Tag Archives: Cardinal Wolsey

Cuthbert Tunstall – Bishop of London and Durham.

mw125060.jpgThe country here about Durham is substantially established in the abolition of the bishop of Rome and his usurped power. Would to God ye would send for the bishop of Durham and hear his advice for the utter extirpation of the said power, and how it might be extinguished for ever. I thought myself to have known a great deal and all that could be said in the matter; but when I heard his learning, and how deeply he had searched into this usurped power, I thought myself the veriest fool in England. If he would write a book upon it all the kings of Christendom would shortly follow our master’s steps, so great is his learning and reputation. In all other things concerning high judgment, Parliament matters, &c., he is not living that would advertise you more for your honor and prosperity. Expertus loquor. Your injunctions can have no effect in Durham Abbey in some things; for there was never yet woman was in the abbey further than the church, nor they (the monks) never come within the town. Newcastle, 26 Jan. – Layton

It’s been a while but I thought I’d have a look to see what Cromwell had on his mind at the end of January 1536.  His monastic visitors, the comedy double act, Layton and Legh had reached the county of Durham and as we can see from this letter the Bishop of Durham made quite an impression on Layton unlike the clergy of Bangor who wrote to Cromwell on the 30th January to complain about the injunctions for incontinence that had been placed upon them that would prevent them from offering hospitality to travellers – i.e. having women around the place.  The good brethren of Bangor complain that they will be forced to seek their living in “ale houses and taverns” if they cannot keep female servants and such women.  Nice try gentlemen!

So, who was the Bishop of Durham who compares so favourably to virtually every other cleric in the country and who managed to extract a good account from Layton? The gentleman in question was Cuthbert Tunstall and he replaced Cardinal Wolsey who had been Bishop of Durham from 1523 until 1529. He might not have agreed with Thomas Cromwell but he was a law abiding citizen and obedient to the will of his king.

Tunstall was a Yorkshireman from Hackforth born on the wrong side of the blanket and educated in Oxford before moving to Cambridge where he became friends with Sir Thomas More. Tunstall’s career was initially that of diplomat.  He worked on the engagement of the young Princess Mary to Charles V.  His reward for his work was to become Bishop of London in 1522. Interestingly, although Tunstall learned towards humanism and reform from within as did Sir Thomas More his future would take a very different course even though they both held a number of identical posts.

During the 1520s Tunstall worked to flush out heretics, to burn proscribed books and the men and women who adhered to new dangerous beliefs.  It was Tunstall who was Bishop of London in 1527 when Thomas Bilney, a radical preacher from East Anglia, was tried by Wolsey and found guilty of heresy.  In the church court was Sir Thomas More – a layman.  He joined with the clerics in their questioning of Bilney. Having been found guilty he was handed over to Tunstall who persuaded him to recant after some time in prison.  he was forced to walk barefoot to St Paul’s amongst other things.  It has been said that it was Tunstall who persuaded him to recant but ultimately it did not save Bilney’s life.  After a stint in prison he set out to demonstrate that he had been in error in going back on his beliefs and was finally executed in 1531 in Norwich.

Tunstall’s life was not about to get any easier.  Henry VIII wanted a divorce.  Cuthbert sloe up for Catherine of Aragon but ultimately switched sides.  It was he and Bishop Lee of York who were sent to Kimbolton in 1534 to try and persuade Catherine to take the Oath of Supremacy and to accept that her daughter was no longer heir to the throne. Tunstall decided to opt for obedience to the King in all things and it perhaps for this reason that a man who would continue in post during the reigns of Edward VI and Queen Mary received a remarkably clean bill of health when Cromwell’s visitors arrived in the County of Durham.

Recognising, perhaps, that the monasteries were to be purged he did not put up a fight to save them.  He did, however, insist that Durham’s library be kept in tact.

In 1536 he managed to keep a low profile during the Pilgrimage of Grace by holing up in one of his castles and refusing to come out until it was all over.

Henry VIII recognised Tunstall as a loyal servant of the crown and made him an executor of his will or perhaps Henry’s wife Katherine Parr offered a good reference.  Tunstall had been the executor of Sir Thomas Parr ‘s will- Katherine’s father.   He and Thomas Parr were cousins and it was perhaps for this reason that Cuthbert assisted Maude Parr with the education of her children- somewhat ironic given Katherine Parr’s leaning to the new learning.  Maude left Tunstall a ring in her will…once again proving that everybody of note was related to some degree or other.

As an aside, Cuthbert’s legitimate half-brother Brian managed to get himself killed at Flodden in 1513 and was immortalised in Marmion by Sir Walter Scott. The 1827 memoirs of Marmaduke Tunstall identify Cuthbert’s mother as a daughter of the Conyers family – a notable Yorkshire name. His father was Thomas who provided for the boy and saw to his education.

He officiated at Edward VI’s coronation.

Tunstall had the courage to speak out against the changes that ran counter to his belief.  He spoke against the Act of Uniformity in 1549 for example.  He didn’t like the idea of married clergy or the changes in offering both bread and wine to communicants.  But as with his initial support of Catherine of Aragon once laws were enshrined he acquiesced to their rule. When the Duke of Somerset fell from power and was replaced by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick (who swiftly got an upgrade to  Duke of Northumberland) he hoped that the religious policies would be reversed.  They weren’t.  Even worse, Dudley didn’t buy this lawful bishop’s promises of good behaviour so Tunstall found himself in the Tower on charges of felony and only got out of jail when Queen Mary ascended the throne.

In 1558, having weathered three Tudor monarchs Cuthbert, now in his eighties, found himself faced with a fourth.  After all those years he finally refused to backtrack from his Catholic position.  He refused the Oath of Supremacy, refused to consecrate Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury and was, as a consequence, deprived of his office and committed into house arrest at Lambeth. He died there a few weeks later at the age of eighty-five of natural causes.

