Never Before Seen Portrait: Thomas Seymour

While perusing the Tudor-net I came across a link to Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The link brings you to a mostly white page with red accents and… oh yeah, a sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger that might also be Thomas Seymour.

Copyright: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017. All Rights Reserved

This portrait is of a man who is bare-headed, has a fairly neat beard and is wearing a fur collar. The museum states the sketch was made from 1535-1540. In my opinion we can narrow that down even further. When Thomas’ sister Jane married the King of England his status changed immediately, and because of that I can confidently say that the earliest date for this sketch would be 1536. In 1536, Seymour would have been roughly 30 years old. To me, the sitter of the sketch looks like he could be around that age.

We know Thomas Seymour had a beard and mustache, so that matches…but in all his other known portraits he is wearing a hat — appears to be the same hat in each portrait. The pin on his hat is for his ‘membership’ in the Order of the Garter.  Could this be Thomas?

If the oldest date that this could have been sketched was 1540, that would mean that King Henry VIII was still alive, and with that, Seymour had not yet been made a baron or Lord High Admiral.

In 1547 Thomas Seymour was made Knight of the Garter. Is this how a knight, and brother-in-law to the King would dress? In my opinion, most definitely. All of the current portraits we know of Thomas Seymour all having him wearing black, and the same black plumed hat with the Garter pin.


DO YOU BELIEVE THE SITTER COULD BE THOMAS SEYMOUR?

Source:

Holbein Sketch: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017. All Rights Reserved

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Between Two Brothers: Edward and Thomas Seymour

Unless you are an only child you are familiar with the love that siblings bear one another. The events of life, along with the meddling of others caused a rift between these two men and ultimately cost both of them their lives. The Seymour brothers, Edward and Thomas.

Brothers

There are instances when situations fester and cause strife between siblings that tear them apart. You know, like when one sibling critiques the parenting of another – that’s going to cause a few arguments and then probably some avoidance.

These statements ring true for the Seymour brothers – Edward and Thomas. Even though Edward was only three years older than Thomas he behaved as the eldest son and the one who would gain the most in life.

While Thomas was the fourth son and the youngest at that – his future was not as bright as his older brother, but Thomas wasn’t like most youngest sons. He was ambitious, and while he knew he would never outrank his brother Edward, he wanted to get as close to the sun as possible.

Of the three remaining sons of Sir John Seymour of Wiltshire, Edward was the oldest, followed by Henry and then Thomas. Edward Seymour eventually became Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset. Henry hung around court for a bit and then went on to be country gentry – a subtler life…While the youngest Thomas followed in his eldest brother’s footsteps. He grew confidence when he recognized his own way with people. Most people liked Thomas, more so than his brother, Edward.

I have a feeling that Edward and Thomas had an even closer relationship when their brother Henry was around. Those two could only get along for short while before things got heated. Henry was able to play peacemaker. But with him away from court there were outside influences on their relationship that neither brother could see coming.

Warwick

While it appears that the brothers had a normal relationship, there are clues of jealousy and greed intertwined with manipulation and revenge.

John Dudley

The breakdown of their relationship began with John Dudley, newly titled Earl of Warwick, and his desire to see another in the position of ‘Lord Protector’, namely himself.

So what did the Earl of Warwick have to do with it? Warwick played a game of chess with the brothers. Speaking to Edward about what a great Lord Protector he was and then going to Thomas and telling him how he should have been named Governor of the king.

Warwick wedged himself in between the two brothers; Putting himself in a very dangerous situation as well. Lucky him, it all worked out, for a little while at least.

With Warwick whispering in his ear, the natural desire he already had to become more only intensified. Thomas Seymour felt he deserved a lot more as an uncle to the king and no matter what he did to obtain that goal he was thwarted, either by others or himself.

During all these arguments with his brother, Thomas was continuously trying to get a bill passed through Parliament that would make him Governor to the King. A position he believed, and had convinced many others, he deserved. Unfortunately for Thomas, those who said they would back him did not follow through when the time came.

Eventually, Edward Seymour would get a new letter patent through Parliament which named him Lord Protector and Governor of the King, which he would hold during the ‘king’s pleasure’ – this was changed from when the king turned eighteen. (explaining why Thomas Seymour continually tried to get Edward VI to rule on his own)

Marriage

Was Dudley’s interactions with the brothers what caused Thomas Seymour to seek a strong marriage? Seymour had only talked marriage a few times in his entire life and they were all later in life. There was Mary Howard, Elizabeth Tudor and Kateryn Parr. I also believe he proposed once to Mary Tudor as well. If we look at all those women, what do we see? I see power. I see support in case one should need it. A duchess and a Howard at that, a princess with Protestant supporters, a dowager queen with history and power, and another princess – a very Catholic princess. All great matches for a man like Thomas.

