The Life of Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk

Who was the wife of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and what do we know about her?

Elizabeth Stafford was the daughter of the ill-fated Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Eleanor Percy, eldest daughter of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. She was born in 1497, so one can assume that she was named for the queen consort, Elizabeth of York.

Before we go too deep into the life of Elizabeth, lets understand her family a bit better. Elizabeths father, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was a proud man; here is a bit quoted from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, written by C.S.L. Davies:

When his father rebelled against Richard III in 1483 (and was executed), Edward Stafford was hidden in various houses in Herefordshire; whether he remained there for the rest of Richard’s reign is unclear. (C.S.L. Davies)



Edward then attended the coronation of the new Tudor king, Henry VII. In November 1485, after the reversal of the 2nd Duke of Buckinghams attainder, Edward was restored to his inheritance. He was now the 3rd Duke of Buckingham.

After the execution of his father, his mother had married Henry VII’s uncle, Jasper Tudor. Despite this, Buckingham’s wardship was entrusted to the king’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, and his education probably took place at her various houses… he was to follow Lady Margaret’s example in his own household.

This should give you an idea of what Elizabeths fathers childhood was like. She was surely brought up with the same values as her father was taught by Margaret Beaufort.

Like most women of the time-at least women of noble birth, Elizabeth Stafford was educated at home. University was only for their male counterparts, of course.

Elizabeths father, the Duke of Buckingham, had originally promised to marry his daughter to his ward, Ralph Neville, 4th Earl of Westmorland – that is, until the recently widowed Thomas Norfolk-then the Earl of Surrey-came knocking.

Elizabeth is quoted as writing this about Ralph Neville: [H]e and I had loved together two years and her plan was to marry him before Christmas; but Howard and her father had other plans for the young Elizabeth.



Thomas Howard wanted Elizabeth Stafford for his second bride. Buckingham, seeing as his daughter had already been promised in marriage to Neville, he offered one of Elizabeths younger sisters in her place. Norfolk declined the offer because Elizabeth was the eldest daughter and with her came more wealth.

Eventually an agreement was reached between Buckingham and Norfolk, and the couple were married in 1513. What a powerhouse marriage that must have been seen as; the Buckinghams and Norfolks.

Elizabeth became Countess of Surrey upon their marriage at the tender age of fifteen. Howard, was twenty years her senior at 35.

Upon their marriage, Thomas Howard received a dowry of 2000 marks, while Elizabeth was promised an annual income of 500 marks. Per reports, this was an income she never received.

With that being said, Elizabeth, like most women, had hoped to marry for love. She believed that her marriage to Howard would be just that. We are soon to discover it was not in the cards for the two of them.

Elizabeth was a dutiful wife. In 1520, she and her children moved to Ireland with Thomas where he was to serve the King as lieutenant of Ireland. Despite being away from all she knew, Elizabeth loved her husband and was loyal to him.

In 1521 Henry Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason. There is no evidence to declare how Elizabeth felt about it while she far away in Ireland. We must assume she mourned the loss of her father.

Unfortunately any happiness she found with her husband would soon be over. Thomas Howard, now the Duke of Norfolk took a mistress in 1527. She is someone youve certainly heard of; her name was Bess Holland and she was the daughter of his private secretary.

Bess Holland, as stated, was the daughter of the duke’s secretary and household treasurer. At the time she became the dukes mistress, she was one of Anne Boleyn’s attendants (prior to her time as queen.) Howard then installed her in his household, thereby deepening his estrangement from Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was clearly hurt by the affair. She once described Bess as a harlot, a drab, and ‘a churl’s daughter’, who was but ‘washer of my nursery’ for eight years (ibid., 12/2, no. 143; Harris, Edward Stafford, 63)

The Duke and Duchess had several children together, but we know two of them the best: Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey,) and Mary Howard (Duchess of Richmond and Somerset).

In December of 1529, Henry VIII requested that the Duke of Norfolks son (the earl of Surrey) become a companion to his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. It was at this time that a marriage was arranged between the Dukes daughter Mary and Fitzroy.



While many have said the marriage was Anne Boleyns idea-she was the niece of the Duke of Norfolk- it had always been maintained by Norfolk that it was the idea of the King. Regardless, the marriage between Fitzroy and Mary Howard had definitely been promoted by Anne to help strengthen her ties to the throne.

Like the later marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves, there was no dowry expected with the marriage of Mary and Fitzroy, which was unusual for the time. This may indicate the influence that Anne Boleyn had over the king.

Elizabeth Stafford was totally against her daughters marriage. Elizabeth had served Katherine of Aragon years earlier and was loyal to her cause, however she was thrust into serving Anne Boleyn and was not happy about it. Elizabeth was vocal about her opinion on the annulment proceedings, which resulted in her being exiled from court in 1531.

In 1532 it was made known to Elizabeth that since her mother had passed in February, her manors would go to the King by her husbands attainder. (‘Henry VIII: March 1532, 1-10′, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 5, 1531-1532, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1880), pp. 401-407. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol5/pp401-407 [accessed 21 September 2018].)

When her son the Earl of Surrey returned from his time in France with Henry Fitzroy in September 1533, he was about 16 years old and returned to a different England than the one he left in October of 1532: Anne Boleyn was now Queen, her daughter Elizabeth was now heir to the throne, and the King was newly dubbed Supreme Head of the Church of England. In addition to all the change in England, Henry had also returned to a very different family situation at Kenninghall. His fathers mistress, Bess Holland had essentially replaced his mother who was in disgrace for her actions at court.

