The first White Queen program featuring author Philippa Gregory discussing the history behind the series is available NOW on YouTube and it is just OUTSTANDING. Try to read this blog before you watch, it will help you establish an emotional connection with these powerful historical figures.

The Real White Queen and Her Rivals, Episode 1

The White Queen

Wikipedia describes The White Queen as “a British television drama series based on Philippa Gregory’s bestselling historical novel series The Cousins’ War.” It’s scheduled to be broadcast in the U.S. on Starz on 8/10/13.

“Set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, the series is the story of the women caught up in the long-drawn-out conflict for the throne of England. It starts in 1464—the nation has been at war for nine years fighting over who is the rightful King of England, as two sides of the same family, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, are in violent conflict over the throne. The story focuses on three women in their quest for power, as they manipulate behind the scenes of history—Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville.”

Our Relation to Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville

Wyatt descendants are related to all three through Elizabeth Brooke, wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet.

The question is “how?” I’ve researched these ancestors and added that info to my ancestry.com account to determine relation. I’m a Baby Boomer, so I hope that by posting my relation you will have some sense for yours. This was a lot of work, I imagine it will need tweaking.

Our Aunt

Our Aunt

Elizabeth Woodville
is our (16th) great grand aunt through Jane Haute. She was a beautiful Lancastrian widow, the commoner who won the heart and hand of Yorkist King Edward IV. (He is 1st cousin 17x removed.)

Her family was despised for their greed and the king’s brothers – and the powerful Warwick – were her enemies.

Anne Neville is our second cousin (16x removed); she was the wife of Richard III … who personally tortured our ancestor Henry Wyatt (14th Great Grandfather.) Margaret Beaufort – forced to be a political chameleon – humbly carried her train at their wedding.

Margaret Beaufort is our second cousin (17x removed); as Lancastrian heirs continued to die on battlefields, her son became the last hope of the line.

These notes will give you some background as it relates to our heritage. It seems everyone in these courts was related.

I begin with England in more secure times under our direct ancestor …

Edward III
19th Great Grandfather

Edward was born was born 13 Nov 1312 in Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England. Edward was crowned at Westminster Abbey 29 Jan 1327. Edward married Philippa of Hainault on 24 Jan 1328 in York Minster. She was born 24 Jun 1311 in Valenciennes.

The king died 21 Jun 1377 at Sheen Palace Richmond and was buried in Westminster Abbey, London, England. Philippa died 15 Aug 1369 in Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England and was buried in Westminster Abbey, London, England.

They had 14 children – some died as infants and one died of the Black Death. One who survived was …

JohnofgauntJOHN OF GAUNT
18th Great Grandfather

John was born Mar Mar 1340 in St Bavon’s Abbey, Ghent, Flanders. His first marriage was for love, that wife was Blanche of Lancaster. Their children were Philippa, Queen of Portugal (1360-1415), Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter (1363-1425) and Henry IV (1367-1413). Catherine Swynford, Blanche’s friend, helped raise the children when she died.

Note that I don’t document our relations through his other wives; knock yourselves out!

John married Constance of Castile for political and dynastic reasons; they had one daughter, Catalina, Queen of Castile (1372-1418.)

John married CATHERINE SWYNFORD ROET Duchess on 13 Jan 1396 in Lincoln Cathedral. King Richard legitimized their children under English law, but stipulated they were not eligible for royal succession. (That didn’t prevent Katherine’s great-great grandson Henry VII from becoming king of England … but it did create obstacles.)

Their children were:

John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset – c 1373 – 16 March 1410
Henry Beaufort, Cardinal – c 1374 – 11 April 1447
Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter – 1377 – c. 31 December 1426
Our ancestor Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland – c. 1379 – 13 November 1440

Between them, John and Katherine started the Tudor and Yorkist Royal Houses. Most of the European Royal Houses trace their origins back to them through intermarriage.
Katherine and John fulfilled an ancient prophecy of Merlin: “thou shalt get kings though thou be none!”

