Tag Archives: Tower of London

On this day in 1509 – King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon were coronated at Westminster Abbey

24th June 1509 saw Henry Tudor and his new wife Katherine of Aragon crowned as the new king and queen of England, making Henry King Henry VIII.

The celebrations however began three days earlier on 21st June when Henry rode from Greenwich to the Tower of London where he would stay until the morning of his coronation. The following evening, at a lavish banquet Henry created new Knights of the Bath these men would carry the dishes into the feast under the premise that they would never carry dishes again with their new appointment. These men were;

“viz., Richard (sic) Radclyff lord Fitzwater, the lord Scroop of Bolton, the lord Fitzhugh, the lord Mountjoye, the lord Dawbeney, the lord Brooke, Sir Henry Clyfford, Sir Maurice Berkeley, Sir Thomas Knyvet, Sir Andrew Wyndesore, Sir Thomas Parr, Sir Thomas Boleyne, Sir Richard Wentworth, Sir Henry Owtrede, Sir Francis Cheyny, Sir Henry Wyotte, Sir George Hastynges, Sir Thomas Metham, Sir Thomas Bedyngfeld, Sir John Shelton, Sir Giles Alyngton, Sir John Trevanyon, Sir William Crowmer, Sir John Heydon, Sir Godarde Oxenbrige and Sir Henry Sacheverell.”

(Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514.)

On Saturday 23rd June at 4pm a procession began that would take Henry from the Tower of London to Westminster. It was led by the newly created Knights of the Bath who were dressed in blue gowns. They were followed by the newly created Constable of England, Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham was carrying a silver baton that showed his office and he was then followed by the soon to be King. The streets were lined with tapestries and cloths of gold.

Henry wore a cloth of gold coat that was highly decorated with gems and a collar of rubies and topped with a collar of red velvet and ermine trimmed robe. Henry’s horse was also dressed for the procession in ermine and cloth of gold. There was also a cloth of gold canopy held over him by the four barons of Cinque Ports.

Behind Henry came his master of the horse, Sir Thomas Brandon. Following Brandon came the procession for the future Queen. Katherine was escorted in a litter covered by a canopy. Katherine wore her hair loose, which was custom for a coronation procession and was dressed in ‘a rich mantle of cloth of tissue’ and a gold, pearl and silk circlet upon her head.

On 24th JuneHenry Katherine coronation at 8am following behind 28 bishops Henry and Katherine proceeded from the Palace of Westminster towards the Abbey for the ceremony. It was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham. Warham presented Henry to the crowd and called ‘Vivat ,vivat rex’ translated into English as ‘Long live the King’. Henry went on to swear the nine oaths of kingship and was anointed by Warham with the holy oils before being crowned. Katherine was then crowned Queen and the couple moved back to Westminster Hall for a splendid celebration banquet.

The chronicler, Edward Hall said of the coronation;

“The following day being a Sunday, and also Midsummer’s Day, the noble prince with his queen left the palace for Westminster Abbey at the appointed hour. The barons of the Cinq Ports held canopies over the royal couple who trod on striped cloth of ray, which was immediately cut up by the crowd when they had entered the abbey. Inside, according to sacred tradition and ancient custom, his grace and the queen were anointed and crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of other prelates of the realm and the nobility and a large number of civic dignitaries. The people were asked if they would take this most noble prince as their king and obey him. With great reverence, love and willingness they responded with the cry ‘Yea, Yea’.

When the ceremony was finished, the lords spiritual and temporal paid homage to the king and, with the queen’s permission, returned to Westminster Hall – each one beneath his canopy – where the lord marshal bearing his staff of office ushered all to their seats. Each noble and lord proceeded to his allotted place arranged earlier according to seniority. The nine-piece table being set with the king’s estate seated on the right and the queen’s estate on the left, the first course of the banquet was announced with a fanfare. At the sound the duke of Buckingham entered riding a huge charger covered with richly embroidered trappings, together with the lord steward mounted on a horse decked with cloth of gold. The two of them led in the banquet which was truly sumptuous, and as well as a great number of delicacies also included unusual heraldic devices and mottoes.

How can I describe the abundance of fine and delicate fare prepared for this magnificent and lordly feast, produced both abroad and in the many and various parts of this realm to which God has granted his bounty. Or indeed the exemplary execution of the service of the meal itself, the clean handling and distribution of the food and the efficient ordering of the course, such that no person of any estate lacked for anything.”

Hall goes on to describe the events of the days that followed that included two days of jousting and even more banquets.

“The following day the aforementioned defending team, lady Palla’s scholars, presented themselves before the king ready for the tourney. All on horseback and armed from head to foot they each had one side of their armour-skirts and horse-trappings made of white velvet embroidered with gold roses and other devices, and the other made of green velvet embroidered with gold pomegranates. On their headpieces each wore a plume of gold damask.

 

At the same time the other side rode in, the aforementioned eight knights fully armed and dressed, like their mounts, in green satin embroidered with fine golden bramble branches. Following them, blowing horns, came a number of men dressed as foresters or gamekeepers in green cloth, with caps and hose to match, who arranged a set like a park with white and green fencing around it. Inside this paddock were fallow deer and artificial trees; bushes, ferns, and so forth. Once set up before the queen the paddock gates were unlocked and the deer ran out into the palace grounds. Greyhounds were then let loose which killed the deer, the bodies of which were then presented to the queen and then assembled ladies by the above-mentioned knights.

 

Crocheman, who had brought in the golden lance the previous day, then declared that his knights were the servants of the goddess Diana and whilst they had been indulged in their pastime of hunting had received news that lady Pallas’s knights had come into these parts to perform feats of arms. Thereupon they had left off the chase and come hither to encounter these knights and to fight with them for the love of the ladies.


He added that if lady Pallas’s knights vanquished them or forced them to leave the field of battle then they would receive the deer that had been killed and the greyhounds that slew them. But if Diana’s knights overpowers their opponents they were to be given the swords of those knights and nothing more.

