Anne Plantagenet and the duke of Norfolk

princess anne plantagenet framlinghamAnne was the fifth daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV, born in 1475 had her father not died in April 1483 she would have found herself married to Philip of Burgundy.  However, Edward IV died unexpectedly and the treaty with Burgundy was never ratified.  Had she married Philip she would have gone to live in the court of her aunt Margaret of Burgundy.

Instead, Anne’s uncle Richard arranged a betrothal to Thomas Howard who would one day become the 3rd Duke of Norfolk.  Once Richard III was overthrown in 1485 Howard petitioned for the betrothal to stand – meanwhile Anne served her sister Elizabeth of York as a lady-in-waiting. She featured during the baptism of both Arthur and Margaret.  The problem was that the Howards were not supporters of the house of Lancaster.

John Howard, Thomas’s grandfather, served Edward IV and was knighted by him. Richard ennobled John making him the Duke of Norfolk on 28th June 1483 with Thomas’s father another Thomas, becoming the Earl of Surrey at the same time thus ensuring their continued loyalty.  In fact John, the 1st Howard Duke of Norfolk was killed at the Battle of Bosworth as he commanded the vanguard of Richard’s army by an arrow which struck him in the face.  The Earl of Surrey spent the next three years in the Tower until he convinced Henry VII of his loyalty.

3rd duke of norfolk framlinghamMeanwhile Anne married Thomas junior on 3rd February 1495. She was never the Duchess of Norfolk  Anne died in 1510 or 11 depending on the source.  It was only in 1514 that the Earl of Surrey was allowed to inherit his father’s title which had been made forfeit by his attainder following Bosworth.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Thomas_Howard,_3rd_Duke_of_Norfolk_(Royal_Collection)As for Anne’s widower depicted above -Thomas junior- he would remarry Lady Elizabeth Stafford but would go down in history as the rather brutal third Duke of Norfolk, uncle of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard and arch-Tudor politician.  Anne had a son who died young but the Howard heirs came from the third duke’s marriage to Elizabeth Stafford (the eldest daughter of the Duke of Buckingham who revolted against Richard III and Eleanor Percy the eldest daughter of the Duke of Northumberland – and thus having more sound Lancastrian credentials.)

Anne was buried originally in Thetford Priory but upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries she was reinterred in Framingham Church.  Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk managed to survive both his nieces’ downfalls, topple Thomas Cromwell from power  and generally demonstrated more political wiliness than a cat with nine lives but he was ultimately charged with treason and was sent to the Tower to await his execution.  Henry VIII died the night before he was due to be executed.  He eventually died in 1554 having been freed by Mary Tudor.

His tomb is in Framingham next to Anne who lays on his righthand-side because she, as a princess, is more important than a mere duke.

 

The Church of St Michael Framingham guidebook

 

The man who made priest holes

DSC_0094.jpgYesterday I found myself in the garderobe, sliding into a small space, ducking my head to avoid a low beam and then straightening to find myself in a priest hole.  Fortunately for me no one was going to slam the lid back into place and leave me in total darkness until it was safe for me to emerge or I was discovered and dragged off to the Tower.  I was enjoying a sunny afternoon at Oxborough Hall.

 

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During the reign of Elizabeth I Jesuits priests were feared as enemies of the state and hunted down by pursuivants.  Catholic priests moved from Catholic household to catholic household, often purporting to be cousins or other distant relations.  Wealthy families built hiding places in their homes so that when the priest hunters came calling there was somewhere to hide their illicit guest.

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The most successful priest holes were built by Nicholas Owen – not that he built the hole at Oxborough. Owen, an Oxfordshire man, was born in 1562.  He had three siblings one was a Catholic priest and another printed illegal Catholic books.  The brothers’ father was a carpenter and Nicholas in his turn was apprenticed to a joiner.  By the time he was in his mid twenties he was working for Father Henry Garnet and had become a lay brother in the Jesuit order.  He suffered from ill health including a limp from a poorly set bone and a hernia. Despite his physical frailty he travelled from house to house constructing priest holes.   Most of the people he worked for didn’t know his real name – to them he was Little John.  He worked by night in total secrecy to create his hiding places.  Many of the priest holes were so well concealed that they were only discovered in later centuries when houses underwent renovation.  Unfortunately the occasional hole is still found with its occupant still in situ.

 

Owen’s favoured locations seem to have been behind fireplaces and under stairs.  The pursuivants were men who could judge if an interior wall looked shorter than an exterior wall so Owen had to be very careful as to where he located his priest holes.