Also note that John admired the writing of Catherine’s brother-in-law (her sister’s husband) – Geoffrey Chaucer.    

[The Margaret Beaufort/Henry Tudor Connection]

margaret beaufort youngTheir son John Beaufort (1372 to 1409) had two sons Henry, Earl of Somerset and John, Duke of Somerset who fathered Margaret Beaufort. He committed suicide after the shame of being banished from court.

His rich daughter was just a little girl, but she was married off to the king’s half brother Edmund Tudor. He should not have “taken” her so young, but it was the only way to secure his rights to her properties. He died of plague before his son Henry was born and she was so young she barely survived childbirth.

She never had another child, so Henry’s advancement was her obsession.

Margaret is second cousin 17x removed.

John Beaufort died 3 Feb 1399 in Ely House Holborn and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. Catherine died 10 May 1403 in Lincoln and was buried in Lincoln Cathedral. We descend through their daughter …

joan beaufort tombLADY JOAN DE BEAUFORT
17th Great Grandmother

Lady Joan was born in 1379, daughter of John of Gaunt, the powerful Duke of Lancaster. She married RALPH NEVILLE, 1st Earl of Westmoreland, 4th Baron Neville of Raby on 3 Feb 1396. (Ralph was born 1364.) They had 14 children – two of them had children who were historically significant and the third gives us our connection to the Howards.

Richard Neville & the Warwick/Kingmaker/Queen of Richard III Connection

The couple’s son Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury (1400 – 31 December 1460) was a Yorkist in the early days of the Cousins’ War. He married Alice Montacute or Montagu, 5th Countess of Salisbury.

anne neville richard iiiTheir son Richard Neville, (22 November 1428 – 14 April 1471) 16th Earl of Warwick was the rich and powerful Kingmaker; first cousin 17 times removed. His wife was Lady Anne de Beauchamp. Their daughter Anne (11 June 1456 – 16 March 1485) became the wife/queen of Richard III.

She is 2nd cousin 16x removed. 

Cecily Neville, mother of kings, grandmother of Henry VII’s queen

Their daughter Cecily Neville “Cecylle, the Rose of Raby” was:

The aunt of Richard – Earl of Warwick – the Kingmaker
Mother of kings Edward IV and Richard III
Grandmother of Elizabeth of York, beloved wife/queen of Henry VII.

Joan died 13 Nov 1440 in Howden, Yorkshire and was buried in Lincoln Cathedral.

Ralph died 21 Oct 1425 in Raby Castle, Durham and was buried in Staindrop.

We descend through Lady Joan’s son … 

Note the red rose ...

Note the red rose …

16th Great Grandfather – 1st Baron Bergavenny

[This is our Howard Connection]

Edward was born in 1417 in Raby Castle in Kent. He married CATHERINE HOWARD on 15 Oct 1448. Catherine Howard was born in 1414, the daughter of Sir Robert Howard of Stoke Neyland and Margaret Mowbray. Her grandparents were John Howard, Sheriff of Essex and Alice Tendring. The Boleyns are also related to the Howards.

They had two daughters, including our ancestor …

15th Great Grandmother

Margaret was born about 1455 in Raby Castle, Durham, England; she died 9/30/1506. She married JOHN BROOKE, Lord Cobham, 7th Baron of Cobham. He was born 10 Dec 1447 in Cowling, Kent, England and died March 3, 1511 or 12.
John Brooke and Margaret Neville had one son …

14th Great Grandfather

He was born about 1465 in Cowling, Kent, England; died 1529.

[Our Boleyn Connection]

Lord Cobham married DOROTHY HEYDEN or Haydon about 1494. She was born 1465 in Beaconsthorpe, Norfolk, England. Dorothy was the daughter of Sir Henry Heydon and Ann Boleyn, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Boleyn and Anne Hoo – Queen Anne Boleyn’s great grandparents.

E Brooke-A BoleynThomas Brooke died July 1529 in Stringston, Somersetshire, England.

