The Tudor Society

18 July – Edmund Dudley, the “false traitor”

On this day in Tudor history, 18th July 1509, just three months into the reign of King Henry VIII, one of King Henry VII's chief advisors was accused of being a "false traitor" and convicted of treason.

The new king, the young Henry VIII, used Dudley and his colleague, Richard Empson, as scapegoats for his father's unpopular regime.

Find out more about the charges against Edmund Dudley in today's talk.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1530 – Death of William Bonde, author and Bridgettine monk, at Syon Abbey. Bonde wrote two religious works, “The Pylgrimage of Perfection” (1526) and “The Directory of Conscience” (1527). He was buried at Syon Abbey and bequeathed twenty-nine works to the Abbey's library.
  • 1536 – Burial of Desiderius Erasmus in Basel Cathedral.
  • 1553 – While John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his forces made their way from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds to stand against Mary's men, the Earls of Pembroke and Arundel called a council meeting and betrayed Northumberland and Queen Jane. They persuaded many council members that Mary's claim to the throne was legitimate.
  • 1565 – Death of Katherine Ashley (née Champernowne), also known as Astley, in London. Kat was Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber during the reign of Elizabeth I, and had served as Elizabeth's governess during the latter's teenage years.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. R

    I would be more impressed if Edmund Dudley had actually been charged with corruption and extortion but this particular charge is probably the usual nonsense, let’s blame someone for the former evils of the previous regime. I don’t think much of Dudley or Richard Epsom but on the other hand this was a policy which Henry Vii had commissioned for the latter decade or so because they were put in charge of the books into which the gentry were held on bond and payments if they misbehaved. In the Winter King on Henry Vii Penn gives many examples of extortionate practices, but were did this begin and authorised policy end? The new book, which includes life sketches of these two men as mentioned in the video and for which you need a second mortgage, gives much more balanced details of the talents and work of these faithful servants of Henry Tudor. They have also been accused of taking things too far and causing much injustice which wasn’t corrected either because Henry didn’t care, didn’t know or was more withdrawn as in his last two years. To what extent the individual will have to discern.

    I doubt the treason charges were valid but Henry did take advice before bringing these charges and he did give their fate some consideration because they weren’t executed for several months. Henry was appalled by the extent of extortionate corruption he was advised about and he was starting by righting wrongdoing. There is certainly an element of Edmund Dudley and Richard Epsom being scapegoats as others had certainly been involved in such practices. Dudley and Epsom may well have been targeted as they were prominent in the capital and a number of complaints against them came from the city’s merchants who of course could finance the new King with loans should he require them. The teenager had inherited a great deal of wealth and he was extremely generous in spending his father’s money and gaining popularity. The movement against two unpopular tax collectors and financial terrorists, as the people of London saw them, was bound to bring more popularity.

    As I said, though, treason was not the right thing to bring against them, but a dozen other charges would at least have been more realistic, especially if you are claiming to be ending corruption. To a certain extent they did no less and no more the same job as Cromwell, save the enforcement of financial penalties against individuals was far more extensive. To a certain extent they did indeed just carry out their King’s policy and orders but Henry Viii was also responding to complaints that they had gone beyond that policy. Did that render them guilty of treason? If they sought to rule the King and prevent him being in full charge, as he claimed, then that was what they were convicted off. However, in reality, they were merely inconvenient symbols of an unpopular system which any young monarch would seek to set aside. In that Henry acted with ruthless assertiveness. It wasn’t an act of tyranny; his character was in general described in quite different terms, but could it be a symptom of self indulgence? In the first two decades a mere handful of political executions occurred, compared to the bloody last decade during which he gained his terrifying reputation. A tyrant would have executed every symbol of the old regime. This was the action of a young man taking advice, which he did before he moved against them, and establishing what he believed was a more liberal time for the ordinary people, with whom this move was extremely popular.

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18 July – Edmund Dudley, the “false traitor”