The image of Cuthbert is one of three held by the National Portrait Gallery.

 

‘Henry VIII: January 1536, 26-31’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10, January-June 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1887), pp. 64-81. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol10/pp64-81 [accessed 20 January 2017].

Porter, Linda. (2010).  Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr. London:MacMillan

Townsend Fox, George (1827) Memoirs of Marmaduke Tunstall, esq., and George Allan, esq

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Mary – Tudor Princess, queen of France and duchess of Suffolk

tudormary03The picture behind today’s advent calendar is Henry VIII’s sister Princess Mary who was known for her beauty. Mary was betrothed to the future Charles V of Spain in December 1507 when she was thirteen prior to her marriage to the elderly King Louis of France in 1514. The marriage was delayed because of negotiations and diplomatic maneuverings and ultimately Henry saw an opportunity to ally himself with France. Mary had no say in who she would marry she was a princess after all.

 

Her spouse, King Louis XII, was fifty-two, feeble and “pocky” as compared to Mary’s eighteen years and acknowledged beauty. He died less than three months later and Mary was sent into isolation for six weeks to check that she wasn’t carrying a potential heir to the French throne. Mary took the opportunity to marry the man of her dreams Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk (and a man with a dodgy marital history of his own) with the connivance of the new young handsome French king Francois I who was probably delighted to scotch the potential diplomatic plans that Henry was no doubt plotting. And, as luck would have it, Henry’s allegiances had swung back to Spain so he was indeed beginning to put forward an Anglo-Spanish alliance cemented in the persons of Charles V and his newly widowed sister Mary.

 

Henry was furious having forgotten his promise that Mary could marry who she wished. The pair were ultimately forgiven but not before they’d written to the furious king through the good agency of Cardinal Wolsey begging for forgiveness. Mary was Henry’s favourite sister and they did promise to pay a very large fine so it wasn’t long before they were back at court.

 

Our entry from Henry’s papers for December 3 1513 occurs before Mary’s engagement to Charles was broken off because Henry signed a warrant to the Great Wardrobe for a “gown of cloth of gold for the Princess of Castile.”

 

There may be some of you thinking, was that the same Charles V who was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon and fiancé of Henry’s daughter Princess Mary…er, well, yes – which just goes to show that Henry was nothing if not persistent.

Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514, ed. J S Brewer (London, 1920), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol1 [accessed 2 December 2016].

 

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Croxden Abbey- Dissolution, William Cavendish and King John…

croxden-abbey-hero.jpgThe Cistercian abbey of Croxden, in the care of English Heritage, is in Staffordshire, one of approximately thirty religious houses across the county. Its story is similar to many other monasteries. It built its wealth on sheep in the twelfth century and then ran into debt as the political landscape of the countryside changed. By the late thirteenth century it was considerably poorer as a consequence of Edward I’s wars with Scotland and the loans it was forced to make to the warrior monarch. Murrain, plague and poor harvests didn’t help. It never recovered. It’s income in 1535 was given as £103 6s. 7d. which was substantially less than its early income and provided Cromwell with evidence, if he needed it, of the decline of the monasteries.

The Valor Ecclesiasticus reveals that money was paid out to seven laymen who fulfilled essential roles including stewards and bailiffs including the steward of Croxden, Ashbourne, and Caldon, the bailiff of Ashbourne and Caldon. The document for its suppression identifies its full estates of which several were in Derbyshire. Not that the division of land was always simple. Take Trusley, near Derby, for instance. Some of the land around the village belonged to the monks of Croxden whilst other parts belonged to some of Derby’s community of nuns.

By rights Croxden should have been suppressed in 1536 along with the rest of the smaller monasteries but the abbot paid a £100 and received a licence to continue. Two years later on the 17 September 1538 Dr Legh – an infamous abbey visitor and William Cavendish, equally well known at the time but less mentioned in this blog until now, received the surrender of the abbey. Along with the abbot, Thomas Chawner, who received a pension of £26 per annum there were twelve other monks. As with the other abbeys the building was stripped of everything valuable whilst the abbey’s water-mill, its lands and the rectory at Croxden were rented to Francis Bassett who just happened to work for the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. The archbishop wrote to Cromwell on December 14 1538 asking him to “accomplish his suit.”

250px-William_Cavendish_c1547.jpgWilliam Cavendish had been a servant of Cardinal Wolsey.  He also seems to have been very efficient at taking the surrenders of abbeys.  According to Bess of Hardwick’s biographer, Mary Lovell, there was a point in 1538 where he was overseeing ten surrenders a week. He’d begun by auditing the abbey at St Albans and gone on to gain a job with the Court of Augmentations when it was set up in 1536 by Cromwell specifically to oversee the transfer of Church land to the Crown. He earned twenty pounds a year in addition to the ‘profits of office.’ As Lovell observes, the Cavendishs were not alone in making their fortunes from the reformation but Cavendish seems to have been rather good at it. As for William, these days he is more famous for his third wife – Bess of Hardwick, the foundation of Chatsworth House and his role as Mary Queen of Scot’s jailer.

 

The monks received their pensions and were required to sign for them. There is a receipt dated May 28 1541 for one Robert Clarke. Another of the monks, a man called John Stanley, became Vicar of Alton in 1546 until his death in 1569. We know this because along with three other men we have the records of his pensions in 1557-58.

