On this day in 1542 – Agnes Howard, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk was pardoned by King Henry VIII

On 5th May 1542 Agnes Howard, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk was pardoned by King Henry VIII after spending five months in the Tower of London following the fall of Queen Catherine Howard.

Originally arrested in December 1541 after her stepson was sent to search her home in Lambeth, the Dowager Duchess was discovered attempting to destroy documents by Francis Dereham and William Damport. During her time in the Tower her niece and Queen, Catherine Howard was beheaded on charge of adultery and treason. The Dowager Duchess was suspected of knowing about Catherine’s behaviour with both Henry Manox and Francis Dereham whilst Katherine in her household.

Soon after the Duchess’ imprisonment her daughter Anne and eldest son, William Howard along with his wife were taken to the Tower. Her stepson in a letter to the King in an attempt to distance himself from his step family denounced the Dowager Duchess and her family. All were originally sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Dowager Duchess was never brought to trial due to her age. The Howard family were pardoned after Catherine Howard’s death and after the Privy Council urged King Henry VIII to show leniency they were released.

The Dowager Duchess left the Tower to find that many of her lands and her goods were forfeited to the crown she was left penniless. On 20th May the Dowager Duchess had some of her homes returned to her the biggest exception was Norfolk House, her main home. This was instead granted to her stepson, the third Duke of Norfolk in January 1543.

Agnes Howard

On this day in 1513 – Edmund de la Pole was buried

Edmund de la Pole was the son of John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife Elizabeth of York, younger sister of King Edward IV and older sister of King Richard III. The De La Pole’s were some of the last legitimate Plantagenet’s in England during the Tudor reign.

Edmund’s older brother, John, had been named heir apparent by King Richard III after the death of his own son making his the focus of the Yorkists and those loyal to the Plantagenet’s after the death of Richard at Bosworth in 1485.

John de la Pole swore allegiance to the new King Henry VII but in 1487 joined the rebellion of Lambert Simnel, who claimed to be the imprisoned Edward, Earl of Warwick and a claimant to the throne. John de la Pole fought and died at the Battle of Stoke which was considered the last battle of the Wars of the Roses.

With the death of John the focus moved to Edmund as the claimant of the throne for the Yorkists and in 1491 Edmund inherited his father’s title of Duke of Suffolk although two years later this was demoted to Earl.

In 1498 Edmund was indicted in the King’s Bench for allegedly killing a man in a fury. He received the King’s pardon but in summer 1499 Edmund fled to Calais but was persuaded to return to England and returned into the King’s favour. Edmund went on to witness the confirmation of the treaty for Prince Arthur’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

After a brief trip to Calais with the King, Edmund began hearing that the Holy Roman Emperor would be willing to help anyone that carried the blood of King Edward IV back to the throne so Edmund began to approach the Emperor and after six weeks received word that the Emperor would help him with up to five thousand men for three months. However, the Emperor would not be able to gather these men for his support so instead agreed to lend money to Edmund.

On 28th July 1502 Maximillian signed an agreement with the English that in return for £10,000 he would not aid any English rebels regardless of their rank and so Edmund was on his own. On 12th February 1503 with Edmund still staying within Maximillian’s borders, Maximillian was requested to take an oath to swear that he would observe the treaty that he signed and that Edmund would be expelled from his lands.

January 1504 saw an attainder passed against the de la Pole’s including Edmund. He eventually left Maximillian’s land during Easter by leaving his brother, Richard, behind as hostage. Edmund headed to Gelderland to the Duke of Saxony where instead of being greeted and supported he was imprisoned. The Duke of Saxony was believed to have received money from King Henry VII to secure Edmund but for some reason he was never handed over to England.

Philip, King of Castile, eventually gained possession of Edmund and in January 1506 Edmund sent his servants to communicate with Henry and to negotiate a way to leave Philip’s possession. During January Philip was travelling to Castile when he was blown off course and landed in England. He visited Henry at Windsor where they discussed the surrender of Edmund into Henry’s custody. In March 1506 Edmund was paraded through London and placed into the Tower.

King Henry had promised Philip that he would not kill or harm Edmund but instead keep him imprisoned for the remainder of his life. Henry VII kept his word and Edmund was still alive when Henry VIII took the throne. In 1513 King Henry VIII ordered Edmund’s execution and on 30th March 1513 he was taken from his cell in the Tower and beheaded.

Edmund was buried on 4th May 1513 in the Church of the Minories, Aldgate.

Edmund de la Pole coat of arms

On this day in 1568 – Sir Edward Rogers died

Sir Edward Rogers was born in 1498 to George Rogers and his wife Mary.

It is believed that Rogers served the Courtenay family and was given livery by the Marquess of Exeter in 1525. The following year Rogers along with George Carew and Andrew Flamank took off to Calais. Instead the landed at Le Conquet and they set off for Paris and Blois where they sought to enter the service of the Regent of France. Their offer was turned down due to the lack of a letter of commendation from Henry VIII or Cardinal Wolsey. With the failure to gain the appointment the trio set off back for England via Calais. They were interviewed at Calais where they received a pardon and allowed to travel back to England.

Rogers was made an Esquire of the Body to King Henry VIII some time before 1534. In this role he was act as a personal attendant to the King and answered his every call. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries he was granted the land of a former nunnery in Cannington, Somerset. From here he set up his family home and was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Somerset and Dorset and later, in 1547, represented Tavistock as a Member of Parliament.

