Thomas Starkey (c. 1498–1538) was an English political theorist, humanist, and royal servant.
Starkey was born in Cheshire, probably at Wrenbury, to Thomas Starkey and Maud Mainwaring. His father likely held office in Wales and was wealthy enough to pay for his son's education. His mother, Maud, was a daughter of Sir John Mainwaring, one of the wealthiest men in the palatinate.
He attended the University of Oxford and gained an MA at Magdalen College in 1521. He went to Padua with Thomas Lupset in 1523. Here he studied the works of Aristotle and admired the government of Venice. By 1529 he had entered the service of Reginald Pole as secretary.Together with Pole, Starkey went to Avignon in 1532 where he studied civil law, before returning to Padua.
Starkey returned to England in late 1534 and caught the eye of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII, in early 1535. Cromwell used Starkey to handle intelligence from Italy and as a royal propagandist.
His deep ties to Reginald Pole proved somewhat detrimental to his career, especially after a manuscript of Pole's De unitate, a savage attack on Henry VIII, arrived in England in 1536. These same ties to Pole and his family made him a subject of investigation in the 1538 Exeter Conspiracy. He died on 25 August 1538, perhaps of plague.
Between 1529 and 1532 Starkey wrote his A Dialogue between Pole and Lupset, later known as Starkey's England. Cast as a dialogue between Reginald Pole and Thomas Lupset, the Dialogue is one of the most significant works of political thought written in English in the first half of the sixteenth century.In 1536 he published An Exhortation to the People instructing them to Unity and Obedience, a defence of Royal Supremacy and commissioned by Thomas Cromwell.
Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, was an English lawyer and statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1532 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king.
Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, 1st Earl of Ormond, 1st Viscount RochfordKGKB, of Hever Castle in Kent, was an English diplomat and politician who was the father of Anne Boleyn, Queen consort and the second wife of King Henry VIII, and was thus the maternal grandfather of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Reginald Pole was an English cardinal of the Catholic Church and the last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury, holding the office from 1556 to 1558, during the Counter-Reformation.
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was an English peeress. She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III. Margaret was one of two women in 16th-century England to be a peeress in her own right with no titled husband. One of the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses, she was executed in 1541 at the command of Henry VIII, who was the son of her first cousin Elizabeth of York. Pope Leo XIII beatified her as a martyr for the Catholic Church on 29 December 1886.
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, namely 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.
George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford was an English courtier and nobleman, and the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn. This made him the brother-in-law of King Henry VIII and the maternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire was an English noblewoman, noted for being the mother of Anne Boleyn and as such the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth I of England. The eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his first wife Elizabeth Tilney, she married Thomas Boleyn sometime in the later 15th century. Elizabeth became Viscountess Rochford in 1525 when her husband was elevated to the peerage, subsequently becoming Countess of Ormond in 1527 and Countess of Wiltshire in 1529.
Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall in the parish of Great Bedwyn in the Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, 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.
Elizabeth Seymour was a younger daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wulfhall, Wiltshire and Margery Wentworth. Elizabeth and her sister Jane Seymour served in the household of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. In his quest for a male heir, the king had divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, whose only surviving child was a daughter, Mary. His marriage to Anne Boleyn had also resulted in a single daughter, Elizabeth. The queen's miscarriage of a son in January 1536 sealed her fate. The king, convinced that Anne could never give him male children, increasingly infatuated with Jane Seymour, and encouraged by the queen's enemies, was determined to replace her. The Seymours rose to prominence after the king's attention turned to Jane.
Sir Henry Norris was an English courtier who was Groom of the Stool in the privy chamber of King Henry VIII. While a close servant of the King, he also supported the faction in court led by Queen Anne Boleyn, and when Anne fell out of favour, he was among those accused of treason and adultery with her. He was found guilty and executed, together with the Queen's brother, George Boleyn, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton. Most historical authorities argue that the accusations were untrue and part of a plot to get rid of Anne.
William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Horton was the son of Sir William Parr and his second wife, the Hon. Elizabeth Fitzhugh, later Lady Vaux of Harrowden.
Sir Richard Long was an English politician and courtier, for many years a member of the Privy Chamber of Henry VIII.
Walter Hungerford, 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, was created Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury in 1536.
Sir Richard Morrison was an English humanist scholar and diplomat. He was a protégé of Thomas Cromwell, propagandist for Henry VIII, and then ambassador to the German court of Charles V for Edward VI.
Sir Thomas Neville or Nevill was a younger son of George Neville, 4th Baron Bergavenny. He was a prominent lawyer and a trusted councillor of King Henry VIII, and was elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1515.
John Hilsey was an English Dominican, prior provincial of his order, then an agent of Henry VIII and his church reformation, and Bishop of Rochester.
Sir Geoffrey Pole of Lordington, Sussex was an English knight who supported the Catholic Church in England and Wales when Henry VIII of England was establishing the alternative Church of England with himself as leader.
Sir Francis Bigod was the leader of Bigod's Rebellion.
Sir William Shelley (1480?–1549) was an English judge.
William Marshall was an English Protestant reformer, printer, and translator.