A swift search on the Internet revealed the interesting fact that King John’s heart is rumoured to be buried in the grounds of Croxden Abbey whilst the rest of him was buried in Worcester (http://www.farmonthehill.co.uk/local-history.html accessed 4 November 2016 19:45). This information completely sidetracked me from monks being kicked out of their home by Henry VIII, Cromwell and Cavendish.  It sent me off down the side alley of Croxden’s relationship with King John.

Apparently John awarded the monks of Croxden an annuity of £5.00 each year from the Irish Exchequer in 1200. An English Heritage research report shed that much light on the assertion of John’s heart but what about something more academic than a legend? The Gentleman’s Magazine (volume 38) asserts that the descendants of Bertram de Verdun were buried there – so far so good, he was the founder after all and the same sentence references King John’s ticker. In fact Victorian tomes trip over themselves in their desire to identify Croxden as the last resting place of at least one bit of King John. The Antiquarian and Architectural Year Book for Staffordshire explains that John’s physician was also the abbot of Croxden – which would account for the grisly souvenir.  Another text dating from 1829 identifies the abbot as Ralph de Lincoln but misidentifies Croxden as being in Leicestershire. A book dating from 1844 references a British Museum text from the Cotton collection which looks at the Chronicle of William de Shepesheved who details the fact that John’s bowels were buried at Croxden. The whole thing is starting to sound decidedly offal.

 

Have I been there? No, not yet – but trust me when I say that I shall shortly be finding a reason for being in the vicinity and I shall be studying English Heritage’s interpretation boards with great interest.

 

Graham Brown, Barry Jones Croxden Abbey and Its Environs London: English Heritage

Lovell, Mary S. (2006) Bess of Hardwick:First Lady of Chatsw0rth. 

G C Baugh, W L Cowie, J C Dickinson, Duggan A P, A K B Evans, R H Evans, Una C Hannam, P Heath, D A Johnston, Hilda Johnstone, Ann J Kettle, J L Kirby, R Mansfield and A Saltman, ‘Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Croxden’, in A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 3, ed. M W Greenslade and R B Pugh (London, 1970), pp. 226-230. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/staffs/vol3/pp226-230 [accessed 13 October 2016].

 

‘Henry VIII: December 1538 11-15’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 2, August-December 1538, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1893), pp. 438-455. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol13/no2/pp438-455 [accessed 23 October 2016].

 

‘Henry VIII: May 1541, 26-31’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16, 1540-1541, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1898), pp. 409-429. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol16/pp409-429 [accessed 18 October 2016].

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Princess Mary’s opposition to the divorce

princess mary.jpgIf Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid it followed that eleven-year-old Princess Mary was illegitimate. This in turn would prohibit her from the crown and make her less valuable on the international marriage market. No doubt, this was one of the reasons that Catherine remained adamant about fighting to keep her position rather than taking herself off to a nunnery as Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio helpfully suggested prior to the Blackfriars trial where Catherine challenged the court’s authority.

 

Later, after Parliament enacted the necessary laws that broke with Rome and Henry’s marriage to Catherine was annulled by Thomas Cranmer the Princess Mary was used as a weapon by Henry to ensure that Catherine was compliant, although Catherine’s letters to her daughter are suggestive of shared martyrdom. The girl, now seventeen and no longer a princess but a bastard was refused permission to see her ailing mother, she lost her household and her governess. In 1533 at the point when this occurred, Lady Salisbury (Margaret Pole)  offered to pay for Mary’s household out of her own purse but the king would have none of it, or perhaps Anne Boleyn would have none of it. Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, reported that Anne had said she would have Mary for her chambermaid.

 

Mary’s opposition to the king was seen in the fact that she continued to be called the Princess Mary rather than the Lady Mary even when her servants suffered the indignity of having Mary’s insignia removed and replaced with Henry’s own. She told anyone who would listen that if she disavowed her mother that she would ‘offend God.’ It was a very personal resistance that directed itself to the king from Beaulieu where Mary was staying at the time.

 

When Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth was born, Mary’s chamberlain Lord Hussey was told to change Mary’s name to lady rather than princess. He tried. Mary informed him that until the instruction was received in writing then she was a princess.

 

Henry reacted badly. He sent officials to browbeat and threaten his daughter. In December 1533 the duke of Norfolk was required to fetch Mary to serve in her half sister’s household. He told her that she was to go to the Princess of Wales. Mary told him that the title was hers by right. Norfolk gave her half and hour and two ladies in waiting to accompany her. He did not become involved in the argument. He followed orders.

 

Norfolk left Mary in  Hatfield in tears but Henry complained he had been too soft on the girl. The ladies-in-waiting were removed and Anne Boleyn’s aunt Lady Shelton was put in charge of the ex-princess having been given a list of instructions about her treatment.

 

Henry put Mary’s refusal to comply with the change in her status down to her bad blood. It would only be after the death of Anne Boleyn that Henry would begin to soften towards his eldest, formerly legitimate, daughter and even then she would be required to submit to the king’s will before a reunion could take place.  On the 15th June 1536 Mary signed the document which recognised her parents’ marriage as unlawful and recognised Henry as the head of the Church of England.

Poor Mary; she went from her father’s pampered darling to being ill treated, neglected and isolated.  She was forced to act in direct opposition to her religious beliefs and all this had happened as her character formed. Her only allies during this time seemed to be the Spanish.  No wonder she looked towards Spain when her turn to ascend the throne arrived.  She was undoubtedly scarred by the whole experience.

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Cardinal Wolsey and the king’s women

wolseyCardinal Wolsey suffers from being the image of the Catholic Church prior to Henry VIII’s break with Rome and consequentially a figure for anticlerical comment.  He was also not careful about being nice to folk on the way up the greasy pole of ambition forgetting that he might well meet them on the way back down.  There were plenty of members of the nobility who were more than happy to bring him down to earth with a bump most notably the duke of Norfolk.  Today’s post, however, is about Cardinal Wolsey’s role in Henry VIII’s somewhat tangled love life.

