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Archive for the ‘Sir Thomas Wyatt’ Category

Last week an Irish Facebook friend and Tudor enthusiast suggested we put more art on Facebook. He asked me to post something about Hans Holbein. I began with Holbein’s famous painting of Henry VIII, but couldn’t resist – I had to share family members painted by the great man.

I’ve noticed some of the people who sat for Holbein seemed somewhat awkward about or uncomfortable with the situation. I am most haunted by our Sir Henry Wyatt.

Sir Henry Wyatt Knight

Sir Henry Wyatt Knight

His painting is oil on oak, only 15.4″ x 12.2.” According to Wikipedia, which does a nice job of documenting the art they share with us, it’s in the Louvre Museum, on the second floor, room 8.

This is the face that endured the application of horse barnacles during torture ordered by Richard III. He was only 23 when imprisoned and locked away until the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He lived with that face for a long time.

“In the Louvre picture Sir Henry is represented at half-length, slightly turned to the right, wearing a black skull-cap over his long hair, and the customary overcoat with deep fur collar, and green under-sleeves ; from his shoulders hangs a large heavy gold chain, to which a gold cross is attached, which he grasps with his right hand, and holds a folded paper in his left. He is clean-shaven, and has a large rounded nose. The wrinkled face, the small tremulous mouth, and the tired eyes with the sadness of their expression, produce a very life-like effect of old age. The chain is put on with real gold, in a way which Holbein practised from time to time in England.” Hans Holbein the Younger: Volume 1 by Arthur Bensley Chamberlain

Susan Foister, author of Holbein in England, ISBN 1854376454 wrote “the sitter appears to have lost his teeth.”

Experts think it was painted around 1537 – around the same time as his son’s portrait and very near the time of his death. Sir Henry was born in 1460, died at 76 or 77 on 10 November, 1537.

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet …

STWLargebyHolbein

He would have been around 34 in 1537. Wikipedia tells us this is “Black and coloured chalks, pen and ink on pink-primed paper, 37.3 × 27.2 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.” One of my books (Holbein by Jane Roberts) says it was “Black and coloured chalks and ink applied with pen and brush on pink prepared paper 37.1 x 27 cm.” We’re told Holbein also drew a profile portrait.

According to Holbein’s Drawings at Windsor Castle by Phaidon, “On a pale pink priming, 14 11/16 x 10 11/16”: chalks: black, red (face, patch at shoulder on left, another on chest), brown (beard); reinforced with the pen in indian ink (hair, beard). Eyes: grey-blue. Inscribed (gold and scarlet) in left upper corner Tho: Wiatt Knight. The face is considerably stained.”

Phaidon also mentions “Another portrait of Wyatt by Holbein is also lost. From it derive the small circular woodcut which appeared in Leland’s Naeniae in mortem ?Thomae Viati, 1542, and two circular paintings, in reverse to the woodcut, in the Bodleian Library and National Portrait Gallery.” I think this refers to the following image:

STWOilonPanel
According to Wikipedia: “Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt. Oil on panel, 31.7 cm diameter, National Portrait Gallery, London. This oil portrait of Wyatt in a medallic profile composition derives from a lost drawing or painting by Hans Holbein the Younger of about 1540. Holbein’s woodcut for Leland’s Naenia presumably follows the original version. Four 16th-century copies by other hands survive, of which this is one of two at the National Portrait Gallery”

So then, what’s this? Wikipedia says “A high-quality copy of this drawing by another hand survives, perhaps from the Elizabethan period (K. T. Parker, The Drawings of Hans Holbein at Windsor Castle, Oxford: Phaidon, 1945.” (I don’t like it.)

Sir Thomas Wyatt by Holbein
Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503 at Allington Castle; he died at a friend’s house, age 38 or 39, on 11 October, 1542.

This is Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee – Sir Henry’s only daughter, Sir Thomas’ sister, dear friend of Anne Boleyn. Apparently Margaret was also known as Mary, so Wikipedia is confused about “which sister” was Anne’s loyal Lady in Waiting. She looks so different from her father and brother, I wonder if she took after her mother – Anne Skinner.

Lady Margaret Lee Large
Wikipedia dates it at about 1540, tempera on panel, 16.7 × 12.9″ – currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Margaret was the mother of Sir Henry Lee, Queen Elizabeth’s champion. (Check it out; I swear I can see some Wyatt in his painting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Henry_Lee)

Some think this Holbein may be Elizabeth Brooke, wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet.

ElizabethbBrooke

According to Holbein’s Drawings at Windsor Castle by Phaidon, “The inscription is certainly incorrect, the features showing no resemblance whatever with the well authenticated drawing of Anne Boleyn in Lord Bradford’s possession… It is possible that there is indirect evidence of the sitter’s identity in the occurrence of various heraldic sketches on the reverse of the drawing, these being the coat-of-arms of the Wyatt family.”

Her brother was George Brooke, 9th Baron of Cobham. Do we see a resemblance? I think so, but it’s hard to say.

GeorgeBrooke9thBaronCobham

Sir Thomas Wyatt’s brother-in-law took part in the trail of Anne Boleyn and got caught up in his son’s rebellion against Queen Mary.

