprising failed and Aske and his fellow rebels were arrested and brought to trial for treason.

Returning home Henry was unwell for much of the summer of 1537 which he spent at Kenninghall and Norfolk commented that;

‘He is there with his wife, which is an ill medicine for that purpose.’[xv]

This is one of the few hints of how Henry and Frances got on together; it could have been that Norfolk, who had never cared for the de Vere alliance, believed that the cure for what ailed his son was manly pursuits such as war.


Thomas Wyatt – Susan Brigden, Faber and Faber 2012

Henry VIII’s Last Victim – Jessie Childs, Vintage Books 2008

The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune – David M Head, University of Georgia Press 2009

House of Treason – Robert Hutchinson, Phoenix 2009

Henry VIII – Robert Lacey, Weidenfeld & Nicholson & Book Club Associates 1972

The Earlier Tudors – J D Mackie, Oxford University Press 1992

Bastard Prince – Beverley A Murphy, Sutton Publishing 2001

Rivals in Power – David Starkey, MacMillan London Ltd 1990

The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir, Pimlico 1992

The Lost Tudor Princess – Alison Weir, Vintage 2015

A Tudor Tragedy – Neville Williams, Barrie & Jenkins 1964


[ii] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[iii] It is not known if Henry attended his cousin’s execution
[v] Given the king’s propensity for throwing people into the Tower or executing them, the couple would have been wiser to apply for royal permission, albeit that probably would not have been granted.
[vi] Henry was only five years younger than his uncle
[vii] Rather than try Thomas according to a law passed in the month AFTER the engagement, he was declared traitor by statute
[viii] Norfolk was always prepared to jettison his family when his safety was encroached upon
[ix] The Lost Tudor Princess - Weir
[x] By order of the king who later changed his mind and blamed the lack of pomp and circumstance on Norfolk who exceeded the original orders given him by Henry VIII
[xi] A barrister from London
[xii] The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune - Head
[xiii] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[xiv] Contrary to Aske’s orders; known as Bigod’s Rebellion
[xv] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Tudor Poet – Henry Howard IV

Anne de Montmorency
At the French Court

The arrival of the two English boys at court was not taken much notice of by the courtiers; but Anne de Montmorency, Marshall of France, Constable of France and the Dauphin’s Governor, reported;

‘The King of England has sent here his bastard son, and the son of the lord of Norfolk, who are being nurtured with the King’s children. I assure you that the dauphin is now nearly as tall as I am.’[i]

By 11th December Henry’s fever had broken. The two boys ate with the French princes, both of whom showed mental scars from their 4½ years as hostages in Spain where they had been kept in dark, damp cells[ii].

The Dauphin François was cold and staid and only ever wore sombre clothes. His younger brother Henri, Duc d’Orléans, was prone to melancholy and the brothers were both subject to mood swings. Also living with the Dauphin and his brothers were scions of the Lorraine, Cleves and Guise families.

François was impatient with his two more staid and deeply introverted elder sons, instead lavishing his attention on the youngest and most boisterous Charles[iii], Duc d’Angoulême. All three French princes loved playing tennis and hunting which must have struck a chord with Henry and Fitzroy. While the boys were in Paris Fitzroy’s physician David Edwardes, dedicated an anatomical treatise, ‘Introductio ad Anatomicen’, to his patron’s friend;

‘I see you established above what can be said for many young men in this age, and turning your mind so seriously to those things which will render it better.’[iv]

On Progress

On 23rd April François celebrated the Feast of St George at Fontainebleau. Shortly after the court left to travel on a circuitous route to Provence. François was going on progress prior to the marriage of the Duc d’Orléans and Henry and Fitzroy accompanied him. The court travelled to Lyons, reaching there at the end of May. Once there it was found that the town was too overcrowded to house all the court so the king’s sons went with their stepmother Queen Eleanor to Nîmes.

The king then journeyed on to Toulouse and thence to Montpellier with Henry and Fitzroy in his train. His final destination was Marseilles where the marriage between Henri of Orléans and Catherine de’ Medici[v] was to take place; in addition François was to meet with the Pope.

Henry VIII sent Norfolk to remind François of his responsibilities under the agreement made in Calais. Henry VIII was now married to Anne Boleyn[vi] and she was pregnant. Norfolk was to remind François that Clement VII was still under the sway of their joint enemy, Charles V, in an attempt to get François to cancel the interview.

Norfolk outrode his colleagues on the journey south. Henry was impatient to see his father and rode out with Fitzroy from Riom, where the court was ensconced. François greeted Norfolk with flattering attention. On 11th July the Pope declared that the English king’s divorce and subsequent remarriage were invalid. Henry VIII was livid with anger. The pope demanded that Henry put aside Anne and replace Catherine in her rightful position as queen.

According to one member of the court;

‘The poor Duke [Norfolk] was so astonished that he nearly fainted.’[vii]

François suggested that his visitor travel on to Marseilles while the court resumed its leisurely progress. Norfolk was ordered home when it became clear to Henry VIII that François would not be dissuaded from his meeting with the pope. Norfolk was to bring the two boys home with him.

