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.


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.”


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.

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.”


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.”


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.

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?


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.

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.)

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!)

Henry VIII at Coronation

Henry VII had it all – wealth and connections that helped secure his unsteady throne – and the essential heir and a spare.

Unfortunately Arthur – Henry’s oldest prince – died in 1502. The king’s beloved queen Elizabeth of York died in 1503. She had been a kind and loving wife and mother. Henry, the younger son, had been groomed for a different path and an aging, widowed and grieving father didn’t have many years to prepare him for the throne.

Henry VII died of tuberculosis at Richmond Palace on 22 April, 1509. In Cassell’s Illustrated History of England (with text by William Howitt) the author describes how the English felt about his reign. “While his father 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.”

Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583 to 1648) was much like Sir Thomas Wyatt in that he was a poet, diplomat and soldier. His book England Under VIII was published the year after his death and is still read today.  According to Lord Herbert …

“Nothing is so easie as to reign, if the body of government be well framed.”  

Henry VIII was crowned April 22, 1509 at 18 years of age. He took the throne unopposed, a tribute to his father’s zeal. The Tudor reign was secure.

His father’s stinginess left him very well off but he would need guidance. His grandmother Lady Margaret Beaufort knew what her son Henry VII would have wanted.

Howitt wrote “His grandmother, the countess of Richmond and Derby, was highly esteemed for her virtue and prudence, and Henry appeared quite disposed to be guided by her sage experience in the conduct of national affairs. By her advice he continued in his council the men who had been the counsellors of his father. Warham, the archbishop of Canterbury, the earl of Shrewsbury, lord Herbert, Sir Thomas Lovel, Sir Edward Poynings, Sir Henry Marney, Sir Thomas Darcy, and Sir Henry Wyatt, surrounded his council-board, and occupied the chief offices of the state.”

Lord Cherbury listed the ten men in this order:

William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, Secretary and Lord Privy-Seal
George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Steward of the King’s Household
Sir Charles Somerset, Lord Herbert, of Gower, Chepstow, and Rayland, Lord Chamberlain
Sir Thomas Lovel, Master of the Wards and Constable of the Tower
Sir Henry Wyat
Thomas Ruthal, Doctor of Law
Sir Edward Poynings, Knight of the Garter, Controller
Sir Henry Marney, Lord Marney
Sir Thomas Darcy, Lord Darcy

“The frame of this council was of scholars, chiefly, and soldiers…” These were not “men of the law” – but they called for experts when needed. Their job was to “impartially advise, but often modestly contest with him in any thing for his good… this held up the majesty of the council.” Lord Herbert tells us that “The first office perform’d by these counselors, was mix’d betwixt piety to their deceas’d prince, and duty to their new.”

Lady Margaret expected them to “deliberate well among themselves” so that the young king would not be “distracted by difference of opinions.” They behaved as Margaret expected til her death; which came shortly thereafter.

Henry VIII had lost his brother, his mother and now his father. He was a sensitive young man. He left Richmond, where his father had died, for the Tower of London. There he learned the true state of the kingdom from his council and sought to “avoid those salutes and acclamations of the people … till the lamentations and solemnity of his father’s funeral were past. He thought not fit to mingle the noises.”

Henry Wyatt was knighted – along with others – at Henry’s coronation.

Recommended reading:

Winter King – Henry VII and The Dawn of Tudor England
by Thomas Penn.


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.”

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.


Restored medieval home

From the listing “An exceptional late medieval monastic building dating back as far as the middle ages, built with local limestone rubble in thin courses, with limestone dressings and a welsh slate roof. The property would have originally been regarded as an outstation of Llanthony Secunda Priory at Gloucester. Originally built as a first floor hall house it is a rare example to have survived in Wales. It’s current owner has lovingly restored the property back to its former glory and now offers flexible accommodation…

Originally a large medieval first floor hall house dating from the 12th century. The house was a extended in the 15th century adding a four story wing projecting from the back of the original house. This created an l-shape plan with the main block facing east.”

I found this fairly breathtaking; enjoy the photos.


