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Archive for the ‘Thomas Cromwell’ 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.”

Please join us on Facebook, where I regularly post articles of interest:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sir-Thomas-Wyatt-the-Poet/287394704652301

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Lady Jane Grey

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey is an oil painting by Paul Delaroche completed in 1833. It is currently housed in the National Gallery in London.

Imagine being sentenced to the block or a traitor’s death in medieval England. What impression would you want to make in your last moments on this side of the grass?

This is a fascinating thesis on the importance of a good death. (It’s a little tedious for about ten pages, but then it gains traction.)

Performing at the Block: Scripting Early Modern Executions
Jennifer Lillian Lodine-Chaffey (The University of Montana)
http://earlymodernengland.com/2013/07/performing-at-the-block-scripting-early-modern-executions/

Scroll down to “Click here to read this thesis from The University of Montana Missoula”

ANNE BOLEYN

Anne_Boleyn_London_TowerOur cousin Anne Boleyn tucked the hems of her skirt so her legs wouldn’t splay after impact. The Tudors series did a beautiful job on her end (haven’t checked to see how factual it was).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6-ThCEeTJU

Natalie Dormer, a historian at heart, was devoted to being as authentic as possible. “The execution scene was especially important to Natalie: “By the end of the season, when I’m standing on that scaffold,” she told Michael, “I hope you write it the way it should be. And I want the effect of that scene to remain with viewers for the length of the series…. Hirst, too, recalls the heightened emotions of shooting that scene: “That was an amazing day. Extraordinary day. After, I went in to congratulate her. She was weeping and saying, `She’s with me Michael. She’s with me.
http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/75175679.html#ixzz2Yqy8sDLz

In this video Natalie is taken to the actual spots where history was made, including Anne’s final resting place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvUV9QwqjoE

LORD THOMAS CROMWELL

Cromwell,ThomasWyatt family friend Lord Thomas Cromwell was hacked to death by an inept executioner as our Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet watched weeping.

This is captured in The Tudors, but not in this strange edit of the scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8uT6oEhGl0

(The Tudors is available on Netflix.)

QUEEN CATHERINE HOWARD

CatherineHowardOur young relative* Queen Catherine (Henry’s fifth wife and Anne Boleyn’s cousin) rehearsed with a block so she wouldn’t make a fool of herself.

According to Wikipedia (not a resource I trust, but ok for these purposes) “She died with relative composure, but looked pale and terrified and required assistance to climb the scaffold.”

I could not find anything on youtube that portrayed her demise with adequate respect.

LADY JANE GRAY

Lady Jane Gray – the innocent pawn known as “the nine day queen” – was blindfolded and needed help finding the block. Although the setting is all wrong, Paul Delaroche captured the emotion in 1833. (See main image, above.)

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

maryqueenofscotsI don’t know – we may be vaguely related – but Mary Queen of Scots went to the block with her small dog hiding in her red petticoats; red was the color of a Catholic martyr. She would have been mortified if she had known how humiliating her end would be.

Wikipedia again … “Mary was not beheaded with a single strike. The first blow missed her neck and struck the back of her head. The second blow severed the neck, except for a small bit of sinew, which the executioner cut through using the axe. Afterward, he held her head aloft and declared, “God save the Queen.” At that moment, the auburn tresses in his hand turned out to be a wig and the head fell to the ground, revealing that Mary had very short, grey hair. A small dog owned by the queen, a Skye terrier, is said to have been hiding among her skirts, unseen by the spectators.”

This is probably a better account: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandshistory/renaissancereformation/execution/index.asp

SIR THOMAS WYATT THE YOUNGER

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger gave a final speech that helped save Elizabeth Tudor’s life by denying her complicity in his rebellion.

Bloody Mary was beyond pissed. He was condemned to a traitor’s death where he was drawn, hanged and quartered. I find it too disturbing to describe.

This link provides an excellent explanation:

http://academia.edu/215486/A_Traitors_Death_The_identity_of_a_drawn_hanged_and_quartered_man_from_Hulton_Abbey_Staffordshire

UPDATE

I no longer share original Wyatt content here because I will not give my work away. Cousins – please DO join me/us on Facebook where I share interesting articles from other Tudor and medieval fanatics daily. We are there as Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet. (See Facebook link at right.)

*We are related to all of Henry VIII’s queens through Jane Haute, wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger.

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Thomas Cromwell

Image from Wikipedia

He died 471 years ago this week.

Thomas Cromwell, Lord Great Chamberlain, Chief Minister of Henry VIII, Earl of Essex – he was feared, hated and envied. Like his predecessor Wolsey, he was a smart, ambitious man from humble beginnings.

He helped Henry rid himself of Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn. He was a passionate advocate for the Reformation.  He provided most of the financial backing to make the Bible available in English.

In his precious free time he invited creative and spiritually inclined people to his home for long discussions.

Most important to descendants, he was a dear friend of our Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet.

When Sir Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower during Anne Boleyn’s last days, it was Thomas Cromwell who assured his aging father he would be OK.

On May 5, 1536 Sir Tom was imprisoned in the tower. On May 11, Cromwell assured his father Sir Henry Wyatt that he would be released without charges. Unfortunately, Tom witnessed Anne’s beheading on May 19 – his sister there with her on the scaffold. He wrote wrote “enemies surround my soul.” He was released, as Cromwell promised, June 14.