In a letter date the 17th of March 1534, Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, mentioned how Elizabeth had been appointed mistress of the robes to the bastard – a position that Elizabeth must have despised as she was a friend of Katherine of Aragon and presumably her daughter Mary. The letter also gives us a glimpse at the type of behavior that the Duke of Norfolk believed was acceptable toward the Princess Mary:

I am told this very morning that the duke of Norffocq went yesterday to the place where she is, to renew the former threats. Besides that, the Duke ordered her best robes to be seized on the plea that she was no longer a Princess, and that it was necessary to reduce her pomp and pride. In addition to that, the duchess [of Norfolk] has been appointed [mistress of the robes] to the bastard](Bastard meaning Princess Elizabeth), (fn. n23) and at the same time one of the principal officers of the Princess’ household has been dismissed from the service on account of his having shown some affection to her, and done her some small services. (‘Spain: March 1534, 1-20′, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 5 Part 1, 1534-1535, ed. Pascual de Gayangos (London, 1886), pp. 70-83. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol5/no1/pp70-83 [accessed 21 September 2018].)

Elizabeth was eventually sent to Redbourne in Herfordshire where she lived in a state of virtual imprisonment with a meagre annual allowance of only 200, and in the spring of 1534 she said that her husband ‘locked me up in a chamber, [and] took away my jewels and apparel’ (LP Henry VIII, 12/2, no. 976).

From Redbourne, Elizabeth sent a series of letters to Cromwell pleading for help. On the 23rd of August 1534, Elizabeth sent a letter with the following request:

“Asks him to send her some venison, which is very scanty with her. Many of her friends who sent her venison last year dare send none now for fear of her lord’s displeasure. Her husband has not sent her any since she came to Redbourne. Thanks for Cromwell’s kindness, which she begs him to continue. Redbourne, 23 Aug. Signed.”(British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol7/pp419-421 [accessed 21 September 2018].)

Elizabeths husband attempted to persuade her to agree to a divorce by offer of material awards and the return of her jewels and clothes, yet she would not agree.

As state earlier, Elizabeth was opposed to the marriage of her daughter Mary. She quarrelled openly with Norfolk over the arranged marriages and primarily disapproved of them due to the involvement of the perceived concubine, Anne Boleyn.

In 1536, after the execution of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth was still fighting against her husband to keep their marriage. On the 26th of June she wrote a letter to Cromwell, pleading her case. I pulled this letter from Rivals in Power by David Starkey:

…The cause of my writing unto you is, that I may know whether I shall have a better living or not…which my Lord my husband hath forgotten now he hath so much wealth and honours, and is so far doting love with that quean [whore]…He knoweth it is spoken of far and near, to his great dishonour and shame; and he chose me for love, and I am younger than he by twenty years, and he hath put me away four years and a quarter at this midsummer; and [I] hath lived always like a good woman, as it is not unknown…He hath taken away all my jewels and my apparel, and kept me four years and more like a prisoner…Another cause: he set his women to bind me till blood come out at my fingers end, and pinnacled me, and sat on my breast till I spit blood; and he never punished them: and all this was done for Bess Hollands sake (page 93)

In the letter, one she wrote to clearly get Cromwells attention about the abuse against her, Elizabeth alleges rather awful treatment against her; some of which seems too extreme to believe. That is, until we remember what her husband was recorded as saying to the Kings daughter, Mary, in response to Mary not recognizing Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England and that her parents marriage was never valid. He stated that if she was his daughter, he would bash her head into the wall until it was as soft as a baked apple. That was a year before Elizabeth wrote her letter to Cromwell.

Norfolk wanted a divorce. Elizabeth, like Katherine of Aragon, refused to give one to him.

I get the impression that Elizabeth was playing dirty, a different trick than her dear friend Katherine of Aragon used. She even claimed that Norfolk assaulted her as early as 1519 (six years into their marriage) during the birth of their daughter Mary.

When Norfolk discovered what his wife had said, he sent a letter to Cromwell and called her out as a liar, as he would never harm an unborn child. He said, My good Lord, if I prove not by witness, and that with many honest persons, that she had the scar in her head fifteen months before she was delivered of my said daughter – due to a procedure she had done by a surgeon in London.

Elizabeths brother Henry Stafford even turned against her for her ‘wild language,’ and her ‘sensual and wilful mind’. (Oxford DNB)

Norfolk was not a perfect man; This I think we already knew. During his time in Ireland, his treasurer, John Stile, had complained about Norfolks temper. He said that his master was sometimes more hasty than needeth. Tudor historian Polydore Vergil said that Norfolk was quick with his fists. This is evident at the end of his letter, saying that if his wife would ever come into his company again, she might give me occasion to handle her otherwise than I have done yet.

Elizabeth took her husbands threat very seriously and is quoted as saying, I know well, if I should come home again, my life should be but short.

The Duchess was surrounded by enemies, and she had little support in her cause because she was a woman in a mans world. Her voice really did not matter-however, in order to obtain his divorce, Norfolk would need Elizabeths consent, and she wasnt going to give it. Even her children had turned against her and sided with their father.

Author Jessie Childs in Henry VIIIs Last Victim claims that Surrey probably sided with his father because Elizabeth had the nerve to approach Cromwell for help-Cromwell was the man Norfolk detested above all others.