 

Nicholas was a man strong in faith.  He was eventually captured in 1606 at Hindlip Hall in Worcestershire in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot.  It is thought he allowed himself to be captured in order to distract attention from Father Henry Garnet who was hiding nearby.

There were rules about torturing people with disabilities but this didn’t stop Robert Cecil from demanding that Owen be taken to the Tower and taxed about his knowledge by Topcliffe.  He was racked.  This caused his intestines to bulge out through his hernia.  Topcliffe ordered that they be secure by a metal plate. This cut into the hernia and he bled to death in his cell. He died rather than give away his secrets and the lives of the men who depended upon him keeping them.  The State announced that he had committed suicide.

St Nicholas Owen was canonised in 1970 and is the patron saint of illusionists and escape artists.

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Hogge Alice.  God’s Secret Agents

Reynolds, Tony. (2014) St Nicholas Owen: Priest Hole Maker

https://soul-candy.info/2012/03/mar-22-st-nicholas-owen-sj-d-1606-martyr-artist-builder-of-hiding-places-for-priests/

Margaret Beaufort – the pictures

BeaufortLadyM_CU_SJ_170smI tend to think of Lady Margaret Beaufort looking rather austere in a wimple and black gown as pictured left.   Melanie Taylor, art historian (https://melanievtaylor.co.uk) very kindly told me about the image of Margaret at prayer which hangs in St John’s College, Cambridge.  It was painted by Rowland Lockey who was Nicholas Hilliard’s apprentice.    He was born in 1565 and his best known picture is probably that of Sir Thomas More and his family.  The image of Lady Margaret was presented to St John’s in 1598 by Julius Clippersby – Roy Strong says it was Juliana Clippersby who gave it to the college, making it less of a primary source than you might have imagined on first looking at it.  It certainly accounts for the abundance of Tudor royal images and coats of arms.

 

margaret-beaufort hever.jpgA quick check on the National Portrait Gallery website revealed eighteen images associated with Henry Tudor’s mother in their collection.  They all picture her dressed as a widow. There are other portraits dotted around the countryside including the one at Hever Castle pictured left which features an expensive cloth of state, trademark widow’s wimple, black frock and prayer book.  We tend to think that the black dress she is most commonly associated with is akin to a monastic habit but in actual fact the fabrics and dyes made her clothing some of the most expensive available.  The robes she wore were the same quality as those worn by Henry VII’s queen and during one Christmas celebration they wore identical garments.

Let’s make no mistake here.  There was a degree of nunliness (is that even a word?) about the king’s mother especially during her last decade. Despite the fact that her last husband Lord Thomas Stanley was very much alive Margaret had taken a public vow of chastity in 1499 and thereafter the pair lived separate lives. Margaret was enrolled in the lists five religious houses- Charterhouse, Croyland, Durham and Westminster are listed by the Catholic Encyclopaedia.  Essentially she took vows under canon law that enabled her to continue living in the public sphere rather than the secluded world of a nunnery.

Her friend and confessor John Fisher developed this image of her in his sermon about Margaret entitled A Mornygne Remembrance.  He compared her to Martha, a woman of action, but who combined her capabilities with prayer, fasting and abstinence.  Records of her gifts and patronage also develop the theme of piety.  She helped found the Cult of the Holy Name of Jesus in England during this period – the letters IHS which are so common in churches today were little used before this period (Unfortunately her patronage of the cult meant that it was very markedly Catholic which proved somewhat of a problem during her grandson’s reign.)  In her later years she attended several masses daily that caused her back problems. Please, no one comment on the possibility of a guilty conscience – draw your own conclusions – pious woman or maniac murderer of princes wishing to atone – take your pick. Since Fisher didn’t break the confessional its all circumstantial!

Tomb-of-Lady-Margaret-Beaufort-Countess-of-Richmond-and-Derby-at-Westminster-Abbey.jpgIt turns out that there is only one original known likeness of the redoubtable matriarch of the Tudor family – her funeral effigy cast by Italian Master Pietro Torrigiano. He also  created the wonderful sculpture of Henry VIII as a little boy and the bust of Henry VII. The face was probably taken from her death mask – so not one of her better days. Interestingly as well as the Beaufort arms the Stafford knot features in the imagery around her effigy.

All the rest of the images of Margaret were created during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at a time when all those new manor houses with their brand new long galleries required populating with portraits demonstrating loyalty to the monarchy.  The images may have been created from an original now lost or perhaps from the effigy in Westminster.