Our Aunt

Our Aunt

Alison Weir – my hero – made an error in her book Henry VIII; it’s on page 398, re: Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet. She wrote “In 1537, his marriage to Elizabeth Brooke was finally dissolved, and he married Jane Haute, a distant connection of the King’s grandmother, Elizabeth Wydeville, queen of Edward IV. Despite his aversion for court life, Wyatt now made a career of diplomacy …”

She got her Wyatts crossed. It’s easy to do.

Sir Tom’s love to the end was Elizabeth Darrell, one of Katherine of Aragon’s most faithful ladies. They openly lived together. So far as I know, Thomas and Elizabeth Brooke never got their divorce; she remarried after his death. And we all know his son married Jane Haute.

There was a bright spot in the disappointment – I didn’t know about the Haute/Wydeville connection. I threw myself into ancestry.com and hope you’re as excited as I am to learn more about this branch of our tree. If memory serves, Edward IV made a somewhat violent pass at (our Aunt) Elizabeth and she resisted. Of course he was smitten by any beautiful woman with morals, so he married her. He was a fun, earthy king – someone we might enjoy having a beer with. He remembered names and treated commoners with uncommon friendliness.

When he died our “Aunt” Elizabeth York scrambled to protect her children from the forces that hoped to seize his throne. Our cousins – the princes in the tower – were probably smothered in their bed by Richard III’s men. (It amazes me that the history that affects me most deeply always winds up involving actual ancestors.)

Henry Tudor’s brilliant mother Margaret Beaufort plotted a match between Elizabeth’s daughter and her son; Richard III was vanquished, the marriage took place and our Haute line joined the Tudor line to Henry VIII himself. Worst cousin EVER.

Imagine what this means to our relation to Queen Elizabeth. Since we’re related to Anne Boleyn through Elizabeth Brooke, we’re related to her mother and her father.

The generational distance shown here is mine and I’m a baby boomer. If you are too, the distance should be fairly close. Add, subtract, or hit ancestry.com to work it out on your own.

(Note that part of this line might be incorrect – see the comment about Joan Woodville below; this warrants further investigation when I have time. )  


Lady Joan Wydville/Woodville (1410 – 1462)
(Sister of Queen Elizabeth, Wife of Edward IV)
is our 16th great grandmother

William Haute or Hawte (1430 – 1497)

Son of Lady Joan

Thomas Hawte (1453 – 1502)

Son of William

Hawte, Sir William Knight (1490 – 1530)

Son of Thomas

Jane, Lady Hawte (Haute) (1522 – 1600)

Daughter of Hawte, Sir William Knight

George (Sir) Wyatt (1550 – 1625)

Son of Jane, Lady

Reverend Haute Wyatt (1594 – 1638)

Son of George (Sir)

Elizabeth Wydeville “Queen Consort of England” Wife of Edward IV (1437 – 1492)
Mother of the Princes in the Tower

is our 16th great grand aunt

Sir Richard I DeWydeville/Woodville Constable of the Tower (1385 – 1441)

Father of Elizabeth

Lady Joan Wydville/Woodville (1410 – 1462)

Daughter of Sir Richard I

William Haute or Hawte (1430 – 1497)

Son of Lady Joan

Thomas Hawte (1453 – 1502)

Son of William

Hawte, Sir William Knight (1490 – 1530)

Son of Thomas

Jane, Lady Hawte (Haute) (1522 – 1600)

Daughter of Hawte, Sir William Knight

George (Sir) Wyatt (1550 – 1625)

Son of Jane, Lady

Reverend Haute Wyatt (1594 – 1638)

Son of George (Sir)

Elizabeth York Plantagenet (Queen of England, Wife of Henry VII) (1466 – 1503)

is our 1st cousin 17x removed

Elizabeth Wydeville “Queen Consort of England” (1437 – 1492)

Mother of Elizabeth York

Sir Richard I DeWydeville/Woodville Constable of the Tower (1385 – 1441)

Father of Elizabeth

Lady Joan Wydville/Woodville (1410 – 1462)

Daughter of Sir Richard I

William Haute or Hawte (1430 – 1497)