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger was born in 1521. He was about 15 or 16 when his grandfather died, 20 or 21 when his father died. He was one of the leaders of the rebellion opposing Queen Mary’s desire to marry Philip of Spain. Henry’s grandson was executed at 32 or 33 at Tower Hill on 11 April 1554.

This is a Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger by Holbein. Wikipedia says “Oil on circular panel: Diameter 12 5/8 in. (32 cm.) Painted circa 1540-42.”

STWtheYoungerLargebyHolbein

“Provenance: Presumably commissioned by sitter’s father Sir Thomas Wyatt Senior (1503 – 1542), Thence likely by descent to sitter and dispersed with his property after his execution in 1554; With J. Tremlett Esq. by whom sold; Christie’s, 22 November 1974, lot 152”

Other close friends of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet were painted by Holbein, but let us not end this post without adding the Wyatt family’s powerful friend Thomas Cromwell.

Cromwell,Thomas
Painted between 1532 and 1533, oil on oak panel, 30.9 × 25.4″.

According to Wikipedia, “Three early versions of this painting survive: this one, in the Frick Collection, New York; one in the National Portrait Gallery, London (see ‘other versions’ below); and one at Burton Constable, Yorkshire, England. Art scholar Roy Strong believed that all three were copies and, while the condition of all three is poor, that the Frick version is in the best condition. Art scholar John Rowlands, however, has since deduced from pentimenti (signs of alteration) revealed by X-ray photographs that the Frick version shows the hand of Holbein himself and is the original. He is followed in this attribution by art scholar Stephanie Buck. All three versions had scrolls painted above Cromwell’s head, but the scroll on the Frick version, which was painted after Cromwell’s execution, was removed during restoration. The painting has been over-restored, resulting in the removal of much of the surface subtlety characteristic of Holbein.”

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Sherborne Abbey

Our famous grandfather died 11 October 1542. I wonder if he’d be honored to be so well loved and so well remembered. Let’s look at his last three years.

The fates of families were intertwined in the Tudor court. Our family was tied to Thomas Cromwell, the second most powerful man in England.

Politics vs. romance

In 1540 Cromwell made the mistake of matching Henry VIII with Anne of Cleves. It was a political match for the good of the country; but the king’s head was bent on romantic ideals.

Cromwell’s impressive PR machine was his downfall. Holbein’s painting a little too appealing, encouraging the king to fall in love with a woman who did not exist. When he met her, he didn’t like what he saw, felt or smelt. Froude wrote

“The German alliance was already shaking at its base: the court was agitated and alarmed; the king was miserable.”

Unable to cancel the wedding without causing an international incident, Henry warned Cromwell” If it were not to satisfy the world and my realm, I would not do that I must do this day for none earthly thing.”

Henry’s EXTREME disappointment gave Cromwell’s enemies the edge they needed to effect his downfall.

In May of 1540, Wyatt (serving as ambassador to the Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor in Europe) nearly begged to be allowed to come home.

The historian Simonds refers to Cromwell’s letters in describing the power of their relationship. “It is to ‘my very loving friend’ that these documents are addressed, and in like fashion subscribed. In fact Cromwell had ever been ‘good lord’ to Wyatt, as the expression ran, and it was not improbable that the ruin of his powerful patron might involve his own.”

The fall of our most powerful family friend

[The following is mostly from Thomas Cromwell by Robert Hutchison, 2007 – link at bottom]

Cromwell stood and told those with him on the scaffold: ‘Pray for the prince and for all the lords of the council and for the clergy and for the commonalty [people]. Now I beg you again that you will pray for me’

Taking a last long look around, Cromwell spotted his old friend Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder in the front ranks of the shifting and pressing crowd. He called out: Gentle Wyatt, goodbye – pray for me. Wyatt imprisoned in the downfall of Anne Boleyn, immediately dissolved into tears. ‘ Do not weep’, Cromwell added, ‘for if I were no more guilty than you were when they took you, I should not be in this pass’.

With that, he told the executioner: “Pray, if possible, cut off the head with one blow, so that I may not suffer much’. It was a faint hope. The headsman was called Gurrea, ‘a ragged and butcherly wretch’ and moments later he botched the execution; some claimed he was deliberately chosen because of his lack of experience. It seems likely that his axe stroke missed Cromwell’s neck and bit deeply into the back of his skull; one account grimly talks of two executioners ‘chopping the Lord Cromwell’s neck and head for nearly half an hour’.

The arrogant Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and the son of Cromwell’s arch enemy Norfolk, sneered: “Now is the false churl dead, so ambitious of others’ [noble] blood. These new erected men would, by their wills, leave no noble man a life.’ Trimuphantly, he pointed to the process of attainder, the Minister’s own personally devised weapon against traitors, as being the instrument of his eventual downfall : “Now he is stricken,’ he said, ‘with his own staff”

Awaiting the inevitable

After Cromwell’s execution, Wyatt returned to Allington. According to old accounts, his mistress Elizabeth Darrell was there, along with his son and daughter-in-law. (Elizabeth had been a loyal maid to Queen Catherine of Aragon.)

Bishop Bonner renewed old attacks on Sir Thomas; the powerful Cromwell wasn’t around to protect him any longer; and the king’s health was such that he was increasingly paranoid, more open to believing lies about loyal friends.