Rogers fell out of favour briefly when he argued with the new Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, but with Seymour’s fall from grace Rogers returned to court. At the coronation of King Edward VI Rogers was knighted and appointed to be one of Edward’s four principal gentlemen of the Privy Council. It was a short appointment as in January 1550 Rogers was placed under house arrest for unknown reasons, he returned to favour once again six months later where he was also granted a pension of £50. Back in favour with King Edward VI Rogers witnessed the appointment of Lady Jane Grey as Edward’s heir.

With Lady Jane’s short reign and the rule of the Catholic Queen Mary, Rogers retreated back to Somerset until 1554 when he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London for attempting raise a insurrection in Devon that coincided with Wyatt’s rebellion. Rogers was released 1555 with a pardon and a fine of £1000. Rogers had throughout his life discarded the Catholic rules and previously in 1543 he was reprimanded for eating meat during Lent.

With Mary’s death and the accession of Queen Elizabeth Rogers was recommended to her employment by Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. Rogers was appointed to the roles of Vice-Chamberlain, Captain of the Guard and Privy Councillor and in 1560 was appointed to succeed Sir Thomas Parry as Comptroller of Elizabeth’s household.

Rogers would hold these roles until his death on 3rd May 1568 in his will he left the majority of his goods and land to his only son.

Sir Edward Rogers

On this day in 1568 – Mary Queen of Scots escaped Lochleven Castle

Mary Queen of Scots has always had a controversial reign, she ruled Scotland from when she was six days old after the death of King James V of Scotland. She spent most of her childhood in France in preparation for her marriage to Francis II of France. Scotland was ruled through a regency until Mary returned to the country in 1561.

Mary remarried four years after her return to her first cousin, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley with whom she had a son, the future King James VI of Scotland. Her husband was found murdered and suspicion fell on James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Bothwell was acquitted of the charge and the following month married Mary.

The nobles of the country were unhappy with this alliance and they soon rose up. On 15th June 1556 Mary was escorted from Carberry Hill to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where she was allowed to gather her belongings before being taken to Lochleven Castle and placed under house arrest.

Lochleven was a castle that was situated on a small island, which was only reachable by boat. Mary was housed on the third floor in the Glassin Tower and placed under the custody of Sir William Douglas. However, despite being under arrest Mary was free to walk in the courtyard, pray in her room and have her servants with her.

On 24th July 1567 Lord Ruthven and Lord Lindsey arrived at the castle and approached Mary with an ultimatum to abdicate her throne or die. By abdicating she would place her son on the throne, despite the fact he was only just over a year old. Mary signed the Deed of Abdication and James was crowned King just five days later at Stirling.

Meanwhile Parliament declared that Mary’s second husband, Bothwell, had murdered her first husband, Lord Darnley, and that she was an accomplice to the murder.

There were still many Scots that were loyal to Mary who would see her back on the throne. Many plots were rumoured to free the former Queen. However, on 2nd May 1568 a rescue attempt was made and was successful. Willie Douglas, a young relative of her custodian, had arranged a May Day masque at the Castle for the Queen and had managed to steal the keys to the part of the castle that held the Queen. During the celebrations Mary was smuggled out of the castle, dressed as a servant. She was placed in a boat and rowed away from the castle where she was greeted by George Douglas and Lord Seton.

Mary escaping Lochleven

On this day in 1517 – Evil May Day riots

On 1st May 1517 a riot gripped London that would be known as the Evil May Day riots.

Londoners took to the streets of London to protest about foreigners living and working in London in particularly the merchants and bankers that resided in Lombard Street. A fortnight before the riots took hold a speech was given at St Paul’s Cross, a preaching cross in the grounds of the old St Paul’s Cathedral. It was spoken by Dr Bell, at the request of broker John Lincoln. It was highly xenophobic blaming the foreigners for many of the economical problems the country was facing. Bell was reported as calling on all ‘Englishman to cherish and defend themselves, and to hurt and grieve aliens for the common weal’ according to the chronicler Edward Hall.

Over the next two weeks attacks were springing up across London with rumours spreading that on May Day the city would rebel and attack any foreigner. The Mayor of London announced at 8.30pm on 30th April 1517 that a curfew would be enforced at 9pm, giving Londoners 30 minutes to get home.

Instead a few hours after the curfew a group of approximately 1000 male apprentices had gathered in Cheapside where they went on to free many prisoners who had been jailed in the past few weeks for attacking foreigners and they set off towards St Martin le Grand, a place where many foreigners lived. Thomas More greeted the rioters and tried to persuade them to disperse and go home with no further action.

As soon as More had calmed crowd the residents of St Martin le Grand began to rise as they throw rocks, bricks and even boiling water from their windows onto the groups below. With the apprentices now under attack they soon retaliated by looting the homes of the foreigners who were attacking them and across the city. This continued into the early hours of 1st May.

Three hundred rioters were arrested and charged with treason and were swiftly executed on 4th May with John Lincoln the instigator of the original speech executed on 7th May. Hundreds more rioters were arrested but later pardoned by the King after his wife, Katherine of Aragon, begged him to show mercy.

Evil May DayImage courtesey of the British Museum.