13th Great Grandmother
Cobham-Hall-1725She was born 1503 in Cobham Hall, Kent, England; her well-known brother George Brooke, 9th Lord Cobham was born about 1497 in Cobham Hall, Kent, England.

Learn the history of Cobham Hall here …

Elizabeth married SIR THOMAS WYATT THE POET; and you know the rest 🙂

Sir Thomas Wyatt by Holbein

(This is a work in progress. If you spot errors, please send me an email; thanks.)

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)

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


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).


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.

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



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:


(The Tudors is available on Netflix.)


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 – 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.)


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 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:



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.

Wyatt Family Bible

I don’t see these very often, it’s a good opportunity to purchase and preserve family history.

Description reads:

Fully adorned/ uniquely designed Full-Leather embossed covers, with some light scuffing, rubbing, fading and wear to extremities, although still quite well kept externally; both boards have detached, and the spine cover, with some chips and loss, has begun to lightly split away, otherwise the Bible is intact and presented well. Central presentation on front pastedown denotes the Bible was donated by the Wyatt family of DeKalb County, Indiana, with the Presentation containing a few members names. Otherwise, the Bible remains unmarked, including family pages and photo holders, both unused. A few leaves in front a little worn on the edges with a few small chips, but the rest bound firm and clean. Many illustrations both in text and plates, some of them being from the amazing Biblical artist Gustave DORE!  Pages lightly browned but nicely aged. Page edges shining gilt. The pages are all present, and the Bible is complete, including the family pages, which remain bright and unused… and immaculate. Good luck!

Dimensions 11″ wide, 13″ tall, 4″ thick. Good luck!


The gentleman whose career is briefly sl<etched in the following lines is 
one of the established residents of Auburn and his life has been such as to 
gain the confidence and good will of the people of his community and to make 
him well and favorably known throughout the county of which he has been 
so long an honored citizen. In the highe,st sense of the term, he is a self- 
made man and as such has met with success in material things such as few at- 
tain and made a record which may be studied with profit by the young men 
of the rising generation. 

Ed Wyatt, as the subject of this sketch is popularly known, is a native 
of DeKalb county, Indiana, having been born in Jackson township, on April 
26, 1862, and is a son of John and Sarah Jane (Robe) Wyatt. John 
Wyatt, the son of Nathan and Mary Wyatt, was born in Mercer county, 
Pennsylvania, April 4, 181 1, and came to DeKalb county, Indiana, in 1836. 
He died July 28, 1906, at his home in DeKalb county, aged ninety-three 
years three months and twenty-four days. He was married April i, 1834, in 
Medina county, Ohio, to Eva Kitchen, who died February 12, 1839. Their 
only child, Rachel, was born sixteen months after they came to this county 
and died at the age of fourteen years. On September 12, 1839, Mr. Wyatt 
married Sarah Jane Robe, a native of Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, born 
on October 31, 1820, and who died Januar}- 2'], 1888, aged sixty-seven years 
two months and twenty-six days. It was in the fall of 1836 that Mr. Wyatt 
came to Jackson township to seek a location for a future home. Here, travel- 
ing through the dense woods, which were full of a thick growth of wild pea 
vines, prickly ash, etc., the knees of his pants wore out and his hide too, but he 
bound up his knees and struggled on. He selected government land in sec- 
tion 34, then returned for his family, bringing them here the fall of 1837.