 

Unknown-woman-formerly-known-as-Lady-Margaret-Beaufort-Countess-of-Richmond-and-Derby.jpgThe portrait that I’m particularly fond of is purported to be Margaret Beaufort in her youth but unfortunately the headdress doesn’t match to the correct period but to a time closer to the beginning of the sixteenth century.  The National Portrait Gallery identifies it as an Unknown Lady. Despite that you can see how the folded hands, the rings on her fingers, and headdress would lead to the idea that it was Margaret Beaufort. The portrait has been in the National Portrait Gallery since 1908.

 

Davis, David J.  (2013) Seeing Faith, Printing Pictures: Religious Identity during the English Reformation. 

 

Sir Henry Stafford’s will

BeaufortLadyM_CU_SJ_170smHenry Stafford was the second son of Humphrey Stafford, First Duke of Buckingham. I’ve posted about him before.  The post can be found here.   Henry was Margaret’s second husband (discounting John de la Pole).  Their marriage began when she was fourteen and covered the period of Henry Tudor’s minority – initially in the care of Jasper Tudor and then, after Towton,  Sir William Herbert.

On the 14th April 1471, Sir Henry took part in the Battle of Barnet against the Earl of Warwick’s forces.  Warwick having turned his coat and reached an agreement with Henry VI’s queen Margaret of Anjou.  The official record does not record how Margaret Beaufort felt about her husband taking up arms on York’s behalf.  Clearly Edmund Beaufort’s visit to the couple at Woking in March did not go as planned! Nor for that matter do we fully know why Stafford chose to support the Yorkist king rather than the Lancastrian one on this particular occasion.

Sir Henry was wounded and returned to Woking (which he and Margaret had acquired through royal warrant in 1466 – it had formerly been in Beaufort hands) where he was cared for by Margaret. He died on the 4th October 1471.

He had written his will on the 13th April 1471 – a hasty realisation of what might follow.  It was witnessed by the parish priest of Woking, a man named Walter Baker.  He also gave 10 shillings to the church for tithes – noting that he may have forgotten to pay them or even withheld them previously. Another 20 shillings were given for building work in the church.

The bequests that the will contains are few.  He left Henry Tudor new velvet trappings for four horses, Reginald Bray – his man of business- a “grizzled horse”  and £160 for masses to be said for his soul. The copy of the will held by St John’s College, Cambridge includes the gift of another horse to his brother John – who Edward IV had created Earl of Wiltshire.  He left everything else to his “entirely beloved wife Margaret, Countess of Richmond, she thereof to dispose her own free will for ever more.”  Another, downloadable, copy of the will can be found in the National Archives at Kew.

Halsted, Caroline (1845)  Life of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of King Henry the Seventh. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=PF9iAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Jones, Michael and Underwood, Malcom. (1992)  The King’s Mother. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Licence, Amy. 2016 Red Roses. Stroud: The History Press

 

 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D970211

Margaret Beaufort

478px-Lady_Margaret_Beaufort_from_NPGI’ve blogged about Henry Tudor’s mother before and am always surprised at the reaction she seems to provoke including that it’s obvious that she was responsible for the murder of the princes – by which people do not mean that she was stalking the corridors of the Tower of London beating small boys to death with her psalter but that she “must” have reached an accommodation with the Duke of Buckingham who she was seen talking with during a “chance encounter” on the road prior to the rebellion which led to his execution (and he was family after all)  in 1483. I have also been accused of being biased against her as well as biased in her favour in the same post.  To which my response was – eh?

The main problem for Margaret would seem to be the question – Who gains?  And quite obviously, her son Henry Tudor became king of England.  Couple that with means, motive and opportunity and Margaret Beaufort has to be included on the suspect list -she was after all Lady Stanley by this point and had a prominent position at court until she blotted her copy books and found herself under house arrest.  Even if she didn’t have access to the Tower, the Duke of Buckingham did and Lord Stanley was part of Richard III’s circle of power (though not part of the inner circle.) Everyone in power or with money had access to the kind of men who would kill children – even women if they had trusted servants.  It was not until Josephine Tey’s wonderful book entitled The Daughter of Time which was published in 1951 that anyone pointed the finger at Margaret although there had been doubts about Richard III’s involvement for centuries.

Henry Tudor didn’t launch an inquiry to find out what had happened in 1485 – nor was there any religious rite for the pair of princes which seems odd given that he had to revoke their illegitimacy in order to marry their sister Elizabeth – so it would have been only polite to mark their demise.  But then who wants to draw attention to their presumed dead and now legitimate brothers-in-law and the fact that your own claim to the throne is a tad on the dodgy side?  Edward IV didn’t want Henry VI turning into a cult so why would Henry Tudor want Edward V turning into a cult? And there is also the fact that having a mass said for the souls of the dead is one thing but what if one or more of the boys was still alive – it would be a bit like praying for their immediate death.  Which brings us to Perkin Warbeck.  Or was he?  No wonder the story continues to fascinate people and excite so much comment.

