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“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.

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Sir Henry Wyatt, Knight

Sir Henry Wyatt, Knight

 

These blogs are previews of my book as a work in progress.  This is painstaking stuff, so please honor my copyright – mickisuzanne©

Henry Wyatt was born in Yorkshire, England in 1460. His parents were Richard Wyatt and Margaret, the daughter and heir of William Bailiff.

Both Henrys were born during the War of the Roses – a series of battles between two rival branches of the Royal House of Plantagenet. The houses of Lancaster were later signified by a red rose, the houses of York were later signified by a white rose.

Henry Tudor’s Mother

Lady Margaret Beaufort was 12 years old when she was married to Edmund Tudor – aged 27. She was only thirteen when Henry Tudor was born and the delivery was so difficult she was told she probably couldn’t have more children. Then she was widowed before her son was born. Edmund was captured by Yorkists and imprisoned at Caermarthen. Plague broke out and he died two months later.

Lady Margaret became an intelligent, ambitious woman. Despite other marriages, Henry remained her only child. She would exert a powerful influence on him and his all of her life.

Henry Tudor’s Father

Henry Tudor’s father Edmund and his Uncle Jasper were borne of a scandalous affair between Queen Katherine of Valois and Owen Tudor, her Welsh Clerk of the Wardrobe. It is said that the dowager queen had married him in secret.  Whatever – Henry VI, legitimate heir to the throne, made his half-brothers earls.  Edmund became Earl of Richmond and Jasper became Earl of Pembroke. Both were dedicated to the Lancastrian side of the War of the Roses.

Henry Tudor spent years in exile. Henry’s grandfather, Owen Tudor, was executed by Yorkists. Other Beaufort relations died in bloody battles against the House of York. In 1471 his half-uncle, King Henry VI was captured and murdered after the Battle of Barnet. The next closest heir in the Beaufort line was Henry’s mother Margaret; since a female heir was unacceptable under those circumstances, her son Henry was in grave danger.

The Beaufort Issue

Lady Margaret Beaufort was the great granddaughter of John of Gaunt. (We share this ancestry through Lady Elizabeth Brooke.) John of Gaunt was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. He was called “John of Gaunt” because he was born in Ghent (in today’s Belgium), then called “Gaunt”.

In terms of ascendancy, there was a big problem with the Beaufort line. It started with a young girl Katherine who was made third wife to Hugh Swynford, a Lincolnshire knight. After his death she a widow for many years. During that time she became the mistress of John of Gaunt. Their four children were surnamed Beaufort. After they finally married in January 1396, their children were retroactively legitimized by the Pope and Richard II. HOWEVER: Henry IV had added a provisio that no Beaufort should ever succeed to the throne.

When Edward IV died in 1483, he left his throne to his twelve-year-old son, Edward V. Edward ruled for two months, with the “help” of his Uncle Richard, who was named “Lord Protector”.

The Tyranny of Richard III

Richard would come to be known as one of England’s most irredeemably evil kings.  Shakespeare, Thomas More and others described him as deformed – but that was a time when deformity and evil were thought to be one in the same.
Shortly after Edward IV’s death in April, a propaganda campaign insinuated that Edward’s marriage had been invalid and his sons were therefore bastards, ineligible for the throne.

In June the claims were endorsed by an assembly of lords and commoners. On June 26 – the day after the assembly – Richard began to rule. In July he was crowned Richard III.

In August, both of Edward’s sons disappeared.

If you vaguely remember a story about the two princes who “mysteriously disappeared” from the tower, this is that. The boys were 12 year old Edward V and his nine year old brother Richard, Duke of York. They disappeared in August of 1483, two months after Richard was crowned. It was widely assumed that if Richard didn’t kill them himself, he had it done. Their bodies have never been found.
That same year, Jasper won support for an invasion scheme. The timing seemed right, but the weather was against them. Around this time Henry Wyatt stepped up by taking part in the Duke of Buckingham’s failed revolt against Richard III.

In “A Sketch of the Life of Sir Henry Wiat” (written in 1963 by Eric Norman Simons) the author wrote that Henry was “…remarkable because, though Yorkshire born, he supported the cause of Henry Tudor, the Lancastrian who claimed the throne of England. For this he had been jailed in Scotland in ‘stocks and irons’ for two years by Richard III, who is said to have watched him undergo torture.”

Tortures were designed to allow the prisoner to live long enough to confess pretty much anything they wanted confessed before the individual died. The medieval arsenal for infliction of agony was beyond imagination; in coming years it would play a starring role in the Spanish Inquisition.

