The Duke of Somerset
|Lord High Treasurer|
10 February 1547 –10 October 1549
|Preceded by||The Duke of Norfolk|
|Succeeded by||The Marquess of Winchester|
|Lord Protector of the Realm|
4 February 1547 –11 October 1549
|Lord Great Chamberlain|
|Monarchs|| Henry VIII |
|Preceded by||The Earl of Sussex|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Warwick|
|Died||22 January 1552 51–52) (aged|
|Cause of death||Decapitation|
|Resting place|| Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula,Tower of London,London,United Kingdom |
|Allegiance||Kingdom of England|
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset –22 January 1552) (also 1st Earl of Hertford, 1st Viscount Beauchamp), also known as Edward Semel, was the eldest surviving brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d. 1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII. He was Lord Protector of England from 1547 to 1549 during the minority of his nephew King Edward VI (1547–1553). Despite his popularity with the common people, his policies often angered the gentry and he was overthrown.(1500
Edward Seymour was born c. 1500, the son of Sir John Seymour (1474–1536), feudal baron of Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset, by his wife Margery Wentworth, eldest daughter of Sir Henry Wentworth of Nettlestead, Suffolk, and descended from Edward III. In 1514, aged about 14, he received an appointment in the household of Mary Tudor, Queen of France, and was enfant d’honneur at her marriage with Louis XII.
Seymour served in the Duke of Suffolk's campaign in France in 1523, being knighted by the duke on 1 November, and accompanied Cardinal Wolsey on his embassy to France in 1527. Appointed Esquire of the Body to Henry VIII in 1529, he grew in favour with the king, who visited his manor at Elvetham in Hampshire in October 1535.
When Seymour's sister, Jane, married King Henry VIII in 1536, Edward was created Viscount Beauchamp on 5 June 1536, and Earl of Hertford on 15 October 1537. He became Warden of the Scottish Marches and continued in royal favour after his sister's death on 24 October 1537.
In 1541, during Henry's absence in the north, Hertford, Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Audley had the chief management of affairs in London. In September 1542 he was appointed Warden of the Scottish Marches, and a few months later Lord High Admiral, a post which he almost immediately relinquished in favour of John Dudley, the future duke of Northumberland. In March 1544 he was made lieutenant-general of the north and instructed to punish the Scots for their repudiation of the treaty of marriage between Prince Edward and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. He landed at Leith on 3 May 1544, captured and pillaged Edinburgh, and returned by land burning villages and castles along the way.
In July 1544 he was appointed lieutenant of the realm under Catherine Parr, Henry's sixth wife and regent, during Henry's absence at Boulogne, but in August he joined the king and was present at the surrender of the town. In the autumn he was one of the commissioners sent to Flanders to keep Emperor Charles V to the terms of his treaty with England, and in January 1545 he was placed in command at Boulogne, where on the 26th he repelled an attempt of Marshal de Biez to recapture the town. In May he was once more appointed lieutenant-general in the north to avenge the Scottish victory at the Battle of Ancrum Moor; this he did by a savage foray into Scotland in September. He reported that on 16 September 1545 he had "sent forth a good band to the number of 1500 light horsemen in the leading of me [and] Sir Robert Bowes, which from 5 a.m. till 3 p.m., forayed along the waters of Tyvyote and Rowle, 6 or 7 miles beyond Jedburgh, and burnt 14 or 15 towns and a great quantity of all kinds of corn".
In March 1546 he was sent back to Boulogne to supersede the Earl of Surrey, whose command had not been a success; and in June he was engaged in negotiations for peace with France and for the delimitation of the English conquests.
From October to the end of Henry's reign he was in attendance on the king, engaged in the struggle for predominance which was to determine the complexion of the government during the coming minority. Personal, political and religious rivalry separated him and Baron Lisle from the Howards, and Surrey's hasty temper precipitated his own ruin and that of his father, the duke of Norfolk. They could not acquiesce in the Imperial ambassador's verdict that Hertford and Lisle were the only noblemen of fit age and capacity to carry on the government; and Surrey's attempt to secure the predominance of his family led to his own execution and to his father's imprisonment in the Tower of London.