However, back to Margaret Beaufort and the point of today’s post.  Strong women in history often get a bad press both during their life times and in the history books – assuming they manage to get out of the footnotes because until fairly recently history was written from a male perspective – and Victorian minded males at that – women were supposed to be domestic and pious, they were not supposed to step out from the hearth and engage in masculine activities nor were they supposed to be intellectually able (the notable exception to this rule being Elizabeth I.)

Margaret Beaufort began life as a typical heiress – tainted by the apparent suicide of her father the Duke of Somerset- Once her father died she was handed over to a guardian, in this case the Duke of Suffolk.  Suffolk effectively gained control of Margaret’s wealth and also had the power to arrange her marriage – which he duly did – to his own son John de la Pole.  This marriage would be dissolved before Margaret left childhood. Margaret never considered herself to have been married to John.  The fact that it was dissolved on the orders of no less a person than Henry VI demonstrates that she was a pawn on a chess board – just as most other heiresses were at this time.  There was also her links to the Lancastrian bloodline to be considered. Her great grandparents were John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford (and no I’m not exploring the legitimacy of the legitimisation of their family in this post) but at the time of her marriage to Tudor there were male Beauforts available who would have taken precedence in such matters.  Margaret was also descended from Edward I via her maternal grandmother Lady Margaret Holland but that’s neither here nor there for the purposes of this post other than to note it was another source of Margaret Beaufort’s wealth.

Her lot was to marry and produce children. To this end Henry VI arranged a marriage between Margaret and his own half-brother Edmund Tudor who he had created Earl of Richmond but who now needed the money to go with the title.  When the pair married on 1st November 1455, she was twelve.  Edmund was twenty-four.  By the following year Margaret was a widow and two  months after that a mother.  Let’s not put modern morality on Edmund’s actions.  Had Margaret died before she became a parent her estates and income would have reverted to her family rather than to her husband.  It was in Edmund’s financial interests to begin married life as soon as possible. It is probably for this reason that Edmund chose not to defer consummation until Margaret had matured somewhat.

Humphrey Stafford duke of buckingham.pngIn March 1457 Margaret married for a second time (or third if you’re being pedantic) to the Duke of Buckingham’s second son- Henry Stafford.  This was a marriage that had been negotiated by Margaret’s mother Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe.  Jasper Tudor may also have been involved as he escorted Margaret from Pembroke and had his own financial interests to consider.  The Duke of Buckingham (pictured left) was a powerful political ally in that he was as powerful as Richard of York (pictured right).richard-plantagenet-3rd-duke-of-york-2  It was a marriage that would protect Margaret’s interests but which would separate her from her son who was now in the guardianship of Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke.  After the Battle of Towton in 1461 young Henry would be placed in the care of the Yorkist Herbert family.  Margaret would never have another child – even if she could visit this one on occasion whilst he was resident with the Herberts before he and Uncle Jasper fled across The Channel in 1471 following the short-lived second reign of Henry VI.

It was during this marriage that Margaret Beaufort began to develop the skills that would help her son to the throne.  Sir Henry Stafford, was a third cousin and some eighteen years older than her.  Although he was a Lancastrian and fought on the loosing side at Towton he soon sued for pardon.   During the 1460s Sir Henry rose in the Yorkist court.  He demonstrated the necessity of being politically realistic.  In 1468 Margaret and her husband entertained Edward IV at their hunting lodge near Guildford.   For whatever reason Sir Henry fought against the Lancastrians at the Battle of Barnet and eventually died of the wounds he received there.  Pragmatism would see Margaret into another marriage and into a role at the courts of  Edward IV and Richard III.

Margaret, rather like the redoubtable Tudor Bess of Hardwick, had a very businesslike approach to marriage – as is demonstrated by her marriage to Thomas Stanley.  Bess married for money whilst Margaret married for security, access to a power base, and, it would appear, for the chance to bring her son safely home from exile.   Who can blame her?  She been married off twice in her childhood due to her wealth and family links.  The man she regarded as her first husband, Edmund Tudor, had died whilst in the custody of his enemies albeit from plague.  Her second husband had relinquished his Lancastrian loyalties demonstrating real-politic and then died of wounds sustained in one of the intermittent battles of the period.  Why would Margaret not marry someone close to the seat of power who could keep her, her inheritance and potentially her son safe?  The fact that she married only eight months after the death of Sir Henry Stafford is not suggestive of undue haste, rather a desire to ensure that she had a role in the decision making.

