Category Archives: People of the court

On this day in 1536 – Act of the dissolution of the lesser monasteries.

As Henry VIII’s quest to become the recognised Head of the Church in England continued, many acts were passed in Parliament to lessen the power and influence Rome and the monasteries had over the country. Many religious houses fell in line with Henry’s demands that saw them swear to the oath of succession and support the King’s claims that the marriage with Katherine of Aragon was null and void. Henry still had opposition from other houses which he needed to scare and threaten to get them to fall in line with his reformation.

In 1534, Thomas Cromwell was commissioned by Henry to complete a thorough investigation into the income, endowments and liabilities of the religious houses in England and Wales, this included the monasteries. Cromwell delegated the task to a team of trusted commissioners to also investigate the quality of life, the validity of religious artefacts and the morality of the inhabitants.

Reports were sent back to Cromwell in 1535 full of claims of immoral and loose living, with monks showing little regard to the monastic vows. It was recommended to the Cromwell and the King that the monasteries needed to be brought in line and suppress those that would not. The authority to suppress the religious houses use to lay with the Pope but with Henry claiming the church, the Crown now had the authority to fulfil this.

Armed with these reports on 6th March 1536 Parliament passed the Act of the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries. The act stated that if any monastery had an income of less than £200 per year it was to be dissolved and everything given to the Crown. The heads of the houses were to be offered pensions and anyone who lived there was given the option of either moving into a larger monastery or they could leave the religious house and move into the open world forgoing their vows of poverty and obedience but they had to maintain their vow of chastity.

Henry chose to save 67 of the lesser monasteries but they had to pay a year’s income to remain open, therefore earning the Crown money regardless. However, commissioners moved quickly to close down the rest of the houses, in fear that valuables could be smuggled out and hidden. Land was rented to locals and items unwanted by the Crown were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Anything else was left for the locals to loot and buildings were destroyed.

This was just the beginning of what was to come for the monasteries and the reformation.

369Bordesley Abbey, Redditch – one of the many monasteries dissolved by Henry VIII.

On this day in 1526 – Henry Carey, Baron Hundson, born

Henry Carey was born on 4th March 1526 to William Carey and Mary Boleyn.

His father died when he was just two years old. With the death her husband Mary found herself in financial difficulty. As Mary’s husband was a close courtier of Henry VIII and herself the King’s former mistress she wrote to the King for help. Henry did what he could and ensured that Mary received financial support from her father and helped further by granting her sister, Anne, wardship of her son Henry. Anne was chosen as she was in a position of financial security that she could help her struggling sister. Anne provided her nephew with the best education with him studying under Nicholas Bourbon, a renowned French poet and a fellow reformer. Anne was beheaded when Carey was only 10 years old.

Henry Carey received many royal appointments during adulthood. It began at the age of 21, in 1547, when he became a Member of Parliament for Buckinghamshire a role he repeated in 1554. Carey was highly honoured when his cousin, Elizabeth, ascended the throne. Elizabeth treated her Boleyn relatives well with Carey’s sister, Catherine, as one of Elizabeth’s closest ladies-in-waiting.

In 1558 Elizabeth created Carey Baron Hundson and he was granted properties in Herfordshire as well as Kent. In 1560 she appointed Carey to the role of Master of the Queen’s Hawks followed a year later by his induction to the Knights of the Garter.

In 1564 Elizabeth appointed Carey Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners, which essentially meant that the four years that he spent in this role he was the Queen’s personal bodyguard. A role that helped his next appointment in 1568, when he was appointed Governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. The role of Governor was not an easy one as less than a year in the position the nobles in the North were preparing to rise up against the crown. In February 1560 Carey defeated Lord Dacre, an event that helped bring an end to the rebellion.

As reward for his success Carey was awarded more prestigious positions on 31st July 1574 he became the Keeper of Somerset House, London, Elizabeth’s former residence. In 1577 he became a member of the Privy Council, advising Elizabeth on the politics and running of the country.

In 1585 Carey was granted the role of Lord Chamberlain of the Household, the most senior office in the Royal household. Whilst in this role he became the patron of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the acting company that was the home of William Shakespeare.

Henry Carey died at Somerset House on 23rd July 1596 and was buried in Westminster Abbey on the 12th August. Upon his death he left his family with debt that was acquired at the expense of serving the Queen. Due to this and the love she showed her relatives Elizabeth covered the costs of Carey’s funeral and granted his widow a one off payment along with a yearly pension from her Exchequer along with the keepership of Somerset House for the remainder of her life.

Henry Carey had a life having honours bestowed upon him by his cousin. His life has always been highly talked about from the moment he was born with constant rumours that his father was not William Carey but in fact Henry VIII’s illegitimate son with Mary Boleyn. It is known that Mary was the King’s mistress before he married her sister; Henry had to get a papal dispensation to marry Anne due to his previous relationship with Mary. Historians continue to argue for each side about the paternity of the Carey children. What do you think? Is Henry and his sister Catherine the children of Henry VIII or are they the children of a loving marriage between Mary and her husband William? Comment below with your thoughts.