 

Hearing this, the queen and her ladies asked the king for his advice on the matter. The king, thinking that perhaps there was some grudge between the two parties and believing that to grant the request might lead to some unpleasantness, decided not to consent to the terms. Instead, to defuse the situation, it was decided that both parties should fight the tourney but that only a limited number of strokes would be permitted.

 

This was done and the two sides then left the field. The jousts then came to an end and the prizes were awarded to each man according to his deserts.”

parliamentary rollThe Parliamentary roll of King Henry VIII coronation procession

On this day in 1585 – Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland died.

Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland was born in 1532 at Newburn Manor, he was the second son of Sir Thomas Percy and his wife Eleanor Harbottle. Percy and his brother, Thomas, were brought up in Northumberland and therefore were close to the Scottish borders and were likely to have witnessed battles between the English and Scottish.

During the reign of Queen Mary I Henry Percy was appointed governor of Tynemouth Castle, where in his later life Percy’s wife would give birth to their son, also Henry, here in 1564. Percy was also a Member of Parliament for Morpeth in 1554, knighted in 1557 and was also appointed as deputy warden of the east and middle marches.

With the accession of Queen Elizabeth I Percy was kept in his chief offices with the excpetion of having to transfer his governship of Tynemouth Castle in order to become captain of Norham Castle. However, he was reappointed back to Tynemouth in 1561.

With war against Scotland breaking out in 1560 Percy was given command of a body of light horse and led a troop in battle. With the French defeat at Leith, the commander of the French army D’Oyzelle asked if he could surrender his sword to Percy and not the commander-in-chief, Lord Grey.

Percy was commissioned in 1561 along with the Thomas Young, Archbishop of York, to administer the Oath of Supremacy to the clergy in the north. Percy’s position in the north was strengthened at the end of the year when he married Catherine Neville, daughter and co-heiress of John Neville, 4th Baron Latimer, they went on to have 11 children. After his marriage he was appointed Sheriff of Northumberland in 1562.

In late 1569 the Rising of the North occurred in which Henry Percy’s elder brother, Thomas was a chief leader. Henry Percy however, remained loyal to the Queen and the government and he joined the royal army in the fight against the rebels. With his brother captured and imprisoned in Scotland Percy wrote to him to urge him to confess his guilt and appeal to the Queen’s mercy. Instead Thomas Percy was executed in York in 1572. Henry Percy was awarded the title of Earl of Northumberland.

However, Percy was not as loyal as he seemed. On 15th November 1571 he was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. He had been found communicating with John Lesley, bishop of Ross, offering his help to free Mary, Queen of Scots from Tutbury. On 23rd February 1572 Percy wrote to the Queen begging to be released, however, he was left in the Tower for the next 18 months until he was brought to trial charged with treason. Once again begging the Queen’s mercy he was fined 5000 marks and ordered to remain under house arrest at his home at Petworth. It wasn’t until 12th July 1573 when he was summoned to London and given his freedom.

On 8th February 1576 he took his seat in the House of Lords for the first time and he was appointed as one of the royal commissioners to prorogue parliament in November.

In 1582, Percy was once again brought into the plots surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots when he met with M.de Bex, a French agent, and looked at Throckmorton’s plot to free the Scottish Queen. He was once again arrested along with Lord Henry Howard and Francis Throckmorton. Percy was sent to the Tower again, unlike his previous stay he was only here for a few weeks and was not charged although he was stripped of his governship of Tynemouth Castle. Once released Percy was still keen to release Mary and the following September he met Charles Paget and his brother at his home, Petworth to discuss the matter fully. Percy offered advice as to where the French troops could land to launch their rescue mission. One of Percy’s aides was also present at this meeting, William Shelley. Shelley was arrested and tortured and confessed all about Percy’s meeting but claimed that it was Percy’s mission to not only rescue Mary but to also extort from the Queen full toleration towards Roman Catholics.

Henry Percy found himself, for a third time, in the Tower of London where he continued to protest his innocence and beg for the Queen’s mercy. On 20th June 1585 six months after being imprisoned Percy was found dead in his cell. He had been shot through the heart, it was declared.

Percy’s death has always been suspicious the day before his death he was placed under the care of a new warden by the Lieutenant of the Tower on orders of Sir Christopher Hatton. Rumours spread that Hatton was responsible for Percy’s death and many years later Sir Walter Raleigh wrote to Sir Robert Cecil referring the Hatton’s guilt. Percy was buried in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula within the grounds of the Tower of London.

Interior of St Peter ad VinculaThe interior of St. Peter ad Vincula

On this day in 1540 – Sir Thomas Cromwell writes to Henry VIII from the Tower of London

Thomas Cromwell was arrested and imprisoned 10th June 1540 on charges of treason and heresy after falling out of favour with King Henry VIII. Sat in the Tower of London Cromwell did everything he could to reach out to the King and on 12th June he wrote one letter asking for the King’s mercy and reiterated his innocence. The letter read;

Prostate at your Majesty’s feet, I have heard your pleasure by your Controller, viz., that I should write such things as I thought meet concerning my most miserable state. And where I have been accused of treason, I never in all my life thought to displease your Majesty; much less to do or say “that thing which of itself is so high and abominable offence.” Your Grace knows my accusers, God forgive them. If it were in my power to make you live for ever, God knows I would; or to make you so rich that you should enrich all men, or so powerful that all the world should obey you. For your Majesty has been most bountiful to me, and more like a father than a master. I ask you mercy where I have offended. Never spoke with the Chancellor of the Augmentations and Frogmerton together at a time; but if I did, I never spoke of any such matter. Your Grace knows what manner of man Throgmerton has ever been towards you and your proceedings. What Master Chancellor has been to me, God and he know best; what I have been to him your Majesty knows. If I had obeyed your often most gracious counsels it would not have been with me as now it is. But I have committed my soul to God, my body and goods to your pleasure. As for the Commonwealth, I have done my best, and no one can justly accuse me of having done wrong wilfully. If I heard of any combinations or offenders against the laws, I have for the most part (though not as I should have done) revealed and caused them to be punished. But I have meddled in so many matters, I cannot answer all.