Portrait_of_Anne_StaffordWolsey appears in a legal capacity in relation to Anne Stafford, the wife of Lord Hastings.  Anne was the daughter of the duke of Buckingham.  Her older sister Elizabeth was the wife of the earl of Sussex.  Both sisters served Catherine of Aragon.  A scandal broke during May 1510. We know of it thanks to the gleeful writings of Spanish Ambassador Luis Caroz.  What appears to have happened is that Henry, now that Catherine was pregnant, looked elsewhere for diversion.  He looked in the direction of his cousin Anne Stafford.  She was eight years older than him, married for the second time but childless (she went on to have eight children with Lord Hastings).  Somehow or other Elizabeth got to hear about the dodgy goings on and spoke with her brother who in turn summoned Lord Hastings.  Sir William Compton, one of the king’s friends, was caught in Anne’s private chamber.  There was a lively discussion with the duke of Buckingham announcing that his sister wasn’t for the likes of Compton or for Tudors either (he probably came to regret that particular phrase).  The upshot of it was that Hastings took his wife away from court to a nunnery where neither Compton or Henry could dally with the lady in question.  Henry VIII was deeply unhappy and banished Elizabeth and her husband from court for being a pair of tattletales which meant that the scandal came to the attention of Catherine of Aragon resulting in a very unpleasant argument between the royal couple.

Three years later Henry gave Anne a very expensive New Year’s gift well beyond what protocol or courtesy dictated giving rise to speculation that the couple resumed their relationship.  Double click on Anne Stafford’s image to open a new page and an earlier post from the History Jar on the subject.

Where does Wolsey fit into this?  Well in 1527 he had Sir William Compton charged with adultery with Anne.  Compton swore an oath that he hadn’t been up to any such thing but his will written in 1522 suggests otherwise as not only did he ask for prayers to be said for Anne but he left money for her use as well.

 

Let us move to the next mistress – Bessie Blount (b 1499 ish).  It is speculated that Henry’s affair with Bessie began sometime after 1513 during one of Catherine of Aragon’s periods of ill health but no one is certain of this.  There is a letter in existence from Charles Brandon (Mary Tudor’s second husband) to the king giving his very best wishes via the king to Bessie Blount and to Elizabeth Carew (who may well have been yet another royal mistress).  The letter gives rise to speculation that Brandon may have had a fling with Bessie prior to Henry showing interest, equally it might all have been part of the ritual of courtly love and have meant nothing at all or, equally, Brandon knowing the king’s interest in the ladies doing a spot of creeping. What we can be certain of is that in 1518 Catherine of Aragon miscarried a girl and that a month later Bessie Blount produced a bouncing baby boy.

Evidence suggests that Wolsey was given the task of arranging for Bessie to have somewhere suitable for her laying-in at the Priory of St Lawrence near Chelmsford or Jericho as it was known.  The evidence is based on the fact that Wolsey was absent from London for much of June 1519 which coincides with Henry Fitzroy’s birth.  Thomas Wolsey also became the child’s godfather. Fitzroy remained under the care of the cardinal until he fell from favour in 1529 when he moved under the auspices of the Howard family.

Queen Anne BoleynThe next mistress in our story proved to be Wolsey’s downfall.  Popular history has it that it was Wolsey who split the young lovers Henry Percy and Anne Boleyn from one another in 1523. Percy was the heir of the earl of Northumberland and was part of Wolsey’s household whilst Anne was nothing but a ‘foolish girl.’  George Cavendish, Wosley’s biographer, notes that the leading aristocratic families were happy to have sons in Wolsey’s household.  He was at the heart of power after all.  Cavendish says that Henry had already taken a shine to Anne Boleyn and wished to put a spoke in Percy’s plans to marry the girl. Wolsey sent Percy home with a flea in his ear to marry the girl his family had already selected for him; Mary Talbot, daughter of the earl of Shrewsbury.  In 1532 Mary Talbot claimed that Henry Percy had been pre-contracted to Anne Boleyn and thus her marriage was null and void.  Given that Henry was in hot pursuit of Anne Boleyn at that time it wasn’t the most politically astute thing to have been saying. Even though Henry no longer looked to Rome a dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury exists thawing that all impediments to marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were removed  including the unknown ones!

We cannot know whether Anne and Henry Percy really did love one another or the extent to which their relationship had developed.  We have circumstantial evidence in terms of Henry Percy weeping when Anne Boleyn was condemned and also the evidence of Cavendish as well as assorted hostile ambassadors.   To find out more about George Cavendish and his version of events double click on the image of Anne Boleyn to open a new page and an earlier post.

What we do know for certain is that Wolsey was unable to unravel Henry’s marriage from Catherine of Aragon and that this was what led to his fall from favour in 1529 even though Henry is said to have declared he couldn’t afford to lose the cardinal and sent him a ring as a token of his affections when Thomas became ill.  Come to think of it Wolsey didn’t get on very well with Catherine of Aragon either.  She regarded him as pro-french and thus anti-spanish as well as being the man who ensured that she was sidelined in politics by making himself indispensable to the king.

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Sir Henry Norris – wrong place, wrong time.

Queen Anne BoleynHenry Norris was one of Henry VIII’s friends. And so far as I can tell in my various readings the poor man had done nothing wrong other than serve his royal master for some twenty years when his chum had his head lopped off on trumped up charges of naughtiness with Anne Boleyn.

