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Thomas Howard Duke Of Norfolk Essay Research

Thomas Howard, Duke Of Norfolk Essay, Research Paper

In the year of our Lord, 1538, Frances Howard, Countess of Surrey, gave birth to her second child. Within the walls of Kenninghall Palace, Thomas Howard was born at precisely thirty-six minutes and seven seconds past two o clock in the morning on October 10th, 1538. In attendance at this occasion was his father, Henry Earl of Surrey, renowned poet and soldier, and his grandfather, Thomas Lord Treasurer and Duke Norfolk. Also present at the earl s request was an Italian astrologer, sent for to read Thomas future in the skies. The astrologer would tell of Henry s early death and a difficult and tragic life for Thomas. His prediction would become too true for the Howard family.

Thomas Howard s parents, having met in London, were married at the age of fifteen. He would come to have three sisters, and older, Jane, and two younger, Katherine and Margaret. A brother, Henry, was born into the family in 1540. The Howards had an extensive family line and many ties to the Crown. His aunt, Catherine Howard, was married to King Henry VIII, until her beheading for adultery at the Howard home in Lambeth when Thomas was only four years old. Another of his aunts, Mary, Duchess of Richmond, was widowed by King Henry VIII s son, Henry Fitzroy. King Henry VIII himself was Thomas godfather.

Thomas lived the first nine years of his life at the place of his birth, Kenninghall Palace. There he was tutored by the scholar Hadrianus Junius, and learned many athletic, as well as, diplomatic skills. As the heir to the dukedom of Norfolk, he was required to learn many more skills than his siblings, and the genius of his sister Jane and brother Henry did not show itself in Thomas. Thomas did, however, become an expert at coursing rabbits during his first years at Kenninghall and wrote a treatise concerning the subject which was still being reprinted a century ago.

Thomas father, the Earl of Surrey, was deeply involved in plots against the Crown. He had maneuvered several people into positions close to the Queen as so he could attain more power. Several people brought accusations against Surrey, including his mistress and daughter, and he was brought to trial. Henry was found guilty and beheaded on the nineteenth of January, 1547. The accusations against his son were also brought against Norfolk. Further more, Norfolk was also accused of perverting the English arms. The duke admitted to knowledge of his son s plans and to abusing the coat of arms. He was imprisoned for treason in the Tower the same day his son was executed. The Howard s were said to have tainted blood from then on.

After his father s death, Thomas mother became very ill and could no longer take care of her children. The young Howards were sent to live with their extreme Calvinist aunt, Mary Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond, at Reigate Castle. The tutor Mary acquired for them was John Foxe, a troubled martyrologist and a Protestant. Foxe would instill his beliefs in the Howard children for the next five years and become Thomas friend for life.

In 1553, Norfolk was released from his imprisonment in the Tower and restored to his former position. At his order, Thomas was sent to London to live with him. At fifteen years old, Thomas would become the youngest man to ever become a Knight of the Bath. Concerned over the young man s Protestant upbringing, Norfolk sent Thomas to become the page of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, to eradicate the heretic teachings of Foxe and provide him with Catholic views. During the time at Gardiner s, Thomas managed a few brief meetings with his friend Foxe.

In time, the young Howard boys would be sent to live with a priest, John White, who would soon become the new Bishop of Winchester, and were confronted with a new type of religion, stern Romanism.

Thomas Howard, Lord Treasurer and third Duke of Norfolk, died on the twenty-fifth of August, 1554, at the age of eighty and Thomas Howard, Knight of the Bath, Gentleman of the Bedchamber of King Philip, became the fourth Duke of Norfolk.

A year after his ascension, the new Norfolk asked permission of Queen Mary to wed her ward, Mary FitzAlan. Mary was fifteen and Thomas was seventeen. They were married in the spring of 1555. On June twenty-eighth, 1557, Norfolk s first son was born. He was to be called Philip, named after Queen Mary s Prince Consort. Eight weeks after this joyous occasion, Thomas wife died at seventeen, never having recovered from the childbirth.

As was common in the time, Thomas wished to remarry to a woman who was a widower herself. She was Margaret, Lady Dudley and a cousin to Thomas. Due to the fact that they were related, it was required that they receive a papal dispensation. In the fall of 1558, Thomas, now 20, married his second wife and cousin, Margaret.

Also in 1558, came the death of Queen Mary. A scant two hours after the death of the queen, Norfolk was sending heralds to proclaim Elizabeth Queen of England, France and Ireland. On Sunday, January fifteenth, Elizabeth was crowned and Thomas named the Earl Marshall. Howard became England s sole duke, and the first subject in the land, heir to fifty-six manors, thirty-seven advowsons and countless other properties. He sponsored the heralds and helped to secure a royal charter of incorporation for the College. Kenninghall Palace became the first house in all of England to have an actual bathroom. Thomas used much of his funds to further his own pleasures. He had built a tennis court, a bowling alley, a play house and made many contributions to various funds. He revived his uncle s patronage of the dramatic arts and created the Duke of Norfolk s Players, which became one of the four leading player groups in England. In 1559, John Foxe returned to England and renewed his friendship with the duke. Norfolk provided a home for him in the capitol of Norfolk, Norwich.