The other thing that Margaret learned during her time as Lady Stafford was the importance of loyal servants not to mention a network of contacts.  Reginald Bray began his career as Sir Henry’s man but would go on to become Margaret’s man of business, trusted messenger and ultimately adviser to Henry Tudor.  So far as the contacts are concerned she had an extended family through her mother’s various marriages and  her own marriages.  As a woman of power i.e. Lady Stanley she had influence at court.  She knew people and it would appear from Fisher’s biography had a capacity for getting on with them (not something that modern fictional presentations tend to linger on.)

In 1483 Margaret was heavily involved in the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III.  Her agent was Reginald Bray. Polydore Virgil – the Tudor historian- made much of Margaret’s role at this time. During the reign of Edward IV  she had petitioned for Henry’s return home as the Earl of Richmond now, in the reign of Richard III, she plotted to make her son king.  She arrived at an accommodation with Elizabeth Woodville so that Princess Elizabeth of York would become Henry’s wife – making it quite clear that by this point Elizabeth Woodville believed her sons to be dead.  Autumn storms caused Henry’s boats to turn back before the rebellion ended in disaster but he swore that he would marry Elizabeth of York.  Not only would such a marriage reunite the two houses of Lancaster and York but it would legitimise Henry as king – should the situation arise.  Pragmatic or what?

As a result of her involvement with the 1483 plot Margaret found herself under house arrest and all her property in the hands of her husband.  Her wealth wasn’t totally lost and Lord Stanley connived to allow her continued communication with her son.  Margaret was no longer a pawn on the chess board she had become an active player – and furthermore knew how to play the various pieces to best advantage and to hold her nerve.

There is popular acceptance of men such as Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick – politics and violence in the fifteenth century were suitably manly pastimes. It was an era when “good” men did “bad” things to maintain stability. We know that Edward must have ordered the murder of Henry VI following the Battle of Tewkesbury but he has not been vilified for it – you can’t really have two kings in one country without the constant fear of civil war.  He ordered his own brother’s execution – but again he is not vilified for it – after all George Duke of Clarence had changed sides more often than he’d changed his underwear by that point.

By contrast Margaret Beaufort, despite Fisher’s hagiography, has not always been kindly portrayed in recent years – words like “calculating” are hardly positive when it comes to considering the child bride who became a kingmaker thanks to her own marriages and her negotiations with Elizabeth Woodville.  Come to think of it Bess of Hardwick has had more than her share of bad press in the past as have women like Elizabeth Woodville and Henry VI’s queen Margaret of Anjou.  Ambitious women, whether for power or money, were not and are still not treated kindly by posterity – possibly because they stepped out of their allotted role and refused to behave as footnotes.

DO I think she did it?  In all honesty?  I don’t know but probably not. I don’t have any evidence that says she did and neither does anyone else. I would also politely point out that she did not have custody of the two princes nor was she responsible for their safety.  Did she benefit from their deaths – yes- but she would have been a fool not to and no one has ever accused Lady Margaret Beaufort of being one of those. There were plenty of other people who could have arranged their deaths and been on the scene to benefit much faster than Henry Tudor who was in Brittany at the time. But as I said at the start of the post people do feel strongly on the subject – here’s a picture to give you a flavour.

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https://www.royalhistorygeeks.com/why-margaret-beaufort-could-not-have-killed-the-princes-in-the-tower/  It’s worth looking at the comments -for every argument made in the History Geek post there is a counter argument.  For those of you who want to see the argument that she could have had the princes killed go to: https://mattlewisauthor.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/margaret-beaufort-and-the-princes-in-the-tower/

I shall be talking to the U3A Burton-On-Trent, Rolleston Club on 27th February at 10.00 am on the topic of Lady Margaret Beaufort.  There’re bound to be questions!

Licence, Amy. 2016 Red Roses. Stroud: The History Press

Jones, Michael and Underwood, Malcom. (1992)  The King’s Mother. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Margaret Bostock Cavendish and daughters

250px-william_cavendish_c1547Have you noticed the way that wives simply don’t count in the historical record unless they bring oodles of cash or have heirs and spares?   Sometimes it really does look like “his story.” There certainly aren’t any pictures  of Margaret or her daughters so this post will have to make do with William Cavendish.  Margaret was William’s first wife.

Anyway, Margaret Bostock was born in Whatcroft in Cheshire. Margaret’s father, Edmund, came from a family that claimed its descent from the Norman Conquest.  She married William in 1532 as Cavendish began his career in the employment of Thomas Cromwell.  She died on 9th June 1540, the day before Cromwell was arrested. It should have made for a grim year for Sir William, instead he was promoted and sent to Ireland to survey the king’s lands.