The deed for this land was signed by President Andrew Jackson. In the
spring of 1837 John Wyatt’s father had come from his Ohio home and so
many of the family and relatives accompanied him that the people there
called it the exodus of the tribe of Wyatt. Nathan Wyatt also settled in
section 34 in Jackson township, and for the last forty years of his life was a
member of the Methodist Protestant church, the greater part of the time a
class leader and he was a power for good in the new settlement. John Wyatt
was taken sick soon after reaching his new home, and he hired his brother-in-
law, A. Squiers, to cut logs to make the house, built it with a puncheon floor
and an outside chimney of clay and straw. The following spring he added
a hearth made of mud. They were in comfortable and better circumstances
than some of their neighbors. About the hohdays, winter set in. He had
nothing of any kind to winter the seven cattle he had brought with him.
The poor animals would roam around the house and moan so pitifully at
night that he would cover his head to keep out the sound, but he bought some
corn meal and a barrel of salt (price nine dollars), and that, with browsing
tree tops, brought the cattle out all right in the spring. Of the season of
1838 he wrote: “We ran out of provisions. I managed td get a bushel of
corn and going nine miles to mill liy a zigzag road through the wt^ods, could
not get my grist until the next day and then not, because I would not Iruy a
jug of whiskey. I traveled that road four times and finally, to keep from
starving at home, gave money to fill that jug, got my grist and finished my
well and got good water.” He gave twelve dollars for a barrel of flour, six-
teen dollars a hundred for pork ; drove far and near to get corn, found some
west of Fort Wayne three years old and musty and co\’ered with litters of
rats. It was all he could get and it cost him one d<illar a bushel. Roads
were only a few trails cut through forest and dense underbrush, and much
stuff was hauled up the St. Joe in boats and he had many narrow escapes from
tipping over and losing the cargoes. John Wyatt owned and lived on the
same land for seventy years, a record never equaled in DeKalb county.

Edmond Wratt was reared on the parental farmstead in Jackson tow-n-
ship and completed his educational training in the high school at Spencer-
ville. Reared as he was to the life of a farmer, he pursued this vocation
after reaching his majority and became the owner of forty acres of good land
in Jackson township. In 1891 he sold this tract and lx>ught eighty acres in
Newville township, to the cultivation of which he devoted his attention until
1902, in February of which year he sold his farm and moved to Auburn. In
January, 1903, Mr. Wyatt engaged in the coal business in this city, to which
he has since devoted his attention and in which he has lieen rewarded with
very creditable success. He carries a complete line of hard and soft coal and
coke and is prompt and reliable in his deliveries to the trade. A man of good
business judgment and the strictest integrity, he has won and retains” to a
notable degree the confidence of the people and, because of his sterling quali-
ties and genial manner, he is popular in the circles in which he moves.

On March 8. 18S5. Mr. Wyatt was married to Jane McKinley, who 
was born in 1862 in Ashland coimty, Ohio, being brought the same year to 
DeKalb county, Indiana, by her parents. William and Sarah (Romine) Mc- 
Kinley, the former of whom was a second cousin of President McKinley. 
Her parents were residents of Jackson township, this county, for many years, 
but in later life removed to Butler township, where they spent their last 
days. Mr. McKinley was born in Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, on January 
22, 1820, and his death occurred on February 6, 1896, at the age of seventy- 
six years. He was a good neighbor, kind and considerate to all and was gen- 
erous in his aid to others. His first wife, Mary Shinneman, became the 
mother of four children, and his second wife, to whom he was married on 
January 9, 1851, was born in Putnam county, Ohio, on September 11, 1830, 
and died on April 21, 1900. She became the mother of twelve children, of 
whom eight are living. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt have been born three children: Franklin 
Dale, born December 30, 1885, married May Milliman, and they have three 
children, Violet Marie, Charles Cecil and Harry Richard ; lea May, born May 
4, 1887, is the wife of Fordyce Newton, of'Auburn : Myrtle, born December 
20, i88g, is at home with her parents. Since May, 191 1. Fordyce Newton 
has been a partner with Mr. Wyatt in the coal business, although his per- 
sonal attention is given to his own trade as a machinist. Fraternally, Mr. 
Wyatt is a member of the Knights of Pythias. 

Mr. Wyatt has always been enterprising and public spirited and ready 
at all times to lend his influence to measures and movements having for their 
object the welfare of his fellowmen. His character has always been above 
reproach, his word as sacred as his bond and all who know him speak in high 
praise of his sterling qualities of manhood and citizenship. He has li\ed 
wisely and his friends, who are legion, unite in the earnest prayer that he may 
be spared many years to bless the world."

For sale now on eBay:

I’m going to leave this post up after auction end because the seller included so much important information.

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.