 

The Controller showed me that you complained that within these 14 days I had revealed a matter of great secrecy. I remember the matter, but I never revealed it. After your Grace had spoken to me in your chamber of the things you misliked in the Queen, I told you she often desired to speak with me, but I durst not, and you thought I might do much good by going to her and telling her my mind. Lacking opportunity I spoke with her lord Chamberlain, for which I ask your mercy, to induce her to behave pleasantly towards you. I repeated the suggestion when the lord Chamberlain and others of her council came to me at Westminster for licence for the departure of the strange maidens. This was before your Grace committed the secret matter to me, which I never disclosed to any but my lord Admiral, by your commandment on Sunday last; whom I found equally willing to seek a remedy for your comfort, saying he would spend the best blood in his belly for that object.

 

Was also accused at his examination of retaining contrary to the laws. Denies that he ever retained any except his household servants, but it was against his will. Was so besought by persons who said they were his friends that he received their children and friends – not as retainers, for their fathers and parents did find them; but if he have offended, desires pardon. Acknowledges himself a miserable sinner towards God and the King, but never wilfully. Desires prosperity for the King and Prince. “Written with the quaking hand and most sorrowful heard of your most sorrowful subject, and most humble servant and prisoner, this Saturday at your [Tower] of London.””

Thomas Cromwell signatureThomas Cromwell’s signature

On this day in 1588 – Anne de Vere died

Anne de Vere nee Cecil, was born on 5th December 1556 to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley and his wife Mildred Cooke. Anne would grow up to be well educated and was well versed in French, Latin and potentially Italian, she was tutored by William Lewin. It is no surprise that Anne was a woman of many languages when her mother was well noted from her translations from the Greek.

In 1569 Anne was engaged to Sir Philip Sidney but the marriage negotiations failed and instead she married Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford on 19th December 1571 at Westminster Abbey. Edward was the ward of William Cecil and so the two grew up in the same household.

Following the marriage Anne continued living at home and son fell pregnant and on 2nd July 1575 she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. Edward was abroad touring Europe and upon his return accused Anne of adultery and declared the child illegitimate. In April 1576 he officially separated from Anne and refused to recognise her at court.

During the separation in 1581 Edward was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the Queen’s command for having an illegitimate child with one of her Lady’s of the Bedchamber. Edward was quickly released and in December 1581 Anne had begun corresponding with her husband once more and they reconciled the following month, with Edward accepting that Anne’s daughter was his.

With the marriage reconciled the de Vere’s went on to have a further four children taking the total to five, four girls and a boy. Unfortunately Lord Bulbecke died in his early infancy. It was believed that Anne wrote a handful of poems about her son that were published in Pandora (1584), however these are potentially written by someone else using her viewpoint.

Anne died on 5th June 1588 at the age of 31 from unknown causes. She is buried at Westminster Abbey where her mother and daughters were later buried.

Lower part of the monument to Mildred, Lady Burghley and her dauThe tomb of Anne de Vere in Westminster Abbey

On this day in 1535 – Sir Thomas More was interrogated in the Tower of London

The issue of royal supremacy was a highly dominate aspect of 1535 with citizens of England expected to sign an oath that declared they supported King Henry VIII’s claim as head of the Church of England and recognised that Anne Boleyn was his lawful wife and their children would be legitimate, therefore declaring that his daughter, Mary, was illegitimate as a result of an unlawful marriage with Katherine of Aragon.

One person who delayed in signing the oath was Sir Thomas More, More had been one of Henry’s closest friends and advisors and was even Lord Chancellor until he resigned over his opinions of Henry’s divorce.

On 3rd June 1535 More was in the Tower of London and was visited by Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Audley, Charles Brandon and Thomas Cromwell who were there to interrogate him about his views and to try and persuade him one more time to take the oath.

Sir Thomas More refused to take the oath again by answering that he answered to God first and the King second. More was pushed to give an answer on whether he had seen the oath he was being asked to take and if he thought it was lawful. More replied that he had confessed to seeing it but refused to answer whether it was lawful.

Sir Thomas More wrote a letter on the same day to his daughter, Margaret, to tell her about the visit. In the letter it said;

3rd June 1535

Tower of London

 Our Lord bless you and all yours.

 For as much, dearly beloved daughter, as it is likely that you either have heard or shortly shall hear that the Council was here this day, and I was before them, I have thought it necessary to send you word how the matter stands. And verily to be short I perceive little difference between this time and the last, for as far as I can see the whole purpose is either to drive me to say precisely the one way or else precisely the other.

 Here sat my Lord of Canterbury, my Lord Chancellor, my Lord of Suffolk, my Lord of Wilshire and Master Secretary. And after my coming, Master Secretary made rehearsal in what wise he had reported unto the King’s Highness, what had been said by his Grace’s Council to me, and what had been answered by me to them at mine other being before them last. Which thing his Mastership rehearsed in good faith very well, as I acknowledged and confessed and heartily thanked him therefore. Whereupon he added that the King’s Highness was nothing content nor satisfied with mine answer, but thought that by my demeanour I had been occasion of much grudge and harm in the realm, and that I had an obstinate mind and an evil toward him and that my duty was being subject; and so he had sent them now in his name upon my allegiance to command me to make a plain and terminate answer whether I thought the statute lawful or not and that I should either acknowledge and confess it lawful that his Highness should be Supreme Head of the Church of England or else to utter plainly my malignity.