The couple had five children but only three survived to adulthood:

  • Catherine married Thomas Brooke, the son of Lord Cobham which sounds very grand but he was son number four or five. Lord Cobham, a soldier and courtier, fathered fourteen legitimate children.  He was an associate of the Seymours and would benefit from the dissolution of the monasteries. When she married Thomas, Catherine became the sister-in-law of William Parr who was married to Thomas’s sister Elizabeth.  William was Queen Katherine Parr’s brother.  It demonstrates that William Cavendish or rather Bess of Hardwick  was upwardly mobile, associated with the New Learning of the period and knew how to find a husband which would improve those all important social and career prospects.  Even more noticeable, on further inspection, is the chain of kinship connections that Bess of Hardwick wrought between her children and the Cobhams.

Thomas managed to get himself sentenced to death twice – once for treason and then for piracy and was charged with a murder in Blackfriars.  He got himself caught up in Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 (it was a family affair given that Cobham was Wyatt’s cousin) and on his release set off for a life of adventure on the high seas – by which I mean piracy which didn’t amuse the Spanish very much. eventually he was re-arrested and sent back to the Tower where he was sentenced to death.  On this occasion he didn’t have to rely on the clemency of the monarch – he pleaded benefit of the clergy.  All of which is very Elizabethan, he could even claim a degree of kinship with Sir Walter Raleigh but there’s no sign of Catherine in the tale.

 

  • Mary died in 1547
  • Anne married Sir Henry Baynton in 1561. The Bayntons were a Wiltshire family.  The marriage was arranged by Bess of Hardwick, Anne’s step-mother. Sir Henry was actually the brother-in-law of Bess’s new husband William St Loe. Like Lord Cobham, Baynton’s father was a courtier to Henry VIII and had been present at the baptism of Prince Edward.

 

The Catholic north in 1569

pilgrimage-of-grace-banner.jpgEngland had been Protestant since the death of Mary Tudor in 1558.  The majority of the population had quietly got on with the change from Protestantism under Edward VI to Catholicism under Mary and then back to Protestantism with the ascent of Elizabeth.

On 14 November 1569 the Northern Earls led by the earls of Northumberland and Westmorland revolted.  They and their followers arrived at Durham Cathedral and celebrated a Catholic Mass having first of all overturned the communion table and destroyed Protestant books.  They rapidly acquired some 6000 men who marched under the old Pilgrimage of Grace (1536) banner – the five wounds of Christ shown at the start of this post. No one is quite sure how many people flocked to follow the banner – numbers have been put as high as 20,000.

What is interesting, aside from the insurgency itself, is the number of people who chose to go to the mass and what the state of religious belief actually was.  The cathedral was packed.  Perhaps its not so surprising.  Cuthbert Tunstall had been Bishop of Durham in 1559 but had been deprived of the diocese when he refused the Oath of Supremacy. He had been replaced by James Pilkington an unpopular but conformist Puritan.  That said there were a large number of parishes, many of them impoverished and subject to border raids, not to mention a shortage of clergy.  In many places the vicar had to serve several parishes or there were none.  It was even noted that “vagabond Scots” did the work of preaching.  It is perhaps not surprising that people continued to believe what they had always believed, irrelevant of what Protestant London might like. Effectively circumstance and geography ensured that religious belief in the north remained conservative.

The stated aim of the Northern Rebellion was to topple Elizabeth and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots – returning Catholicism to the country once again. By the 20th of December the Earls of Westmorland and Northumberland had fled across the border into Scotland and the churches which had toppled their communion tables and celebrated mass had some explaining to do. The Durham Consistory Court was busy.  Charges related to destroying Protestant books and altars, setting up Catholic altars and holy water stones that should have been destroyed previously but which had simply been hidden away, taking part in a Catholic mass and other Catholic rites.  Not everyone attended a mass because they wanted to. People in Darlington were forced to attend the event and so far as the Durham clergy were concerned a number of them testified that they had taken part in the old rites by compulsion rather than desire.

The numbers of churches destroying the paraphernalia of Protestantism in Yorkshire was even higher than it was in County Durham. It’s worth noting that the Earl of Northumberland’s territory stretched far into Yorkshire. Inevitably with statistics it is impossible to know how many of the men who burned books did so under duress or had simply become carried away on a tide of destruction rather than having genuine belief into the rights and wrongs of the matter.

As for the altars and water stones there is evidence that when it became clear that the rebellion was failing that a number of them including the water stones placed by the doors in Durham Cathedral were quietly returned to their hiding places.  When questioned no one admitted to knowing what had happened to them.

Texts identify the fact that in the years that followed numbers of Northern magnates opened their homes to Jesuits and the problem of clergy numbers remained in the north alongside impoverished livings.