Mary Queen of Scotland and of the Isles and Dauphine of France began to quarter the English royal arms after Mary s death privately, and soon more publicly as she ordered her heralds to begin sporting the arms on their clothing. Throgmorton, an English ambassador in Paris, complained to the Constable of France about the abuse to the arms. The Constable s only reply was that Elizabeth still styled herself as the Queen of France and quartered the fleur-de-lis on her arms, although, in truth, she had no control over France. Thus began what became known as the War of Insignia. Norfolk was told to examine the issue and this led to his meeting Mary, Queen of Scots, for the first time, never knowing she, unwittingly, would lead to his downfall. After a compromise could not be attained Norfolk was forced to command an army to the borders of Scotland to give the illusion that England was neutral during the war between France and Scotland. During this time Norfolk proved himself the diplomat with several treaties that he helped to create. At the end of this war a peace treaty was signed and the French gave over the question of the insignia.

In 1562, Queen Elizabeth became gravely ill with smallpox, and was too weak to name her successor. Although, Howard had held very little power at court, he was present during the Queen s sickness and helped to influence the choice of a successor. Just as Howard s candidate was on the verge of being chosen, Elizabeth recovered. Howard remained in power at court thereafter.

On January 10th, 1564, Duchess Margaret died giving birth to her second son. Thomas was a second time widower with five children to care for. Philip, from his first marriage, Thomas, born in 1561; Lord Howard de Walden, who would become Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer of England; Bess, born in 1560 who died as a child; Meg; born in 1563; and William, who would be Lord Howard of Naworth, and known as Belted Will . After his wife s death, Thomas took a leave from court to deal with his grief. Towards the end of 1564 Norfolk sought to purchase the Charterhouse from Lord North for 2,520 pounds. An immense mansion, the grounds soon took the name of its new owner and became known as the Howard House. After the resale for 13,000 pounds of the house it was turned into a school.

In the January of 1567 Thomas married yet again, to a woman name Elizabeth. She had four children with whom Thomas had plans to marry his own children to. This succeeded with two of the couples, two of the children having died at an early age. Thomas was very fond of his step-children and wards and came to love his new wife dearly. When she and their infant died in childbirth Norfolk was beside himself with grief. He fell ill and did not return to court for sixteen months.

It was at the time that Thomas was returning to court that Mary Queen of Scots fled to England, following the death of her husband. It was purported that she had a lover by the name of Bothwell. Norfolk became good friends with the Scottish secretary Maitland and was shown the Casket Letters , supposed correspondence between Mary and Bothwell. Maitland suggested that the solution to restoring Mary to her kingdom was for Norfolk to marry her. Norfolk became enchanted with the idea. When Queen Elizabeth confronted him about his partiality to Mary, he said No reason could move him to liketh her that hath been a competitor of the Crown; and if her Majesty would move him thereto he will rather be committed to the Tower, for he meant never to marry with such a person, where he could not be sure of his pillow (J. S. Symonds, Blank Verse(1895), p. 16). It was conversations such as these that led him to formulate a plan in his mind to obtain Mary s hand. Mary and Norfolk had met and exchanged tokens, nearly the equivalent of a betrothal, but Norfolk could not find the courage to inform his Queen of his planned marriage. Chief Secretary Burghley, one of Norfolk s adversaries, although Thomas never knew, jumped at this chance to accuse Thomas of attempted treason against the Queen. Burghley influenced the Queen into believing that Norfolk was secretly plotting to overthrow Elizabeth and insert his would-be bride on the throne. Belatedly, Norfolk went to the Queen and attempted to explain matters to her, but her mind was already set. On September 26th he went to Kenninghall after having been shunned by the court, missing a request of the Queen s that he meet with her at Windsor. This missed invitation would be taken as a proclamation of his guilt. After receiving the message too late, he set off for Windsor. Arriving on October first, he was immediately placed under arrest. He was sent to the Tower under suspicion of treason, placed in the same quarters as his grandfather had been. Thomas was betrayed by his servants who changed his correspondence to have a treasonous slant to them and sent a bag of gold as a gift from Norfolk to the supporters of Mary in Scotland. He was further incriminated by evidence which was found within his home, which he had not been to in months. On January sixteenth, 1572, Thomas trial took place in Westminster Hall. Thomas pleaded his innocence throughout the trial, never once suspecting Burghley s part in his downfall. He spent the remainder of his days settling his debts and securing his children and wards futures. He also communed with God and attempted to come to peace with himself. On January sixth, Queen Elizabeth signed his death warrant and his execution was carried out on June second, 1572.


Williams, N., Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk(1964)

Robinson, John M., The Dukes of Norfolk; A Quincentennial History(1982)

Prentice Hall, Webster s New World Encyclopedia(1992) p. 538

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