Henry was racked; that involved being tied across a board and bound by the ankles and wrists. Rollers would pull the body from opposite directions, resulting in stretching and extreme pain. The severity of the torture depended on the “crime” and social status of the victim.  In prolonged use, limbs would be dislocated or torn from their sockets.  Henry was also tortured with “barnacles”. The victim’s upper lip was pulled through a noose, tightened and twisted until the prisoner was in absolute agony. In some cases, it resulted in mutilation.

Judging from this painting of Sir Henry years later, it appears that may have been the case.

Henry was steadfast through all of it. According to tradition, Richard lamented that his own servants “had not such fidelity.”

Sir Henry’s “Caterer”

During his imprisonment Henry was on the verge of starvation, sleeping in tattered clothing on a thin straw mat in a cold room. Simons shares one account of a family legend. “Among other things, he was forced to swallow mustard and vinegar, and was on the verge of death from starvation. Then, so the story went, he made a pet of and fondled a stray cat, whom he ‘laid … on his bosom to warm him’. Puss grew so attached to him that each morning she deposited at his feet a pigeon pilfered from a neighbouring dovecote, which was later cooked for him by his compassionate jailer.

The family of Wyatt cherished for many years a half-length portrait of Henry in his cell. There in the picture, sure enough, is the cat, dragging through the grating of the cell a pigeon, which she is about to deliver to the prisoner. The painting is, however, not contemporary, having been produced long afterwards. It is, nevertheless, recorded that thereafter Henry Wiat ‘would ever reck much of cats’.

In fact, as a token of gratitude, he introduced to the dovecotes of Allington castle a strain of brown pigeons from Venice, which are as numerous there today as in his own time.”

Henry Tudor had not forgotten his friend.

In August of 1485 Henry Tudor and his forces landed in South Wales and headed east to do battle with Richard. Henry was sorely outnumbered at Bosworth, but Richard suffered a personal defeat – several of his most important lieutenants defected.
One account states: ”When the Standard of the fugitive Earl floated on the field of Bosworth, Wyatt found means to join it. When the Usurper had fallen on Bosworth field, one of the first acts of Henry VII was to liberate Henry and raise him from the private gentleman to the highest honours at Court.”

Agnes Conway describes what happened afterwards in “Henry VII’s relations with Scotland and Ireland”:
“The Earl of Richmond anon after he was crowned King entertained (Henry Wyatt) then coming out of imprisonment and affliction in Scotland first with most gracious words unto himself and then with this speech unto the Lords. Both I and you must bid this Gentleman heartily welcome, had not he above human strength or example also shewed himself our constant friend, neither had I enjoyed now the Crowne, nor you that Peace and prosperitie, and honour which you now possess.”

It is said that the king told Henry “Study to serve me and I will study to enrich you.” And that’s exactly what happened.

Success

In 1492 he was appointed Esquire-of-the-Body, King’s select Bodyguard. He sold “Hall in the Village Solhange” (South Haigh or Upper Haigh) that he had acquired through his first marriage to Margaret, daughter and heiress of Richard Bailiff of Barnsley.
Henry purchased and restored Allington Castle; Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey visited him there.

In 1502 Henry married his second wife, Anne Skinner, daughter of John Skinner of Reigate in Surrey. (One record suggests she was a sister of the Earl of Surrey, but we have no proof.)  At the time of their marriage Henry would have been 43 – that was OLD in medieval times.

His famous son, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet was born the following year.

There’s a lot more to it than this. Over the course of his life Sir Henry received titles and honors from Henry VII and Henry VIII. That information will be in the book.

Sir Henry Wyatt’s tomb in Boxley reads (in part):

To the Memory of Sr HENRY WIAT of ALINGTON CASTLE

Knight Bannert descended of that Ancient family who was imprisoned and tortured in the Tower in the reign of KING RICHARD the third kept in the Dungeon where fed and preserved by a Cat. He married ANN daughter of  THOMAS SKINNER of SURREY Esqe was of the Privy Council to KING HENRY the Seventh and KING HENRY the Eighth and left one Son Sr THOMAS WIAT of ALINGTON CASTLE who was Esquire of the body to KING HENRY the Eighth and married ELIZABETH Daughter of THOMAS BROOKE Lord COBHAM and well known for Learning and Embasys in the reign of that KING Sr THOMAS WIAT of ALINGTON CASTLE his only Son married JANE younger Daughter of Sr WILLIAM HAWT of this COUNTY and was beheaded in the reign of QUEEN MARY Leaving GEORGE WIAT his only Son that Lived to Age who married JANE Daughter of Sr THOMAS FINCH of EASTWELL and KATHERINE his wife Restored in blood by act of Parliament of the 13th of QUEEN ELIZABETH

 

 

 

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Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger

I apologize for the lapses between blogs, I am deep into my research. These blogs are previews of my book as a work in progress.  This is very difficult work, so please honor my copyright – mickisuzanne©

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger made history by affecting the lives of three queens. He threatened one, hastened the death of the second and quite possibly saved the third.