Doran, Susan, and Durston, Christopher (1991)Princes, Pastors and People: The Church and Religion in England, 1529-1689 London: Routledge

Duffy, Eamon (1992)  The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580, New Haven: Yale University Press

Kesselring, Krista J. (2007) The Northern Rebellion of 1569: Faith, Politics and Protest in Elizabethan England, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Elizabeth I – the final decade

queen_elizabeth_armada_portraitIn many ways the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 can be seen as the apex of Elizabeth’s reign – the Armada Portrait shows that God was definitely on her side and that in addition to reigning over England Elizabeth also ruled the waves and other parts of the globe – the latter can be seen from her proprietorial grip on a globe whilst the former is manifested in the carving of a mermaid on her chair – admittedly the artist had to do some reworking as the traditional symbolism of a mermaid was the opposite to that which usually depicted the Virgin Queen’s qualities.

It wasn’t long before Fortunes wheel began its downward cycle for the raging monarch.  The Earl of Leicester died on his was to take the waters in Buxton. Elizabeth, retired to her chamber to grieve and refused to come out. After the doors to her bed chamber had been broken down on the orders of Lord Burghley, the queen did not display much in the way of magnanimity to the widow -Lettice Knollys.  Instead she pressed for Dudley’s debts to the Crown to be repaid.  The irony cannot have been lost on Lettice.  Dudley had mortgaged Kenilworth, Leicester House in London and Wanstead to finance the campaign in the Netherlands.

At court the power dynamics changed without Dudley in the mix.  Sir Christopher Hatton rose in seniority whilst Dudley’s step-son  the earl of Essex became engaged in a bitter battle for supremacy with Sir Walter Raleigh.

Elsewhere radical Puritans made their voices heard and when Sir Christopher Hatton tried to silence them with laws of blasphemy the Queen found it politically expedient to be equally harsh to her Catholic subjects.  The war against Spain continued to drain the treasury. The Irish revolted. The Jesuits sent more agents. Harvests failed, prices soared and there was an out break of plague.  There were butter and fish riots.

Unsurprisingly there were one or two plots – including that of Dr Lopez- the queen’s own physician. Lopez as well as being a physician had also spied for both Walsingham and Dudley – now those particular chickens came home to roost when the Earl of Essex accused Lopez of plotting.  Lopez paid the price for playing the role of agent provocateur and also of Essex’s campaign to overthrow the Cecils.

The Earl of Essex was no Dudley -ultimately Robert Dudley had loved Elizabeth.  He and William Cecil might have cajoled and flattered on occasion but they knew that trying to bend the queen to their wills was not something to be undertaken lightly.  They did not see her as a mere woman – Essex on the other hand rather over rated his own appeal and powers of persuasion. And what was worse he ignored Elizabeth’s commands, returned from Ireland without permission, burst in on her when she was not rigged out in the full Gloriana costume and told her that she had a crooked carcass.  It was not behaviour designed to win friends and influence people. Defiance by Essex turned into rebellion.

After the Earl of Essex went to the block Elizabeth did her very best to appear as though she was neither aging nor tired but she stumbled when she got out of her coach at the opening of Parliament, was more bad tempered than in the past, ate little, suffered from arthritis and was prone to melancholy. It didn’t help that all her old friends and servants were dying one by one. Her fear of the darkness grew and she struggled to sleep more than a few hours each night – all of which is a bit of a contrast to the monarch bedecked in ribbons and pearls with her hand on the world.

Guy, John. (2016) Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years. London: Penguin

 

Gloriana

Halifax Thursday 25th October

Places still available – 

If you’re thinking of coming to Gloriana a life in pictures there are still a few places available.  Please let me know if you’re a regular and would like to attend.

queen_elizabeth_armada_portraitElizabeth is most usually depicted in costumes laden with symbolism but when she made her first appearance on the political stage in September 1533 shortly after her brith on the 7th of that month she was paraded as a naked babe in arms by her proud father for the benefit of Europe’s ambassadors.

Ann Boleyn had retired for her confinement in Greenwich Palace in August 1533.  The room with its fastened windows and tapestry heavy walls must have seemed close and airless.  Henry had been promised a son but the child who was born at 3pm on the 7th was a girl.  Henry was swift to say that boys would follow – Elizabeth appeared to be a healthy infant and this particular father knew that many babies didn’t arrive safely in the world so he made the best of a bad bargain.