 Whereto I answered that I had no malignity and therefore I could none utter. And as to the matter, I could none other answer make than I had before made, which answer his Mastership had there rehearsed. Very heavy I was that the King’s Highness should have any such opinion of me. Howbeit if there were one that had informed his Highness many evil things of me that were untrue, to which his Highness for the time gave credence, I would be very sorry that he should have that opinion of me the space of one day. Howbeit if I were sure that other should come on the morrow by whom his Grace should know the truth of my innocence, I should in the meanwhile comfort myself with the consideration of that. And in like wise now though it be great heaviness to me that his Highness have such opinion of me for the while, yet have I no remedy to help it, but only to comfort myself with this consideration that I know very well that the time shall come, when God shall declare my truth toward his Grace before him and all the world. And whereas it might haply seem to be but a small cause of comfort because I might take harm here first in the meanwhile. I thanked God that my case was such in this matter through the clearness of mine own conscience that though I might have pain I could have no harm for a man may in such case lose his head and have no harm. For I was very sure that I had no corrupt affection, but that I had always from the beginning truly used myself to looking first upon God and next up on the King, according to the lesson that his Highness taught me at my first coming to his noble service, the most virtuous lesson that ever prince taught his servant; whose Highness to have of me such opinion is my great heaviness, but I have no means, as I said, to help it but only comfort myself in the meantime with the hope of that joyful day in which my truth towards him shall well be known. And in this matter further I could not go nor other answer thereto I could not make.

 To this it was said by my Lord Chancellor or and Master Secretary both that the King might by his laws compel me to make a plain answer thereto, either the one way or the other.

 Whereunto I answered I would not dispute the King’s authority, what his Highness might do in such case, but I said that verily under correction it seemed to me somewhat hard. For if it so were that my conscience gave me against the statutes (wherein how my mind giveth me I make no declaration), then I nothing doing nor nothing saying against the statute, it were a very hard thing to compel me to say either precisely with it against my conscience to the loss of my soul, or precisely against it to the destruction of my body.

 To this Master Secretary said that I had before this when I was Chancellor examined heretics and thieves and other malefactors and gave me a great praise above my deserving in that behalf. And he said that I then, as he thought and at the leastwise Bishops did use to examine heretics, whether they believed the Pope to be the head of the Church and used to compel them to make a precise answer thereto. And why should not then the King, since it is a law made here that his Grace is Head of the Church, here compel men to answer precisely to the law here as they did then concerning the Pope.

 I answered and said that I protested that I intended not to defend any part or stand in contention; but I said there was a difference between those two cases because at that time, as well here as elsewhere through the corps of Christendom, the Pope’s power was recognized for an undoubted thing which seems not like a thing agreed in this realm and the contrary taken for truth in other realms. Whereunto Master Secretary answered that they were as well burned for the denying of that as they be beheaded for denying of this, and therefore as good reason to compel them to make precise answer to the one as to the other.

 Whereto I answered that since in this case a man is not by a law of one realm so bound in his conscience, where there is a law of the whole corps of Christendom to the contrary in matter touching belief, as he is by a law of the whole corps though there hap to be made in some place a local law to the contrary, the reasonableness or unreasonableness in binding a man to precise answer, standeth not in the respect or difference between beheading and burning, but because of the difference in charge of conscience, the difference standeth between beheading and hell.

 Much was there answered unto this both by Master Secretary and my Lord Chancellor over long to rehearse. And in conclusion they offered me an oath by which I should be sworn to make true answer to such things as should be asked me on the King’s behalf, concerning the King’s own person.

 Whereto I answered that verily I never purposed to swear any book oath more while I lived. Then they said that I was very obstinate if I would refuse that, for every man doth it in the Star Chamber and everywhere. I said that was true, but I had not so little foresight that I might well conjecture what should be part of my interrogatory, and as good it was to refuse it at first as afterward.

 Whereto my Lord Chancellor answered that he thought I guessed truth, for I should see them and so they were showed me and they were but two. The first whether I had seen the statute. The other whether I believed that it were a lawful made statute or not. Whereupon I refused the oath and said further by mouth, that the first I had before confessed, and to the second I would make none answer.

 Which was the end of the communication and I was thereupon sent away. In the communication before, it was said that it was marvelled that I stuch so much in my conscience while at the uttermost I was not sure therein. Whereto I said that I was very sure that my own conscience, so informed as it is by such diligence as I have so long taken therein, may stand with mine own salvation. I meddle not with the conscience of them that think otherwise, every man suo domino stat et cadit [Romans 14:4, Cor 10:12]. I am no man’s judge. It was also said unto me that if I had rather be out of the world as in it, as I had there said, why did I not speak even out plain against the statute. It appeared well I was not content to die though I had said so. Whereto I answered as the truth is, that I have not been a man of such holy living as I might be bold to offer myself to death, lest God for my presumption might suffer me to fall, and therefore I put not myself forward, but draw back. Howbeit if God draw me to it himself, then trust I in his great mercy, that he shall not fail to give me grace and strength.

 In conclusion Master Secretary said that he liked me this day much worse than he did the last time, for then he said he pitied me much and now he thought that I meant not well; but God and I know both that I mean well and so I pray God do by me.

 I pray you be, you and my other friends, of good cheer whatsoever fall of me, and take no thought for me but pray for me as I do and shall do for you and all them.

 Your tender loving father,

 Thomas More, Knight

More was eventually charged with treason and was put on trial on 1st July 1535. By the 3rd More said that the Act of Supremacy was like a ‘sword with two edges’ because ‘if a man say that the same laws be good then it is dangerous to the soul, and if he say contrary to the said statue then it is death to the body’. More was inevitably found guilty of treason and sentenced to exectution.

On this day in 1572 – Thomas Howard is executed

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk was born on 10th March 1536 to Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and was second cousin to Queen Elizabeth I through their grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Howard.

Although Howard was brought up to be a Protestant he had leanings towards Catholism and was well well rewarded during the reign of Queen Mary I. Howard played a key role in her coronation and served Mary’s husband, Philip as his first gentleman of the chamber. Philip was also the godfather to Howard’s son, Philip, whom he had with his first wife, Mary FitzAlan.