Cromwell continued watching out for Tom’s welfare as long as he lived. When the king sent Tom away from home, he paid small debts and resolved household problems on his behalf. Like he didn’t have bigger fish to fry:-)

Cromwell’s downfall came when he encouraged Henry to marry Anne of Cleves; his reasons were political – he felt a German alliance would strengthen England.  A painting of Anne was commissioned and – like match.com – the image was far from reality.  Henry committed to wed a woman he had never seen.

Henry met Anne on new year’s day 1540; he couldn’t stand the way she looked or smelled. I imagine she felt the same. She was a virgin who didn’t understand where babies came from. He was a fat, wife-killing lech whose leg reeked from a chronic oozing infection.

Henry was very vocal about his displeasure. He said her breasts and belly felt soft and old; he couldn’t “perform”.  He was quick to point out the problem was not his – it was hers. She did not inspire his lust. Their marriage was never consummated and he started warning people if this continued, they could not expect he would father more heirs to the throne.

Henry blamed Cromwell; he became verbally and physically abusive, literally smacking his Chief Minister around.

On June 10, 1540, during a council dinner in Westminster Palace,  the Duke of Norfolk (Sir Tom’s godfather ) arrested Cromwell . “My Lord of Essex, I arrest you of high treason.”  The duke tore off the St George medal he wore around his neck and Lord Admiral Fitzwilliam (formerly his friend) snatched at the Order of the Garter.

Cromwell was furious. He responded “This, then, is my guerdon [reward] for the service that I have done. On your consciences I ask you, am I a traitor? I may have offended, but never with my will. Such faults as I have committed deserve grace and pardon; but if the King, my master, believes so ill of me, let him make quick work and not leave me to languish in prison.”

During his time in the tower Cromwell was ordered to give Henry everything he needed to annul his marriage to Anne of Cleves; this was accomplished on July 12.

It strikes me as tragic that Henry killed Cromwell for pairing him with a woman who became one of his few true and loving friends. Based on what I’ve read to date, she may have been his only friend.  Of course – knowing how he had disposed of Anne Boleyn, she had to be grateful to keep her head. She was glad to stay in England, where she had friends and freedom. Henry was generous with her, gave her homes (including the Boleyn’s Hever Castle) and visited often. There were rumors of a romance.

Henry had Cromwell executed July 28.  The king had a nasty habit of mixing endings with beginnings. That same day he left to marry Catherine Howard, the “firm” young bimp who would make a total fool of him. Of course she lost her head in the bargain.

Before the axe fell on Cromwell’s neck he prayed “Grant me, merciful Saviour, that when death hath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon Thee, and when death hath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto Thee, Lord into Thy hands I commend my soul, Lord Jesus receive my spirit, Amen.”

Remember how Anne Boleyn had a French swordsman who came in to assure her end would be swift? Cromwell was not nearly as fortunate, his execution was performed by an inept butcher. The Tudors series doesn’t hold true to the facts, but their fiction is interesting and their visuals powerful:

“In July 1540 there was much rejoicing at Cromwell’s fall, for he was generally regarded as a tyrant and a destructive force. Few friends dared to speak up for his reputation openly and his constructive work went unrecognized until long afterwards. Yet one contemporary who knew his worth set down his feelings in the jewel of a sonnet. ‘Gentle Master Wyatt’, as Cromwell had so often written to him on public affairs during his service on diplomatic missions, in 1540 at last returned to his native Kent, where he was to enjoy barely two years of retirement before he died.”(Sir Tom died in service to Henry VIII, so this source is incorrect or the king may have called him out of retirement for a special assignment.)This was Sir Tom’s sonnet for Cromwell:

“The pillar perish’d is whereto I leant;
The strongest stay of mine unquiet mind:
The like of it, no man again can find,
From east to west still seeking though he went.
To mine unhap; for hap away hath rent
Of all my join the very bark and rind;
And I, alas! by chance am thus assign’d
Dearly to mourn, till death do it relent.
But since that thus it is by destiny,
What can I more but have a woeful heart;
My pen in plaint, my voice in woeful cry,
My mind in woe, my body full of smart,
And I myself, myself always to hate;
Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.”

According to The Cardinal and the Secretary, “His [Cromwell’s] fall had made it easier to justify to the courts of Europe his parting from Anne of Cleves, but by the time Catherine Howard had gone to the executioner he had come to realize that Cromwell had been unnecessarily sacrificed.”Henry became his own Chief Minister. “After Wolsey’s fall he had found that he needed Cromwell’s service, but after Cromwell’s disgrace no one of the same calibre offered himself. Indeed the problems were far less pressing now that Cromwell had made him master in his own house.””Seeing in the new men about him no hint of statesmanlike qualities .. the King came to conclude that Cromwell had been condemned ‘on light pretexts’.”

Henry was unable to find any man in his court who measured up to Cromwell and later referred to him as ‘the best servant he ever had’.”

R.I.P. Thomas Cromwell; you are remembered.

(Quotes and sonnet from The Cardinal & the Secretary by Neville Williams.)

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