Her daughter Mary, Duchess of Richmond, also sided with her father. Not only did she side with him, but she became good friends with Bess Holland. Whether Mary did this for self-preservation or that she supported her father for real, we do not know.

When Elizabeth discovered that her children had taken the side of their father, she was undoubtedly hurt and said that she was matched with such an ungracious husband and so ungracious a son and a daughter. She described her children as unnatural but also said that I have always love unto them.

By the 1540s, Elizabeth had reconciled once again with her brother Henry, but not with her husband who was still with his mistress.

At the time of her husbands arrest in 1546, Elizabeth and Bess Holland were under the same roof at Kenninghall. Elizabeth gave evidence against her husband, and after his attainder her apparel at Kenninghall was restored to her. At the time of her arrest she had little in the way of valuables, ‘all being very bare and her jewels sold to pay her debts. (Oxford DNB)

In 1554, When the Lady Mary became the first Queen Regnant in England, Elizabeth was able to return to court-she even carried the Queens train at her coronation. Quite an honor!

Elizabeth died on 30 November 1558 (around 61 years old) and was buried in the Howard chapel, at Lambeth.

After doing all this research on Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk, I realized how much Mary Howard turned out to be like her mother. She was proud, and she stubborn. Those two traits are clearly something she inherited, or at least learned from her mothers actions. It makes me wonder if Elizabeth was proud of her intelligent daughter, for standing up for herself.

 

Katheryn Howard: Part One

The story of Katheryn Howard intertwines with many other notable figures of the time but none more than Anne of Cleves and Thomas Cromwell. We’ll start with Katheryn’s childhood and attempt to chronologically move through time until her execution in 1542. After writing Part One, I realized her story deserves multiple parts. Part One, will start from Katheryn’s childhood up to her marriage to King Henry VIII. Part Two will cover her downfall. That part of her life definitely deserves a lot of attention.

There isn’t a whole lot of information about Katheryn’s childhood, so I’ll tell you what we do know. Katheryn Howard, according to author Gareth Russell was born around 1522 at Lambeth to Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper.



Joyce Culpeper

Joyce Culpeper was married twice, first to Ralph Leigh when she was twelve years old – the couple had five children together. When Joyce’s husband died around 1509, Joyce became a wealthy widow. She also inherited either land or money from her father after his death, but I do not have a date for that.

Joyce’s second husband was Edmund Howard – the couple were about the same age when they married. What it came down to was the fact that Joyce had money and Edmund Howard needed it. Joyce’s mother never trusted her son in law and they tried everything in their power to make sure Edmund didn’t have access to their money or land. We’ll delve more into Edmund in a moment.

The five half-siblings Katheryn had by her mother’s first marriage were: John, Ralph, Isabel, Joyce and Margaret Leigh. We’ll hear about Isabel a little later on in this story.

Katheryn’s full siblings were: Henry, Charles, Margaret and Mary.

Joyce died around 1528 or 1529 and left behind a husband and ten children.



Edmund Howard

Edmund Howard was the third surviving son of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk. He wasn’t always the pathetic man he later became, at one time he was said to have the athletic abilities of his brothers but that he lacked their social intelligence.

As a young boy, Edmund spent time at the court of King Henry VII as a page boy – a great place for the third son of the Duke of Norfolk to start his career.

At forty years old Edmund married Joyce Culpeper -this was his first marriage and as we’ve already discovered, Joyce’s second.

When Katheryn Howard was born her father, Edmund could not have been thrilled to have another daughter – another dowry to provide for a marriage. You see, Edmund had a problem with money….he didn’t have any. He often borrowed from friends and didn’t pay them back.

When Joyce died Edmund didn’t have the money to support this large household – the elder daughter’s of his late wife, Isabel and Margaret as well as his own children, Charles, Henry ,George, Katheryn, Margaret and Mary were all still living in his house. Katheryn’s eldest half-brothers, John and Ralph had moved out when Katheryn was a small child. John had inherited a manor in Stockwell from his grandfather and Ralph had a trust fund to help pay for his schooling to become a lawyer in London. Katheryn’s half-sister Joyce was also married and out of the house.

Keeping all of this in mind, when Edmund Howard wrote a letter to Wolsey asKing for financial assistance he mentioned that he had ten children to support, when we now know that he definitely did not. As author Gareth Russell states, “debt seldom stimulates a compulsion toward honesty”. Isn’t that the truth.

Edmund Howard, being of the Howard clan, behaved as though he resented being from such a notable family. He claimed that his money problems could not be solved by getting another  job. The thought of doing so would bring great reproach and shame to him and his blood. So Edmund believed getting another job to help pay for his expenses would bring shame on his family. Interesting – like being in debt wouldn’t bring a greater shame on your family name.

After the death of his first wife Joyce he married again to the not so kind, but wealthy widow Dorothy Troyes – we know she wasn’t so kind when we look back at the letter that Edmund wrote to Honor Grenville, Lady Lisle during his time in Calais – if you follow my website and Facebook page you already know this story, but for the rest of you, get ready to laugh.

“Madame, so it is I have this night after midnight taken your medicine, for the which I heartily thank you, for it hath done me much good, and hath caused the stone to break, so that now I void much gravel. But for all that, your said medicine hath done me little honesty, for it made me piss my bed this night, for the which my wife hath sore beaten me, and saying it is children’s parts to bepiss their bed.