Upon the death of Henry VIII (28 January 1547), Seymour's nephew became king as Edward VI. Henry VIII's will named sixteen executors, who were to act as Edward's Council until he reached the age of 18. These executors were supplemented by twelve men "of counsail" who would assist the executors when called on.The final state of Henry VIII's will has occasioned controversy. Some historians suggest that those close to the king manipulated either him or the will itself to ensure a shareout of power to their benefit, both material and religious. In this reading, the composition of the Privy Chamber shifted towards the end of 1546 in favour of the Protestant faction. In addition, two leading conservative Privy Councillors were removed from the centre of power. Stephen Gardiner was refused access to Henry during his last months. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, found himself accused of treason; on 24–25 December, he offered his vast estates to the Crown making them available for redistribution, and he spent the whole of Edward's reign in the Tower of London.
Other historians have argued that Gardiner's exclusion had non-religious causes, that Norfolk was not noticeably conservative in religion, that conservatives remained on the council, and that the radicalism of men such as Sir Anthony Denny, who controlled the dry stamp that replicated the king's signature, is debatable.Whatever the case, Henry's death was followed by a lavish hand-out of lands and honours to the new power group. The will contained an "unfulfilled gifts" clause, added at the last minute, which allowed Henry's executors to freely distribute lands and honours to themselves and the court, particularly to Seymour (then known as Earl of Hertford), who became the Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King's Person, and who created himself Duke of Somerset. Henry VIII's will did not provide for the appointment of a Protector. It entrusted the government of the realm during his son's minority to a Regency Council that would rule collectively, by majority decision, with "like and equal charge". Nevertheless, a few days after Henry's death, on 4 February, the executors chose to invest almost regal power in Edward Seymour. Thirteen out of the sixteen (the others being absent) agreed to his appointment as Protector, which they justified as their joint decision "by virtue of the authority" of Henry's will. Seymour may have done a deal with some of the executors, who almost all received hand-outs. He is known to have done so with William Paget, private secretary to Henry VIII, and to have secured the support of Sir Anthony Browne of the Privy Chamber.
Seymour's appointment was in keeping with historical precedent,and his eligibility for the role was reinforced by his military successes in Scotland and France. He was senior to his ally Lisle in the peerage, and was the new king's closest relative. In March 1547, he secured letters patent from King Edward granting him the almost monarchical right to appoint members to the Privy Council himself and to consult them only when he wished. In the words of historian G. R. Elton, "from that moment his autocratic system was complete". He proceeded to rule largely by proclamation, calling on the Privy Council to do little more than rubber-stamp his decisions.
Seymour's takeover of power was smooth and efficient. The imperial ambassador, Francis Van der Delft, reported that he "governs everything absolutely", with Paget operating as his secretary, though he predicted trouble from John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, who had recently been raised to Earl of Warwick in the share-out of honours.In fact, in the early weeks of his Protectorate, Seymour met opposition only from the Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley, whom the Earldom of Southampton had evidently failed to buy off, and from his own brother. Wriothesley, a religious conservative, objected to Seymour's assumption of monarchical power over the council. He then found himself abruptly dismissed from the chancellorship on charges of selling off some of his offices to delegates. In his first parliament, which met in November 1547, he procured the repeal of all the heresy laws and nearly all the treason laws passed since Edward III. He sought to win over the Scots by those promises of autonomy, free trade, and equal privileges with England. But the Scots were not to be won over yet, and would not be persuaded; the protector led another army into Scotland in September 1547, and won the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on 10 September. He trusted to the garrisons he established throughout the Lowlands to wear down Scottish opposition; but their pressure was soon weakened by troubles in England and abroad, and Mary was transported to France to marry Francis II in 1557.
Seymour also attempted to bring uniformity to forms of worship, and in 1549 the first Act of Uniformity introduced a Book of Common Prayer that attempted to compromise between different forms of learning; it was replaced by a more severe form in 1552 after his fall.During the Protectorate and before, the subject was a central patron of the emerging Protestant literature.
Edward Seymour faced less manageable opposition from his younger brother Thomas, who has been described as a "worm in the bud".As King Edward's uncle, Thomas Seymour demanded the governorship of the king's person and a greater share of power. Seymour tried to buy his brother off with a barony, an appointment to the Lord Admiralship, and a seat on the Privy Council—but Thomas was bent on scheming for power. He began smuggling pocket money to King Edward, telling him that the Duke of Somerset held the purse strings too tight, making him a "beggarly king". He also urged him to throw off the Protector within two years and "bear rule as other kings do"; but Edward, schooled to defer to the council, failed to co-operate.