Son of Lady Joan

Thomas Hawte (1453 – 1502)

Son of William

Hawte, Sir William Knight (1490 – 1530)

Son of Thomas

Jane, Lady Hawte (Haute) (1522 – 1600)

Daughter of Hawte, Sir William Knight

George (Sir) Wyatt (1550 – 1625)

Son of Jane, Lady

Reverend Haute Wyatt (1594 – 1638)

Son of George (Sir)

Henry VIII Tudor
(1491 – 1547)

is our 2nd cousin 16x removed

Elizabeth York Plantagenet (Queen Of England) (1466 – 1503)

Mother of Henry VIII

Elizabeth Wydeville “Queen Consort of England” (1437 – 1492)

Mother of Elizabeth York

Sir Richard I DeWydeville/Woodville Constable of the Tower (1385 – 1441)

Father of Elizabeth

Lady Joan Wydville/Woodville (1410 – 1462)

Daughter of Sir Richard I

William Haute or Hawte (1430 – 1497)

Son of Lady Joan

Thomas Hawte (1453 – 1502)

Son of William

Hawte, Sir William Knight (1490 – 1530)

Son of Thomas

Jane, Lady Hawte (Haute) (1522 – 1600)

Daughter of Hawte, Sir William Knight

George (Sir) Wyatt (1550 – 1625)

Son of Jane, Lady

Reverend Haute Wyatt (1594 – 1638)

Son of George (Sir)


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.)


This post includes a letter written by Anne Pritchard Woodard on March 9th 1878 at age 9 from Clifton. Ann was the daughter of Martha Ann Wyatt and Theodore Hoyt Woodard. The tree is …

(Rev) Haute Wyatt (1594-1638)
John Wyatt (1663-)
Col. Richard Wyatt (1715-1785)
Capt John Wyatt (-1750)
Richard Wyatt (1763-1845)
Richard Ware Wyatt (1806-1881)
Martha Ann Harris Wyatt (1831-1898)
Ann Pritchard Woodard (1869-1961)

More letters can be found at: https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=e3aa8082bf4ed580&id=E3AA8082BF4ED580%21309&Bsrc=SkyMail&Bpub=SDX.SkyDrive&sc=Photos

This is the Clifton Inn today: http://www.cliftoninn.net/

Do not miss the history of the Clifton Inn – here are some quick quotes:

“Clifton is significant because it was built and used by Thomas Mann Randolph (Jr) (1768-1828) who served as Governor of Virginia, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, member of the U.S. Congress and was son-in-law of Thomas Jefferson (married to Jefferson’s daughter Martha).

1830- Thomas Jefferson Randolph sold to Fontaine Wells
1835- Fontaine Wells sold to Stapleton C. Sneed
1851- Stapleton C. Sneed sold 305 acres to Richard Wyatt for $8,000
The Wyatt family cemetery is located in a small yard behind the brick office. It is likely that Colonial Richard Wyatt, owner from 1851 – 1891 is buried in this area, but little else is presently known of other graves. Wyatt named the property “Clifton” during his residence. In 1870 Ida May Wyatt, who had grown up at Clifton, married her cousin Joseph Marion Wyatt at Clifton.

During the Civil War the wife and children of Colonel John Singleton Mosby, the “Grey Ghost of the Confederacy” sought refuge at Clifton after being driven from their home near Middleburg. When Union troops were in the area, Mosby would deliver supplies to a secret hiding place outside the main house.

1891- Richard Wyatt heirs sold 305 acres called” Clifton” to J. Cummings McKennie for $3,000
Grantors reserve the family burying ground with access for purpose of burial and attention to the grave yard.”

Anne Woodard’s letters follow:

“Edward IV used to say that he had three mistresses ‘which … diversely excelled; one the meriest, the other the wyliest, the thirde the holyest’ harlot in the Realm.”

He would have been like a father to his little brother, since Richard was only nine when their father died. In 1483 Edward honored Richard by granting him the city and castle of Carlisle, wardenship of the West Marches and 10,000 marks. Still the king chose to keep his ambitious brother at a distance, “somewhat outside” the official circle.