Thomas Wyatt the Younger was born in 1521 at the Wyatt family home – Allington Castle.

Young Tom’s father – Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet, a.k.a. Thomas the Elder

History describes Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet as friend and diplomat of Henry VIII. He also had very close ties to his father Henry’s dearest friends – Sir Thomas More and Cromwell. Tom is best remembered for being in love with Anne Boleyn. He wisely stepped aside when Henry VIII expressed interest.

When Henry lost interest, young Tom’s Aunt Mary accompanied Anne to the scaffold; Anne gave Mary her prayer book and whispered her last words for Henry. Anne accepted her fate with grace and forgiveness.  

Young Tom’s mother – Lady Elizabeth Brooke

Lady Elizabeth Brooke was a woman whose pedigree was vastly superior to her husband’s. She descended from William the Conqueror, the dukes of Normandy and the epic Vikings of legend who preceded them. He was the third generation of Wyatts to live in the castle once owned by William’s half-brother Bishop Odo.

Elizabeth was a descendant of John of Gaunt, Plantagenet duke – as were Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon.  Most royal houses of Europe are connected through this line.

Most notably for her times, Elizabeth’s husband was in love with her second-cousin Anne.  Tom Senior was not alone in his indiscretions, Elizabeth is said to have lived with another man, although it was never proven. Elizabeth’s husband filed for separation on grounds of adultery in 1525. While that type of blatant immorality was a disgrace among common folk, it was acceptable among the nobles.

It’s even said that Henry VIII was eyeing Elizabeth as a potential sixth wife.

Young Tom’s Grandfather – Sir Henry Wyatt Knight

The Wyatt family’s fate was tied to their relationships with the crown.  It was as it had been for generations.

Young Tom’s grandfather, Sir Henry Wyatt Knight, had loyally helped Henry Tudor wrest the crown from the notoriously evil Richard III. He had even endured two years of torture, including the infamous rack.  Henry was steadfast through all of it. According to tradition, Richard III lamented that his own servants “had not such fidelity.”

When Henry finally vanquished Richard at Bosworth, one of the first things he did was release his friend. Then it’s said he told Henry Wyatt “Study to serve me and I will study to enrich you.” And that’s exactly what happened.  One of his most important purchases was Allington Castle, which was in need of restoration.

I will talk about Sir Henry Wyatt in another post. I’m trying to remain invisible throughout this book-writing process, but at this point I have to say that the pitifully unattractive Sir Henry is my favorite ancestor. Well, some of that probably has to do with “the barnacles” – a medieval torture that nearly twisted your upper lip off your face. That and the rack – two tortures he’s said to have endured.   

Henry nearly died in prison. Have you heard the legend of the cat? While imprisoned by Richard III, he was befriended a cat who eventually brought him birds that were cooked by a “compassionate jailer.” He was essentially starving, so the cat saved his life. After that, Henry would “ever make much of cats”.

Henry suffered medieval torture on behalf of Henry Tudor and was generously rewarded for his loyalty and ongoing service for the rest of his life.

When Henry VII died, the gratitude and riches continued to flow through his son. Henry VII had named Wyatt his son’s guardian and upon Henry VIII’s coronation, Wyatt was created Knight of the Bath. 

My impression is that his son Sir Thomas the Poet was frivolous and overly romantic; and that his son, Thomas the Younger was the typical over privileged rebellious kid there for a time; but he finally leaned to righteous causes as an adult.

Thomas Wyatt the Younger

Like his father before him, Young Tom grew up in Allington castle. At 15 he was appointed Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII, and Joint Constable of Conysborough Castle in Yorkshire, a post that was previously held by both his father and grandfather.

His grandfather died when he was 15 years of age. I haven’t done the research yet, but it’s possible Henry had more influence on young Tom than his father. Henry was old and tired by then, while Sir Thomas was still traveling on behalf of the king.

