Saturday, November 28, 2015

W is for Wyatt Family The ABC's of the Reign of Our Gracious Sovereign Elizabeth

The Wyatt family had a generations-long link of service to (certain members of) the Tudor dynasty.
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Henry Wyatt,
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Henry Wyatt - saddest, most knowing eyes ever captured on canvas.
of Welsh descent, got the ball rolling when he refused to serve Richard III, and Richard III gave Henry Wyatt serious Tower Time, complete with Torture on the Rack upgrade. 

According to legend, not only did Henry Wyatt get Tower Time,
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"Welcome to the Tower of London!"
and rack time,
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"Just a little bit more, fellas, then I'll be as tall as Tom Cruise!"

Henry Wyatt was given the special, anorexics-dream-come-true diet

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of NO FOOD AT ALL.
One chilly day, a kitty suffering from the cold appeared at the window of his cell.
He held the cat until it warmed up.
That darn cat
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Grateful cat. Shame about the pigeons, though. . . .
was so grateful it brought Wyatt dead pigeons to eat, thus saving his life.
(Or maybe the cat just liked its pigeon cooked over a candle? Who knows. At any rate, it's a good story.)

Once Richard III was dead in a fashion most brutal
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METAL!!!
and disposed of
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Henry Tudor became Henry VII, and as King of England, he hotfooted it over to the Tower to spring his loyal friend, Henry Wyatt. 

Henry Wyatt, face mangled from having been pulled apart most rudely during a particularly rough torture session,
still managed to find a bride and start a family.
He also, thanks to his grateful pal, the new King of England, had enough do-re-mi
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to buy Allington Castle in Kent, and make it his new cozy home.
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Allington Castle - location, location, location - when one's home was in Kent (dangerously close to France) the king trod less heavily on those whose defensible fortresses could be counted on to help out in case of invasion of the French.

His first-born son
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First-born = gets ALL the goodies.
Thomas Wyatt, perfection on two feet, grew up to be a poet, an ambassador, and a lover of Anne Boleyn.
http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/images/Wyatt,Thomas(Sir)01.jpg
Best. Poet. EVER. :-)

Like his dad, he also got some Tower Time
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"Welcome to the Tower of London!"

when Henry VIII felt the need to make believable his plan to off his trophy wife (Anne Boleyn) who *forgot* to produce a living son.
When arrested along with six other men, all accused of adultery with the queen, Wyatt was nonplussed.
"The king knows well what I told him before he was married," he said - which sounds an awful lot to me like, "Uh, I told him I got there first, so he should keep his hair on."
After Anne Boleyn and five of the seven accused men were relieved of their heads, 
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Thomas Wyatt, like his dad, walked out of the Tower under his own steam, and returned home to Allington Castle.
Although unhappily married, Thomas Wyatt managed to produce a son named . . . . Thomas Wyatt the Younger.
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Thomas Wyatt the Younger.

That made the first Thomas Wyatt 'the Elder.' 

Thomas Wyatt the Younger was an impulsive sort of guy.
Able to work himself up over issues about which he felt strongly, he could go off like a rocket.
That's what happened when, upon hearing Mary I (Elizabeth's half-sister) was set to marry a Spaniard, Thomas Wyatt the Younger led a rebellion intended to dump Mary I off the throne, and to replace her with Elizabeth I.
The rebellion failed.
Elizabeth ended up with some of the failed rebellion mud on her face.
Thomas Wyatt the Younger, gentleman to the end, died professing her innocence of any knowledge of his plan, and he did so in a LOUD VOICE.
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“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.”

All the onlookers heard him just as he'd intended - which put Mary I in a pretty pickle.
For her to prosecute Elizabeth after a man with his neck on the chopping block screamed Elizabeth was totally, completely, blamelessly innocent would have looked like sour grapes of the worst kind. 

Wyatt's head, displayed on a gibbet, was stolen six days after his execution.
Seriously.
Who does that? 

The Wyatt legacy went on after the execution of Thomas Wyatt the Younger; his son, George Wyatt, wrote the first biography of Anne Boleyn.
While at the British Library last month, I had an unparalleled experience when, in the Treasures of the British Library room, I saw Thomas Wyatt the Elder's handwritten poetry on display.
 http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/.a/6a00d8341c464853ef01a3fcd0d0aa970b-pi
I turned to the next display case, and there I saw a signature on a letter that I recognized in a heartbeat:
Elizabeth I Enthroned in Norlin | Inside CU | University of Colorado ...
I cried.