According to tudorplace.com – “Elizabeth Darrell was openly living with Wyatt, as his mistress, at Allington Castle in Kent, in Jan of 1541, when Wyatt was arrested. Because she was pregnant at the time, she was allowed to remain in one of Wyatt’s confiscated houses.”

(I’ll write the long and involved story of Bonner’s attacks and Wyatt’s response some other time. Just imagine how it felt to be so betrayed; again. He was not expected to leave Tower grounds alive this time!)

From prison he wrote his friend, Sir Francis Bryan:

SIGHS are my food : my drink is bitter tears.

Clinking of fetters would such music crave.

Stink and close air away my life it wears.

Pure Innocence is all the hope I have!

Rain, wind, or weather judge I by mine ears!

Malice assaults that Righteousness should have !

Sure I am, BRYAN ! this wound shall heal again

But yet, alas! the scar shall still remain!

In July of 1540 Henry annulled his marriage to the physically undesirable Anne of Cleves (on mutually acceptable grounds) and hooked up with a sweet young bubblehead. His new queen, Katherine Howard, was a cousin of Anne Boleyn and our Elizabeth Brooke.

Let it be said that the king was no prize. His old jousting wound had never healed and you smelled him before you saw him. Previous injuries restricted most activities except boffing and eating; he was immense and getting old before his time.

Naturally he was flattered to have an attentive young new queen on his arm. When she pleaded for Sir Thomas’ pardon, Henry allowed it. (She had pleaded on behalf of others and been denied.)

Conditional forgiveness

The king granted his release from prison on the condition that he would take his wife back. Understand that they had already been separated for about 15 years. Henry expected Thomas to live a “conjugal” life with her; if he didn’t – if he was found to have relations with others – he would suffer death and confiscation of property.

This was strange because men HAD mistresses, wives were sent away and couples lived openly in adultery. It was no big deal. Nicola Shulman (in Graven With Diamonds – link at bottom) says “Wyatt’s condition is the only example of its kind in his time.”

Shulman suggests Henry may have given in by pressure from the Howards – relatives of the Brookes, who wanted Thomas to accept financial responsibility for his estranged wife. They’d been after him to pay up for years.

Did he obey? According to Tudorplace.com; “following his release from the Tower, he returned to his mistress.”

Is it possible Henry gave him a wink and a slap on the back? If not, he was risking tremendous wealth for love. Because Henry did what he had done before after imprisoning his old friend for no good reason; he added to his estates and allowed him back into his circle of trust.

When Henry beheaded his young queen for adultery, Thomas acquired the lands of her lover, Thomas Culpeper.

At this time Marillac, the French ambassador described Sir Thomas as “one of the richest gentleman in England, having an income from his patrimony of six to seven thousand ducats a year.”

The final mission

The following year Henry refriended Spain and resumed war against France. Thomas accompanied the king at Dover and was made captain of 300 men in Calais, where he defended the city while new fortifications were built. Sir Thomas was expected to be named Vice-Admiral of the English fleet.

When the Spanish envoy arrived in Falmouth ahead of schedule, Sir Thomas rushed to meet him, changing many horses along the way. He was known to have crushing headaches. He wasn’t feeling well, the sun was bright and the weather unseasonably warm for October.

Shulman quotes his friend John Mason as gently accusing him of “having more regard for the royal mandate than his health.” Shulman says there was another reason for his speed. Elizabeth Darrell and their young son were nearby.

He collapsed of great fever at the house of his friend Sir John Horsey. Shulman hopes he sent for Elizabeth so they could say their final good-byes.

On 11 October, 1542 he died. Per Shulman, he “is thought to have become the first tenant of a family vault which Horsey was preparing for himself at the great church in Sherborne.”

The church register describes him as “‘vir venerabilis’. The ‘inquisitio post mortem’, dated 8 Jan 1542-3, enumerates vast estates in Kent
(34 Hen. VIII, Kent, m. 90).

We can pay our respects by visiting the abbey online:
http://www.sherborneabbey.com/

(I see we have other ancestors buried at that abbey.)

Sir Tom’s two Elizabeths

Sir Thomas left some of his properties to Elizabeth Darrell with “right of reversion” to their son Francis. During the reign of Queen Mary, Elizabeth Darrell finally received the legacy left to her by her beloved Queen Catherine of Aragon. (It had been withheld by Henry VIII.) According to Tudorplace.com Elizabeth Darrelle married Robert Strowde in 1554.

Elizabeth Brooke – finally free – married Sir Edward Warner, Lord of the Tower. Warner was implicated in Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger’s rebellion; when Elizabeth became queen, she restored his position and family fortunes. Elizabeth and Edward died during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

Links to books quoted:

Thomas Cromwell by Robert Hutchison
From $4.77 used:

http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cromwell-Henry-Notorious-Minister/dp/031257794X/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381526643&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=Thomas+Cromwell+by+Robert+Hutchison

Graven with Diamonds by Nicola Shulman
From $5 used:

http://www.amazon.com/Graven-Diamonds-Lives-Thomas-Statesman/dp/1586422073/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381526756&sr=1-2&keywords=Graven+with+Diamonds+by+Nicola+shulman

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threequeensBy Mickisuzanne© 

In 1535 Henry VIII – who desperately sought an heir and a spare  – was saddled with a queen and a spare.