Thomas the Elder died “on the king’s business” when Young Tom was 21; he inherited substantial properties, including Allington and Boxley in Kent. His father was a bit of a gambler and a rogue, so some of the lands went to payment of debt.

In the 1540s Tom served in the wars against France and was given command of his own troops. In 1547 he was knighted. Henry VIII died that same year, but there was little drama as his crown passed seamlessly to his 15-year-old son, Edward VI. Protestants guided the court and all was well – until the young king got sick. Some say he had TB – others suspect his death was hastened by the Duke of Northumberland who “had an agenda”.

Edward had two older sisters. Mary, Catholic daughter of Katherine of Aragon, was a pious pain in the ass. The protestant Elizabeth was daughter of that whore Anne Boleyn; Edward loved her dearly.

Before his death, Henry VIII had recorded an Act of Succession that preserved his daughters’ access to the throne – but John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland had a better idea. He wanted more power. He convinced the young king to exclude both sisters from the line of succession and replace them with his son’s 16 year old wife, the Lady Jane Grey.

Jane’s pedigree was questionable. She was the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France.  She was also Mary’s cousin.

Edward died at 15 of a pulmonary infection – poison – or some combination of the two. Lady Jane Grey ruled for less than two weeks before being overthrown by Mary. Young Tom had been part of the movement to put Jane on the throne, but he managed to convince Mary of his loyalty.  

Jane was also spared … for a time. She had two things in her favor. She was Mary’s cousin and Mary realized she had been a powerless victim. Mary had played that role most of her life. Only now she finally had the power she dreamed of. Power to right personal wrongs and return the country to the true religion; Catholicism.

She treated her cousin with kindness. Jane was given decent lodging at the tower and allowed to roam the queen’s gardens. Mary even gave her a generous allowance.  All was well for a time.

Thomas and his Protestant friends watched passively until Mary made it clear she intended to marry Felipe of Spain – described on a Wyatt family site as “that other gloomy bigot.”

The combination of Roman Catholic AND flesh and blood Spanish influence in England was just too much for some.  Understand that Mary’s grandparents were behind Spain’s bloody inquisition.

Young Tom accepted an invitation by Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, to rise up against Mary.  Thomas held a meeting at Allington and ultimately managed to raise 4000 men. They marched on London in late January, 1554, but the English people rose in support of Henry’s oldest daughter.  The rebellion failed and Thomas was imprisoned.

Some say his wife, Jane Hawte, was told Thomas would be spared if he would implicate Elizabeth; he refused. He was sentenced to a traitor’s death on 4/11/1554. He used to scaffold speech to exonerate Elizabeth and some say he may have saved her life. In the face of a violent death he said: 

“And whereas it is said and whistled abroad that I should accuse my lady Elizabeth’s grace and my lord Courtenay; it is not so, good people. For I assure you neither they nor any other now in yonder hold or durance was privy of my rising or commotion before I began. As I have declared no less to the queen’s council. And this is most true.”

In the years to come, Elizabeth would not forget his loyalty.

Wyatt’s head was severed, his body was quartered and his bowels and genitals burned. His head and body quarters were parboiled and nailed up. His head was placed on a post – and later stolen.

Mary didn’t stop at that. She confiscated his estates and titles, causing severe hardships for his widow and children

Shortly thereafter Wyatt’s Rebellion caused the death of Lady Jane Grey. Mary knew Jane was innocent, but she took advice from Charles V of Spain. She made an example of Lady Jane and her husband Guilford Dudley.

Lady Jane’s husband was taken from the tower and beheaded in public at Tower Hill. Despite the fact that theirs was an arranged political marriage, Jane watched in tears as Guilford passed below her window to the tower.

Mary had Jane taken to The Tower Green, within the Tower. This private execution was seen as a gesture of respect.

This account of her execution is from Wikipedia: “The executioner asked her forgiveness, and she gave it. She pleaded the axeman, ‘I pray you dispatch me quickly’. Referring to her head, she asked, ‘Will you take it off before I lay me down?’ and the axeman answered, ‘No, madam’. She then blindfolded herself. Jane had resolved to go to her death with dignity, but once blindfolded, failing to find the block with her hands, began to panic and cried, ‘What shall I do? Where is it?’ An unknown hand, possibly Feckenham’s, then helped her find her way and retain her dignity at the end. With her head on the block, Jane spoke the last words of Jesus as recounted by Luke: “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!” 
 
With Thomas, Guilford and Jane gone, Mary still had to decide what to do with that other threat; Elizabeth. 

***
Please contact me if you find any flaws in my research. Thanks so much – Micki.

 

 

 

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