On this day in Tudor history, 26th February 1552, Sir Thomas Arundell, Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir Miles Partridge and Sir Ralph Fane (or Vane) were executed. The men had been condemned as traitors after being accused of conspiring with Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and former Lord Protector, against John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, the new man in control of King Edward VI's government.
Find out all about these men and how these loyal royal servants came to these sticky ends in today's talk.
Also on this day in Tudor history, 26th February 1564, poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe was baptised in Canterbury. Find out all about Marlowe in last year’s video:
Also on this day in history:
- 1548 – Birth of courtier George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, son of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, and his wife, Anne. George was the grandson of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn.
- 1608 – Death of John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells, in the palace at Wells. He was buried in Wells Cathedral.
- 1619 – Death of Edmund Bunny, clergyman, preacher and theological writer, at Cawood, Yorkshire. He was buried in York Minster. His works included “The Whole Summe of Christian Religion” (1576), “A Book of Christian Exercise, Appertaining to Resolution” (1584) and “A Briefe Answer, unto those Idle and Frivolous Quarrels of R.P.” (1589), a response to Jesuit Robert Person.
On this day in Tudor history, 26th February 1552, Sir Thomas Arundell, Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir Miles Partridge and Sir Ralph Fane were executed. Arundell and Stanhope were beheaded on Tower Hill, while Partridge and Fane were hanged. The men had been condemned as traitors after being accused of conspiring with Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and former Lord Protector, against John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.
Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, had made himself Lord Protector shortly after the death of King Henry VIII in 1547, taking control of the young boy-king Edward VI’s government. But there were tensions between him and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, in late 1549 and Somerset had taken the king to Windsor Castle and called on the English people to rise and defend the Crown against those he saw as trying to depose him. He was branded a traitor, arrested and thrown into the Tower of London. Although he was released and pardoned in February 1550, he quarrelled again with the Duke of Northumberland and it was rumoured that he wanted to regain his former power, and get rid of Northumberland. He was arrested once more, tried for treason in December 1551 and executed on 22nd January 1552.
As for those who’d supported him, in his chronicle, John Stow recorded:
“Upon Friday, being the 26th of february, one sir Raffe a Vane, & one sir Myles Partryge were both hanged [at] the Tower hill upon the gallowes, & sir Michael Stanhope & sir Thomas Arundell were beheaded upon the skaffold there: all which foure were condemned by virtue of the act of unlawful assemblies as accessories to the duke of Somerset.”
Merchant-tailor and citizen of London Henry Machyn also recorded their executions in his diary:
“The 26th day of February, the which was the morrow after saint Matthew’s day, was headed on the Tower hill sir Michael Stanhope knight, and sir Thomas Arundell; and incontinent was hanged the self same time sir Raff [a Vane] knight, and sir Miles Parterege knight, of the gallows beside the . . . . and after their bodes were put into diverse new coffins to be buried and heads in to the Towre in cases and there buried.”
Arundell’s biographer, Pamela Y. Stanton, writes “During Somerset's protectorate Arundell was not an ambitious power seeker. He was an intelligent and experienced politician with decades of proven loyalty to the Tudor crown; though he had ample opportunity, there was no hint of a dangerously ambitious man. His loyalty to the king remained intact. However, he was embroiled in circumstances beyond his control, and his political and religious status played against him in a struggle that he lost.”
All these men had served their monarch loyally, Arundell had served as a Justice of the Peace and was, as Stanton describes, “one of the most experienced government officers in the country”. Sir Michael Stanhope was Edward Seymour’s brother-in-law and probably owed his rise at court to Seymour. He served Edward VI as chief gentleman of the privy chamber and had attended the king when Seymour had retreated to Windsor Castle with the king in 1549. Sir Miles Partridge had also been an active supporter of Somerset, and contemporary historian John Strype wrote of how he was little pitied, since he was credited with the duke’s evil deeds. Vane was also a loyal supporter of Somerset. Their only crime, it seems, was supporting a man who had now fallen from power, and his enemy, the man now on the rise, the Duke of Northumberland, needed them gone.
Stow went on to say that “all which four persons took on their death that they never offended against the king’s majesty, nor against any of his council.” It didn’t matter, they were deemed traitors.