On this day in 1554 – Sir Thomas Wyatt was executed

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger was executed on 11th April 1554 for leading a rebellion against Queen Mary I.

Bought up a strong Catholic and spent many years accompanying his father on missions in Spain. His father was Sir Thomas Wyatt, the court poet during Henry VIII reign and once rumoured lover of Anne Boleyn before her marriage. Due to his time in Spain Wyatt developed a deep displeasure towards the Spanish government, this came from his experience with the Spanish Inquisition. When it was announced the Queen Mary I would marry Philip of Spain Wyatt found himself drawn into a group who wished to prevent the marriage.

Several of the group were arrested and this pushed Wyatt to be the leader of the rebellion. Wyatt found himself in command of 1,500 men and he went about setting up his headquarters in Rochester. The Queen soon found out about the plans and offered a pardon to all followers that returned home within 24 hours. Wyatt instead encouraged his men to stay.

The Duke of Norfolk was dispatched to deal with the rebels but when they meted many of Norfolk’s men deserted him and joined the rebel cause. Wyatt and an army of 4,000 men marched towards Blackheath in January 1554. The government took this rebellion seriously and mustered an army of over 20,000 volunteers to defend the Queen. Wyatt was given the chance to put his demands forward but by this point he had already been declared a traitor and a reward was offered for his capture.

Upon arrival in London, Wyatt was surprised by the level of security protecting the capital and many of his supporters abandoned his cause at Southwark. On 15th March Wyatt admitted defeat and was sentenced to death for treason.

Wyatt’s execution date was set for 11th April 1554. On the morning of his execution Wyatt asked to speak to Edward Courteney, the original leader of the rebellion and begged him to confess the truth. Wyatt was beheaded for his involvement and his body was circulated as a warning to any rebel.

Sir Thomas Wyatt

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