 

Like many others in Henry’s court Norris’s was an interesting family history. His father Sir Edward Norris was knighted after the Battle of Stoke in 1487 which must have caused his wife, Frideswide, a little bit of distress as she was the daughter of Francis, Lord Lovell mentioned in other posts as the friend of Richard III who refused to accept Yorkist defeat and who was last seen on his horse fording the River Trent in full armour in the aftermath of the battle.

 

Family tensions aside, Henry’s older brother John was an esquire of the body to Henry VIII but he seems to have remained firmly Catholic and was part of Queen Mary’s household in later years. Henry Norris on the other hand was also at court but hanging on to the Tudor coat tails and twisting in the wind like the proverbial weather-vane (forgive the mixing of the metaphors). He managed to survive Wolsey’s purge on the young men of the court in 1519. He was one of the twelve grooms of the Stool (yes, that’s right he had the honor of wiping the royal bottom but during those moments had the opportunity to chat with the king in the way that even Wolsey and Cromwell didn’t.) He was given grants, titles and lands as well as the very lucrative post of weigher of the common beam at Southampton which meant Italian merchants using the port paid their taxes to him. He was the keeper of the king’s privy purse. He was with Henry at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520 and he wasn’t overly keen on Cardinal Wolsey.

 

He appears to have sided with Anne Boleyn and benefited from this when the Cardinal fell in 1529. He went with Henry and Anne to Hampton Court to inspect the Cardinal’s haul of belongings and went to see Wolsey at Putney. It has been argued that he was of a reforming tendency because of his links with Anne’s faction. He was probably one of the witnesses to Anne’s marriage to Henry.

 

By 1535 he was in receipt of various of Sir Thomas More’s manors and was also constable of Beaumaris Castle and Wallingford Castle. Interestingly he seems to have also acted on behalf of the king in the matter of Jane Seymour suggesting that if his friend Henry wanted a new woman then Henry Norris was going to be helpful in the matter.

 

Unfortunately it was suggested in April 1536 that Norris loved Anne. Anne jokingly said that Norris was waiting to fill dead men’s shoes which was why he hadn’t yet married Margaret Shelton. Norris objected strenuously “if he should have any such thought, he would his head were off.” And hey presto Norris was on the receiving end of a visit to the Tower.

 

On May 1 Norris was at the jousting tournament that the king suddenly left with only a handful of retainers leaving Anne to close the celebrations. Henry told Norris that he believed there was a plot before he left. Norris must have been puzzled. Henry had leant Norris his own horse and now the king was saying that all Norris had to do was to confess and his life would be spared. Norris was arrested and taken to York Place where he was interrogated by the Privy Council.

 

May 2nd Norris was taken to the Tower having said something to the imaginatively named Sir William FitzWilliam that was taken as a confession of guilt but which was not used in evidence at the trial. Warnocke and Weir suggest that he may have admitted homosexuality. The only real thing that this information is proof of is that FitzWilliam was determined to get a confession – any confession. Norris remained adamant that he was innocent of the charges. Whilst Norris was being admitted to the Tower Anne was watching a game of tennis and possibly feeling somewhat nervous.

 

11 May 1536 the Abbot of Cirencester (a man whose own world was about to be turned upside down) wrote to Cromwell to say that he’d already promised Norris’s stewardship of the abbey elsewhere.

 

Norris was tried on May 12 1536. The offences were, as you might expect when Cromwell was involved, thorough and detailed. Henry was humiliated so that he could be rid of his unwanted spouse. Princess Elizabeth would ultimately be illegitimised and have to suffer speculation over which of the men tried with Anne was her father. From the dates provided by Cromwell many people thought that it might have been Sir Henry Norris.

 

The Lisle Letters record the events of the trial and at court before the executions. There was confusion, accusation and some sympathy for Norris who appears to have been well-liked

Norris got his wish to lose his head when he was executed on May 17. Lord Rochford, Anne’s brother, died first. Norris had to watch, then it was his turn. Unsurprisingly he said very little compared to Rochford.

 

Cromwell suggested, according to Weir, that rather than being a loyal servant Norris was overcome by ambition. Weir presents some interesting arguments as to why Norris had to go. The most logical of them being that he had the king’s ear and could, perhaps, have interceded on Anne’s behalf. Warnicke on the other hand argued that all the men caught up in Cromwell’s net were promiscuous possibly with men as well as women which would have made them vulnerable to the accusations that Cromwell flourished in front of the king. They all admitted on the block that they had led sinful lives but then Norris had children from his first marriage who he would have wished to save so far as possible from Henry’s wrath.

 

Just to confuse things even more Margaret Shelton was Anne Boleyn’s cousin and possibly Henry VIII’s mistress. It would also transpire that Sir Francis Weston, another of the accused, had tried to inveigle himself into Madge’s affections.

Warnicke, Retha. (1989) The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Weir, Alison. (2009) The Lady in the Tower. London: Jonathan Cape

 

 

 

 

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George Cavendish – eyewitness account of Anne Boleyn’s romance and wrath

00cavenish.jpgGeorge Cavendish was born in Suffolk in about 1497 and yes, he was related to the Cavendish family who became the Dukes of Devonshire and Newcastle. His brother, William, was the Cavendish who married Bess of Hardwick. And if you want further proof that everyone was related to everyone else in Tudor times then bear in mind that George’s wife was Sir Thomas More’s niece.

 

I’m looking at George today because he wrote about Anne Boleyn’s relationship with Henry Percy. Both he, William and Percy were part of Cardinal Wolsey’s household, so you could say that Cavendish had a ringside seat as events unfolded. Cavendish stayed with Wolsey until his death, in disgrace, in 1530. It was he who served Wolsey his last meal of baked pears in Leicester. He then had an uncomfortable conversation with Henry VIII about Wolsey’s last words – uncomfortable in more ways than one as Harry kept Cavendish on his knees for more than an hour.