In April 1547, using King Edward's support to circumvent his brother's opposition, Thomas Seymour secretly married Henry VIII's widow Catherine Parr, whose Protestant household included the 11-year-old Lady Jane Grey and the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth.
In summer 1548, a pregnant Catherine Parr discovered Thomas Seymour embracing Princess Elizabeth.As a result, Elizabeth was removed from Catherine Parr's household and transferred to Sir Anthony Denny's. That September, Catherine Parr died in childbirth, and Thomas Seymour promptly resumed his attentions to Elizabeth by letter, planning to marry her. Elizabeth was receptive, but, like Edward, unready to agree to anything unless permitted by the council. In January 1549, the council had Thomas Seymour arrested on various charges, including embezzlement at the Bristol mint. King Edward himself testified about the pocket money. Most importantly, Thomas Seymour had sought to officially receive the governorship of King Edward, as no earlier Lord Protectors, unlike Edward Seymour, had ever held both functions. Lack of clear evidence for treason ruled out a trial, so Thomas was condemned instead by an Act of Attainder and beheaded on 20 March 1549.
Edward Seymour's only undoubted skill was as a soldier, which he had proved on his expeditions to Scotland and in the defence of Boulogne in 1546. From the first, his main interest as Protector was the war against Scotland.After a crushing victory at the Battle of Pinkie in September 1547, he set up a network of garrisons in Scotland, stretching as far north as Dundee. His initial successes, however, were followed by a loss of direction, as his aim of uniting the realms through conquest became increasingly unrealistic. The Scots allied with France, who sent reinforcements for the defence of Edinburgh in 1548, while Mary, Queen of Scots, was removed to France, where she was betrothed to the dauphin. The cost of maintaining the Protector's massive armies and his permanent garrisons in Scotland also placed an unsustainable burden on the royal finances. A French attack on Boulogne in August 1549 at last forced Seymour to begin a withdrawal from Scotland.
During 1548, England was subject to social unrest. After April 1549, a series of armed revolts broke out, fuelled by various religious and agrarian grievances. The two most serious rebellions, which required major military intervention to put down, were in Devon and Cornwall and in Norfolk. The first, called the Prayer Book Rebellion (also known as the Western rebellion) arose mainly from the imposition of church services in English, and the second, led by a tradesman called Robert Kett, mainly from the encroachment of landlords on common grazing ground.A complex aspect of the social unrest was that the protestors believed they were acting legitimately against enclosing landlords with the Protector's support, convinced that the landlords were the lawbreakers.
The same justification for outbreaks of unrest was voiced throughout the country, not only in Norfolk and the west. The origin of the popular view of Edward Seymour as sympathetic to the rebel cause lies partly in his series of sometimes liberal, often contradictory, proclamations.and partly in the uncoordinated activities of the commissions he sent out in 1548 and 1549 to investigate grievances about loss of tillage, encroachment of large sheep flocks on common land, and similar issues. Seymour's commissions were led by the evangelical M.P. John Hales, whose socially liberal rhetoric linked the issue of enclosure with Reformation theology and the notion of a godly commonwealth. Local groups often assumed that the findings of these commissions entitled them to act against offending landlords themselves. King Edward wrote in his Chronicle that the 1549 risings began "because certain commissions were sent down to pluck down enclosures".
Whatever the popular view of the Duke of Somerset, the disastrous events of 1549 were taken as evidence of a colossal failure of government, and the Council laid the responsibility at the Protector's door.In July 1549, Paget wrote to Seymour: "Every man of the council have misliked your proceedings ... would to God, that, at the first stir you had followed the matter hotly, and caused justice to be ministered in solemn fashion to the terror of others ...".
The sequence of events that led to Seymour's removal from power has often been called a coup d'état .By 1 October 1549, Seymour had been alerted that his rule faced a serious threat. He issued a proclamation calling for assistance, took possession of the king's person, and withdrew for safety to the fortified Windsor Castle, where Edward said, "Methinks I am in prison".
Meanwhile, a united Council published details of Seymour's government mismanagement. They made clear that the Protector's power came from them, not from Henry VIII's will. On 11 October, the council had Seymour arrested and brought the king to Richmond.Edward summarised the charges against Somerset in his Chronicle: "ambition, vainglory, entering into rash wars in mine youth, negligent looking on Newhaven, enriching himself of my treasure, following his own opinion, and doing all by his own authority, etc."
