Table of Contents
Also by Robert Hutchinson
Last Days of Henry VIII
Elizabeth’s Spy Master
House of Treason
A Weidenfeld & Nicolson ebook
First published in Great Britain in 2009
by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
© Robert Hutchinson 2009
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher.
The right of Robert Hutchinson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
eISBN : 978 0 2978 5763 1
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For my Father
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Henry VII by unknown 16th century artist (Photograph © Society of Antiquaries of London)
2. John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk by English School, 16th century (His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle/The Bridgeman Art Library)
3. Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk by English School, 16th century (His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle/The Bridgeman Art Library)
4. Henry VIII by unknown artist, late 1530s (Photograph © Society of Antiquaries of London)
5. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk by Holbein, Hans the Younger (His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle/The Bridgeman Art Library)
6. Anne Boleyn by unknown artist, c. 1533-1536 (National Portrait Gallery, London)
7. Henry Fitzroy (Mary Evans Picture Library)
8. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (From the collection at Parham House and Gardens, West Sussex)
9. Catherine Howard by follower of Holbein, 16th century (Hever Castle, Kent)
10. Tomb of 3rd Duke and wife at Framlingham (Reproduced by permission of English Heritage. NMR)
11. Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by unknown artist, 1565 (National Portrait Gallery, London)
12. Letter to William Dix from 4th Duke in New Testament (His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle/The Bridgeman Art Library)
13. Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, by George Gower (His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle/The Bridgeman Art Library)
14. 2nd Lord Howard of Effingham by Daniel Mytens (His Grace The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle/The Bridgeman Art Library)
15. Elizabeth I by unknown artist, c. 1575 (National Portrait Gallery, London)
16. James I of England after John de Critz the Elder, c. 1606 (National Portrait Gallery, London)
The Howard family were the wealthiest and most powerful aristocrats in Tudor England. They were the very last of the ‘over-mighty’ nobles to survive from the Middle Ages and they reigned, with pride and egotism, over huge areas of England.
Up to the 1570s, the Dukes of Norfolk styled themselves ‘right high and mighty princes’ and lived in grand palaces and mansions in East Anglia and London. They were among the last to operate the hated medieval feudal system and their stewards regularly fined their bondmen for permission to move home, or for their daughters to marry.
The sixteenth-century Howards were cursed by a haughty arrogance that spawned contempt for those ‘newly arrived’ men of low birth, who increasingly supplanted the old noble families in Tudor politics and outwitted their attempts to win greater power and wealth.
Their overweening pride was breathtaking. The fourth Duke boasted that his income ‘was not much less than those of the kingdom of Scotland . . .’ and that when he was in his tennis court in his palace at Norwich, ‘he thought himself equal with some kings’.
The Howards had loyally served Tudor monarchs at the forefront of English military and naval exploits, but they were not content with the fame and fortune that battlefield glory brought them. Intrigue and conspiracy ran in their veins like their very lifeblood, but over successive generations they paid dearly for their fatal ambition and the crass stupidity that sometimes dogged their attempts to creep ever closer to the Tudor throne.
This book describes the human drama and tensions of a turbulent century in the history of the Howards, and of England. Two Dukes of Norfolk were condemned as traitors and spent lonely years in the Tower of London. Another was beheaded. An heir to the dukedom was executed on trumped-up charges and one more died piteously in prison - and is now a saint because of his suffering for his Catholic faith. Two nieces who married Henry VIII were beheaded. Other family members were frequently incarcerated on suspicion of infidelity to the throne. As far as the Tudor monarchy was concerned, the Howards were a house of treason.
This book could not have been written without the willing help and support of my dear wife, Sally, who has journeyed with me through the endless and convoluted twists and turns of the dramatic history of the sixteenth-century Howards.
Much of the material for this book has been drawn from contemporary sources - it is illuminating and edifying to read an individual’s original words, even though some have had to be modernised for the sake of clarity.
A great number of friends and colleagues have kindly given invaluable support and help in tracking down documents and rare books for the source material. In particular, I would like to thank Robin Harcourt Williams, Librarian and Archivist to the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield House; John Martin Robinson and his team of archivists of Sara Rodger, Heather Warne and Margaret Richards, for all their kindness during my time studying the archives at Arundel Castle, and to the Duke of Norfolk for his kind permission to quote from these documents. Diana Spelman, whom I was very fortunate to find, was an assiduous and talented researcher, performing Herculean tasks in quickly tracking down documents in the Norfolk Record Office to answer my increasingly obtuse questions. I am also grateful to Bill Monaghan, archives assistant there, for earlier kindly copying a prodigious quantity of documents for me.