 

George retired to Suffolk following Wolsey’s death despite being offered a job as one of Henry’s ushers. He went home to his wife and family from whom even Wolsey conceded he’d been separated for too long on account of loyal service.  He took the opportunity to write a biography of the Cardinal having made notes of events and anecdotes down the years of his service to Henry’s right hand man so it is not surprising that the ‘gorgeous young lady’ who turned Wolsey’s power on its head should feature between the pages. Cavendish claims that Anne was motivated by hatred for Wolsey and a desire for revenge when the prelate scuppered her plans to marry Henry Percy in 1522 on the orders of Henry VIII.

 

Cavendish writes of the romance;

Lord Percy would then resort for his pastime into the Queen’s maidens, being at the last more conversant with Mistress Anne Boleyn than with any other; so that there grew such a secret love between them that at length they were insured together, intending to marry.

 

Cavendish went on to describe the couple being separated and clearly believed that Henry had his eye on Anne from an early time but more modern writers think that Wolsey didn’t think that Anne Boleyn was a suitable match for the earl of Northumberland. Percy’s marriage needed to be about land, power and money not love. It can’t have helped that Anne was packed off home in disgrace and that Percy rarely came to court after that nor was his marriage to the Earl of Shrewsbury’s daughter a very happy one. Cavendish also reports that Wolsey believed that it was Anne who turned Henry against him. He called her a ‘night crow.’

 

Clearly it would have not been wise to make any criticisms of Henry VIII during the monarch’s life time so Cavendish only made his writing available during the reign of Queen Mary. The text wasn’t published until 1641 but it is thought that Shakespeare had access to the manuscript.

Cavendish’s biography of Wolsey is still in print and is also available on the Internet at https://archive.org/stream/TheLifeAndDeathOfCardinalWosley/cavendish_george_1500_1561_life_and_death_of_cardinal_wolsey#page/n3/mode/2up.  Click on the link to open up a new page to find out about the ‘honest poor man’s son’ who became a cardinal, the day that Thomas Cromwell shed tears, the duke of Norfolk threatening to rend Wolsey with his teeth and the prophecy of the dun cow.

george cavendish.jpg

An illustration from Cavendish’s manuscript showing part of the cardinal;’s procession.

 

 

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Catherine of Aragon – queen of England

catherineofaragon_1769901iHistory might have been very different had the baby boy born on New Year’s Day 1511 survived beyond the first perilous months of infancy. Starkey records that two hundred and seven pounds of gunpowder were used to celebrate the child’s birth.

 

Little Prince Henry, Duke of Cornwall lived for fifty-two days. He was buried at the end of February. Catherine although she became pregnant readily enough either miscarried or produced infants who died: seven in all. Sir Loyalheart still wore lover’s knots on his jousting armour but the much needed heir had yet to make an appearance.   By 1514 the first rumours of a possible divorce were bandied about but in 1516 Princess Mary was born and there was renewed optimism.

 

In the meantime Henry went to war with the French and Katherine became regent of England and Wales. It was she who was in charge of England when the Earl of Surrey fought and won the Battle of Flodden. Meanwhile Henry’s father-in-law let him down with regard to France. Ferdinand signed a peace deal with the French having inveigled Henry into a war against them. It cannot have helped his daughter’s marital relations. Ultimately Henry would marry his youngest sister to King Louis XII of France. Spain went from being an ally to an enemy. Later Henry would propose that his daughter Mary, should marry to cement a French alliance when all Catherine wanted was for her daughter to marry her nephew, Charles, the son of Juana and Philip.

 

Charles V was a disappointment to his aunt. Catherine worked carefully after Princess Mary’s proxy marriage to the French dauphin in 1518 to bring her own plans about. He visited England and in 1523 launched an invasion of France along with the English but he failed to fulfil his side of the deal. Then Charles won the Battle of Pavia against the French and dropped the English because he no longer needed them. He deserted his aunt as well.

 

There had been other changes over the years. Henry came to rely on Wolsey during his time in France in 1513. He didn’t turn to Catherine so readily for advice when he returned to England. In 1515 Wolsey became Lord Chancellor. He would remain at the heart of Henry’s government until his fall in 1529.

 

If Catherine was finding life difficult with Henry and with shifting European politics she gave no sign of it. In fact she became increasingly popular with her English subjects. There had been riots in May 1517 and Catherine had interceded on behalf of the condemned apprentices.

 

Catherine’s last known pregnancy occurred in 1518. By 1523 her good looks had faded and she’d become somewhat on the fat side. Francis I of France described her as “old and deformed.” Then, to add injury to insult, in 1525 Henry unveiled a son. Henry Fitzroy was Henry’s son with Bessie Blount and he was six years old. Catherine was not amused. The row was tremendous. If only she’d realised it, things were about to get worse.   In 1525 Henry stopped sleeping, it would appear, with Catherine. He may also have put his current mistress Mary Boleyn to one side.

 

In May 1527 the King’s Great Matter was discussed. Henry wanted to be rid of his Spanish wife. He wanted a divorce. He claimed that he was concerned for his immortal soul.  He should never have married his brother’s wife. He felt that his childlessness- because clearly girls didn’t count- was a consequence of his sin. He also wanted to marry Anne Boleyn who’d refused to become his mistress.

 

Poor Catherine had lost her looks, her fertility, her political influence and now she was going to lose her husband.

 

 

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The Dissolution of the Monasteries – a timeline

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1526-1529

Cardinal Wolsey suppressed 29 monasteries with the permission of the Pope to fund Ipswich College and Cardinal College in Oxford which became King Henry VIII college and then Christchurch College. It was founded in the grounds of one of the suppressed monasteries (St Frideswide’s). The monastic foundations Wolsey suppressed totaled an income of £1800 and were generally very small.

