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The Tudor Society

25 August – Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and uncle of two queens

On this day in history, 25th August 1554, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, magnate, soldier and uncle of Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, died of natural causes at his home of Kenninghall in Norfolk. He was laid to rest in St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk.

Find out more about this important Tudor man, and how he escaped the axe-man and died at a good age in his bed, in this talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 25th August 1549, Robert Kett and his rebels launched an attack on the south side of Norwich and burned a number of buildings. Kett's Rebellion lasted from July 1549 until the Battle of Dussindale on 27th August 1549, but what was it all about? What were the rebels' grievances? Find out in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1526 - Birth of Mildred Cecil (née Cooke), Lady Burghley, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke and wife of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. Mildred is known for her humanist education, intelligence and fluency in Greek and Latin, her translations and her huge library.
  • 1535 - Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII visited the Walsh family at Little Sodbury Manor in the village of Little Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, while on their progress to the southwest. The Walsh family were reformers, and had even once hired William Tyndale, a leading figure in the Reformation, a Bible translator and the author of “The Obedience of a Christen [Christian] Man”, as a tutor for their children.
  • 1538 – Death of Thomas Starkey, humanist and political theorist. He was buried in the chancel of St Mary's, North Petherton, Somerset. Starkey is known for his works, “Dialogue between Pole and Lupset” and “An Exhortation to the People Instructing them to Unity and Obedience”.
  • 1540 – Date traditionally given for the birth of Lady Katherine Grey, daughter of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his wife, Frances (née Brandon), at Bradgate Park. Katherine was one of the sisters of Lady Jane Grey.
  • 1557 – Death of Mary Howard (née Fitzalan), Duchess of Norfolk, at Arundel House, London. It is thought that she died of complications after childbirth. Mary was buried in St Clements without Temple Bar.
  • 1558 – Death of John Robins, clergyman, mathematician and astrologer, at Windsor. He was buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. It is thought that Robins tutored Henry VIII in the subjects of mathematics and astronomy.
  • 1559 – Death of Sir Thomas Cawarden, courtier and Master of Revels to Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, at Horsley. He was buried in Bletchingley church.

Transcript:

On this day in history, 25th August 1554, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, magnate, soldier and uncle of Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, died of natural causes at his home of Kenninghall in Norfolk. He was laid to rest in St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk.

Thomas Howard was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and of Elizabeth Tilney. He was the brother of Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard) and so was uncle to Anne Boleyn. Howard’s father and grandfather had fought on Richard III’s side at the Battle of Bosworth but Howard was able to work his way back into royal favour by fighting for the Crown against both the Cornish rebels and the Scots in 1497. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1510, was created Earl of Surrey in 1514 and succeeded his father as Duke of Norfolk in 1524. In September 1513 he was prominent in leading the English army in defeating the Scots at the Battle of Flodden.

In the 1520s, he clashed with Cardinal Wolsey over foreign policy – he preferred war and Wolsey preferred diplomacy – and was involved with the Duke of Suffolk’s and the Boleyn family’s push for Wolsey to be removed from power. In the 1530s, Norfolk carried out diplomatic missions and advised the King on the situation in Ireland. As Lord Steward of England, he presided over the trials of Anne and George Boleyn, his niece and nephew in May 1536.

After acting as Lord Steward at the trials of Anne and George Boleyn, Norfolk went on to be godfather to Edward VI at his christening in October 1537 and a commissioner at Queen Jane Seymour’s funeral in November 1537. In 1539, he was chosen to go with the Duke of Suffolk to meet Anne of Cleves at her arrival at Dover. In 1540, during Cromwell’s arrest in the council chamber, it was said that Norfolk tore the St George from around Cromwell’s neck; certainly, he was very much involved in the plot against Cromwell. When the King’s anger turned on the Howard family after Catherine Howard’s adultery, Norfolk was fortunate in escaping punishment. He went on to serve the King in the war against the Scots in 1542 but his pro-French stance caused him problems when the King became keen to go to war with France. He served the King in France as lieutenant-general of the army, besieging Montreuil, but was rebuked by the King when he withdrew.

On 12th December 1546, Norfolk and his son, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London after it was alleged that Surrey had displayed the royal arms and insignia in his own heraldry. Surrey was found guilty of treason on 13th January 1547 at a common inquest at Guildhall and Norfolk was attainted on 27th January. Both were sentenced to death and Surrey was executed on 19th January 1547. Norfolk was lucky; the King died before the former’s scheduled execution date. As a consequence, in 1553, Norfolk was released and pardoned by Mary I, and died naturally at Kenninghall on 25th August 1554. He was laid to rest in St Michael’s Church, Framlingham.

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25 August – Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk and uncle of two queens