Norfolk arrived back in England in time for the birth of Princess Elizabeth. Henry and Fitzroy travelled back in a more leisurely fashion, arriving in Calais on 25th September. Norfolk was pleased with his son’s demeanour after his stay with the French court and determined that he would send his son younger Thomas for a French polish when he was of age.

A Dysfunctional Family 

Catherine of Aragon
When Henry arrived home it was to find that Bess Holland had replaced his mother as head of the house at Kenninghall. By 1533 things had become so bad in the Norfolk household that Norfolk tried to persuade his brother-in-law Lord Stafford to take his wilful sister back into the bosom of her family. Stafford refused, saying that having his sister in his house;

‘Shuld be my utter undoing. Which is to put your Grace in remembrance of her acustomed wild langiage whiche lyeth not in my power to stope, wherebye so greate daunger might insue to me and all mynne.’[viii]

At court Elizabeth Howard had championed the cause of Queen Catherine who she had served as a lady-in-waiting for sixteen years. She spied on her husband and passed messages to Catherine, at times using the offices of the Spanish ambassador. Elizabeth refused to attend Anne’s coronation or the christening of Princess Elizabeth.

Norfolk offered to divorce his wife but Elizabeth refused, despite a relatively generous offer of jewellery, apparel and household goods. At Easter 1534 Elizabeth was packed off to Redbourn[ix] where Norfolk rented a manor house and provided twenty servants. Elizabeth claimed that;

He [Norfolk] hath taken away all my jewels and my apparel. And kept me four years and more like a prisoner.’[x]

Redbourn church
Elizabeth was not allowed to leave the manor and nor were her friends allowed to visit. She enlivened her dull hours by venting her spleen in letters to Henry VIII, the council and to Thomas Cromwell, who had replaced Wolsey. Norfolk was aghast that his wife should wash her dirty linen to one of his enemies; her letters were full of allegations that her husband vigorously denied[xi]. Cromwell was more than happy to correspond with the discarded wife in the hopes of getting hold of information he could use against his rival.

Elizabeth’s children took their father’s side in the war between their parents. Elizabeth called her offspring ‘ungracious’ and unkind’ and referred to them as ‘his offspring’, despite this she wrote;

‘Though my children are unkind to me I have always loved them.’[xii]

Elizabeth also complained that Norfolk failed to provide sufficient monies for her upkeep; this allegation may be true as the notoriously stingy duke failed to pay his wife, and his son and heir, anything but a pittance by way of an allowance. Elizabeth received £200 per annum[xiii]. Henry and his father’s mistress did not get on and Bess claimed that;

‘The Earl of Surrey loved her not.’[xiv]

The feeling appears to have been mutual. Mary, however, became firm friends with Bess much to her mother’s distress.

Young Marriage

Although Mary was related to Fitzroy within the bounds on consanguinity[xv], dispensation was received in November 1533. The couple were married shortly thereafter, but did not live together[xvi]. From now on Fitzroy and Henry were to grow apart, no longer seeing each other every day and sharing chambers.

Plans to send Fitzroy to Ireland[xvii] where the situation had deteriorated recently were not actioned; as long as Queen Anne failed to produce a male heir the king may have preferred to keep his son at court. The relationship between Norfolk and Cromwell exploded[xviii]; the imperial ambassador reporting that the cause of the disagreement was;

‘His [Norfolk’s] wishing to keep the Duke of Richmond near him, and near his daughter, his wife.’[xix]

Henry VIII may also have been moved by the considerations of cost; fitting out Fitzroy with a quasi-royal household would cost and there was only one person the king liked to spend money on, himself. For a New Year 1534 gift the king gave Henry a silver ewer, conceivably in a fit of enthusiasm because Queen Anne, whose star was waning fast[xx], was pregnant again and the possibility of a legitimate male heir was close enough to touch. Anne lost the baby at eight months.  


Henry VIII’s Last Victim – Jessie Childs, Vintage Books 2008

The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune – David M Head, University of Georgia Press 2009

House of Treason – Robert Hutchinson, Phoenix 2009

Henry VIII – Robert Lacey, Weidenfeld & Nicholson & Book Club Associates 1972

The Earlier Tudors – J D Mackie, Oxford University Press 1992

Bastard Prince – Beverley A Murphy, Sutton Publishing 2001

Rivals in Power – David Starkey, MacMillan London Ltd 1990

The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir, Pimlico 1992


[i] Bastard Prince - Murphy
[ii] The elder brother François was to die four years later, possibly from complications arising from his imprisonment
[iii] Later Duc d’Orléans
[iv] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[vii] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[viii] The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune - Head
[x] Rivals in Power - Starkey
[xi] After five years of these letters from Elizabeth Cromwell became tired of the correspondence and brusquely told her to go back to Norfolk and live in peace with her husband
[xii] House of Treason - Hutchinson
[xiii] In 2015 the relative: historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is £122,400.00 labour earnings of that income or wealth is £1,113,000.00 economic status value of that income or wealth is £3,803,000.00 economic power value of that income or wealth is £51,400,000.00 www.measuringworth.com
[xiv] Henry VIII’s Last Victim - Childs
[xvi] The marriage was never consummated
[xvii] He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, although he never visited the country
[xviii] Cromwell was to remain in the ascendant until after the death of Henry VIII’s third queen
[xix] Bastard Prince - Murphy