Pious and beloved of the people, Katherine of Aragon had denied him a divorce. She managed to survive despite extreme emotional abuse that included the flaunting of Anne and being denied access to her beloved only living child Mary. Henry relocated her to increasingly damp and difficult environs.

Anne Boleyn had been the other woman, Henry’s case of “be careful what you wish for.” Her arrogant behaviors as queen managed to piss off friends and family – even her self-seeking uncle, the powerful Duke of Norfolk. Henry was disappointed because she had failed to produce the promised son. She delivered one healthy girl, Elizabeth, miscarried a second child and was not getting any younger.

All of England was learning that when Henry was disappointed, he was dangerous. William Edward Simonds (Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Poems) wrote that Henry had “alienated the sympathies of the people at large through his cruelty to Catharine and the shamelessness of his relations with Anne Boleyn. All classes were disaffected.”

People were still reeling from the executions of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More. Erasmus wrote, ” Every man bewaileth the death of Thomas More, even they who are not of his faith, so great was his affability and courtesy to all mankind ; so excellent his nature.” The King of France – Henry’s nemesis – suggested offenders should be banished, not put to death. Henry angrily responded “That they had suffered by due course of law, and were well worthy, if they had a thousand lives, to have suffered ten times a more terrible death and execution than any of them did suffer.”

In the fall of 1535 Henry first laid eyes on Jane Seymour at Wolf Hall; it was love at first sight. Jane had been a maid of honor to Katherine and was (I believe, at that time) a maid of honor to Anne. From beauty to sensual style of dress, her ladies were eye candy, a virtual smorgasbord of temptation.

Henry was in his mid-40s, overweight and sometimes impotent. Jane must have lit his fires as Anne conceived upon his return.

1536 – YEAR OF TRAGEDIES

Things were suddenly going Anne’s way. On 7 January Katherine of Aragon finally died.

(Katherine and our Sir Tom had a relationship of sorts; Tom was sensitive to the queen’s plight, probably appalled by Anne’s behavior and in love with one of Katherine’s most loyal ladies – Elizabeth Darrel.)

On her deathbed Katherine dictated this heartbreaking letter for the king.

“My lord and dear husband,

I commend me unto you. The hour of my death draweth fast on, and my case being such, the tender love I owe you forceth me with a few words to put you in remembrance of the health and safeguard of your soul, which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and tendering of your own cares. For my part, I do pardon you all; yea, I do wish and devoutly pray God that he will also pardon you.

For the rest, I commend unto you Mary, our daughter, beseeching you to be a good father to her, as I heretofore desired. I entreat you also on behalf o my maids to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants, I solicit a year’s pay more than their due, lest they should be unprovided for.

Lastly, I do vow that mine eyes do desire you above all things.”

Anne was ecstatic. She is said to have cried out “Now I am indeed a queen!”  According to William Howitt (Cassell’s Illustrated History of England), “She said she was grieved, not that Catherine was dead, but for the vaunting there was of the good end she made; for numberless books and pamphlets were written in her praise, which were, therefore, so many severe censures on Henry and on Anne. Indeed, her open rejoicing on this occasion, and the haughty carriage which she now assumed, disgusted and offended every one.”

Catholic Europe saw Katherine as Henry’s one true wife; they saw the king as a widower, a free man.

Anne was not safe appearing outside the palace gates, “so bitter was the feeling of the common people towards her.” (Simonds)

In London she was attacked by a mob of seven to eight thousand people who sought her death. Henry’s nobles were “ripe for treason” and (Wyatt family friend) Cromwell responded to the dangers by filling the country with spies.

Several weeks after Katherine’s death, Anne miscarried a 15 week old male fetus. One can imagine the cold chill that went down her back when Henry said “I see God will not give me male children” [by you]!

Everyone at court knew about Jane but Anne. Howitt wrote “according to Wyatt, Anne only became aware of it by entering a room one day, and beholding Jane Seymour seated on Henry’s knee, in a manner the most familiar, and as if accustomed to that indulgence. She saw at once that not only was Henry ready to bestow his regards on another, but that other was still more willing to step into her place than she had been to usurp that of Catherine. Anne was far advanced in pregnancy, and was in great hopes of riveting the king’s affections to her by the birth of a prince; but the shock which she now received threw her into such agitation that she was prematurely delivered – of a boy, indeed, but dead. Henry, the moment that he heard of the unlucky accident, rushed into the queen’s chamber, and upbraided her savagely ‘with the loss of his boy.’ Anne, stung by this cruelty, replied that he had to thank himself and ‘that wench, Jane Seymour,’ for it. The fell tyrant retired, muttering his vengeance, and the die was now cast irrevocably for Anne Boleyn, if it were not before.”

THE DIE IS CAST

On 18 April, 1536, Cromwell vacated his apartments at Greenwich Palace so Jane could move in. This allowed Henry to see her whenever he wanted; but she was smart enough to maintain her honor. She had learned Anne’s game – and bettered it.

The Seymour faction was secretly usurping the Boleyns; and the Wyatts had a connection. Our Sir Thomas Wyatt had grown up with Anne and George Boleyn, as Allington and Hever Castles were not that far apart; Anne, George and Tom were part of a circle of renaissance types who inspired art, poetry and music within the Tudor court.