Henry Carey

On this day in 1500 – Cardinal Reginald Pole born

It is widely accepted that Cardinal Reginald Pole was born on 3rd March 1500. He was born in Stourton Castle in Staffordshire to Sir Richard Pole and his wife Margaret. Margaret was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, which made Margaret the niece of King Edward IV and Richard III. Therefore Reginald would have had a strong Plantagenet claim to the throne had it not been for the Bill of Attainder that was passed against his grandfather when he was found guilty of treason.

Pole studied at Oxford from the age of 12 and completed his degree just after the age of 15. It looks like Pole was always destining for a life within the clergy.

Henry VIII bestowed many honours on Pole including the deanery of Wimborne Minister in Dorest, the Prebendary of Salisbury and the Dean of Exeter, despite never being ordained into the church. In 1521, with Henry’s blessing, Pole set off to the University of Padua where he quickly became popular and was highly regarded amongst scholars like Erasmus and Thomas More. Henry paid half of Pole’s fees whilst he was studying abroad.

Pole remained in Padua until 1527 when he returned home. Henry at this time was desperate for Pole’s support and his written opinion on ‘The Great Matter’, his divorce with Katherine of Aragon. In exchange for his support Henry offered Pole the role of Archbishop of York or the Diocese of Winchester in return for his loyalty. Pole wanted to avoid being dragged into the situation instead seeked permission to leave for France to further his studying. In effect he went into self imposed exile to avoid answering Henry’s demands. Despite this Henry was still covering Pole’s allowances abroad.

In May 1536, Pole eventually spoke out against Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. Henry called Pole back to England to answer questions on his writings. Pole disobeyed Henry’s orders and instead headed to Rome after receiving a Papal invitation to stay at the Vatican from Pope Paul III. This was a blow to Henry as it was clear for all to see that the once close relationship that they shared was over as Pole sided with Rome against Henry and England.

Despite never being ordained Pole, in 1537, was created a Cardinal and was charged with organising a march on London to replace Henry’s current government with a Roman Catholic one to bring the country back in line with Rome.

In retaliation to Pole’s betrayal Henry arrested members of the Pole family including his brother, nephew and mother, the Countess of Salisbury and charged each of them with treason and aiding Reginald Pole and his cause. All but one was found guilty and Bills of Attainders were passed against them all stripping of their titles and land and eventually they were executed for Pole’s betrayal.

Pope Paul III died in 1549 and a conclave was held to find his successor, at one point Pole had nearly two – thirds of the votes required to become Pope, however, Pole didn’t want to campaign to become Pope and so support began to slip away from him.

Reginald Pole remained a Cardinal and was quietly dedicated to his work. That is until the death of Edward VI in 1553. With the Catholic Mary I taking the throne Pole’s life was once again an active one. He instantly wrote to the newly anointed Queen and successfully returned to England from exile as Papal Legate in 1554.

Under Mary I, Pole saw the attainder against his family reversed and was finally ordained as a Priest in 1556. Two days later on 22nd March Pole was consecrated as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Pole was the last Roman Catholic to hold this position. Alongside this he also acted as chief minister and advisor to the Queen.

Cardinal_Reginald_Pole

Reginald Pole died on 17th Nov 1558, most likely for the influenza which had gripped London in an epidemic. He died just a few short hours after Queen Mary I. He is buried at Canterbury Cathedral.

On this day in 1535 – Sir Robert Drury died

Sir Robert Drury died on 2nd March 1535.

Born in Suffolk in 1456, Drury entered Lincoln’s Inn, where he became a barrister in 1473. He later became a prominent figure at the Tudor court. Drury was elected as a Member of Parliament for Suffolk in 1491, 1495 and 1510 and acted as Speaker of the House in 1495. During the battle of Blackheath in 1497 he was knighted by Henry VII. Drury is listed as a mourner at Prince Henry’s funeral in 1511 where he helped bear the canopy during the procession.

In his later life Drury was named as executor of the will for John De Vere, Earl of Oxford, in 1513.

In his own will, written on 1st May 1531, Drury requested to be buried in the Chancel of St Mary’s Church, Bury St. Edmunds alongside his first wife, Anne Calthorpe. They lie together under a stone monument which bears the inscription “Such as ye be, sometimes were we, such as we are, such shall ye be. Miserere nostril.”

Bury-St-Edmunds-1686

On this day in 1577 – Death of Edmund Guest, Bishop of Salisbury

Edmund Guest (or Gheast) died on 28th February 1577. Born in 1514 in Yorkshire he led a very academic childhood attending York Grammar School, Eton College and Kings College in Canterbury.

Whilst in Canterbury Guest became chaplain to Archbishop Matthew Parker who went on to make Guest Archdeacon of Canterbury and Rector of Cliffe, Kent. In 1560 Guest was made Bishop of Rochester, which duties he performed alonside his role as Archdeacon of Canterbury.

In 1563 he was invited to participate in the Convocation which was being held under his mentor Archbishop Parker. Their task was to revise the 42 articles. The origin of the 42 articles goes back to 1536 and Thomas Cranmer’s six articles that acted as the first guidelines for the Church of England. Over the years the articles were expanded and revised. It grew to 42 in 1552 under Edward VI. With the ascension of Mary I the articles were no longer enforced as Mary tried to turn the country back towards Catholism.

Under Elizabeth I and the Convocation led by Archbishop Parker only 39 of the 42 articles were passed, Elizabeth reduced this further to 38. Elizabeth did not want to offend any English citizens that still practised Catholism and so article XXIX was removed. It was later restored in 1571 after Elizabeth was excommunicated by the Pope the previous year. Bishop Guest opposed the article but his protests went unheard as Elizabeth approved the reintroduction of the article.

Guest was appointed to the role of Bishop of Salisbury in 1571, which he held until his death in 1577. He was buried in Salisbury Cathedral’s choir.

On this day in 1547 – George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, was born

George Carey was born on 26th February 1547 to Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, and Anne Morgan. Henry Carey was the son of Mary Boleyn and if court rumour was to be believed the illegitimate child of Henry VIII. Regardless of whether this is true or not George Carey was the cousin of Elizabeth I.

In 1560 George Carey entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Carey later went on to have a successful military career fighting in the Northern Rebellion in 1569. The Northern Rebellion saw an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic lords to depose Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots who they believed was the rightful heir to the English throne. Carey was praised for issuing and winning a challenge he issued to Lord Fleming, commander of Dunbar Castle, in single combat. As a result Carey was knighted for his bravery by Earl of Sussex.

Following his military career Carey made the move into politics and became a Member of Parliament for several terms and for different counties. He served for Hertfordshire in 1571 and Hampshire in 11584, 1586, 1588 and 1592. During his time as an MP Carey’s father died, in 1596, and George inherited the title of 2nd Baron Hunsdon and in 1597 he was also appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, again following in his father’s footsteps.

Outside of Carey’s political career in his role as Lord Chamberlain he was a patron of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a theatre company that included the likes of Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare.

In 1597 Carey was invested as a Knight of the Garter, a prestigious event that was marked with, what is believed to be the first performance of Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’.

Carey spent 20 years of his life as governor of the Isle of Wight and during his time there he took command of the island’s defences during the Spanish Armarda.

George_Carey_by_Nicholas_Hilliard_1601

Carey died on 9th September 1603 from veneral disease and mercury poisoning. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in the Carey vault in the chapel of St John the Baptist.

On this day in 1601 – Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is executed

Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, was beheaded on 25th February 1601 after a failed attempt to overthrow Elizabeth I.

Devereux was one of the Queen’s favourites, however they had a fiery relationship, in 1598 Elizabeth refused to grant one of Devereux’s requests and as a result Devereux turned his back on the Queen. Seen as a breach of etiqutte which saw Elizabeth loose her temper and slapped Devereux, who in retaliation reached for his sword. He was soon banished from the court.

A year later he was sent to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, forgiven by the Queen, to help stop an uprising. Devereux failed to fulfil his role y not putting a stop to the rebellion, fighting inrelevant fights and wasting the army’s funds. He also signed a truce with the leader of the rebellion, which caused concern back in England. Concerned at what was being said back in England, Devereux left his troops in Ireland and set off to England, disobeying strict orders from Elizabeth herself. He arrived at Nonsuch Palace on 28th September 1599 and stormed into the Queen’s bedchamber where she was unclothed and without her wig. Devereux was interogated by the Privy Council for five hours the following day to explain his actions. He was placed under house arrest at York House.

By August 1600 Devereux was freed but without his sweet wine monopoly, this was his main source of income. Furious at the Queen taking away his income Devereux began plotting to overthrow the Queen and government and began defending Essex House. On 8th February 1601 Devereux with a small army of just over 100 men carrying swords departed from Essex House on the Strand. They headed into the city via Ludgate Hill where a barricade was placed by a troop under the leadership of Sir John Leveson in an attempt to stop Devereux. Both sides began to fight but when Devereux’s step father, Sir Christopher Blount, was injured he soon retreated back to Essex House only to be arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

Devereux was tried on charges of treason on 19th February and found guilty. Devereux begged to be executed privately away from the baying mobs that executions bring. Standing on the scaffold before the block he removed his cap and coat before kneeling and indicting that he was ready. It took three attempts from the axemen to sever his head before his head was held up to the small audience watching.

Devereux was the last person to be beheaded within the Tower of London.

Robert Devereux