Edward openly favored his queen’s family – the Greys and the Woodvilles; as a result, they had many enemies.

In March Edward became ill with fever and shivering fits. He was only 41 years old when he took to his bed at Westminster. Authors debate the nature of his illness. Some believed he was upset by the deceit of Louis IX; others said he was suffering the final effects of “drink and debauchery.”

Five hundred archers were on hand to keep the peace, if necessary. Some feared a coup by the queen’s family while others worried about what Richard would do.

Edward IV died April 9.  The once beautiful body of the king lay bloated, naked to the waist, for some hours before being taken for exhibition to several locations. In describing his reign, Sir James Henry Ramsay writes that “twenty-two years of government turned him from the most trustful to the most suspicious of men; yet he was always true to those who served him well.”

Edward died with his kingdom in a good place. He had recovered Berwick in the war against Scotland.  The country had been peaceful since the death of his brother Clarence and his court was filled with faithful, knowledgeable servants.

The transition to his 13-year-old son should have been easy, but it wasn’t. There was a deadlock over who would assume guardianship of the new king. Guardianship of the king was the same as control of the kingdom. The boy was then living in the care of his Uncle Rivers. The lords of the council wanted to establish a Regency Council until he was of age; instead, the queen “unwisely claimed it for herself.” He added “In the deadlock a rush was made to secure points of vantage.” Sir Edward Woodville assumed command of the king’s ships. Dorset invaded the tower and helped himself to the king’s private coffer.

Arrangements were made to bring young Edward to London for the crowning ceremony, which was scheduled for May 4. His Uncle Rivers would arrange for the journey but internal suspicions led to disputes as to how many men the young king could have in his escort. Ramsay writes “Impartial men were amazed at the idea of limiting the number of followers that a King should bring with him to his Coronation.”  The queen settled it by writing a letter telling her son he could bring no more than 2,000 men.

The moment Richard learned of the king’s death he leaped into action. He wrote the queen swearing devotion to her son as king; then he went to York to publicly mourn his brother’s death. He even exacted oaths of allegiance from the northern gentry on his nephew’s behalf.

On his way to London Richard was joined by his powerful accomplice, the Duke of Buckingham. At the same time Rivers and his friend, Sir Richard Grey, were en route with the young king. Rivers left the boy in Stony Stratford and the two men went to Northampton to pay their respects to Richard and “consult his wishes.” A pleasant evening was enjoyed by all.

The next morning Rivers and Grey were on their way back to Stony Stratford when they were seized and sent north. Richard had possession of his nephew.

The queen received the awful news the next day. We can imagine her anguish as she rushed her children into sanctuary at Westminster. Ramsay says the town “was greatly agitated” with men choosing refuge, either with the queen at Westminster or the Lords of the Council in the city.

Surprisingly, Richard’s behavior was impeccable and the boy’s coronation went as planned. Edward wore blue velvet; Richard wore black “like a mourner.” Ramsay writes “Gloucester gained golden opinions by his deferential attitude towards his young charge.”

He had stolen the role of protectorate and nobody had the courage to question his motives. When the privy council met, Archbishop Bourchier told those present that he had taken the late king’s most important effects, including the great seal, the privy seal and the signet.  This move sidestepped Archbishop Rotherham, who was for the queen.

By May 14 members of the court were addressing Richard as “Protector;” his power grew quickly.  He named the Duke of Buckingham Justiciar and Chamberlain of North and South Wales, Constable of all royal castles and more; obviously Buckingham’s loyalty was a priority.

On May 19 the young king’s friends suggested he be moved to a place where he could enjoy more freedom. Several places were recommended, but Richard chose to move him to the Tower. Richard was ready to finish what he had started. On 16 June Richard went “in force” by water to Westminster to take the other boy. “To their endless disgrace” Cardinal Bourchier and Chancellor Russell convinced the queen to surrender her younger son.

Both boys – his nephews, sons of his brother the deceased king – were declared illegitimate.

As of August 1483, they were never seen playing on tower grounds again.

According to Thomas More, Richard had the boys smothered in their bed.

