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Posts Tagged ‘first arrest of Sir Thomas Wyatt’

threequeensBy Mickisuzanne© 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1536 – YEAR OF TRAGEDIES

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

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

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

“My lord and dear husband,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE DIE IS CAST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

toweroflondon

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

THE BLOODY MONTH OF MAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

towerdoor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five months later his father Sir Henry Wyatt died.

* * *

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

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