The Men Who Took Power

“It is difficult to say for how long Warwick had been casting envious eyes on supreme power, and exactly when he gave serious thought to undermining the Protector; but that former friendship of which Somerset was soon to remind him had never gone very deep, and it evaporated entirely when at the beginning of the new reign Somerset took from him the coveted post of Lord High Admiral, and gave it to Thomas Seymour. Certainly Warwick was scheming against the Protector at the time of Thomas’ nefarious deeds. He quickly realized that by stirring the brotherly quarrel to its ultimate disastrous conclusion he must weaken Somerset’s standing in the country,, for there were many who, unaware of the full extent of Thomas’s treachery, and the unenviable position into which some members of the Council had manoeuvered the elder brother, regarded the affair as little short of fratricide. More recently Warwick had been in direct conflict with the protector over Somerset’s refusal to remove a justice in favour of Warwick’s nominee, and to grant his son, Ambrose, the reversion of two offices held by Sir Andrew Flammock.” -William Seymour; Ordeal by Ambition: An English Family in the Shadows of the Tudors

Not to undermine Seymour’s work but I don’t agree with him on this point. Thomas Seymour wasn’t exactly patient when it came to plotting and although I don’t agree with his reasons, or Dudley and Grey’s reasons for turning their backs against the Protector, they had valid reasons.

Thomas Seymour married before everyone told him it was a bad idea, or perhaps he didn’t care. Knowing what we know about Tommy, it was probably the latter. A century later somebody had done the same with Catherine of Valois, the Queen Dowager of England and mother to the baby-king Henry VI of England and II of France. Owen Tudor paid dearly for this, and although he got off in the end and proved himself to be a loyal Lancastrian, there were still consequences. Kathryn Parr was not as royal as Catherine of Valois had been but she had noble and Roya blood, and she was an important figure in the English Reformation. Edward VI loved her and Elizabeth looked up to her.

Thomas had always been ambitious and probably resented that he wasn’t being given as much honors as his brother was receiving. Not only that, some historians like Warwick dispute the allegations from later chroniclers that their wives quarreled over precedence and Anne asked Kathryn to give up her jewels. I love Warnicke and once again, I am not trying to put down their research, but I do think there was some form of quarrel between the two. Anne was as pragmatic as Kathryn was. She knew how dangerous Thomas was, and what he was doing and probably saw Katherine as a danger. That her influence over all these wards (who had royal blood and a claim to the throne) could be detrimental to her husband and what affected him, directly affected her and her children.

Also, she must have felt more important than the Queen Dowager since she married Thomas Seymour who despite his appointments and new title, was still several ranks lower than his older brother.

John Dudley was a staunch Protestant but a cold pragmatist when it came to war and foreign relations unlike Edward Seymour. The latter was following the same disastrous foreign policy of his predecessor, Henry VIII of invading Scotland, causing more death and destruction that supposedly would have intimidated them and forced the country into submission but what ended up happening was the opposite. As for his countrymen though, Edward showed he had better intentions than his opponent and former ally. Dudley wanted a more religious regime like the King, but Edward Seymour believed there should be compromise. (Another person who thought like this was Cranmer.) He tried pushing for policies that helped the poor and the needy but most of them did very little to improve the economy. 

Edward’s intentions were good, but his way of doing things were not. When he was elected Lord Protector, his supporters thought that he was going to work for them instead of the common people and it ended turning the other way around. Edward could have succeeded in his domestic policies if he had been a better politician and not done many things (such as slapping one courtier) that ended up alienating him from the nobles and turned them against him. Furthermore, he refused to rule with the same iron fist as his predecessor. The ruthlessness he showed on Scotland, was something he was averse to showing on his fellow countrymen, even his enemies. Whereas with Dudley, it was the complete opposite.

Lastly, William Seymour like so many biographers that have become enchanted with their subjects, is against speaking too ill of him. He points out his flaws, his disastrous policies but he always adds that a lot of these are due to the nobles ceaselessly plotting against him. This is partially true as I’ve already stated, but he was also to blame.

Thomas was ultimately executed, Edward suffered the same fate years prior. The charges laid against him were outrageous, going so far as to plotting the murder of John Dudley, newly elevated to Duke of Northumberland. There’s no question that Edward did want to escape and was concocting all kinds of schemes to get out. Even going so far as to use his daughter Jane to entice the King and Jane was as Jane Grey, an accomplished young girl. A few years younger than her, she had translated and written many religious works. But his rivals sustained that he had plotted to invite everyone to a dinner and murder everyone there. Eventually new charges were laid on him were because the others weren’t enough to convict him. On November, Northumberland put all the evidence together and laid out the new charges against him. They were read out, and as it was customary of the time, the accused did not have to be present for his guilt to be established. Ned Seymour was accused with sedition, treason and conspiracy to “overthrow the government, imprison Northumberland and Northampton, and convene Parliament”.

Ned Seymour was able to show himself at the hearings at last in December. Lord Strange was one of the witnesses who was brought in, to accuse him of plotting to marry his young daughter, the nine year old Jane Seymour –an accomplished young woman, who as the other Jane [Grey], could read, write in Latin, Greek and many other languages, and had already translated many works- to the King. As ludicrous as all these charges were, this one was not. Ned Seymour did ask some of his allies to speak favorably of his daughter to the King, in the hopes that the young King would be impressed by her and this would release him [and his wife] from prison.

After this trial and his sentence was pronounced, Ned Seymour finally gave up. He knew the end was coming and prepared for the inevitable, praying hard and taking shelter as so many before him had done, in the religion that comforted him. There are a lot of version of his last words, one of them come from his chaplain, a man he largely favored, John Foxe. John was not present during his execution but he maintained that his account was taken from a “certain noble personage” who was.

His last words were: “Dearly beloves maisters and friends, I am brought hither to suffer, albeit that I never offended against the King neither by word nor deed, and have been always as faithful and true unto this realm as any man hath been. But forsomuch as I am by a law condemned to die, I do acknowledge myself, as well as others, to be subject thereunto …” Then he told them he had come to die, according to the law and gave thanks “unto the divine goodness, as if I had received a most ample and great reward” and asked them to continue to embrace the new religion. 

Why was the Warwick Earldom given to the Dudleys? I should check the ancestry there. I’m sure there were senior lines but the “regency council” just handed out titles like candy. The death of Henry VIII — or even Edward IV — put an end to the rightful ways of nobility and male inheritance. What a joke. Henry was so stupid to entrust men over someone like Katherine Parr who had the best interests in mind when it came to Edward VI. But hey, there is speculation about Henry’s will which may have been altered. The men around Henry purposely kept the queen and Lady Mary away from the King and when he died…they weren’t told for days!! Those men thought they were helping, but in actuality–THEY killed the Tudor dynasty in a way.


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