My thanks also go to Bernard Nurse, the former Librarian, and Adrian James, Assistant Librarian, at the Society of Antiquaries of London; Kay Walters and her team at the incomparable library at the Athenæum in London; the ever-willing and helpful staff at the National Archives at Kew and in the Manuscripts, Rare-Books and Humanities departments of the British Library at Euston, and also those at a number of record offices throughout England.
I am also grateful to Ian Drury and latterly Alan Samson and Lucinda McNeile of Weidenfeld & Nicolson for all their encouragement and assistance; Richard Collins, my editor; Alison Waggitt for the index, and, finally, to Marcel Hoad and his team at Fowlers for their invaluable support in so many ways.
To all these kind people, I would like to pass on my grateful thanks. I must point out, however, that any errors or omissions are entirely my own responsibility.
‘Jack of Norfolk, be not too bold - for Dicken thy master is bought and sold’
Anonymous warning to Sir John Howard, first Duke of Norfolk,
before the Battle of Bosworth, 22 August 1485
Henry Tudor, the twenty-eight-year-old Earl of Richmond,
landed at Milford Haven, on the South Wales coast, on 7 August 1485, in a desperately foolhardy attempt to seize the throne of England. He had spent the last fourteen years in dreary exile under the protection of Francis II, Duke of Brittany, after fleeing England in 1471, following the defeat of the Lancastrian cause at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury - seemingly the last bloody carnage of the cruelly internecine Wars of the Roses.
His dubious, certainly tenuous, claim to be the true and lawful King of England was based solely on the descent of his mother, the formidable and scheming Margaret Beaufort, from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III. When the Yorkist monarch Edward IV died suddenly in 1483,
his two young legitimate sons mysteriously vanished and the English crown fell into the grasping, grateful hands of his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Here, then, was an opportunity for Henry to capture what he saw was his by birthright and he had sailed for England with another invasion fleet, timed to support a rebellion by Henry Stafford, second Duke of Buckingham.
But this insurrection was quickly suppressed and violent storms scattered Tudor’s ships, forcing him to return to France with his would-be regal tail firmly between his legs.
Undaunted, the ambitious but militarily inexperienced Welshman embarked again at Honfleur on 1 August 1485, with just 3,000 French mercenaries and a handful of loyal English followers. However, warships, under the command of the Lord Admiral of England, Sir John Howard, first Duke of Norfolk, were guarding the English Channel and their patrols forced the Tudor flotilla further west before it could safely make landfall. It was a recklessly small army of uncertain loyalty that finally splashed ashore in Pembrokeshire, but the aspiring king hoped that his forces would soon be augmented by the disaffected flocking to his triumphant standard in their thousands. It was not to be: as he marched through Wales and on to Shrewsbury, only a few hundred Welshmen joined his colours. The remainder of the population, with dark memories of thirty-two years of brutal, bloody civil war, merely watched sullenly the column of soldiers trudge by.
There was a further worrying and frustrating factor that raised nagging doubts in Henry Tudor’s mind. His stepfather, Thomas, Lord Stanley, Constable of England,
had not yet declared his support for the Tudor cause, his inaction doubtless influenced by the harsh fact that Richard III prudently held hostage his twenty-five-year-old eldest son, Sir George Stanley, Lord Strange,
to guarantee his loyalty. The odds on Tudor’s rash gamble for the throne seemed to lengthen as each summer day passed.
The royalist army was being rapidly mobilised and the experienced old soldier Norfolk had brought 1,000 well-armed men wearing the Howard livery to join the various contingents mustering at Leicester on 16 August.
Ominously, some now warned the duke not to fight with Richard, but he characteristically brushed aside such arrant disloyalty. The king’s forces moved on to camp on the summit and slopes of the two hundred foot (91.4 m.) high Ambion Hill, two miles (3 km.) south of Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, on the evening of Sunday 21 August, as Richard, another seasoned campaigner, attempted to block Henry Tudor’s road south to London and power.
By early the next morning, his battle plans had been finalised. In front of the king’s 8,000-strong army was his vanguard - a wedge-shaped formation of 1,200 archers, protected by two hundred heavily armoured horsemen. This was led by Norfolk, who was to fight that sunny day alongside his forty-two-year-old son, Thomas, Earl of Surrey, himself a veteran of many battles, who had been severely wounded at Barnet fourteen years earlier.
Mustered behind them was the main royalist force of 1,000 infantry armed with spears and halberds, surrounded by a further 2,000 pikemen, their long weapons used to ward off cavalry attacks. A reserve of 3,600 foot and horse, commanded by Sir Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland,
formed the rearguard.