Saturday, August 29, 2015

And Every One Was a Henry. Today's Henry: Howard Cousin of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard; Beheadings Ran in the Family

Image result for YES! babyHenry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was one of those baby boys lucky enough to be a first-born son.

He was born in 1517; his father, Thomas Howard 3rd Duke of Norfolk was a heavy, heavy hitter in the batting lineup at Henry VIII's court.
The first-born son inherited most of whatever a family held that was worth inheriting. 
And? Henry Howard had two cousins worth mentioning: one, a dark-haired girl who went by the name of Anne Boleyn and the second, a fair-haired girl who went by the name of Catherine Howard.
Not one, but two cousins, each of whom were married to Henry VIII; each of whom were beheaded by Henry VIII.Image result for Yikes!
What're the odds?!?

After little Henry Howard's grandfather died in 1524, the lad was given the inheritable title (some are, some aren't - inheritable, that is) of Earl of Surrey. 
That kind of honour doesn't really make up for the death of a relative (assuming Gramps Howard was a nice old gent) but it is the only way to receive the title.
So Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey grew up as boys will do - and in 1529 went off to Windsor to be raised with another kid - little bit younger than Henry Howard, but no worries; they got along like a house on fire.

The playmate's name?
Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset.
(Henry Fitzroy was one of Henry VIII's little bastards, although due to Fitzroy's great good luck being born with male plumbing, was kept in mind as a *possible* successor to the throne.)
So Henry Howard's friend was quite grand, actually.

At fifteen years old, two rather major events happened in the life of Henry Howard.
The first was, he got married to Frances de Vere, a daughter of a nobleman.
Not quite this young; but still - 15? Go here to buy the costume:
The second major event was a trip to visit the French king, Francis I.
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn set out to shove the idea of Anne taking over as Queen from Catherine of Aragon down the throat of the French court make their relationship official and part of their entourage included Henry Howard and Henry Fitzroy.

Henry Howard remained at the French court for a year.
What, you may ask, of his bride?
Due to the ages of Henry Howard and Frances de Vere, the two didn't set up house together until 1535.
(Sometimes, when a bride was very young, one of the conditions of marriage set was that she be allowed to grow up to a more decent age before the expectations of a wife were placed upon her; still, there were unlovely examples of a full-grown man, marrying a very young girl and NOT waiting for her to grow up a bit as was the case of Margaret Beaufort, Henry VIII's grandmother.)

The young bride and groom, both portrayed by Hans Holbein the Younger in the above pictures, wasted no time, and by March of 1536, they had a baby boy in the nursery.
The teen-aged parents named their son Thomas.

That seemed a lovely beginning to the year 1536 - but in actuality, 1536 SUCKED for almost everyone at the court of Henry VIII.

7 January: Catherine of Aragon, the people's favored Queen, died of cancer, a broken heart, and the shittiest of living conditions, imposed on her by her vindictive, spoiled brat of a husband.
Image result for Tudor drawing Kimbolton Castle
Just . . . too sad. The final resting place of a woman who took all of  Henry VIII's shit which she most certainly never deserved, and kept gently composed and regal every single minute until she died. 
24 January: Henry VIII took an incredibly nasty spill from his horse; the horse landed on top of the king and knocked the king out for two hours. 
29 January: A pregnant Anne Boleyn miscarried a baby boy within that week. 
17 May: Henry VIII allowed five of his closest friends to be charged with treason and executed 19 May: Anne Boleyn was beheaded.
22 July: Henry Fitzroy died at St. James Palace. Cause of death was likely tuberculosis.
Autumn: The common people (and there were quite a few of them) who were enraged by Henry VIII's breaking up not only with the Pope in Rome, but breaking up the monasteries as well, rioted.
The monasteries served an important function among the common people; a place to go when a person had no place left to go, a charitable and soft place to land when life dealt a harsh hand to widows, orphans, like that. 
When the monasteries were busted up (literally, and by jack-booted thugs) it was too much and the uprising against was called the Pilgrimage of Grace. 
Image result for peasants are revolting tee shirt
"Of course they're revolting, they're PEASANTS!" 
See? 1536 pretty much sucked for everyone in England.

Henry VIII's next wife, Jane Seymour, brought the Howard family a set of in-laws from Hell.
Those whose favour with the king was due to their ties to the Howard/Boleyn families held jobs that paid well for doing very little daily work.
Who wouldn't want a job like that? 

As the Seymour family rose in the King's favour, they became ruthless about redistributing those patronage-type jobs among their own members.
It was an understandable but short-sighted strategy; as the wheel of courtly fortune never stops turning. 
Those on the bottom eventually end up back on top and vice-versa, repeat, repeat, repeat forever.
Lessons often not learned, still the wheel keeps turning. . .

In 1537, Henry Howard, no doubt sick to death of hearing his family name slammed around, heard another courtier repeat the Pilgrimage of Grace story and Henry 'struck' the courtier.
He was subsequently tossed in jail to think about his bad behavior.
That wheel of courtly fortune kept turning.
By 1541, Jane Seymour had been dead for over three years.
Henry Howard was made a Knight of the Garter.
1,000th Knight of the Order of the Garter. Henry Howard was waaaay farther back in the investiture number. :-) 

That didn't stop him from unleashing what must have been quite a temper, though - in 1542 and 1543, he was jailed again, this time with another courtier (Thomas Wyatt the Younger,) for public drunkenness, general rowdiness and 'destruction of property.' 
The flip side of Henry Howard's personality was a sensitive one - he was a poet nearly as accomplished as Thomas Wyatt the Elder, who was extraordinarily talented.
In fact, when Thomas Wyatt the Elder died, Henry Howard put forth Epitaph on Sir Thomas Wyatt, a deeply moving remembrance of Wyatt, who died in October of 1542.