Thomas Howard’s first marriage was short lived as she died a year after they married giving birth to their only son, Philip. Howard married again to the Margaret Audley, daughter of the 1st Baron Audley of Walden in 1558. They went on to have four children together; Thomas, William, Elizabeth and Margaret.

In 1559 Elizabeth inducted Howard into the Knight of the Garter and soon created him Earl Marshal of England and Queen’s Lieutenant in the North and from February to July 1560 Howard was the commander of the English army in Scotland where he was tasked with defeating the French army who were stationed there under their regent, Mary of Guise. Initially Howard refused as he believed that there was a better way to protect England from France and that was if Elizabeth married Charles, Archduke of Austria. Howard eventually obeyed his orders and set off for Scotland and his job to provide supplies for the defence of Berwick and to begin negotiations. Few locals actually negotiated with Howard and documents showed that it was Sir Ralph Sadler and Sir James Croft that dealt with the negotiations and reported back to the Privy Council.

Howard was still in Scotland for the siege of Leith but instead of leading the army he was placed in charge of the reserves and eventually William Cecil arrived to negotiate the Treaty of Edinburgh. With Cecil’s arrival Howard returned home disgruntled at the fact he had not been more involved.

Despite his anger towards the queen he was bestowed many honours in the 1560s; he was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council, became a member of Gray’s Inn and even travelled with Elizabeth to Cambridge University. Despite the many honours Howard was still angry that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, was receiving more honours than him and he let everyone know of his dislike of the Queen’s favourite.

Howard married for a third time to Elizabeth Leyburne, widow to Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre. Howard’s three sons from his first two marriages; Philip, Thomas and William married Elizabeth’s daughters from her marriage to Thomas Dacre.

In 1568 Howard as one of the only Duke’s in England was appointed as one of the three commissioners that heard evidence against Mary, Queen of Scots at York. On 11th October 1568 the commission were handed the Casket Letters by Regent Moray. These letters were private correspondence between Mary and the Ear of Bothwell and heavily implied that Mary was involved in the murder of her first husband, Lord Darnley. Howard believed that if Elizabeth would not recognise Mary’s claim to the English throne then the next best thing would be if she married an English peer. With Howard as the only Duke in England at the time and one of the most powerful men in the country he naturally elected himself. He believed that if Mary was Elizabeth’s successor he could guide Mary through the English government and help her rule the country, as King.

Despite a guilty verdict being passed on Mary for her involvement in her husband’s murder Howard began communicating with the Scottish Lords to propose marriage between Mary and him. He even suggested that Scotland sent an envoy to Elizabeth to propose the match, pitching it that Mary would be kept under control and under the radar. The match received some backing from Dudley and the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel as the succession was still a highly discussed topic within the realm. All the negotiations were secretive and Howard never formally declared himself as a candidate to marry Mary even after Westminster thought it was a good idea to keep an eye on Mary, instead he relied on pushing others to argue his case and gain support.

Towards the end of 1569 Howard had left court when the eye of suspicion fell on him and upon his return home he wrote two letters one to the Earl of Northumberland saying to not support any attempt to free Mary and the other was to Elizabeth to declare his loyalty to her. A cunning ploy to keep all sides happy, however, Elizabeth was already doubtful of his intentions she ordered Howard to return to court. Howard feigned illness to delay his return but on 2nd October he was placed under house arrest at Burnham.

Six days later on 8th October, Howard was removed from his home and taken to the Tower of London whilst his household staff and friends were questioned by the council. From the Tower Howard wrote to both Queens declaring his loyalty to each. Mary believed every word he said, Elizabeth did not. After 10 months in the Tower Howard eventually declared that he had been wrong in plotting to marry Mary and as a result Elizabeth allowed him to return to his home at Charterhouse to remain under house arrest.

Howard, not knowing when to give up, continued his negotiations with Mary and her supporters looked to King Philip of Spain to assist in a rebellion against Elizabeth to place Mary on the throne. Howard hired an Italian banker to act as negotiator between himself and King Philip and the he became the lead conspirator in what is now know as the Ridolfi Plot. The plot was discovered after Howard’s secretary was caught with a ciphered letter. The secretary was arrested and he revealed enough of the plot for Howard to once again be placed in the Tower.

Howard tried to protest against the charges against him by claiming that he had never wanted to marry Mary, he claimed that he did not trust her as she was an adulterer and a murderer. However, the evidence against Howard was too much and on 16th January 1572 it was announced that Howard would be placed on trial charged with high treason.

Howard was found guilty of plotting to marry with the queen’s permission, arranging a plot to gain Spanish help to invade England and place Mary on the throne. He was sentenced to death but with Elizabeth always reluctant to send people to the gallows she delayed. Eventually though on 2nd June 1572 Thomas Howard was executed.

Thomas Howard

On this day in 1533 – Anne Boleyn’s coronation

Anne Boleyn’s coronation was a four day celebration that culminated on the 1st June 1533 where she was crowned Queen of England. This day would mark the end of the years of uncertainty that Anne had spent hoping to be wife and queen to Henry she was also heavily pregnant with the expected son and heir that Henry had longed for.

On Thursday 29th May 1533 Anne was taken by river to the Tower of London from Greenwich. Fifty decorated barges left Billingsgate and headed towards Greenwich to greet the King and the future Queen. Eric Ives described the pageant as;

Flags and bunting overall, hung with gold foil that glistened in the sun and with little bells that tinkled; the vessels were packed with musicians of every kind, and more cannon than seems safe on such a crowded waterway. The fleet was led by a light wherry in which had been constructed a mechanical dragon that could be made to move and belch out flames, and with it were other models of monsters and huge wild men, who threw blazing fireworks and uttered hideous cries.”

After rowing for two hours the pageant arrived at Greenwich for Anne to board her own barge to take her to the Tower of London alongside Anne were the ladies of her court. A second barge carried the remaining ladies with the King following in a separate barge with his guards. Ives believed that as the pageant set off for the Tower there was likely to have been 120 large barges and 200 smaller ones following behind.