She was baptised when she was three days old at Greenwich in the Church of the Observant Friars.  An account of the baptism may be found in  Henry VIII’s letters and papers for 1533:

the Childe was brought to the hall, and then every man set forward: first, the Cittizens two and two; then Gentlemen, Esquires, and Chap-laines ; next after them the Aldermen, and the Maior alone; and next the Kinges Counsell; then the Kinges Chappel in coaps; then Barons, Bishops, Earles, the Earle of Essex bearing the covered basons gilt; after him the Marques of Excester with a taper of virgin wax; -next him the Marques Dorset bearing the salt; behind him the Lady Mary of Norfolke bearing the crisome, which was very rich of pearle and stone. The old Dutches of Norfolke bare the Childe in a mantle of purple velvet, with a long traine furred with ermine. The Duke of Norfoike with his marshal’s rod went on the right hand of the saide Dutchesse; and the Duke of Suffbike on the left hand ; and before them went Officers of Armes ; the Countesse of Kent bare the long traine of the Childes mantle; and meane betweene the Childe and the Countesse of Kent went the Earle of Wilshire and tlie Earle of Darby on either side, supporting the said traine in the middest: over the Childe was borne a rich canapie, by the Lord Rochford, the Lord Hussey, the Lord William Howard, and the Lord Thomas Howard the elder. After the Childe, followed many Ladies and Gentlewomen.

 

Robert Cecil

00cecilR3Robert was born in 1563, the second son of William Cecil.  His mother was Mildred Cooke.  Robert had an elder half-brother called Thomas who would become the 1st Earl of Exeter but it was this younger, much more clever son, upon who William lavished his affection as well as training him to take over the reins of government.

When he arrived at court he initially seemed at a disadvantage when compared with the young and handsome Earl of Essex.  Robert was small and had a twisted back.  He had only is mind to recommend him and for a while the contest between the new young favourites cannot have been comfortable but in 1596 Elizabeth made Robert, who she called her “pygmy”, her Secretary of State.

In 1601 the Earl of Essex rebelled against the queen and suffered the ultimate penalty.   Robert had blamed his uprising upon the queen’s poor advisor’s of whom Cecil featured.  In the aftermath of the short-lived uprising Cecil counselled clemency but it did him no good in popular imagination.  People had rather liked the flamboyant Essex whereas Cecil was regarded with suspicion in part because of his physical disability – body reflecting godliness etc- there were ballads placing the blame for Essex’s death squarely on Robert’s head.

Interestingly when the conspirators of the Main  and Bye Plot were brought to trial – and bear in mind one of them was his brother-in-law Lord Cobham- it was Cecil who expressed some doubt over Raleigh’s guilt.  Modern historians tend to look at the transcript of the trial and wonder how anyone could have thought Raleigh guilty and are more inclined to consider the possibility that Cecil was helping a political opponent out of the picture.

Robert, like his father before him was a loyal servant to the queen but he opened a secret correspondence with James VI of Scotland.  The stability of the country was largely due to Cecil’s careful management of the transition between monarchs.   The reward for the ease with which James became king was an elevation to the peerage in 1605.  Cecil also became Lord Treasurer.

The Earl of Salisbury was at the root of James’ good governance in the years between 1603 and 1612.  It was he who negotiated the peace with Spain in 1604 – which although unpopular helped to stabilise the economy which was leaking money into the ongoing war. It was he who introduced a Book of rates in 1608 and it was he who attempted to negotiate the Great Contract between King and Parliament in 1610.  This particular venture didn’t come to fruition as neither side particularly trusted the other – and yes it will be a post very shortly.  Robert’s financial policy wasn’t helped by the king’s expenditure, his generous gifts to his favourites or the cost of maintaining a royal household that contained a king, his wife and their children.

Like his predecessor, James  had a predilection for nicknames – Cecil moved from “pygmy” or “elf” to “little beagle.”  The little beagle became increasingly over worked.  In addition to finances there was the matter of religion and the Gunpowder Plot. James also had a new favourite – the handsome but somewhat brainless Robert Carr. Cecil found his advice increasingly spurned in favour of that provided by Robert Carr – or more truthfully- Sir Thomas Overbury who advised Carr.  Francis Bacon’s political aspirations also made life difficult for Cecil who was increasingly adrift in the Stuart world.

And then there is the matter of the Gunpowder Plot – Cecil presents himself as the saviour of king and parliament but there are some doubts about exactly how much provoking Cecil might have done beforehand – he’d learned from that master of espionage Sir Francis Walsingham how to implicate suspects in a web of guilt.

He died in 1612 having swapped his father’s home at Theobalds in 1607 for the Royal Palace at Hatfield on account of the fact the king had taken a shine to Cecil’s house and garden. Cecil demolished the medieval palace and used the bricks to rebuild a new house.