And Tom’s wife Elizabeth Brooke was related to the Boleyns. (As a result, Wyatt descendants are related to Anne Boleyn.)

In April the court was abuzz with excitement about the May Day Jousts. On the last day of the month the king went to Greenwich and Cromwell headed to London. Trouble was simmering beneath the surface.

Cromwell invited Mark Smeaton to dinner. Mark – the queen’s musician – was a friend of Tom’s, part of the tight-knit creative circle.

Mark suspected nothing. Martin Andrew Sharp Hume, English historian (1847-1910) wrote that Cromwell took him by the hand and led him to his chamber, where six men waited. Once he had him, he said “Mark, I have wanted to speak to you for some days, and I have had no opportunity till now. Not only I, but many other gentlemen, have noticed that you are ruffling it very bravely of late. We know that four months ago you had nothing, for your father has hardly bread to eat, and now you are buying horses and arms, and have made showy devices and liveries such as no lord of rank can excel. Suspicion has arisen either that you have stolen the money or that someone had given it to you …”

Of course Cromwell was implying the queen was showering Mark with riches in return for sexual favors.  Imagine the impact of a queen who cheated; kings need to know the heir is theirs.

Cromwell continued “I give you notice now that you will have to tell me the truth before you leave here, either by force or good-will.”

Mark got confused, then frightened. “Then he [Cromwell] called two stout young fellows of his, and asked for a rope and cudgel and ordered them to put the rope, which was full of knots, round Mark’s head, and twisted it with the cudgel until Mark cried out ….”

The Tudors series took liberties with the facts … but we get a powerful visual impression of the dynamic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1SLLn5MOFw

Torture continued until Mark was ready to tell him anything that would make it stop. “When the Secretary heard it he was terror-stricken, and asked Mark if he knew of anyone else besides himself who had relations with the Queen. Mark, to escape further torture, told all he had seen of Master Norris and Brereton, and swore than he knew no more. Then Cromwell wrote a letter to the King, and sent Mark to the Tower.”

toweroflondon

Cromwell wrote Henry “Your Majesty will recollect that Mark has hardly been in your service four months and only has [100 pounds] salary, and yet all the Court notices his splendor, and that he has spent a large sum for these jousts, all of which has aroused suspicions in the minds of certain gentlemen, and I have examined Mark, who has made the confession which I enclose to your Majesty in this letter.”

THE BLOODY MONTH OF MAY

On May 1 Henry read the “confession” and “his meal did not at all agree with him.” It’s upsetting to even read those words; it was the ultimate setup. I sometimes wonder if he convinced himself of his own deceits and saw himself as a victim. (Note that other monarchs of those times managed to divorce or otherwise rid themselves of unwanted queens without resorting to bloodshed.)

The May Day jousts had just begun. Henry ordered his boat to take him to Westminster, but the jousts should continue as planned.

Henry ordered that “when the jousts were over that Master Norris and Brereton, and Master Wyatt, should be secretly arrested and taken to the Tower.

The Queen did not know the King had gone, and went to the balconies where the jousts were to be held, and asked where he was, and was told that he was busy.” She also noticed Mark Smeaton had not come out. She was told he had gone to London and had not yet returned.

“So the jousts began and Master Wyatt did better than anybody. This Master Wyatt was a very gallant gentleman, and there was no prettier man at Court than he was.” After the jousting was done, Norris and Brereton were “carried off to the Tower without anyone hearing anything about it.”

On 2 May Henry VIII sent the Captain of the Guard and a hundred halberdiers to Greenwich to fetch the queen. She expected to be taken to Henry at Westminster, but they took her to the tower instead.

Again, The Tudors exaggerated, but what beautiful, gut-wrenching exaggeration.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWOGRKeNeP8

After Henry learned she was in The Tower, he had her brother George arrested.

On 5 May. “Then Cromwell’s nephew said to Master Wyatt, ‘Sir, the Secretary, my master, sends to beg you to favour him by going to speak with him, as he is rather unwell, and is in London.’ So Wyatt went with him.

It seems Henry wanted Cromwell to give Wyatt the third degree. “When they arrived in London Cromwell took Master Wyatt apart, and said to him, ‘Master Wyatt, you well know the great love I have always borne you, and I must tell you that it would cut me to the heart if you were guilty in the matter of which I wish to speak.’ Then he told him all that had passed; and Master Wyatt was astounded, and replied with great spirit, ‘Sir Secretary, by the faith I owe to God and my Kind and lord, I have no reason to distrust, for I have not wronged him even in thought. The King well knows what I told him before he was married.‘ [He had warned Henry against marrying Anne by telling the king she had been less than virtuous.] Then Cromwell told him he would have to go to the Tower, but that he would promise to stand his friend, to which Wyatt answered, ‘I will go willingly, for as I am stainless I have nothing to fear.’ He went out with Richard Cromwell [the nephew] and nobody suspected that he was a prisoner; and when he arrived at the Tower Richard said to the captain of the Tower, ‘Sir Captain, Secretary Cromwell sends to beg you to do all honour to Master Wyatt.’ So the captain put him into a chamber over the door….”