1529

October 9: Cardinal Wolsey falls from power due to his failure to secure a divorce for his master from Katherine of Aragon. He is arrested on a charge of praemunire.  Praemunire involves taking orders from foreign powers rather than the king.  Being a cardinal means that it was inevitable that Wolsey could face this charge.

1530

January: Wolsey falls ill and is attended by Henry’s doctor.  Wolsey does not give up hope of being reinstated to Henry’s favour.

November 4: Wolsey is arrested.  He cannot help dabbling in politics and has sent some injudicious letters to Rome.  Thomas Cromwell speaks on Wolsey’s behalf in Parliament.

November 29: Cardinal Wolsey dies in Leicester on his way back to London from York. Edward Hall hints at suicide in his account of Wolsey’s last days but it was most likely a bowel infection. He was certainly on his way back to the Tower and execution.

1532

January 15: Commons Supplication Against the Ordinaries also known as the Submission of the Clergy.

What this means is that the king and his ministers are now able to review all Church, or canon, law. They could prevent the enforcement of any canon law they wished and they could veto the passage of any new Church law if they were so disposed.   Sir Thomas More resigns from the Chancellorship as a consequence of the passage of this act.

 

Act Restraining Payments of Annates – An annate was a tax levied on newly appointed clergy and payable to the pope (usually half or a whole year’s income – annates are also known as first fruits).  Parliament withholds the payments of annates from Rome but gives Henry the option of allowing them to continue.  This is effectively a form of blackmail in an attempt to get Henry his divorce from Katherine of Aragon.  The act also states that the Pope cannot delay consecration of bishops or excommunicate Englishmen in retaliation for the withholding of the annates.

 

Augustinan Canons of Holy Trinity, Christchurch in London surrender to the king because they are overwhelmed by debt. An Act of Parliament recognises the Crown as Holy Trinity’s founder which means that no one else has any claim to the land or property that has been surrendered to the king.

1533

March: Act in Restraint of Appeals 1532. This act was somewhat confusingly passed in 1533.It means that the highest authority legally speaking in England is the King because Parliament doesn’t recognise any higher authority. “This realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial Crown of the same.” Katherine of Aragon can no longer make an appeal to Rome against an English court’s decision.

1534

This year is a busy year for Parliament.

  • The Act of Dispensations –  All payments to Rome are now stopped. Licenses and dispensations previously attainable through the Church are now being administered by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • An act is passed which Monks forbidden to travel outside the country on official business
  • Act for the Submission of the Clergy, 1534
  • Act in Absolute Restraint of Annates. Payment of all annates to Rome are now forbidden and Engishmen are forbidden to obtain papal bulls for the consecration of bishops. Instead, the King nominates and Archbishop consecrates bishops. In some respects England has always been an anomaly in this regard. The Crowns right to nominate archbishops was one of the reasons Henry II fell out with Thomas Becket.
  • The Act of First Fruits and Tenths. First fruits is another name for the first year’s income from a benefice.  Every year thereafter the tax was a tenth of the incumbent’s income.  This is still collected but now it makes its way into the King’s coffers rather than to Rome.
  • The First Succession Act – Succession is vested in heirs of Henry and Anne (Princess Elizabeth and hopefully a male heir).  This is the act which bastardises Princess Mary.
  • Act of Supremacy King Henry VIII is declared to be Supreme Head of the English Church.
  • Treason Act
  • Act Extinguishing the Authority of the Bishop of Rome – which deals with a loop hole that the other acts haven’t covered.

1535

January: Cromwell is made Viceregerant.  He orders a national visitation of all monastic houses.  This leads to the Comperta or ‘Black Book’ which lists all monastic transgressions.  Monastic transgressions are also enumerated in the letters that Cromwell’s visitors sent to him and in the various acts of parliament that followed.  The other text, the Valor Ecclesiasticus  identifies the worth of the monastic houses– 80% of monastic houses are registered in the Valor. Half the monasteries had less than £200 p.a. The net annual income of the Church is valued at £320,000. The king only receives £40,000.

 

September 18: In Yorkshire in 1534 and 1535 Archbishop Lee of York, who signed the Act of Supremacy and who is keen on the Bible in English begins to make a visitation of the monasteries in his diocese. His visitation is eventually halted on this day on the orders of Cromwell. He visited 8 Yorkshire foundations of which 5 were nunneries.

1536

March: Act of Suppression of the Smaller Monasteries – All monastic houses with fewer than 12 monks or nuns or less than £200 p.a. are suppressed on the grounds that these establishments were centres of “manifest sin, vicious, carnal and abominable living.”

Many abbeys had already been coerced into surrendering during the visitation of 1535 but now the smaller abbeys of England were forced to close. Their number includes:

Abbey Dore- Hereford and Worcester;  Beeliegh, St Botolph (Colchester), Little Dunmow, Prittlewell and Tilty in Essex; Birkenhead, Jarrow and Monkwearmouth; Bisham and Hurley in Berkshire; Blyth and Rufford in Nottinghamshire; Bourne and Tupholme in Lincolnshire; Boxgrove, Easebourne, Michelham and Shulbred in Sussex; Brinkburn in Northumberland; Broomholm, Horsham, Ingham and Langley in Norfolk; Bungay and Sibton in Suffolk; Bushmead in Bedford, Canons Ashby in Northampton; Cartmel in modern Cumbria but I think Tudor Lancashire; Chirbury in Shropshire; Coverham and Nun Monkton in Yorkshire; Dorchester in Oxfordshire; St Radegund’s in Dover, Minster-in-Sheppey and Monks Horton in Kent; Upholland in Lancashire; Exeter St Nicholas and Frithelstock in Devon; St Oswald’s in Gloucester; Maxstoke, Pinley and Stoneleigh in Warwick; Mottisfont in Hampshire; Norton in Cheshire; Owston in Leicestershire; Quarr on the Isle of Wight; Waverley in Surrey.