The only way Thomas could marry any of those women was without permission because he knew they all needed permission to wed…and then hope you can find a way to convince the Lord Protector that it was all his idea. When Thomas suggested to his brother that he marry Kateryn Parr, Edward quickly turned him down – it wouldn’t happen. Luckily for Thomas, he was already married to Kateryn Parr and wished to stay that way. Without gaining approval from the Lord Protector, Kateryn and Thomas decided to use their close connection with Edward VI, they believed they could convince the young king to suggest Kateryn as a perfect bride for his uncle Thomas. They had played their cards right, Edward VI eventually named Kateryn after a bit of coaxing from his servant John Fowler who was doing the dirty work for Thomas.

When Edward Seymour discovered the two had married he was furious that his own brother had went behind his back to get permission from the young king. Edward’s wife Anne Seymour was equally displeased with the union. Not only did Thomas and Kateryn marry too soon after Henry VIII’s death, but Kateryn was marrying well beneath her station since Thomas was merely a baron.

Author Margaret Scard of Edward Seymour, Lord Protector suggests that the beef was actually between Anne Seymour and Thomas, not the brothers or the wives.

Kateryn Parr still played the role as queen – with a household the same size as when she was married to Henry. Thomas Seymour, being the husband of Kateryn would have loved the feeling he got when he was the most powerful man in the room.

Anne Seymour – let’s just call her duchess going forward, since she was the Duchess of Somerset. The Duchess did not like sharing center stage with Kateryn Parr apparently. Once while walking in a procession, the Duchess is said to have nudged or pushed Parr out-of-the-way so she could take precedence over her. She believed she had that right as the wife of the Lord Protector and because Kateryn was only married to a baron. Author Scard believes that the Duchess was adamantly against the idea of Thomas Seymour taking precedence over her and that’s where the dispute began. That Thomas, as the husband of the dowager queen would be able to walk alongside his wife.

It wasn’t only what order to walk in a procession. The Duchess took it even further and wouldn’t allow Kateryn her jewels from the Tower of London. Both of the women believed the jewels were theirs – Kateryn only seemed to care about the gifts that were given to her by Henry VIII and a couple of pieces from her mother, I believe it was. The Duchess would not allow Kateryn to have her jewels.

Eventually the two brothers were involved in the dispute between their wives. Thomas approached Edward on the issue and they both agreed that Kateryn should have the jewels. Edward told his brother that he would speak with his wife on the subject and go from there. Well, we’re not sure what happened after that but Kateryn never got her jewels.

Southampton

Somerset, during this time, not only had to deal with the disobedience of his brother but also of members of the Council:

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Holbein

Thomas Wriothesley, in accordance with Henry VIII’s wishes was created Earl of Southampton in February 1547 and was also a member of the Regency Council. Southampton was one of the few men who ‘had always been engaged in an opposite party to Somerset’.¹ This marked Southampton as the enemy since he did not support Somerset ruling with the power of a monarch over the council. A month after being created Earl of Southampton, Thomas Wriothesley was suddenly dismissed from the title of Lord Chancellor (which he held since 1544)  and he also lost his seat on the Privy Council. This was obviously to serve as a lesson to those who would disagree with Somerset.

Death of Queen Kateryn

After Kateryn Parr died I feel like Thomas became a little unhinged. He allegedly proposed to Elizabeth Tudor and then is suspected of trying to kidnap his nephew, the king.

Eventually things got so bad that Thomas was thrown in the Tower. I’m certain that Edward felt horrible knowing his brother was in the Tower but I also feel like he knew what had to be done.

The Seymour brothers, had they joined forces, could have become even more powerful alongside each other as uncles to the King of England. Unfortunately for Thomas, his brother Edward felt that the power should all be his for the keeping.