Our Henry Wyatt was probably still in prison in Scotland at the time, but change was in the wind. The assumed death of the boys turned popular opinion against Richard and his days were numbered.

Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, worked behind the scenes to form alliances on behalf of her son.

If you have time on your hands …

Imagine Sir Thomas Wyatt – a protestant – negotiating the deadly waters of Catholic England. (How many protestants did Thomas More burn at the stake?)

Imagine Henry VIII sucking up to Rome for years while trying to divorce Catherine of Aragon (whose parents initiated a particularly vicious version of the Inquisition in Spain.)

Imagine the role of the popes in the Inquisition, which was alive and well in Spain while our Sir Thomas Wyatt acted as go-between for Henry VIII and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.

I read the Six Wives of Henry VIII years before I knew about my family’s descent through Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet. I skimmed information on the popes. Zzzzzz. “Boring” I thought. Maybe you feel the same. I was christened Catholic before my mom convinced the whole family to become Jehovah’s Witnesses* – but many of my friends were Catholic and they continue to be some of my favorite people on the planet. I assumed “their” popes must have been – must be – good guys.

On a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, I was too busy absorbing the beauty of Michelangelo’s Pieta to pay attention to centuries of obscene wealth.

Since starting my research on our medieval Wyatts, I started paying more attention to Rome. I began to see why some “heretic” monks attempted to bring Christ’s word back to a purer form; they began to gather in groups (like the Lollards) who lived simply and “cared for the flock” as Jesus had. Of course the popes were outraged; their public could see the shocking difference between true faith and what they were selling. And they did SELL EVERYTHING, from permission for a prince to divorce a good wife or marry a cousin to a violent knight’s guarantee of heaven after death.

I spent time immersing myself in medieval popes and rented Borgia; Faith and Fear from Netflix. (This was a happy accident, as I thought I was getting the glossy Showtime version, The Borgias:

Borgia; Faith and Fear was OUTSTANDING. Produced in Europe, it contains a surprising level of sex and violence; but it’s spellbinding and the director’s choice of actors is outstanding.

You can watch it on demand, or get the DVDs. (Keep the kids out of the room!) This link has a plot summary –

Enjoy. Who knew history could be so interesting?

*I left Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1974.

Henry Tudor – son of Henry VII – was born 28 June 1491. Our Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503.

In 1509 Henry VII died and his son was crowned Henry VIII. Our Henry Wyatt was the new king’s guardian as well as an advisor; his son Thomas became Henry’s friend – even through the Anne Boleyn debacle. It’s hard to imagine how Thomas felt when his childhood friends Anne and George Boleyn were beheaded, along with others of his creative friends.

Henry was openly brutal. He had no one to answer to; he was the head of the Church of England. He had his own damned church, Rome could kiss his ass.

Our Sir Thomas had the unpleasant task of representing the wishes of Henry VIII with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor – nephew of poor dead Catherine of Aragon. I believe Henry killed her too – not with a Frenchman’s sword, but with emotional violence, by moving her to unhealthy places and denying her access to her beloved daughter. With Catherine out of the way, Henry shamelessly pursued an alliance with Spain.

Henry was manipulative, Charles was evasive and Thomas was caught in the middle. After time spent, he begged to be allowed to come home to Allington; but Henry wasn’t a man who cared about anyone but himself. Thomas finally retired to Allington, but was called back on a mission for the king. That’s how he died, leaving poems unwritten and his sister’s son (by Henry VIII??) “unraised.” (He was raising Lady Margaret Lee’s son at the time of his death.)

What happened to Henry? What turned him into a monster? I can’t get enough of the possible answers. Here’s another interesting article on the subject:

“As a young man, he was fit and healthy. But by the time of his death, the King weighed close to 400 pounds. He had leg ulcers, muscle weakness, and, according to some accounts, a significant personality shift in middle age towards more paranoia, anxiety, depression and mental deterioration. Among other theories, experts have proposed that Henry suffered from Type II diabetes, syphilis, an endocrine problem called Cushing’s syndrome, or myxedema, which is a byproduct of hypothyroidism.”