The Tudor Society

13 January

It was risky being close to an increasingly paranoid king and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, paid for it with his life. In today's video, I talk about Surrey's trial which took place on this day in 1547.

You can test your knowledge of Surrey with our Henry Howard quiz.

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  1. R

    Thanks for this video. The Howards probably should have been Regents supporting Queen Katherine Parr because they were as near as anything to the King’s adult blood male relatives and normal practice in England would be for the King’s brother or uncle or cousin to rule for his son, with the Council and Queen Mother for support. Henry Viii didn’t want that. He appointed 16 guardians to rule, with the Queen Dowager missed out altogether. The Seymour brothers, Edward and Thomas had other ideas and seized power for themselves. Edward made himself Lord Protector of the Realm, giving himself full Regency powers, with the Great Council and others subject to his rule. As Prince Edward was their nephew they thought they were entitled to this. It was the situation Henry Viii sought to avoid but his Will was ignored.

    This may well be another case of the King’s will being ignored or manipulated. Henry had taken to his bed or room on 30th December and this trial had obviously been delayed somewhat. Now the King was dying a dry seal was being used with his signature printed on it, a bit like an e signature over the internet today. This was used to still carry on business and the death warrants of Henry and Thomas Howard were signed with it. Henry went from being able to correct books and give specific instructions to being too ill to speak or hold a quill. His condition varied from day to day. In such a state he was easy to manipulate and his concerns were very much for the security of his kingdom and his very young son and heir. Removing the old order can be seen as much in that light as it can as part of a clean up by the Seymour supporters and those who wanted a say in the new regime. The Seymour faction grew in the last months of 1546, an almighty row in the Council over the future of the Prince and his guardianship had resulted in fists being thrown between the Seymour faction and the old guard.

    Henry Surrey was a flamboyant person and he was very popular. He had served in France and Ireland, although lately he was involved in a military disaster, although his own bravery was not in doubt. He had been imprisoned in the Fleet prison for breaking windows, getting drunk, fighting and other rowdy behaviour. Henry Viii actually liked him so this was a turn up for the books. He was the friend of the King’s late son, Henry Fitzroy. The Lords could find nothing against him. He was also tried for attempting to escape from the Tower down the shaft under the loo in his cell. That was also a serious offence. The whole thing was a set up and he paid the penalty for jealousy from those who wanted what was his by right. His father was lucky. The Duke of Norfolk was due to die on 28th January but Henry died at 2 a.m that morning. Thomas remained in prison until his release by Queen Mary. An old soldier to the last he commanded an army to help put down some rebels for her aged 70 and died just before the end of her reign.

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13 January