After Kateryn Parr died, a servant of Thomas Seymour told him that: “If ever any grudge were borne toward him [Thomas] by my Lady of Somerset, it was as most men guess for the queen’s cause, who now being taken away by death, it will undoubtedly follow that she [Duchess] will bear him as good heart as ever she did in her life.”¹

Also after Kateryn’s death, her cousin, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, hoped that Thomas would change his attitude towards his brother, Edward. He encouraged him to be more humble towards his brother and offered advice that if he were ‘either wise or politic he would become a new manner of man borth in heart and service’. Throckmorton also condemned Thomas for his laziness and his ambitions to get what he wanted and told him that he should ‘alter his manners, for the world beginneth to talk unfavorably of him’.¹

In The End

From early on the Seymour brothers were gifted with titles. Edward was given the title Viscount Beauchamp after his sister married the King in 1536. The following summer he became Earl of Hertford. At the same time his younger brother Thomas became Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. A year later he was granted the castle and manor of Holt in Cheshire and knighted prior to the christening of his nephew, Prince Edward, into the Knight of the Bath.¹ From that point, until the death of King Henry, Thomas was continually given lands, but no greater titles – those were saved for his elder brother, Edward. As we’ve discovered through this podcast it was never enough.

We can see from the beginning, after the death of the late king that Somerset appeared to want to elevate his own brother:

My lords, you know how long my brother, Master Seymour, has served, and how the King esteemed him, and if he had not died would have given him great rewards; and you also know that it is time the Earl of Warwick was allowed to rest, and had another less laborious office. My brother is young and is well fitted for this post, so if you approve I propose to make Warwick the Earl Constable, and my brother High Admiral.²

If Edward and Thomas had only found a way to settle their differences maybe neither of them would have eventually been executed. But, we’ll never know.

Sources:

The History of England, Under the House of Tudor
Scard, Margaret; Edward Seymour, Lord Protector – Tudor King in All But Name
Lipscomb, Suzannah; The King is Deadb
Loades, David; The Seymours of Wolf Hall 
Loades, David; Jane Seymour 
McLean, John; The Life of Sir Thomas Seymour 
Porter, Linda; Katherine Parr 
Norton, Elizabeth; Catherine Parr 
James, Susan; Catherine Parr
Starkey, David; Elizabeth – The Struggle for the Throne
Norton, Elizabeth; The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor: Elizabeth I, Thomas Seymour, and the Making of a Virgin Queen

Notes:

¹Scard, Margaret; Edward Seymour, Lord Protector – Tudor King in All But Name

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Thomas Seymour: Prisoner to Greed

thomas-seymour-prisoner-to-greed

Thomas Seymour had a way with women – his charisma so great and his looks so good that even Katherine Parr couldn’t help but fall for him. He was described as “…fierce in courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent.”  Yet with all those wonderful attributes he did not marry until he was nearly forty years old.

In 1547, after the death of King Henry VIII, his son Edward succeeded him as King Edward VI of England. Young Edward’s mother, Jane, died days after giving birth to him and the only remaining connection to her was through his uncles, aunts and grandmother.

king-edward-vi

The Seymour Brothers

From early on the Seymour brothers were gifted with titles. Edward was given the title Viscount Beauchamp after his sister married the King in 1536. The following summer he became Earl of Hertford. At the same time his younger brother Thomas became Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. A year later he was granted the castle and manor of Holt in Cheshire and knighted prior to the christening of his nephew, Prince Edward, into the Knight of the Bath.¹ From that point, until the death of King Henry, Thomas was continually given lands, but no greater titles – those were saved for his elder brother, Edward.

In Henry VIII’s will he named Thomas Seymour as an assistant to the King’s council and was gifted money, however, the will of the late monarch has been disputed and claims that it was changed prior to his death are widespread. ”The purported leaders of this faction were Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford; John Dudley, Lord Lisle; and Sir William Paget, the king’s chief secretary. All were apparently united by their evangelicalism – that is, their eagerness for further religious reformation.

When Prince Edward became King of England Thomas Seymour’s social standings grew immensely; He was now uncle to the King. Finally he was given a title…though not a dukedom like his brother Edward who became Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector but Baron of Sudeley and Lord Admiral, along with several pieces of land. As an uncle to the King he should have received more, at least an earldom. Some chroniclers and historians have said that his brother Edward was behind the lack of any great titles.edward-seymour

Edward Seymour surely wanted to give the impression that he was a fair brother; After he was made Lord Protector he had this to say to the Council:

My lords, you know how long my brother, Master Seymour, has served, and how the King esteemed him, and if he had not died would have given him great rewards; and you also know that it is time the Earl of Warwick was allowed to rest, and had another less laborious office. My brother is young and is well fitted for this post, so if you approve I propose to make Warwick the Earl Constable, and my brother High Admiral.²

When we look back at previous kings in their minority it was more common that any remaining uncles were given much greater titles than what Thomas Seymour received. With his brother Edward as Lord Protector of the Realm, he had the power to recommend to council to give his brother a greater title. It’s almost as if Edward Seymour knew that his brother would attempt to over-throw him and take a more powerful position for himself.