Tower-of-London-from-North-West

Upon arrival at the Tower, Anne was greeted by Sir Edward Walsingham and Sir William Kingson, the Lieutenant and Constable of the Tower and taken to the King, who was observing the event in secret so not to take any focus away from his new wife. They were then led to the Queen’s apartments that had been newly refurbished by Thomas Cromwell in preparation for Anne’s coronation. Henry and Anne would remain here for the next two days.

On their second day at the Tower 18 men were created Knights of the Bath by Henry as part of Anne’s coronation celebrations. These men were

  • The Marquess of Dorset
  • The Earl of Derby
  • Lord Clifford
  • Lord Fitzwater
  • Lord Hastings
  • Lord Mountegle
  • Lord Vaux
  • Sir Henry Parker
  • Sir William Windsor
  • Sir John Mordaunt
  • Sir Francis Weston
  • Sir Thomas Arundel
  • Sir John Huddelston
  • Sir Thomas Poynings
  • Sir Henry Savile
  • Sir George Fitzwilliam
  • Sir John Tyndall
  • Sir John Germayne

On Saturday 31st May Anne left the Tower in a procession that was heading towards Westminster Hall. The procession was led by 12 servants of the French ambassador, they were all dressed in blue velvet with yellow and blue sleeves. Following the servants came the gentlemen of the Royal households, nine judges, the Knights of the Bath, the Royal Council and then the rest of the English government. Following all of this was Anne who was being carried in a litter of white and gold with a gold canopy held above her by the barons of the Cinque Ports. Anne was dressed in white and wore a golden coronet. Her ladies followed the litter and behind them were many more followers.

anne entry to london

From the Tower the procession began and headed towards Fenchurch Street where she was greeted by children who were dressed as English and French merchants. From here the procession headed towards its next pageant at Gracious Church (now Gracechurch Street). It was here that Anne and the procession witnessed a Hans Holbein designed a fountain which homed Apollo and the Nine Muses. Red wine flowed from the fountain and the Nine Muses left their positions on the fountain to present gifts to Anne before the procession continued.

apollo and the nine muses

The next stop was Leadenhall where a castle was constructed that had the red and white roses at the top of it, from here a falcon descended and landed on a nearby stump where an angel crowned it. This was a recreation of Anne’s badge in her honour. Beneath the newly crowned falcon were representations of St Anne and her children, the three Mary’s. It was also here that Anne was read a verse written by Nicholas Udall;

‘ Honour and grace bee to our Queene Anne.

ffor whose cause an Aungell Celestial

Descendeth, the ffalcon as white as swanne

To crun with a Diademe Imperiall!

In hir honour rejoice wee all,

ffor it cummeth from God, and not of man.

Honour and grace bee to our Queene Anne!’

 

The procession continued to Cornhill Street where another fountain had wine freely flowing from it. Another pageant was awaiting Anne starring the Three Graces before continuing to Cheapside where two pageants were performed. The first saw the Recorder of London and his aldermen greet Anne and recited verses to her and also handed Anne a purse that contained a thousand marks of gold. The second pageant was the recreation of the Judgement of Paris where Paris of Troy was asked to judge who out of Juno, Pallas and Venus would receive a golden apple. However, as the day was all about Anne, Paris instead gives the golden apple to Anne and recited a short verse to her;

yet, to bee plain

Here is the fouethe ladie now in our presence,

Moste worthie to haue it of due congruence,

As pereles in riches, wit, and beautee,

Whiche are but sundrie qualitees in you three.

But for hir worthynes, this aple of gold

Is to simple a reward a thousand fold.’

 

The procession then turned and headed towards St. Paul’s Cathedral where three ladies were seated with a message attached to their heads that read ‘Regina Anna! Prospere, procede, et regna!’ They also spoke of a prophecy that the child Anne was carrying was a son and he would lead England into a golden age. Within the courtyard of St. Paul’s 200 schoolchildren read out poems and praised both Anne and King Henry.

The next stop for the procession was Ludgate Hill, near St Martin’s Church where a choir sang ballads from the rooftop of the church before moving to Fleet Street. In Fleet Street a castle was built with four turrets that stood virtues that promised not to abandon Anne and from the centre came music.

The procession then came to Temple Bar with another choir greeting Anne before it proceeded to Westminster Hall where Anne and her ladies were given refreshments and gave thanks to all those who were present. It was from here that Anne retired for the night with Henry in preparation for the following day. The chronicler Edward Hall recorded;

And so [Anne] withdrew her selfe, with a fewe ladyes, to the Whitehalle, and so to chamber, and there shifted her, and after went into her barge secretely to the kyng to his Manor of Westmister, where she rested that night.’

 westminster_hall

At 9am on Sunday 1st June 1533 Anne Boleyn entered Westmister Abbey dressed in her coronation robes of purple velvet trimmed with ermine and a gold coronet on her head. She walked a blue carpet from Westminster Hall to the Abbey where the golden canopy from the previous day was carried above her still. In front of Anne was the rod of ivory topped with a dove and the golden sceptre carried by the Marquis of Dorset and the Earl of Arundel. The Earl of Oxford, The Lord Great Chamberlain carried the crown of St Edward. The crown had only ever been used previously on reigning monarchs so for Anne to be crowned with it was a first. It was a way for Henry to prove to the world that Anne was his rightful Queen. Following Anne was the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk carried Anne’s train, her ladies and the bishops of London and Winchester.

