Today is the anniversary of the traditional date given for the birth of Katherine Willoughby (married names Brandon and Bertie), Duchess of Suffolk, and leading patroness of Reform, on 22nd March 1519.
She is someone who appeals to me because of her patronage of the reformed faith and also because of the story of her dog. Martyrologist John Foxe, in his Acts and Monuments, writes of how Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, called Katherine’s second husband, Richard Bertie, before him in Mary I’s reign to ask him about his religion. Here is what Foxe says about Gardiner’s words to Bertie:
On this day in history, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was burned at the stake in Oxford. He had recanted his Protestant faith five times, but it didn’t stop his execution from being scheduled.
On the day of his execution, Cranmer was taken to the University Church Oxford to make a final public recantation. He agreed to this, but after praying and exhorting the people to obey the King and Queen, he renounced his recantations and professed his true Protestant faith. He vowed that his right hand, the hand that he had used to write his recantations which were “contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death, and to save my life”, would be the first part of him burned in the fire.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was born on 2nd July 1489 in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, England. He was the son of Thomas Cranmer and his wife Agnes (nee Hatfield). He had an older brother, John, a younger brother, Edmund, and a sister called Alice.
Cranmer’s father died in 1501. His mother sent Cranmer to grammar school and then in 1503, when he was fourteen years old, he was sent to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree. His degree, which comprised logic, philosophy and classical literature, took him eight years to complete and he followed it with a Masters degree, studying the humanists. After obtaining his Masters degree in 1515, Cranmer he was elected to a Fellowship of Jesus College. Following his marriage to his first wife, Joan, he was forced to relinquish his fellowship and became a reader at Buckingham College. Sadly, Joan died in childbirth and the child also died.
What I loved about researching my book On This Day in Tudor History was the fact that I kept stumbling across people and events I knew very little about, and people and events I wanted to know more about. One of the people that piqued my interest was Mary Roper Clarke Bassett (or Basset), the 16th-century scholar and translator whose education was praised by the likes of Roger Ascham and Nicholas Harpsfield, and who presented Queen Mary I with a copy of five books of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History which she had translated from Greek into English.
Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, was born in or before 1509 and was the fourth son of Sir John Seymour and his wife Margery Wentworth. He would have grown up at the Seymour family home of Wolf Hall (also known as Wulfhall) in Wiltshire. He was one of a brood of six sons and four daughters, and his siblings included Edward Seymour, Lord Protector; Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife and queen consort; Elizabeth Seymour, who married three times: Sir Anthony Ughtred, Gregory Cromwell and John Paulet; and Sir Henry Seymour.
Nothing is known of his early life, but Thomas started his court career by serving courtier and diplomat, Sir Francis Bryan, in whose service he was in by 1530. The Seymour family began to rise in favour at Henry VIII’s court as the king started courting Jane Seymour in spring 1536 and then married her on 30th May 1536, following the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn. Thomas joined Henry VIII’s privy chamber in October 1536 and while his sister was queen his rewards included being knighted and being named joint master steward of Chirk and Holt. In 1538, he benefited from the dissolution of the monasteries by receiving land once owned by monasteries in Essex, Hampshire and Berkshire. He was involved in diplomatic missions to France, Vienna and the Low Countries in 1538, 1542 and 1543 respectively.
On this day in history…
1469 – Birth of Cecily, Viscountess Welles and princess, also known as Cecily of York, third daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. She was born at Westminster Palace. A marriage alliance with Scotland was made in 1473 promising Cecily to James, the infant son of James III, but Cecily was still unmarried at her father’s death in 1483. Her uncle, Richard III, arranged Cecily’s marriage to Ralph Scrope of Upsall, but Henry VII dissolved the marriage in 1486 and she married John Welles, Viscount Welles, the King’s half-uncle. After Welles’ death in 1499, Cecily went on to marry Thomas Kyme of Friskney. Cecily died in 1507.
1544 – Baptism of Cuthbert Mayne, Roman Catholic priest and martyr. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Launceston on 30th November 1577 after being charged with traitorously getting hold of a papal bull and publishing it at Golden Manor, defending the authority of the Pope, purchasing a number of Agnus Dei and giving them to people, and celebrating the Catholic mass.
1549 – Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron of Sudeley and Lord High Admiral, husband of the late Dowager Queen Catherine Parr and brother of Queen Jane Seymour and Protector Somerset, was executed after being charged with thirty-three counts of treason.
1555 – Burial of John Russell, Earl of Bedford, courtier and magnate, at Chenies, following his death 14th March. It was a lavish funeral with three hundred horses, all in black trappings.
Get those little grey cells working today with this quiz on Tudor dates and events. Good luck!
On this day in 1496, Henry VIII’s beloved sister, Princess Mary Tudor, was born at Richmond Palace. She was the youngest of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s children to survive infancy and was sister to Prince Arthur, Princess Margaret and Prince Henry.
Mary was renowned for her beauty, being described as “a Paradise – tall, slender, grey-eyed, possessing an extreme pallor” by the Venetian ambassador, and her motto was “La volenté de Dieu me suffit” (The will of God is sufficient for me).
On this day in history, 18th March 1554, Palm Sunday, the twenty-year-old Lady Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I) was taken to the Tower of London, the place where her mother had been imprisoned and where her mother and one of her stepmothers had been executed.
We can only imagine the sheer terror she felt when Mary I’s council turned up at her doorstep on the 16th March 1554 to formally charge her with being involved in Wyatt’s Rebellion, the revolt which had taken place in January and February 1554 and which had been led by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger. Elizabeth was told that Mary wanted her sister taken to the Tower for questioning and that she would be escorted there the next day.
The Tide Letter was written by Lady Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) to Mary I when she was arrested after Wyatt’s Rebellion on 17th March 1554. Elizabeth wrote it when she was just about to be taken to the Tower of London for incarceration and it is called the Tide Letter because as Elizabeth wrote the letter the tide of the Tames turned and she could no longer be taken to the Tower by boat that day. She was taken to the Tower on 18th March, Palm Sunday.
The letter was written in haste but Elizabeth still managed to write an eloquent and well-argued letter, which unfortunately went ignored by Mary. It did, however, delay her imprisonment by one day.