In Wales the following abbeys were suppressed:  Cwmhir,Beddgelert, Caldy, Chepstow,Haverfordwest,Llantarnam,Margam,Penmon, Pill, Talley and Usk.

 

The Court of Augmentations is set up to take control of the confiscated property and monastic loot. This covers the sale of everything from the lead on the roof to the floor tiles as well as the collection of holy relics and sale of all the plate and any other valuables.

October 3: Pilgrimage of Grace begins in Lincolnshire. It is led by Robert Aske. The Pilgrims march under the banner of the five wounds of Christ.  They wish for a return of the monasteries and of Catholicism.  They’re not terribly impressed by the rent hikes made by some of the new landowners who have taken over the suppressed monasteries.  Cromwell and other ‘bad advisors’ are blamed for Henry’s policies.

October 9: The Pilgrimage spreads to the East Riding of Yorkshire and by the end of the week it has crossed the Pennines. Unrest sprouts in Westmorland and Cumberland.

October 12: Sawley Abbey  which was suppressed in the spring of 1536 is restored.

December: Duke of Norfolk partially accepted the demands of the rebels including the promise of a parliament in York – pardon given providing there was no more rebellion.

1537

January 16 Sir Francis Bigod leads new uprising which effectively nullifies the terms of Norfolk’s December agreement. In total about 200 men executed including Robert Aske who has taken no part in the 1537 uprising.

March: Abbot Paslew and two of his monks are executed at the gates of Wally Abbey for their part in the Pilgrimage of Grace following trial at Lancaster.  The remaining 13 monks are kicked out of their home with no pension as Walley is forcibly suppressed.

April 9: Furness Abbey surrenders.

Easby Abbey near Richmond is suppressed.  It had 18 monks including the abbot. Jervaulx is also suppressed.  Their abbot, having been involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace, is hauled off to London where he is executed at Tyburn.  In Cumberland, Lanercost Priory surrenders.

1538

Jan-Sept: 38 large monasteries voluntarily surrender.

Visitation of the friaries now begins but it is discovered that many friars have already taken themselves abroad.

November 21: Monk Bretton Priory  in South Yorkshire surrenders. Some of the monks band together, buy 148 books from the library and continue to live a communal life at Worsborough.  They were still a community in 1558.

November 30: Byland Abbey surrenders.

1539

An act of Parliament hands all the monastic land already surrendered or suppressed into the hands of the Crown.

November 22: Kirkstall Abbey near Leeds surrenders. There are 31 monks.

December 14: Whitby Abbey surrenders.

December 24: Guisborough Priory signs the deed of surrender. Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire surrenders on the same day.

Fountains Abbey also surrenders in 1539.  It is pictured at the start of this post. Double click on it for an outline history of Fountains Abbey.

1540

January 5: Egglestone Abbey near Barnard Castle is dissolved.

January 6: Henry marries Anne of Cleves

January 9: Carlisle Priory surrenders.  The cathedral will be reconstituted in May 1541 along with Chester Cathedral.

January 29: Bolton Abbey surrenders.  In addition to the prior there are 14 canons.  The church becomes the parish church.

March 23: Waltham Abbey surrenders.  It is the last monastery in England.

April 3: Guisborough Priory is formally dissolved.

June 10: Thomas Cromwell arrested at a council meeting.

July 28: Cromwell executed.

 

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Archbishop Wareham

Hans_Holbein_d._J._066William Wareham left Oxford in 1488 to follow a career in the ecclesiastical courts. His reputation was such that he was soon being sent abroad on diplomatic missions. In 1502 he became Bishop of London, then in 1503 he became Archbishop of Canterbury. The following year Henry VII made Wareham his chancellor.

 

In his capacity of Archbishop of Canterbury he crown Henry VIII and his new bride Katherine of Aragon. Initially he maintained his role of king’s advisor but Henry became increasingly reliant upon Wolsey who received his cardinal’s hat from Wareham in 1515. That same year Wareham resigned in part because he disagreed with Henry VIII’s anti-French policy but in 1520 he was part of the Field of Cloth of Gold where Henry and Francis I of France declared undying friendship.

 

Wareham was loyal to Henry even though he didn’t always agree with him. At the time of the King’s Great Matter in 1527 it was Wareham who was appointed to represent Katherine, which was not particularly helpful to the queen as he refused to give her any advice based on the principal that the king’s wishes should not be opposed. In fact he signed a petition to the Pope Clement VII requesting that the divorce should be granted. It was even suggested that as Archbishop of Canterbury he should try the case but fortunately for him this idea fizzled out. He was doing his best to maintain the Church in the face of Henry’s growing hostility towards it and the Pope.

 

In 1531 he was in charge of the Convocation that handed £100,000 over to Henry in order to avoid the charge of praemunire (obeying a foreign authority). He also accepted Henry VIII as the supreme head of the church with the caveat that allowed most men to accept the oath “so far as the law of Christ allows.” Perhaps he realised that Henry would never be satisfied and tried to pursue the rights of the Church but it was too late – he was old and tired. He died on 22 August 1532.

 

The painting of Wareham is after the style of Hans Holbein – a sketch of Wareham’s head by Holbein is in the Royal Collection which was executed (okay perhaps not a good word to use in the context of anyone alive during the reign of Henry VIII) during Holbein’s first visit to England in 1526-28.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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