In February 1550, John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, emerged as the leader of the Council and, in effect, as Seymour's successor. Although Seymour was released from the Tower and restored to the council in early 1550, in October 1551 he was sent to the Tower on an exaggerated charge of treason.Instead, he was executed for felony (that of seeking a change of government) in January 1552 after scheming to overthrow Dudley's regime. Edward noted his uncle's death in his Chronicle: "the duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill between eight and nine o'clock in the morning". Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset was interred at St. Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London.
Historians have contrasted the efficiency of Edward Seymour's takeover of power in 1547 with the subsequent ineptitude of his rule.By autumn 1549, his costly wars had lost momentum, the crown faced financial ruin, and riots and rebellions had broken out around the country. Until recent decades, Seymour's reputation with historians was high, in view of his many proclamations that appeared to back the common people against a rapacious landowning class. In the early 20th century this line was taken by the influential A. F. Pollard, to be echoed by Edward VI's 1960s biographer W. K. Jordan. A more critical approach was initiated by M. L. Bush and Dale Hoak in the mid-1970s. Since then, the first Duke of Somerset has often been portrayed as an arrogant ruler, devoid of the political and administrative skills necessary for governing the Tudor state.
Edward Seymour married twice:
The male line of Edward Seymour and Anne Stanhope died out with the seventh Duke of Somerset in 1750, when the descendants of Edward Seymour by his first wife, Catherine Fillol, inherited the Somerset dukedom in accordance with the Private Act of 1541.However, the female line continued, and Queen Elizabeth II was descended from Somerset through his grandchild by Catherine Grey.
Edward VI was King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death in 1553. He was crowned on 20 February 1547 at the age of nine. Edward was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour and the first English monarch to be raised as a Protestant. During his reign, the realm was governed by a regency council because he never reached maturity. The council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick (1550–1553), who from 1551 was Duke of Northumberland.
Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, KG, PC was a brother of Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII. With his brother, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector of England, he vied for control of their nephew, the young King Edward VI. In 1547 Seymour became the fourth husband of Catherine Parr, who had been the sixth and last wife and queen of Henry VIII. During his marriage to Catherine Parr, Seymour involved the future Queen Elizabeth I, who resided in his household, in flirtatious and possibly sexual behaviour.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, KG, was an English nobleman, politician and poet. He was one of the founders of English Renaissance poetry and was the last known person executed at the instance of King Henry VIII. He was a first cousin the king's wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. His name is usually associated in literature with that of the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt. Owing largely to the powerful position of his father, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Surrey took a prominent part in the court life of the time, and served as a soldier both in France and Scotland. He was a man of reckless temper, which involved him in many quarrels, and finally brought upon him the wrath of the ageing and embittered Henry VIII. He was arrested, tried for treason and beheaded on Tower Hill.
John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland was an English general, admiral, and politician, who led the government of the young King Edward VI from 1550 until 1553, and unsuccessfully tried to install Lady Jane Grey on the English throne after the King's death. The son of Edmund Dudley, a minister of Henry VII executed by Henry VIII, John Dudley became the ward of Sir Edward Guildford at the age of seven. Dudley grew up in Guildford's household together with his future wife, Guildford's daughter Jane, with whom he was to have 13 children. Dudley served as Vice-Admiral and Lord Admiral from 1537 until 1547, during which time he set novel standards of navy organisation and was an innovative commander at sea. He also developed a strong interest in overseas exploration. Dudley took part in the 1544 campaigns in Scotland and France and was one of Henry VIII's intimates in the last years of the reign. He was also a leader of the religious reform party at court.
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was a prominent English politician and nobleman of the Tudor era. He was an uncle of two of the wives of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, both of whom were beheaded, and played a major role in the machinations affecting these royal marriages. After falling from favour in 1546, he was stripped of his Dukedom and imprisoned in the Tower of London, avoiding execution when Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547.
Duke of Somerset, from the county of Somerset, is a title that has been created five times in the peerage of England. It is particularly associated with two families: the Beauforts, who held the title from the creation of 1448, and the Seymours, from the creation of 1547, in whose name the title is still held. The present dukedom is unique, in that the first holder of the title created it for himself in his capacity of Lord Protector of the Kingdom of England, using a power granted in the will of his nephew King Edward VI.
Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, KG was an English peer, secretary of state, Lord Chancellor and Lord High Admiral. A naturally skilled but unscrupulous and devious politician who changed with the times and personally tortured Anne Askew, Wriothesley served as a loyal instrument of King Henry VIII in the latter's break with the Catholic church. Richly rewarded with royal gains from the Dissolution of the Monasteries, he nevertheless prosecuted Calvinists and other dissident Protestants when political winds changed.
John Dudley, 2nd Earl of Warwick, KB was an English nobleman and the heir of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, leading minister and regent under King Edward VI from 1550–1553. As his father's career progressed, John Dudley respectively assumed his father's former titles, Viscount Lisle and Earl of Warwick. Interested in the arts and sciences, he was the dedicatee of several books by eminent scholars, both during his lifetime and posthumously. His marriage to the former Protector Somerset's eldest daughter, in the presence of the King and a magnificent setting, was a gesture of reconciliation between the young couple's fathers. However, their struggle for power flared up again and ended with the Duke of Somerset's execution. In July 1553, after King Edward's death, Dudley was one of the signatories of the letters patent that attempted to set Lady Jane Grey on the throne of England, and took arms against Mary Tudor, alongside his father. The short campaign did not see any military engagements and ended as the Duke of Northumberland and his son were taken prisoners at Cambridge. John Dudley the younger was condemned to death yet reprieved. He died shortly after his release from the Tower of London.
Sir Anthony Denny was Groom of the Stool to King Henry VIII of England, thus his closest courtier and confidant. He was the most prominent member of the Privy chamber in King Henry's last years, having together with his brother-in-law, John Gates, charge of the "dry stamp" of the King's signature, and attended the King on his deathbed. He was a member of the Reformist circle that offset the conservative religious influence of Bishop Gardiner. He was a wealthy man, having acquired several manors and former religious sites distributed by the Court of augmentations after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. By 1548 he was keeper of the Palace of Westminster.
Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, was an English courtier and nobleman of the Tudor period. He was the father of Lady Jane Grey, known as "the Nine Days' Queen".
Sir John Seymour, Knight banneret was an English soldier and a courtier who served both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Born into a prominent gentry family, he is best known as the father of the Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, and hence grandfather of king Edward VI of England.
The Tudor period occurred between 1485 and 1603 in England and Wales and includes the Elizabethan period during the reign of Elizabeth I until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the House of Tudor in England that began with the reign of Henry VII. Historian John Guy (1988) argued that "England was economically healthier, more expansive, and more optimistic under the Tudors" than at any time since the Roman occupation.
Anne Seymour, Duchess of Somerset was the second wife of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, who held the office of lord protector during the first part of the reign of their nephew King Edward VI. The Duchess was briefly the most powerful woman in England. During her husband's regency she unsuccessfully claimed precedence over the queen dowager, Catherine Parr.
Lady Jane Grey, later known as Lady Jane Dudley and as the "Nine Days' Queen", was an English noblewoman who claimed the throne of England and Ireland from 10 July until 19 July 1553.
Events from the 1540s in England.
Sir John Thynne was the steward to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and a member of parliament. He was the builder of Longleat House, and his descendants became Marquesses of Bath.
Margery Wentworth, also known as Margaret Wentworth, and as both Lady Seymour and Dame Margery Seymour. She was the wife of Sir John Seymour and the mother of Queen Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII of England. She was the grandmother of King Edward VI of England.
Sir John Gates KB (1504–1553) was an English courtier, soldier and politician, holding influential household positions in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. One of the Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber under Edward VI, he became a follower of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland and was a principal participant in the attempt to establish Lady Jane Grey on the English throne. For this he was executed for high treason under Mary I.
Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland was an English courtier. She was the wife of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and mother of Guildford Dudley and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. Having grown up with her future husband, who was her father's ward, she married at about age 16. They had 13 children. Jane Dudley served as a lady-in-waiting at the court of Henry VIII and was a close friend of his final wife, Catherine Parr. Reformed in religious outlook, she was also a supporter of the Protestant martyr Anne Askew.
Sir Henry Seymour was an English landowner and MP, the brother of Jane Seymour, queen consort of Henry VIII, and consequently uncle to Edward VI. He was created a Knight of the Bath after his nephew's coronation.