By 1546, Henry VIII was not in good health.
He was, by then, circling the drain without much longer to live.
Image result for person going down the drain
"So, Your Highness, just the one more white shirt'll do you?"
All eyes of the courtiers darted between the living, aged, sick old man on the throne, and his nine year old son, Prince Edward, who would inherit it when Henry VIII died.
It was the wrong time to bring up the subject of who would be Protector of Prince Edward once the child was on the throne; "the King is dead, long live the King" only works once the old King is actually d e a d.
Perhaps having a big mouth ran in the Howard family; certainly Henry Howard's cousin Anne Boleyn's big mouth cost her her life; Henry Howard had the poor sense to indicate his father, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was fully qualified to act as Protector when the young Prince Edward ascended his throne.
Between that remark, and the fact that Henry Howard overstepped himself by inclusion of elements only allowed royalty on his shield, both Henry and his father Thomas Howard were arrested on charges of treason and sent to the Tower of London.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was executed by beheading on 19 January, 1547. 
Image result for frustrated Grim Reaper
"I'll be back, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, I'll be baaaacccckkkkk." 
Henry Howard's father, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk who had made hella enemies during his career at court and whose execution was scheduled later in the month, caught the luckiest of breaks when Henry VIII died first.

His execution was called off.

Can you believe that luck? 
He still shivered and half-starved in the Tower for the duration of Edward VI's short reign, but when Mary I took over, she released the old man almost immediately.
Image result for get out of jail free

Friday, August 28, 2015

And Every One Was a Henry. Today's Henry: Norris

Henry Norris has the dubious 'honour' of being the recipient of the single, treasonous remark made by Anne Boleyn that was the tipping point between 'trumped up charges' and 'charges that stick.' 

Anne Boleyn, full of her own cool-girl awesomeness with a topping of snarkiness said to Norris, a widower of five years at the time that he (Norris) looked for 'dead men's shoes, for if ought but good came to the King, you would look to have me for yourself." 
Image result for men's shoes in coffin
The caption just writes itself, doesn't it?
Big mistake, Anne.
Not only did she incriminate herself by the treasonous remark, she took Norris right down with her. 

Of all the men who were beheaded in the fallout of Anne Boleyn's stumble from greatness, Henry Norris's is perhaps the saddest.
Image result for sad
Born in 1482, he was father to at least three, and possibly four, children, and husband to Mary (nee Fiennes.) 
His wife, Mary, died in 1531 - and doesn't that make Anne Boleyn's remark  about 'dead men's shoes' just before her (and his!) arrest all that much more damning, said, as it was, to a fairly recent widower? 

Norris was part of the court since his youth and that was fairly standard operating procedure at the time.
He'd served as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber - thisclose to the King.

He was the only pal Henry VIII brought with him when Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth Boleyn (mother to Anne) inspected (having claimed)  Cardinal Wolsey's property in October, 1529. 
Norris was responsible for the Palace of Westminster's maintenance and security. 
Later, that role was given to Norris's brother, and later still, to his son. 
This was no casual,"can I sit here at the lunch table?" friend - Henry Norris was as sewn into the court's fabric as was possible. 
He was older than the king by a decade or so; at his death he was 53/54.

 Even with impeccable credentials and a personal history of discretion and uncomplaining service, Norris was no match for the ambition of Thomas Cromwell.Image result for treachery
Cromwell had the King's wife removed to make room for the woman waiting in the wings for the wife-role, and to do that, there had to be a big, noisy fuss of such proportion that nobody would doubt its veracity.
By leveling charges of incest (against Anne Boleyn's brother) and general whoring (with four other men; my goodness, Cromwell, where on earth did you imagine she'd have found the time?) the King's adviser and Royal Fixer of Problems ensured the fuss was big enough and noisy enough to have to be true.

Henry Norris, at the moment Anne Boleyn made her 'dead men's shoes' comment, must have blanched and felt every bit of spit dry up in his mouth; for in the seconds it took her to say the words, she'd committed an executable offence. 
Anne Boleyn knew it, too, whether independently of seeing Norris's reaction or on her own, no matter.
The toothpaste was out of the tube on this one.
She'd let Smart-Ass Anne take over when In-Control Anne should have been running the show.

In-control Anne took over immediately and begged Norris to disregard the slip of the tongue.
Image result for facepalm
Norris and Anne knew they'd been overheard by a nearby cleaning woman; Anne, who should have zipped her lip, was a slow learner in this case.
Instead of brassing it out, she begged Norris to pay off the cleaning woman with hush money.
Image result for shhh
Guilt and fear make poor decisions. 

The King spoke privately with Norris before the henchmen hauled Norris off to jail.
Did he level with Norris and say, "I need a son. She needs to be gone. You're going down to make it all legit; you cool with that?" or did he play along with the charade and weep as he said, "Norris, how could you do this to me?" Image result for how could you?
After a lifetime of service to Henry VIII, Henry Norris's reward was being hauled up onto a scaffold and made to watch while Anne Boleyn's brother, George, spoke his last words then had his head chopped off.Image result for chopping block
Norris's thoughts are unimaginable; he was plain and simply collateral damage in a spiral of events that sucked in the guilty, the innocent and the in-between.
He'd have knelt, leaned forward to expose his neck for optimal chopping aim, and waited. 
The last sound he heard might have been the grunt or the exhale of breath of the headsman as he swung the axe down to cleave off Norris's noggin. 
(!!! Don't you wonder if people in the crowds watching these executions ever puked their guts out? I know I would.) 
Image result for puke
So graphic. And that chopping sound! Whoops!

And afterwards, Henry VIII married again, his wife had a son, the son survived, and Henry VIII was happy again.
The King's happiness, after all, was all that counted.