Thomas never believed he was given enough and always thought he deserved more. That was definitely his weakness. It’s easy to see him as a villain, but he was also a victim of his brother’s ambitions. I believe this was his true motivator. However, imagine seeing your elder brother and your younger sister getting everything they desired and you, as a middle child, feeling like you were always forgotten.

Possible Marriages

Thomas Seymour was nearly forty years old and unmarried when Henry VIII died in 1547. There is no doubt that he could have married any noble woman of his choosing but his ambitions were always higher and greater than most expected. He wanted a marriage that would give him more money, more property and more political standing.

Before Katherine Parr was married to Henry VIII, she and Seymour had hoped to marry after the imminent death of her third husband, Lord Latimer. Merely a couple of months after the death of Latimer, Henry VIII asked Katherine to be his wife. She could not refuse. This may have fueled Seymour’s internal fire to strive for what he thought he deserved and what he thought should be his.

untitled-design-28

It was necessary to have a lengthy mourning period after the death of a husband, but especially if that husband was the King. If the wife was of child-bearing age she had to wait until a sufficient amount of time went by for everyone to see that she was not with the King’s child. As an example, the dowager queen, Catherine of Valois, was told she could not remarry until her son (who was a minor) came of age and could give consent.

Had Thomas Seymour proposed to Katherine in 1543 right after the death of her husband it would have been seen as improper. He had to give it some time before proposing marriage. The King however, did not have to follow the same rules as his subjects.

With Katherine married and out of the picture, Thomas had every opportunity to marry, yet he did not. He was send abroad several times by Henry VIII on embassies or battles and that sufficiently kept him away from Katherine Parr during the King’s lifetime.

When Seymour’s nephew, Edward succeeded the throne it opened up a new door of opportunity for Thomas. Seymour had approached the King’s servant, John Fowler to plead his case to the King regarding marriage. He had asked Fowler:

Mr. Fowler, I pray you, if you have any communications with the King’s Majesty soon, or tomorrow as his highness whether he would be content I should marry or not; and if he says he would be content, I pray you ask his grace whom he would have to be my wife?

When Fowler saw the King next he brought up Seymour in conversation by marveling how he had not yet been married. The King had no response. Then Fowler asked, “Could your grace be contented he should marry?” The King responded by saying only, “Ye-very well.” Fowler than proceeded to ask Edward whom Seymour should marry. The King said that Thomas Seymour should marry “My Lady Anne of Cleves.” He paused a moment and then changed his mind saying that Seymour should marry his sister Mary – to help “turn her opinions.” This must reference her religion.

untitled-design-1
Princess Elizabeth, Anne of Cleves, Princess Mary and Katherine Parr

The above reference situation is not dated so I am unsure when it actually occurred. I believe this was about the time that Thomas proposed to Elizabeth and married Katherine Parr. It appears he’s looking for the King to name one of the two ladies.

The Lord Protector approached Council regarding his brother marrying the dowager queen. That he deserved a wife of a great title as he was the uncle of the King. The dowager queen favored the marriage but worried to Paget’s wife that she would lose her title as queen. She was assured that it was not the case.²

Thomas Seymour secretly wed Katherine Parr in 1547. There marriage was short-lived but did produce a child, Mary.

After the death of Parr, Seymour asked the Council if he could marry “Madam Elizabeth.” He said that he, as uncle to the King, and someone whom had formerly been married to the dowager queen, deserved to marry her above everyone else. Nothing, of course, came from his request.

Things started to escalate from that point and Seymour showed signs of desperation after the death of the dowager queen and turned down request to marry Elizabeth.

We’ll stop there for now and continue on with a future article about what happened next.

Notes and Sources:

¹ Wriothesley Chronicle
² Chronicle of King Henry VIII

Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth: Edited from His Autograph Manuscripts, with Historical Notes and a Biographical Memoir, Part 2 (page cxv & cxvi)

MacLean, John; The Life of Thomas Seymour, Knight, Baron Seymour of Sudeley and Master of the Ordance

History Extra.com – “Who Hijacked Henry VIII’s Will?”

‘Henry VIII: December 1546, 26-31’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 21 Part 2, September 1546-January 1547, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1910), pp. 313-348. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol21/no2/pp313-348 [accessed 14 October 2016].

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