I’m not sure what view he would have had. If anyone reading this knows, please comment. I snagged this photo from TripAdvisor … maybe he looked out of one of these windows?

towerdoor

On 11 May Cromwell wrote Sir Henry Wyatt and assured him his son’s life would be spared.

Mid-May Jane was moved to a house a mile of the king’s residence at Whitehall.

On 17 May George Boleyn and Mark Smeaton were executed. This moving video from The Tudors includes Sir Thomas’ poetry towards the end.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UudjGTPDk7c

On Friday, 19 May Anne Boleyn was executed. Wyatt’s sister Mary – a.k.a. Margaret – Lady Lee – attended Queen Anne on the scaffold. Anne gave her a miniature book of prayers before her death. (I don’t buy their portrayal of our ancestor whimpering in the background; I’m sure he was greatly saddened, but #1, he was still imprisoned and #2, he had been upset by her behavior towards Queen Katherine.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IsCnsYIPVA

On Saturday, 20 May Henry and Jane were secretly betrothed at Hampton Court.

On 30 May Henry married Jane. Jane took care to have her ladies dress more modestly. She caught him, she expected to keep him.

On 14 June, 1536 our Sir Thomas was released from the tower, a changed man.

Five months later his father Sir Henry Wyatt died.

* * *

(I apologize if there are errors or typos in this blog; this topic deserves days of work, not hours!)

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Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire, EnglandThis month that recognizes a new pope in our lifetimes is the month that marks the 477th anniversary of our ancestor’s knighthood.  Oddly enough, the two have something in common; the power of the Catholic Church.

Our ancestor was no friend of Rome.

The early days of Henry VIII’s reign

When Henry VIII came to power in 1509 there were “more than 850 religious houses in England.” He was a devout Catholic. On October 11, 1521, Pope Leo X granted Henry the title of Fidei Defensor – defender of the faith – for writing his “Declaration of the Seven Sacraments Against MartinLuther.”

A problem arose when Queen Catherine of Aragon – his brother’s widow – failed to produce the essential male heir. (Their daughter Mary did not count.) After years of miscarriages and stillbirths, the weary queen was entering menopause and our titillating cousin Anne Boleyn was holding out for marriage.

Henry insisted Pope Clement VII grant him a divorce on the grounds that he had married his brother’s wife. This should have been fairly easy; the Vatican was in the business of selling permissions and Henry had grounds. He cited the passage in Leviticus that says “If a man taketh his brother’s wife, he hath committed adultery; they shall be childless.”

Pope Clement was in no position to comply because he was under the control of Catherine’s nephew – Emperor Charles V of Spain.

Our Wyatt may have inspired the king’s break with Rome.

When Henry expressed extreme distress about being unable to get a divorce, Thomas responded “Heavens! That a man cannot repent him of his sins without the Pope’s leave.” I love that he could speak so freely with the king.

Henry and the Boleyn’s family priest Thomas Cranmer nurtured the seed Wyatt planted. Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury; he annulled Henry’s marriage to Catherine so he could marry Anne.

At her coronation Thomas Wyatt took his retired father’s place as chief ewerer – “an office formerly of no small distinction” (Nott) and poured scented water over Anne’s hands. Considering their romantic history, that had to be an awkward moment on his end.

She was proud of the bulging belly she was sure cradled the essential prince. Princess Elizabeth was born on September 7, 1533, at Greenwich.

Dissolution of the Monasteries

We don’t know whether Henry’s Dissolution of the Monasteries was financial or spiritual. One would suspect both; he had squandered most of his father’s money and Rome had denied him what he most needed. But there was wealth in the churches.

The History Learning Site tells us the term “monastery” can be deceiving since not many of the “religious houses” could be considered monasteries. Larger religious houses were called abbeys, medium sized houses were called priories or nunneries, and the smallest were friaries. Some religious houses were public and performed meaningful services to their communities; others were closed and grew tremendously wealthy over centuries of people paving their path to heaven with gifts of land.

“In this way, some religious orders grew spectacularly rich. It was these institutions that are frequently referred to as ‘monasteries’ and they owned, it is thought, about one-third of all the land in England and Wales. The thirty richest monasteries were as rich or richer than the wealthiest nobles in the land.”
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/dissolution_monasteries.htm

When the king wasn’t sure how to proceed with the suppression of the monasteries, our Wyatt suggested “what if the rook’s nest were buttered?” The “rook” being the nobility” and the “butter” being a share of the wealth.

There was no insurmountable backlash at first; people had long known about the corruption in some churches and epic greed of the Vatican; it had a long history of digging sticky fingers deep into the pockets of Welsh and English churches.

Besides which, the Protestants and the printing presses were making scripture available to the masses. Times were changing.

The following year Henry publicly broke with Rome and declared his Act of Supremacy. BBC.co.uk says “In the Orwellian atmosphere of the Tudor state, Cranmer was the thought, Cromwell the police.”

Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s Chief Minister, was a staunch friend of Sir Henry Wyatt and his son Thomas. In 1535 Henry made Cromwell vicegerent for day-to-day running of his church. “Valor Ecclesiasticus” was put into action; it was a process for assessing the wealth of the churches. Initially the reports were inaccurate because they were compiled by unpaid gentry; they could make money by downplaying the documentation of wealth.