As Anne entered the Abbey she approached the altar and prostrated herself (not something that was easily done at six months pregnant!) Archbishop Thomas Cranmer prayed over her and Anne took her seat on St Edward’s Chair for the ceremony. Cranmer crowned Anne as the anointed Queen of England and gave her the rod and sceptre before placing the crown atop her head. After the Te Deum was sang Anne exchanged the crown for a smaller, lighter one made especially for Anne and she took the sacrament and gave an offering at the shrine of St Edward. Throughout the ceremony Henry watched from a specially built hidden area as was tradition. Following a short rest break for Anne in a room set aside for her the procession began to leave the Abbey to go back to Westminster Hall. Anne was accompanied by her father, the Earl of Wiltshire and Lord Talbot.

coronation chair

Once back at Westminster Hall Anne retired for a short time while a coronation banquet was being prepared. Anne returned to the Hall and took her seat at the centre of the high table. Accompanying her was Anne Howard, Dowager Countess of Oxford and Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester their role was to hold a cloth in front of Anne if she wished to discard some food. At the end of the table was Archbishop Cranmer and at Anne’s feet were two ladies who remained seated for the entirety of the meal.

Once in place Anne was presented the first course of 32 carried by the Knights of the Bath. Once Anne had been served her first two courses it was time for the rest of the guests to be served in order of rank starting from the right hand side of the Queen.

After the meal Anne stood and washed her hands before moving to the centre of Westminster Hall where she was served wafers and hippocras by the Lord Mayor in a golden cup which Anne then presented to him as thanks for the effort him and the Aldermen of London had gone to. Anne then retired for the night and presumably reunited with Henry who had watched the whole thing in secrecy.

After the years spent waiting Anne was now crowned Queen of England but just 1000 days later she would lose that crown in the most brutal way.

On this day in 1541 – Lady Margaret Pole was executed

Margaret Pole was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Lady Isabel Neville making Margaret niece to both King Edward IV and King Richard III. Margaret would have had a claim to the English throne had it not have been for the attainder passed against her father after he was executed for treason.

During King Richard III’s reign Margaret and her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, were kept at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire until Richard was defeated by the hands of Henry Tudor’s army at the Battle of Bosworth. After this Margaret’s brother was taken into the Tower of London only to be seen once in 1487 before he was eventually killed as he was considered a rival to the throne and the focus of the rebels cause. Margaret, however, was married of to Henry’s cousin Sir Richard Pole in an attempt to make her forgotten by marrying her to a lowly courtier.

Sir Richard Pole was created Chamberlain for Arthur Tudor, Henry’s eldest son and when Arthur married Katherine of Aragon Margaret was one of her ladies in waiting. The Pole’s would be at Ludlow Castle until Arthur died in 1502 and Richard was put in charge of the Welsh Marches.

Sir Richard and Margaret Pole had five children when Richard died in 1504 and with the death of her husband Margaret was left with limited land and no income and so Henry VII paid for Sir Richard’s funeral to help ease the financial burden. Also to help her family Margaret arranged for one of her sons, Reginald, to enter the Church. Reginald’s relationship with his mother was to be strained after this and he had a career that eventually led him to be Archbishop of Canterbury during Mary I reign.

With Henry VIII coming to the throne after the death of his father Margaret was again appointed a lady in waiting to his new wife and Margaret’s former lady, Katherine of Aragon. Henry was very favourable to Margaret and restored some of her brother’s lands to her at the cost of 5000 marks. She was restored the lands of the Earl of Salisbury making her one of only two ladies in England to be a peer in her own right and by 1538 Margaret was the fifth richest peer in England.

Margaret’s other children became favoured by the new King, her eldest son Henry was created Baron Montagu and her second son Arthur was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Margaret’s daughter, Ursula, married Henry Stafford and her youngest son, Geoffrey, married the daughter of Sir Edmund Pakenham.

Margaret’s favour continued when she was made Princess Mary’s Governess and she remained loyal to Mary. When Mary was declared illegitimate and her household was broken apart Margaret asked to remain with Mary at her own cost, a request that was turned down. Even the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, suggested to the King that Mary was kept with Margaret again Henry refused calling Margaret ‘a fool, of no experience’.

The Plantagenet name remained a strong name in England and when Henry began to turn away from Rome the north began to rise and the Pole name, in particular Reginald, was a name that the rebels would march behind. Henry began investigating the rebels and Sir Geoffrey was arrested after being found communicating with Reginald. Under interrogation Geoffrey admitted that Lord Montagu and his mother as well as Henry Courtenay had all corresponded with Reginald as well. They were all arrested in Novemnber 1538.

January 1539 saw Geoffrey pardoned and released but Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay were executed on the charge of treason. All those arrested were attainted this included Montagu and Courtenay who were already dead. As part of the evidence for the attainders Thomas Cromwell had produced a tunic worn by the Pilgrimage of the Grace that bore the symbol of the Five Wounds of Christ. This was enough for Henry to condemn his mother’s cousin to death.

Margaret Pole and her grandson, Henry and Courtenay’s son were held in the Tower of London where they would remain for the next two and a half years. On the morning of 27th May 1541 Margaret was informed that she was to executed within the hour and prepare herself. Her execution is remembered as being one of the most horrific. A block was prepared and 150 witnesses were there to see the former Countess of Salisbury die. Margaret was dragged and forced to place her head on the block and the executioner took his first swing, missing Margaret’s neck completely and hitting her shoulder. It allegedly took a further 10 blows before Margaret died. She was later laid to rest in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.Margaret Pole

On this day in 1536 – The execution of Queen Anne Boleyn

Queen Anne Boleyn was sentenced to death at her trial but it was left up to the King to decide how she would die. The normal death for a female traitor was to be burned at the stake; however King Henry VIII had decided to change this to beheading but at the hands of a French swordsman instead of the typical axe. With the manner of her death decided the date of her execution was set for the 18th May 1536.

Anne was prepared to die at 9am on the 18th May. John Skip, the Queen’s almoner arrived at 2am to pray with the Queen, they were still praying when Archbishop Thomas Cranmer arrived to perform mass and hear the Queen’s final confession. Anne also took the sacrament and swore twice in front of the Constable of the Tower, Sir William Kingston that she was innocent of all charges.

