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Posts Tagged ‘Sir Henry Wyatt Knight’

Last week an Irish Facebook friend and Tudor enthusiast suggested we put more art on Facebook. He asked me to post something about Hans Holbein. I began with Holbein’s famous painting of Henry VIII, but couldn’t resist – I had to share family members painted by the great man.

I’ve noticed some of the people who sat for Holbein seemed somewhat awkward about or uncomfortable with the situation. I am most haunted by our Sir Henry Wyatt.

Sir Henry Wyatt Knight

Sir Henry Wyatt Knight

His painting is oil on oak, only 15.4″ x 12.2.” According to Wikipedia, which does a nice job of documenting the art they share with us, it’s in the Louvre Museum, on the second floor, room 8.

This is the face that endured the application of horse barnacles during torture ordered by Richard III. He was only 23 when imprisoned and locked away until the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He lived with that face for a long time.

“In the Louvre picture Sir Henry is represented at half-length, slightly turned to the right, wearing a black skull-cap over his long hair, and the customary overcoat with deep fur collar, and green under-sleeves ; from his shoulders hangs a large heavy gold chain, to which a gold cross is attached, which he grasps with his right hand, and holds a folded paper in his left. He is clean-shaven, and has a large rounded nose. The wrinkled face, the small tremulous mouth, and the tired eyes with the sadness of their expression, produce a very life-like effect of old age. The chain is put on with real gold, in a way which Holbein practised from time to time in England.” Hans Holbein the Younger: Volume 1 by Arthur Bensley Chamberlain

Susan Foister, author of Holbein in England, ISBN 1854376454 wrote “the sitter appears to have lost his teeth.”

Experts think it was painted around 1537 – around the same time as his son’s portrait and very near the time of his death. Sir Henry was born in 1460, died at 76 or 77 on 10 November, 1537.

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet …

STWLargebyHolbein

He would have been around 34 in 1537. Wikipedia tells us this is “Black and coloured chalks, pen and ink on pink-primed paper, 37.3 × 27.2 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.” One of my books (Holbein by Jane Roberts) says it was “Black and coloured chalks and ink applied with pen and brush on pink prepared paper 37.1 x 27 cm.” We’re told Holbein also drew a profile portrait.

According to Holbein’s Drawings at Windsor Castle by Phaidon, “On a pale pink priming, 14 11/16 x 10 11/16”: chalks: black, red (face, patch at shoulder on left, another on chest), brown (beard); reinforced with the pen in indian ink (hair, beard). Eyes: grey-blue. Inscribed (gold and scarlet) in left upper corner Tho: Wiatt Knight. The face is considerably stained.”

Phaidon also mentions “Another portrait of Wyatt by Holbein is also lost. From it derive the small circular woodcut which appeared in Leland’s Naeniae in mortem ?Thomae Viati, 1542, and two circular paintings, in reverse to the woodcut, in the Bodleian Library and National Portrait Gallery.” I think this refers to the following image:

STWOilonPanel
According to Wikipedia: “Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt. Oil on panel, 31.7 cm diameter, National Portrait Gallery, London. This oil portrait of Wyatt in a medallic profile composition derives from a lost drawing or painting by Hans Holbein the Younger of about 1540. Holbein’s woodcut for Leland’s Naenia presumably follows the original version. Four 16th-century copies by other hands survive, of which this is one of two at the National Portrait Gallery”

So then, what’s this? Wikipedia says “A high-quality copy of this drawing by another hand survives, perhaps from the Elizabethan period (K. T. Parker, The Drawings of Hans Holbein at Windsor Castle, Oxford: Phaidon, 1945.” (I don’t like it.)

Sir Thomas Wyatt by Holbein
Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503 at Allington Castle; he died at a friend’s house, age 38 or 39, on 11 October, 1542.

This is Margaret Wyatt, Lady Lee – Sir Henry’s only daughter, Sir Thomas’ sister, dear friend of Anne Boleyn. Apparently Margaret was also known as Mary, so Wikipedia is confused about “which sister” was Anne’s loyal Lady in Waiting. She looks so different from her father and brother, I wonder if she took after her mother – Anne Skinner.

Lady Margaret Lee Large
Wikipedia dates it at about 1540, tempera on panel, 16.7 × 12.9″ – currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Margaret was the mother of Sir Henry Lee, Queen Elizabeth’s champion. (Check it out; I swear I can see some Wyatt in his painting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Henry_Lee)

Some think this Holbein may be Elizabeth Brooke, wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet.

ElizabethbBrooke

According to Holbein’s Drawings at Windsor Castle by Phaidon, “The inscription is certainly incorrect, the features showing no resemblance whatever with the well authenticated drawing of Anne Boleyn in Lord Bradford’s possession… It is possible that there is indirect evidence of the sitter’s identity in the occurrence of various heraldic sketches on the reverse of the drawing, these being the coat-of-arms of the Wyatt family.”

Her brother was George Brooke, 9th Baron of Cobham. Do we see a resemblance? I think so, but it’s hard to say.

GeorgeBrooke9thBaronCobham

Sir Thomas Wyatt’s brother-in-law took part in the trail of Anne Boleyn and got caught up in his son’s rebellion against Queen Mary.

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger was born in 1521. He was about 15 or 16 when his grandfather died, 20 or 21 when his father died. He was one of the leaders of the rebellion opposing Queen Mary’s desire to marry Philip of Spain. Henry’s grandson was executed at 32 or 33 at Tower Hill on 11 April 1554.

This is a Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger by Holbein. Wikipedia says “Oil on circular panel: Diameter 12 5/8 in. (32 cm.) Painted circa 1540-42.”

STWtheYoungerLargebyHolbein

“Provenance: Presumably commissioned by sitter’s father Sir Thomas Wyatt Senior (1503 – 1542), Thence likely by descent to sitter and dispersed with his property after his execution in 1554; With J. Tremlett Esq. by whom sold; Christie’s, 22 November 1974, lot 152”

Other close friends of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Poet were painted by Holbein, but let us not end this post without adding the Wyatt family’s powerful friend Thomas Cromwell.

Cromwell,Thomas
Painted between 1532 and 1533, oil on oak panel, 30.9 × 25.4″.

According to Wikipedia, “Three early versions of this painting survive: this one, in the Frick Collection, New York; one in the National Portrait Gallery, London (see ‘other versions’ below); and one at Burton Constable, Yorkshire, England. Art scholar Roy Strong believed that all three were copies and, while the condition of all three is poor, that the Frick version is in the best condition. Art scholar John Rowlands, however, has since deduced from pentimenti (signs of alteration) revealed by X-ray photographs that the Frick version shows the hand of Holbein himself and is the original. He is followed in this attribution by art scholar Stephanie Buck. All three versions had scrolls painted above Cromwell’s head, but the scroll on the Frick version, which was painted after Cromwell’s execution, was removed during restoration. The painting has been over-restored, resulting in the removal of much of the surface subtlety characteristic of Holbein.”

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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. 

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

 

 

 

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