Cromwell resolved that situation by sending two trusted agents to do the work – Thomas Legh and Richard Layton. They extracted the information Cromwell wanted to see by bullying and backlash began to rise.

The worst year of Wyatt’s life

1536 was a life-changer for Thomas Wyatt. Catherine of Aragon died in January. I want to believe he cared about her; after all – he clearly saw what Henry and Anne put her through; and he was in love with her Maid of Honor, Elizabeth Darrell.

Anne was on a power trip, alienating friends and family. When Catherine died, she did not conceal her joy. In Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, William Howitt wrote “Indeed, her open rejoicing on this occasion, and the haughty carriage which she now assumed, disgusted and offended every one.”

Pride comes before a fall. The second queen had not produced the promised prince. Henry already had his eyes on another and his will would be done without question.

Anne_Boleyn_London_TowerIn May Thomas Wyatt was sent to the tower due to some a verbal or physical altercation with the Duke of Suffolk; they did not get along. He was in no real danger. On 11 May Cromwell wrote Sir Henry Wyatt to assure him his son’s life would be spared. No legal proceedings were taken against him, but he did see Anne Boleyn and her brother George – lifelong friends – beheaded.

He was released 14 June.

Unrest in Lincolnshire

The dissolution of the monasteries was coming to a head. Unrest was especially intense in Lincolnshire, as there were nine monasteries within about 16 miles. Some would be dissolved due to “manifest synne, vicious, carnall and abhomynable living.” On October 1 100 rebels – ordinary men and gentry of Lincolnshire – rose against closures and taxation.  They made some of Henry’s commissioners swear an oath to the Catholic Church. By October 7, their ranks may have grown to 30,000.

A list of demands was sent to the king on October 9 and he was livid; he called Lincolnshire “the most brute and beastly shire in the realm.” He refused all demands, urged the gentlemen to round up the ringleaders and calm the masses. Lord Hussey and Lord Burgh were unable to raise enough men to meet Henry’s demands.

Our Thomas – only four months out of the tower – was given a command against the rebels. According to Graven with Diamonds, he raised 150 men from Kent and possibly 200 more “for the king’s own bodyguard.”

By the time Henry’s troops arrived on Friday the 13th, most of the rebels had gone to spread dissent to Yorkshire and other areas of the country. The gentry had some explaining to do. Some were executed, including Lord Hussey who had not done enough to quell the rebellion.

Thomas Wyatt Rewarded

Henry VIII made our Thomas Sheriff of Kent.

In November Sir Henry Wyatt died. If he had lived four more months, he would have seen his son attain knighthood.

On Easter, 18 of March, 1536/7 Henry VIII dubbed our Thomas Wyatt Sir Knight at Westminster.

I was afraid Sir Thomas Wyatt might have been involved in the horrific deception that ended the Pilgrimage of Grace; but Henry had other plans for our socially adept ancestor. In April Thomas was appointed Ambassador to the Emperor Charles V – nephew of Henry’s first dead queen.

The Tudors series – available on Netflix – did an excellent job portraying the Pilgrimage of Grace. I felt it helped me understand the issues from both sides.

Here’s a snippet.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jU2A4AB6gU

Sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/tudors/reformation_overview_01.shtml
www.lincstothepast.com/Download/884

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Catherine_Aragon_Henri_VIII_Wikipedia

R.I.P. – 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536

I will light a candle for this dear lady tonight. She was a descendant of John of Gaunt – as are we.

Most queens were glorified breeders; prince mills. This princess’ parents raised their girl with love and honor. They were the power couple of their time – Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain.

Katherine was Catholic, pious and fully prepared to do all that her new Tudor family asked. She had a terrifying journey from Spain to England – and then Prince Arthur died within months of the wedding. His father the king had promised her parents he would treat her as his own child – but he began to treat her as a bargaining chip.

She didn’t fit in on her own. She wore funny clothes and didn’t know how to dance and laugh. Her fate in that strange new land was in his hands and he wasn’t certain she was the best bride for his spare heir. Best bride, of course, meant whichever alliance would yield the most money and power.

Katherine was on the short list because she had already been shipped in by her parents, Henry wouldn’t have to pay her travel expenses. On the downside, if he found a better bride, he would have to return her dowry.

Yes, he was that cheap.

When her parents’ stars began to fade, he sent her to live “in rags” over the stables with not enough money for food nor funds to pay her servants.

When Henry died of tuberculosis, not many mourned. In Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, William Howitt states: “While his father [Henry VII] had strengthened the throne, he had made himself extremely unpopular. The longer he lived the more the selfish meanness and the avarice of his character had become conspicuous and excited the disgust of his subjects.”

After the king’s death, his mother – Lady Margaret Beaufort – chose counselors for her grandson, including our Henry Wyatt; and Katherine found her first (and last) years of true happiness. Henry VIII was a kind and loving husband for a time; but she was older than Henry. Through all the miscarriages she was only able to produce one living princess – not a prince. Henry could barely conceal his disappointment.

Menopause came early in those days. When it was obvious Katherine could not produce a son, the king set his sights on Anne Boleyn. Note that while Queen Katherine was losing Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas was losing Anne Boleyn to his friend Henry VIII. At least our Sir Tom had the good sense to step aside.