Eustace Chapuys reported to the Holy Roman Emperor that;

“The lady who had charge of her has sent to tell me in great secrecy that the Concubine, before and after receiving the sacrament, affirmed to her, on the damnation of her soul, that she had never been unfaithful to the King.”

When 9am passed and no one came to collect the Queen to deliver her to her fate she called for Sir William Kingston again to try to learn what the cause of the delay was. However, Kingston had already been told not to inform the Queen that the execution had been delayed until the following day until the Tower was emptied of any diplomats. Instead he tried to comfort Anne about her upcoming execution and that it would not be painful. It was reported that Anne responded that; “I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck.”

Anne was informed after midday that her execution had been put off until the following day.

John Skip arrived at Anne’s room once again to perform mass and to offer the sacrament and at 8am Kingston informed the Queen to prepare herself as the time was approaching for Anne to climb the scaffolding to her death. Anne was already ready having dress herself in a ermine trimmed grey damask robe and a crimson kirtle, instead of her usual French style hood she wore an English style gable hood. Her outfit was planned to show her status as Queen as well as that of being a martyr.

Anne took the long walk to the scaffold where she climbed up to address the crowd that awaited her. Instead of protesting her innocence she simply followed what was expected of her in order to protect her daughter. She said to the crowd;

“Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die. For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.”

Anne-Boleyn-Execution-German-Engraving

With her final words Anne paid the executioner his fee and her ladies approached to remove Anne’s hood and placed her hair within a linen cap. She knelt down in front of the executioner and one of her ladies covered her eyes. As Anne waited for her fate she began to pray by saying;

“O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul. To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesu receive my soul.”

The swordsman approached Anne and with some misdirection from an assistant he struck the Queen’s neck and Anne died.

With the execution over Anne’s ladies wrapped her body and head in white cloth and transported her body to the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula for burial. As no coffin had been provided a guard found an empty chest that once stored arrows. With this the Queen was committed to the ground and buried. Henry was now free to move on to his next wife and Anne was free to be at peace.

Grave Marker of Anne BolelynDSC_0076Above – A German engraving of Anne Boleyn’s execution

Middle – The plaque to mark Anne Boleyn’s body in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London

Below – The monument to commemorate those who were executed within the Tower of London’s walls

On this day in 1536 – George Boleyn, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton were executed

On the morning of 17th May 1536 a scaffold had appeared at Tower Hill and five men were led from the Tower of London to their fate. George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton were all found guilty of high treason and although originally sentenced to being hung, drawn and quartered the King had altered this to beheading.

George Boleyn was first to face the executioners’ axe as he was the highest rank between the five men. He made a speech before the crowds that had come to see the death of the men who had fallen from grace. There are many versions of George’s speech but the Chronicles of Calais wrote;

“Christen men, I am borne undar the lawe, and judged undar the lawe, and dye undar the lawe, and the lawe hathe condemned me. Masters all, I am not come hether for to preche, but for to dye, for I have deserved for to dye yf I had xx.lyves, more shamefully than can be devised, for I am a wreched synnar, and I have synned shamefully, I have knowne no man so evell, and to reherse my synnes openly it were no pleaswre to you to here them, nor yet for me to reherse them, for God knowethe all; therefore, mastars all, I pray yow take hede by me, and especially my lords and gentlemen of the cowrte, the whiche I have bene amonge, take hede by me, and beware of suche a fall, and I pray to God the Fathar, the Sonne, and the Holy Ghoste, thre persons and one God, that my deathe may be an example unto yow all, and beware, trust not in the vanitie of the worlde, and especially in the flateringe of the cowrte. And I cry God mercy, and askeall he worlde forgevenes, as willingly as I wowld have forgevenes of God; and yf I have offendyd any man that is not here now, eythar in thowght, worde, or dede, and yf ye here any suche, I pray yow hertely in my behalf, pray them to forgyve me for God’s sake. And yet, my mastars all, I have one thinge for to say to yow, men do common and saye that I bene a settar forthe of the worde of God, and one that have favoured the Ghospell of Christ; and bycawse I would not that God’s word shuld be slaundered by me, I say unto yow all, that yf I had followecl God’s worde in dede as I dyd rede it and set it forthe to my power, I had not come to this. I dyd red the Ghospell of Christe, but I dyd not follow it; yf I had, I had bene a lyves man amonge yow: therefore I pray yow, mastars all, for God’s sake sticke to the trwthe and folowe it, for one good followere is worthe thre redars, as God knowethe.”

Sir Henry Norris was next to step up to the scaffold; his speech was short as he did not want to risk offending the King any further. Following Norris was Sir Francis Weston. Weston’s family had fought to secure his release but nothing could stop the King from ensuring the end of his marriage to the Queen and this meant the co-accused had to die as well. Weston said to the crowd in his final speech;

“I had thought to have lyved in abhominacion yet this twenty or thrittie yeres and then to have made amendes. I thought little it wold have come to this.”

Weston had spent the night before his execution writing out a list of people he was in debt to this included the King, his family, the Boleyns and it is an insight into how well favoured he was. His list was included into a letter that he wrote to his parents asking for their forgiveness.

Sir William Brereton was the fourth man to face the axe, his speech was very short, and according to The Spanish Chronicle he simply said; ‘I have offended God and the King: pray for me.’ However according to George Constantine, Norris’s servant, who was present at the executions documented that Brereton kept repeating ‘But if ye judge, judge the best.’

Finally as a man of no rank Mark Smeaton took to the scaffold after watching the four men in front before him lose their heads. Smeaton had a chance to retract his confession during his final speech; however, he simply chose to say;

“Masters, I pray you all pray for me, for I have deserved the death.”

With that Mark Smeaton stepped up to the mark and placed his head on the blood soaked block ready for his fate to be delivered.

George Boleyn’s head and body were buried within the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula whereas the other four were buried in the churchyard as they were deemed commoners. This left just Anne Boleyn to face her death alone.

Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula