The Tudor Society

Sir Henry Knyvet’s “Defence of the Realm”

Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Henry Knyvet (Knyvett), on 14th January 1598, at Charlton in Wiltshire. He was buried in the church at Charlton in July 1598. Knyvet was a Gentleman Pensioner to Elizabeth I, a Justice of the Peace, Sheriff, Deputy Lieutenant, member of Parliament and soldier. He was knighted following his loyal and courageous service fighting the Spanish off the coast of Calais.

In 1596, Knyvet wrote "Defence of the Realm", full name "A breefe treatis or rather a project of a course to be taken for the defence of this realme against all forraine invasion and for the necessarie service of the same in all other actions of warre". He dated it 19th April 1596 and had it bound in red velvet for presentation to Queen Elizabeth I.

Chetham's Library have the treatise in their collection and they explain that "It was the capture of Calais by the French from the Spaniards which caused him to write the Defence of the Realm" and that his treatise laid out "His proposals for reorganizing the militia included training in the use of the long bow and the employment of archers."

You can read more about Knyvet in his biography on the History of Parliament website - and you can read copies of his "Defence of the Realm" at the following links:

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Sir Henry Knyvet’s “Defence of the Realm”