He wrote …

Whoso List to Hunt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am
,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

Katherine’s days as wife and queen were numbered. Towards the end of 1527 she commanded Wyatt to translate Petrarch’s “remedy of yll ‘fortune’ – or Book II of De remediis utriusque fortunae. It was a massive undertaking that contained 132 dialogues. He completed some of it before deciding to substitute Plutarch’s short essay The Quiet of Mind instead. This would be his holiday gift to the queen.

His signature states that with her encouragement this work might lead “this hande / towarde better enterprises.” He dated it “the last day of Decembre. M.D. XXVII” and presented it to her as a New Year’s gift.

According to Patricia Thomson, author of Sir Thomas Wyatt and His Background, “This was indeed a poignant moment in Catherine’s life, to which both the work she commissioned of Wyatt and the one she got are appropriate.”

Thompson also suggests that “it is quite possible that, coming at this moment, Wyatt’s learned offering marks his swift revulsion of feeling against Anne’s values and in favour of those for which Catherine stood.”

Sir Thomas fell in love with Katherine’s servant, Mistress Elizabeth Darrell. They would be together until his end.

Henry VIII wanted a divorce so he could marry Anne. He hoped Katherine would be compliant – he needed her to be accepting because he feared angering her nephew, Emperor Charles VI. When Katherine stood her ground, Henry viciously destroyed her from within. He prevented her from seeing her only child and sent her to ever distant, colder, damper castles. Katherine wrote her nephew the Emperor:

‘My tribulations are so great, my life so disturbed by the plans daily invented to further the king’s wicked intention, the surprises which the king gives me, with certain persons of his council, are so mortal, and my treatment is what God knows, that it is enough to shorten ten lives, much more mine.’

In May of 1534 Katherine was sent to Kimbolton Castle, where she became a prisoner in the southwest corner. She spent most of her time in prayer and was attended by a few loyal servants – including Lady Darrell; Katherine left her £200 for her marriage, “though none was in prospect.”

(Henry VIII was malicious in preventing Lady Darrell from receiving the funds; she finally received them from Queen Mary after his death.)

“When Catherine’s body was cut open for embalming, the undertakers discovered that her heart had turned black, with a hideous growth on the outside. De la Sa was certain she had been poisoned and the accusation was later used against Anne Boleyn. But no one had access to the queen except for her most faithful ladies. Modern medical historians are certain she died of cancer. Its’ interesting in the light of current ‘new age’ thinking about the relationship between illnesses people get and their emotional condition: Catherine of Aragon died of something very close to a broken heart.” From Karen Lindsey’s Divorced Beheaded Survived; a feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII

Henry found Anne Boleyn was more willful than Katherine – and just as unlikely to produce a male heir. I’ve read that Anne thought her life was in danger so long as Katherine was alive; the opposite was probably true. He couldn’t discard her because the emperor would
expect him to take his aunt back.

When Katherine died, Anne was condemned (through treachery) and Henry had already found her replacement. She was waiting in the wings. He nearly slipped the ring on her finger as the French swordsman sliced Anne’s head off her little neck.

Henry arrogantly assumed he was in a favorable position to reopen the lines of communication with the emperor. So guess who he sent as ambassador. Can you imagine calling upon the Holy Roman Emperor on behalf of the monster who killed his aunt?

I can’t.

Please join us on Facebook – Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet

(This was mostly from memory – and opinion – so please write if you note errors.)

 

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My friend Dr Linda Saether is an expert on Anne Boleyn. She’s so passionate about Anne’s life that she recently went to the Vatican to see Henry VIII’s love letters. She wanted to see them and hold them in her hands.

You can imagine the hoops she went through. She shares her experience here.

http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/17571/the-vatican-love-letters-of-henry-viii-linda-holds-them/

Why do we care? Anne Boleyn was Sir Thomas Wyatt’s childhood friend and romantic obsession before she caught the king’s eye.

I’ve always wondered how Sir Tom’s wife felt about all this. Anne Boleyn was Lady Elizabeth Brooke’s second (?) cousin.

Pretty cool to be distant relatives of this famous/infamous queen, eh?

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Allen Ginsberg
(June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997)

I stumbled upon Ginsburg reading a few of our ancestor’s poems; he talks about Sir Tom’s ways with cadence and rhythm.

This is from July, 1996 – First half of an Allen Ginsberg lecture on English and American lyric poetry. Ginsberg reads William Blake’s “Let the brothels of paris be opened,” “The gray monk,” “The Mask of anarchy,” “The ballad of Sir Patrick Spense,” “The Holy land of walsingham” and “Weep you no more, sad fountains,” followed by Thomas Wyatt’s “My lute awake,” “Forget not yet,” “They flee from me,” “Gasgoyne’s lullaby” and “Tickborn’s elegy.”

http://www.archive.org/details/Allen_Ginsberg_lecture_on_English_and_Am_96P049

Note that the Wyatt segments are this far into the audio:

46:45: Wyatt intro
48:00: My Lute Awake!
51:40: Brooklyn college students bored with this old stuff…
52:25: “Forget not yet..” Wyatt

Added 10/9/11; Today I discovered “Forget not yet” was Sir Tom’s farewell to Anne Boleyn after she’d caught the eye of the king.

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