Okay, so let’s talk about his wife Dorothy and the fact that Edmund states in the letter that she beat him and scolded him for wetting the bed….the poor guy had kidney stones and accidentally wet the bed. What kind of wife would treat him that way? On the other hand….I get the impression that Edmund liked to play the victim in his life, especially if we look at all the times he complained about being a Howard and how hard it was to be part of such a prestigious family.

Luckily for Edmund, his marriage to Dorothy did not last long since there is evidence that she made out her will in 1530.

Later, when Edmund’s niece, Anne Boleyn was Queen of England she was able to assist her hapless uncle by getting him a position as Comptroller of Calais. The timing was perfect for Edmund to leave the island and cross the channel to get away from his debt-collectors.

It was at some point after Edmund got the position in Calais that his household was broken up in England and his daughter Margaret was married to Thomas Arundell while his step-daughter Isabel was married to Sir Edward Baynton. The rest of the children who were still in his household were at the age where they could continue their education in another family’s household – Katheryn and her brother Henry were invited to become wards of the dowager duchess of Norfolk.

Edmund Howard died in 1539 before he could see his daughter become Queen. Imagine how his life would have improved…or maybe he would have gotten himself into hot water and been executed. We’ll never know.

Here is another quote by Edmund that sums up his life: “If I were a poor man’s son, I might dig and delve for my living.” Instead, Edmund found himself with few friends and ‘beaten by the world,”

Ward of Dowager Duchess

Katheryn arrived at Chesworth House south of Horsham in 1531 – her life would never be the same.

Most have assumed that Katheryn was not educated in the household of the dowager duchess, however, it does appear that she was able to read and write – Katheryn was most definitely better educated than most English women but because she could read and write does not mean she was educated. Especially not like her cousin, Anne Boleyn.

The dowager duchess had many young women in her household. If you compare to today’s standards it would be similar to having a handful or two of teenage girls together in a large room. The girls were actually housed in an attic dormitory or maiden’s chamber, as it was called. While the young men were housed in a separate area. It would only be a matter of time before trouble ensued. Such was the case in this household.

There were also young men in the household – we all know what teenage hormones are like so it understandable that at night one of the girls, whether it was Katheryn or another, would sneak into the bedroom of the dowager duchess and steal the key to the dormitory – once they received it they could unlock the door the allow the young men to enter their room. Now, before we go too far into that part of the story that’s discuss Katheryn’s so called relationship with her music tutor, Henry Manox. Manox and Katheryn were flirtatious with one another and it is believed that the two had secret meetings with one another. There was kissing between the two and Manox later said that they had not slept together but that he had seen her private parts.

It is believed that Manox fell in love with the young Howard girl who was much above his own standing and that others had noticed. For Katheryn, being with Manox made her feel grown-up and protected, she thought she loved him as well. Unfortunately, for the couple one of Katheryn’s roommates, Mary Lassell approached Manox and told him his relationship with Katheryn was inappropriate. What she didn’t say is that she also had a crush on him – so there may have been some jealousy on her part. Mary warned Manox that he would never be able to marry Katheryn because she came from such a noble house and the marriage would never be approved.

Manox, the pig he was, responded by saying,“Marry her? My designs are not quite so honorable. And from the kisses the girl allows me, I shall soon achieve my purpose.” 

Mary quickly informed Katheryn of what he had said and Katheryn was disgusted. Katheryn confronted Manox and he responded by smoothing her over with something to the effect that he can’t control his feelings around her. Katheryn, surely flattered, continue her so called relationship with Manox. Eventually the relationship ended – we don’t know what happened but I’m sure Katheryn realized there were other men in the household who wanted her attention and she liked it. It’s possible that the relationship ended after the dowager duchess caught the two alone. Katheryn received two or three blows from her grandmother and the couple were told that they should never be alone together again.

Later in interrogations Katheryn said this about Manox: At the flattering and fair persuasions of Manox being but a young girl I suffered him and sundry times to handle and touch the secret parts of my body which neither became me with honesty to permit nor him to require.

It wasn’t long after the relationship with Manox ended that Katheryn fell in love with Francis Dereham, a more serious candidate for her hand since he, unlike Manox, had sufficient status and wealth to marry Katheryn. Dereham was an usher for the dowager duchess, and like Manox was older than Katheryn. Dereham frequently visited the girl’s dormitory at night and most definitely consummated his relationship with young Katheryn.

Dereham always claimed that he considered them married or precontracted – they called one another husband and wife. This by the standards of the 16th century was enough – other’s had heard them call each other by those titles and were aware that they were sleeping together.

Author David Loades believes the couple’s relationship lasted from 1537 to 1539. While contraception at the time was primitive, Katheryn clearly had a good grasp on how to prevent pregnancy.

Henry Manox became very jealous of the couple and wrote an anonymous letter to the dowager duchess to inform her of the goings on at night in the dormitory. After reading the note the dowager Duchess caught the lovebirds together and was furious. Dereham departed shortly after to Ireland with an understanding that he would wed Katheryn when he returned to England.  Little did he know that by the time he returned everything would have changed for the couple.

While Francis was in Ireland Katheryn Howard moved closer to court staying at her uncle’s house (Duke of Norfolk). This is when she met Thomas Culpeper. Thomas was a gentleman of the King’s privy chamber and he was also a distant cousin to Katheryn’s through her mother. His position in court was considered very important since it allowed him personal access to the King. Katheryn fell deeply in love with Thomas.

Eventually, Katheryn was welcomed to court as a lady in waiting to the queen.  It was  while she was a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves in March 1540 that she caught the eye of the King Henry VIII. The King had be invited to dinner at the home of Bishop Gardiner on the River Thames and he graciously accepted. It was while the King was watching the dancers that he noticed the young, auburn-haired Katheryn Howard smiling, laughing and dressed in the french fashion. It wasn’t long after the event that Henry began showing more interest in Katheryn.

Once the King eyed you there was no going back. There was nothing she could do but accept his advances. At this time she was still in love with Thomas Culpeper, but adored the attention that the King gave her…along with the prospect of becoming queen of England.

The King was attracted to Katheryn’s beauty and youthfulness – and of course, he believed she was a virgin, unlike his current wife, Anne of Cleves .

Henry and Anne of Cleves continued playing the part of husband and wife for the first few months of their marriage with only the King’s closest advisors knowing his true intentions. Thomas Cromwell had been Henry VIII’s closest advisor since the downfall and death of his predecessor, Cardinal Wolsey. Cromwell had the King’s ear in all matters and pretty much was running the show. When the Cleves marriage backfired Cromwell was rightfully concerned about his position with the King, however, in April 1540 Henry raised Cromwell to the earldom of Essex. He also created him Lord Great Chamberlain. From an outsider’s perspective this looked as though Cromwell was safe from the wrath of the King.

A plan was already in motion because Henry wanted out of his marriage with Anne so he could be with Katheryn Howard, and if Cromwell could not do it, then he would find someone who could, but in the meantime he’d make Cromwell believe he was still his closest advisor – this is how Henry VIII worked.

By the 24th April 1540 Henry gave Katheryn Howard lands seized from a felon and a few weeks later she received an expensive gift of quilted sarcanet. It is possible that their relationship was consummated around this time because this is when Henry was urgent to annul his marriage to Anne of Cleves.

With Katheryn, the King believed he was getting all her couldn’t have with Anne of Cleves.

Thomas Cromwell

The end of favor came for Cromwell when was arrested, on the 10th of June 1540. The scene played out as Cromwell was leaving the parliament building to head to dinner – a sudden gust of wind blew his hat from his head and it fell to the ground. Normally, when a gentleman lost his it was customary for everyone to remove their hats as a sign of respect. When Cromwell bent down to pick up his hat, no man showed him the respect that was warranted. At which Cromwell replied dryly: “A high wind indeed must it have been to blow my bonnet off and keep all yours on.” The men around him pretended not to hear what he had said and carried on to dinner.

During dinner no man spoke to Thomas Cromwell. Once dinner was over all the lords proceeded to the council chamber where they would carry out their daily business. When Cromwell finally reached the chamber all the men were already seated, at which he said, “you were in a great hurry, gentlemen, to get seated.” Once again his words were ignored – and as he went to sit in his chair Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk yelled out – “Cromwell, do not sit there; that is no place for thee. Traitors do not sit amongst gentlemen.” At this point Cromwell was furious with his treatment said, “I am not a traitor.” And as he spoke those words the captain of the guard entered the chamber and arrested him. The arrest of Thomas Cromwell was a shock to many – he had been the King’s closest advisor for many years.

Unfortunately for Cromwell his downfall was greeted with much happiness all over England, for there were those who believed the absence of Rome in their life and the dissolution of the monasteries were solely his fault. They felt he finally got what was coming to him. For Henry VIII it allowed him to continue to move forward with his divorce from Anne of Cleves – the awful marriage that was Cromwell’s idea. Now Henry was a step closer to being with Katheryn Howard.

End of Marriage for Anne of Cleves

In the early hours of the 6th of July 1540, the King sent a messenger to inform Anne of Cleves of his concerns about their marriage. The following day, after they were summoned to Westminster, the convocations of York and Canterbury among other leading clergy, declared the marriage null and void after hearing Gardiner speak against the validity of the King’s marriage.

That very day a group of men appointed by the King went to Anne to inform her that her marriage was no more and that henceforth she would be called, “the King’s sister”.

Henry Was Free to Marry

Now that his marriage to Anne of Cleves was over, Henry VIII was free to marry Katheryn Howard. On the 28th of July at the mildly obscure Oatlands palace, Henry and Katheryn were married. Some believed that the location of the wedding and the smaller court presence was due to the fact that Katheryn was pregnant. This was most definitely untrue. Katheryn was very petite and her small frame would have made a pregnancy obvious. Those who dressed her would have noticed and most definitely gossiped – it seems that’s all most of the ladies did at court. 😉

King Henry was obsessed with his young bride. He was so turned on by Katheryn that he could barely keep his hands off her. After the failed consummation with Anne of Cleves this is exactly what Henry needed. Now he behaved as a teenage boy obsessed with his girlfriend. This would prove to the court that he was the same young Henry he always was….or so he believed.

How had Henry not noticed that his wife was not a virgin? This is something I’ve often wondered. Clearly Katheryn had experience in the bedchamber, was she smart enough to “act the part” of a virgin or was Henry so enamored that he overlooked such an obvious thing. He believed Katheryn to be his “Rose without a Thorn” so my guess is that he was ignorant to the truth.

On the same day that Henry and Katheryn married, Thomas Cromwell was executed.

I’ll end this article with some of Thomas Cromwell’s final words (very fitting for this article) and return here next week for the rest of Katheryn Howard’s story – see you next week:

Gentlemen, you should all take warning from me, who was, as you know, from a poor man made by the King into a great gentleman and I, not contented with that, not with having the Kingdom at my orders, presumed to a still higher state. My pride has brought its punishment.

Continue with Katheryn Howard: PART TWO

YOU CAN FIND MORE PODCASTS AT: http://Patreon.com/tudorsdynasty/posts

Further Reading:

Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair – The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of Henry VIII (2016)

Loades, David; The 6 Wives of Henry VIII (2014)

Licence, Amy; The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII (2014)

Fraser, Antonia; The Wives of Henry VIII  (1994)

Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991)

Kizewski, Holly K.; Jewel of Womanhood: A Feminist Reinterpretation of Queen Katheryn Howard (Thesis 7/30/14 – University of Nebraska – Lincoln)

Hutchinson, Robert; Thomas Cromwell (2007)

Mary Howard: Too Wise for a Woman

In this article I will be discussing one of my favorite women at Tudor court – the fearless Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset. Mary had the bravery that wasn’t often shown by a woman during this time period. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she thought was right.

It was her father who was quoted as saying that Mary was, “too wise for a woman” – one of the reasons I love her so much.

This post was originally a podcast that was transcribed into an article – if you’d rather listen to it you can do so here:



Family Ties – The Howards

Mary Howard was born around 1519 to Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (later to be Duke of Norfolk) and his second wife Lady Elizabeth Stafford.

You might recognize the name Elizabeth Stafford – this Elizabeth Stafford was the daughter of the ill-fated Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.This means Mary had both Norfolk and Buckingham blood in her veins.

Mary was the only daughter of Thomas Howard and received an education that was appropriate to her standing. It’s been said that she was both beautiful and smart. A double threat – both traits are something that we’ll see come into play a little later.

A Marriage Arranged

In December of 1529, when Mary was ten years old, Henry VIII asked her father, now the Duke of Norfolk to allow his son (Mary’s older brother) Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey to become a companion of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy at Windsor Castle. At the same time a marriage was arranged between Mary and Fitzroy.

Mary Howard

While many have said the marriage was Norfolk’s niece Anne Boleyn’s idea, it had always been maintained by Norfolk that it was the idea of the King, however, the marriage between Fitzroy and Mary Howard had definitely been promoted by Anne to help strengthen her ties to the throne.

Like the later marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves there was no dowry expected with this marriage, which was unusual for the time. This may indicate the influence that Anne Boleyn had over the king.

Elizabeth Stafford, Mary’s mother, was totally against the marriage. Whether she blamed Anne Boleyn for the breakdown of her marriage with Norfolk or was disgusted with the amount of control she had in the negotiations, she was not happy and made it known. Because of this conflict she was banished from court.

Marriage to Fitzroy

When King Henry and Anne Boleyn went to Calais in October 1532, they brought with them Fitzroy, Mary Howard and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Fitzroy and Surrey both stayed in France after the English monarch’s departure – Fitzroy was a member of King Francis’ Privy Chamber and Surrey was also a member of his entourage.

While Fitzroy and Surrey were away in France, Anne Boleyn and King Henry were married – Anne was now Queen and Mary Howard was one of her ladies in waiting. The young men were called back to England in August of 1533 and merely three months later Henry Fitzroy and Mary Howard were married at Hampton Court Palace. She was was fourteen and he was fifteen years old.

Because of their youth the couple was not allowed to live together. Instead they went back to their respective homes. Henry VIII believed that his late brother Arthur’s death may have occurred because he had intercourse at too young an age. This was also believed to be what caused the death of Katherine of Aragon’s brother, Juan.

Henry Fitzroy

An interesting note: A few months before the marriage of the young couple, Pope Clement was proposing the marriage of the Earl of Surrey with Lady Mary, the king’s daughter. The Pope was hoping that the Howard clan would help promote the cause of Katherine of Aragon.



Mary Becomes a Widow

Unfortunately, Mary and Fitzroy would never be able to consummate their marriage – in July 1536, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset and only male child of Henry VIII died.

Since the marriage had never been consummated, King Henry denied his 17 year old widowed daughter in law the vast estates she should have inherited as the widow of the Duke of Richmond and Somerset. Mary, still young, could not remarry until her jointure was settled. King Henry decided to keep it all for himself instead.

Because of the King’s greed, Mary was forced to live off the hand-outs of her father, the Duke of Norfolk and to sell her jewels in order to have money to live.

Expecting her powerful father to help her with his connection to the King, Mary was disappointed by his efforts and had threatened to confront the king in person, herself.

Feeling desperate, Mary wrote a letter to Thomas Cromwell asking him to intercede. Cromwell brought Archbishop Cranmer into the fold and Cranmer confirmed that the marriage had been valid even though it had not been consummated. This was exactly what Mary needed, progress was being made in her case.

This matter of Mary’s jointure was not resolved until 1540, after the dissolution of the monasteries – Mary finally received some property and income to live on.

An Accomplice to Love

Around the same time that Mary was fighting for what was rightfully hers, she was helping Margaret Douglas in her clandestine love affair with her uncle, Lord Thomas Howard. Mary was present, as possibly a look-out, when these two lovers were able to have some quiet time together. All that came to an end when the king discovered the couple had a pre-contract to marry. Both Thomas and Margaret were sent to the Tower and Mary was saved because the couple insisted that she never knew of the pre-contract.

The Seymours and Howards

In the meantime, Mary was being linked with Thomas Seymour for a possible marriage alliance. If she accepted this proposal she would not get what she had been working so hard for. Mary was not interested in marrying Seymour – it was merely her father’s way of creating ties with the new queen’s family. Her brother the Earl of Surrey was even more upset about the match – he saw the Seymours as ‘upstarts’ and didn’t want them associated with his noble line.

Interestingly enough, the Earl of Surrey had the hots for Anne Stanhope, wife of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Stanhope had rebuffed Surrey. When Hertford found out he was furious and it caused a lot of friction between the men.

It’s been said that in 1537, Surrey was imprisoned at Windsor Castle because he punched Edward Seymour in the face – the reason? Because Seymour suggested that Surrey favored the rebels in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Surrey wasn’t imprisoned long.



Mary and the Queens

When Anne of Cleves became queen it was thought that Mary would have a place in her household, however, Anne had brought ladies of her own and did not have room for her.

Mary’s cousin, Katherine Howard, when she became queen, made Mary a Lady of the Privy Chamber…under the supervision of get this, Margaret Douglas.

After the execution of Queen Katherine, the Howard clan was once again lacking favor with the King. Both Mary Howard and Margaret Douglas sent away from court for seventeen months.

Seymour Again

Again in 1546, Norfolk discussed the marriage of his daughter to Thomas Seymour. Around this time he had also proposed a few marriages to further bind together the Howard and Seymour families. In addition to the proposed union of his daughter to Thomas Seymour he also negotiated some of his grandchildren as matches for three of Edward Seymour’s children. On 10 June 1546, Henry VIII gave his permission and approval to the proposal.

The Fall of the Howard Men

Once again, Mary was not interested in marrying Thomas Seymour. She discussed this problem with her brother (Surrey) who suggested she discuss it with the King and use her charm to become a mistress to the king – this would help in advancing not only her interests but that of the Howards as well.

Mary was insulted and disgusted by her brother’s plan and said she would rather cut her own throat than go along with it. Mary and Henry Howard’s relationship would never be the same again and this would mark the beginning of Surrey’s downfall.

When her father and brother were arrested in December 1546, Mary did nothing to save them. She even gave testimony against her brother.

Mary told the council that her brother had such a distaste for men who were “made” and not of royal birth and he said “if God called away the King they should smart for it.” She went on to tell them that he replaced the coronet with a crown on his coat of arms.

When Surrey’s home was searched they found more evidence against him – a plate with the arms of Edward the Confessor, even though the only person in the kingdom who could claim that was the king.

She also told them about the conversation her brother had with her about becoming the king’s mistress.

Both her father and brother were charged with treason and sentenced to death. Only her brother would make it to the block because eleven days later King Henry VIII was dead. Norfolk’s sentence was halted and he remained in prison until the reign of Queen Mary.

In the End

Mary raised her brother’s children after his execution and apparently was granted money by Edward VI for doing so – he said that he knew of no finer place for the children to be educated.

The date of death varies for Mary Howard – what I do know is that she most likely died in December. It’s the year that varies – some reports say 1555, others 1556 or 57.

In her three decades of life, Mary Howard witnessed a lot of drama at Tudor court. Especially during the reign of her father-in-law.

Sources:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/sixwives/meet/cp_handbook_love2.html
http://www.thetudorswiki.com/page/Bridal+Prospects+of+the+King
http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Bios/MaryHoward(DRichmond).htm
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol21/no2/pp269-291https://archive.org/stream/seymourfamilyhis00lockuoft#page/30/mode/2up/search/Richmond
http://under-these-restless-skies.blogspot.com/2013/11/mary-howard.html
http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/henry-fitzroy-marries-mary-howard-2/
http://spartacus-educational.com/Mary_Howard.htm
The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir

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Tudors Dynasty Podcast – Episode Two: The King and His Early Victories

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Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk

margaret-audley-duchess-of-norfolk

Margaret Audley was the eldest of two daughters born to Thomas Audley, Baron Audley of Walden and Elizabeth Grey and was born in 1540. Her younger sister, which I do not have a name, died around 1546 at Hendon in Middlesex. After the death of her sister, Margaret became the sole heir of her father’s possessions.

Baron Audley of Walden died in 1544 and the King (Henry VIII) granted the wardship of his daughter Margaret, including her lands, to Sir Anthony Denny who was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. When Denny himself passed away in 1550 the wardship of Margaret fell upon his wife, Lady Denny. Margaret was thirteen when Lady Denny died in 1553 and Queen Mary I held courts in the minor’s name. This did not extend to the land which was vested to her mother, Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley for her life.

audley-end-house-english-heritage

At fourteen years old Margaret Audley was married to Lord Henry Dudley who was the fourth son of John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland and brother to Robert and Guildford Dudley. Her husband had been implicated in treason when he helped to put his sister-in-law, Lady Jane Grey on the throne after the death of King Edward VI. Margaret’s husband Henry Dudley was charged with treason, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death.

The Queen, however, was pleased to spare his life, and afterwards to pardon him; but as no livery of Margaret Audley’s lands had been granted on account of her minority, they remained vested in the Crown, and were formally restored to Dudley and his wife. Nevertheless, his career was of short duration, for he fell in the battle of Saint Quintin’s, in Picardy, in August 1557, leaving no issue…

Margaret, now a widow, did not wait long to remarry. In the early months of 1558, Margaret became the second wife of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Together they had five children, all of which were born at Audley End: Thomas, Henry (died young), Elizabeth (died young), William and Margaret. Their son Thomas became 1st Earl of Suffolk and their daughter Margaret later married Robert Sackville and became Countess of Dorset.

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk

On the 10th of January 1563, at twenty-three years of age, Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk passed away.

The funeral of Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk was a grand affair – so much so that she was called “the noble and excellent Princess Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk.”

Margaret was buried in the church of St. John the Baptist, in Norwich, on the 17th day of January 1563. Frances de Vere, dowager Countess of Surrey was Chief Mourner in the ceremony. After the ceremony Surrey returned for dinner while other proceeded to the burial.

Heraldic Badge of 4th Duke of Norfolk with his 2nd Wife, Margaret Audley
Heraldic Badge of 4th Duke of Norfolk with his 2nd Wife, Margaret Audley

Source/Reference:
Braybooke, Richard Griffin, Baron; The History of Audley End Published 1836

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Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley

In our article about Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset we learned about one of the apparent reasons she had for protecting her son’s inheritance – her daughters.

Margaret Wotton, Marchioness of Dorset and her husband, Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset not only had a son, Henry, with whom Margaret later had disputes over his inheritance, but also a few daughters that she would have to arrange marriages for.

Because of this enormous, unexpected financial burden, Lady Margaret, who had custody of all her husband’s property during Henry’s minority, feared she would “not be able to set forth my daughters in marriage, neither continue in the keeping of my poor house.”



Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley

Today we focus on one of the daughters of Margaret and Henry Grey – Elizabeth Grey, who was born around 1510. To gain some perspective, in 1510, Henry VIII had been King of England for roughly a year and was married to Katherine of Aragon.

Elizabeth married Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden sometime between 1538 and 1540 – she was his second wife. About 1540 Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Margaret Audley.

Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley
Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley

Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden

Thomas Audley had a very illustrious career at Tudor court. In 1529, he received two titles when he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Speaker of the House of Commons. In 1532, Audley was knighted and also succeeded Sir Thomas More as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1533, he was appointed Lord Chancellor succeeding Sir Thomas More and on 29th of November 1538 he was created Baron Audley of Walden and installed as a Knight of the Garter shortly afterward.



Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden
Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden

It is easy to see that Audley was friendly toward Henry VIII’s agenda. One could say this is why he was given so many great titles, especially Lord Chancellor. He backed the King on his desire to divorce Katherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Audley presided at the trials of Fisher and More in 1535, and was again part of the trials in 1536, during the downfall of Anne Boleyn and the men around her.

We know that Henry VIII “interfered so much in the chancellor’s domestic concerns as to command him to marry, and to bring about the match, and promise to endow him accordingly…

When it comes to his wife and the true topic of his article, Elizabeth Grey, Lady Audley, we do not know very much at all. We can better describe her through her husband’s life and the life of her daughter, Margaret. We’ll touch base on Margaret, further along.

Here is an undated letter, presumably written between 1538 and 1540 that Thomas Audley addressed to Thomas Cromwell who had been recently appointed Vicegerent – a new office which gave absolute power over the concerns of the church.

“I married at his Majesty’s commandmant, and his Grace said that he would consider it, and what I should have had otherwise your Lordship knoweth, for advancement of my heirs; but yet I repent never a “whytt” my marriage, but have great cause to thank the King’s Majesty for “enduying” me to it, for assuredly I have happened on much to my contention and honesty, and if God send us children, which I desire, the King’s Majesty hath made me a baron, and all my lands exceedeth no clearly wherewith I am right well content.” – Your Lordship’s assured to his power, Thomas Audeley, Chancellor.



Audley later goes on to discuss the debt of his brother-in-law, Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorest. When Audely married Elizabeth Grey he married into the illustrious Grey family. After our last article about Margaret Wotton, the mother of the Marquis of Dorset we understand how he was fined £4000 for refusal to marry Catherine Fitzalan, the daughter of William Fitzalan, 17th Earl of Arundel.

“It is amusing to find the Chancellor speaking of his illustrious family as his pore mariage, and endeavouring to make over the debt due to him from his brother-in-law to Henry, who had probably more power to enforce the payment.”

Thomas Audley, 1st Baron Audley of Walden died on 30 April 1544. After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Grey lived at Audley End, near Saffron Walden until her death in 1564. Their daughter Margaret, came to Audley End to give birth to each of her children.

Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk

Margaret Audley was born about 1540 and was the oldest of the two children (both daughters) to Elizabeth Grey and Thomas Audley. She first married Lord Henry Dudley who was the youngest son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland who was executed for treason in 1556. Henry Dudley died in France after the Battle of Saint Quentin in 1557.

In 1558, Margaret was betrothed to her cousin, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk – the son of the late Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. They had many children together, one of which was Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk.

Margaret Audley, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk & Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk

 

Margaret Audley, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk & Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk

 

Stay tuned for a separate article on Margaret Audley, Duchess of Norfolk in the near future.

Sources/References:

The Historic Peerage of England: Exhibiting, Under Alphabetical Arrangement …By Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, William John Courthope

A Topographical Dictionary of England: With Historical and Statistical …By Samuel Lewis

Braybooke, Richard Griffin, Baron; The History of Audley End – Published 1836