Thursday, March 31, 2011

Giveaway Winners

Thanks to all who entered Margaret's birthday giveaway! The winners (who have been notified) were pressedposies and Shannon. Happy reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011

In Which I Create a Brand-New Conspiracy Theory

As some of you might know, there's a school of thought which believes that Edward IV was poisoned and that the Woodvilles (of course) were the main suspects. The theory, first proposed by one R. E. Collins in a book whose co-author claims to have been in communication with the shade of Richard III, rests upon mighty flimsy evidence--a request by Anthony Woodville for a copy of a document authorizing him to raise troops, Anthony's proposal that his nephew the Marquis of Dorset replace him as deputy constable of the Tower, and the household ordinances drafted for Prince Edward in which it was stated, "we wil that our said sonne observe and kepe theis articles before written touchinge his person, and that he ne take upon him to give, write, sende or commande any thinge withoute thavise of the said bishop [of Rochester], lord Richard [Grey] and Erle Rivieres." Since Anthony already had been authorized to raise troops, and was merely obtaining a copy of a permission he already had at a time when trouble was looming with both the French and the Scots, it's hard to see anything sinister in that. The proposal about the Tower merely substituted one Woodville for another, and was being discussed with the constable, Lord Dudley, who had appointed Anthony as his deputy in the first place. As for Prince Edward's household ordinances, they were promulgated under the authority of Edward IV himself and were concerned with the rearing of the young boy (including such subjects as the prince's bedtime); they did not address the eventuality of who would govern the realm in case of a royal minority. There's also the problem that there's no evidence that Edward IV was poisoned, nor did contemporaries (including Richard III, who certainly could have benefited from making such an accusation) ever suggest that the Woodvilles played a role in his death. Nonetheless, the conspiracy theory has gained some fans, which means, in my opinion, that it's time to take the heat off the Woodvilles with a spanking new conspiracy theory.

The villain? John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk.

Now at first glance, John, married to Edward IV's sister Elizabeth, and hitherto regarded as a bit of a nonentity, might seem an unlikely suspect. As we'll see, however, the facts of his life simply ooze with sinister implications.

-- John was the only son of William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, Henry VI's murdered adviser. In short, he was from a Lancastrian family. Need I say more?

-- John was married at a very young age to Margaret Beaufort, who we all know was an evil person, because certain historical novelists tell us so. Although the marriage was annulled when the parties were still children, it's quite possible that some of Margaret's evilness rubbed off on John.

-- John was forced to marry Elizabeth, a daughter of the Duke of York, in 1458. The marriage portion the duke offered was a mere 2300 marks, paid in installments and far less than the amount the duke had offered with his first daughter, Anne. Did John spend hours on end brooding on this injustice, mayhap?

-- Despite loyally supporting his brother-in-law, John never played an important role in Edward IV's reign, giving him yet another injustice to brood upon.

-- Following the defeat of the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury, Margaret of Anjou spent some time in the custody of John's mother, Alice de la Pole, before being returned to France. Did Margaret--often thought to have been broken in spirit following her son's death at Tewkesbury--actually take one last opportunity to stir up trouble in England by planting murderous ideas in the mind of Alice's son?

-- When Richard III's only legitimate son died in 1484, Suffolk's son John, the Earl of Lincoln, may have been regarded as the king's heir.

So now we have our suspect: a man from a Lancastrian family, associated with such sinister figures as Margaret Beaufort and Margaret of Anjou, whose marriage had brought him inadequate rewards and whose son had a distant claim to the throne. Do you see where this is headed? To clear the way for the Earl of Lincoln to take the throne, all John had to do was to bump off Edward IV, Edward IV's sons, Richard III's son, and Richard III himself, and keep the Duke of Clarence's son, the Earl of Warwick, from taking the throne. And that, dear readers, is exactly what he did, destroying the royal family one by one like so many dominoes. Edward IV, the Princes in the Tower, and Richard III's son were all murdered by John, who then arranged for the Stanleys to betray Richard III at Bosworth, thereby leading to Richard III's own death.

Unfortunately, John did not reckon on one thing: the counter-plotting and the double-crossing of the unspeakable Margaret Beaufort, who still bore a grudge from being cast off as John's bride so many years before. Instead of falling in with John's cunning plan and allowing the Earl of Lincoln to be crowned king, therefore, Margaret decided to put her own son, Henry Tudor, on the throne. The Earl of Lincoln (whose wife, it should be remembered, was a niece of the sinister Elizabeth Woodville) was therefore forced to join the Lambert Simnel conspiracy, which purported to be in favor of putting the Earl of Warwick on the throne. It's likely, however, that the conspiracy's hidden, ultimate goal was to place the Earl of Lincoln on the throne. And who better to pull Lincoln's strings than his Machiavellian father, John? (Indeed, John was so Machiavellian, I propose that the word "Machiavellian" be replaced with "Poleian.")

Sadly for John, the conspiracy failed, and the Earl of Lincoln was killed at the Battle of Stoke. Amazingly, John was never implicated in his son's treason--surely a sign of his skill as a conspirator--and lived undisturbed until 1492. The cause of his death is unknown, but I would venture to suggest that Margaret Beaufort, still bitter over being spurned and determined that her own dastardy deeds must never come to light, poisoned him.

By now some of you might be saying, this is all very clever, but where's the evidence? And isn't it a bit irresponsible to accuse a historical figure of a serious crime without some proof? To which I can only say, that's the sort of hidebound, unimaginative thinking that gave us such nonsense as the presumption of innocence. We're here to think outside the box, not to box ourselves in by dreary standards created by elitists.

And besides, just wait until I find a psychic to support my theory.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Birthday Giveaway of The Queen of Last Hopes

It's Margaret of Anjou's birthday today! She was born on March 23, 1430 (or possibly March 24) in Lorraine, probably at Pont-à-Mousson or Nancy, to Rene of Anjou and his wife Isabelle, the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine. Although Margaret was the younger of Rene and Isabelle's two surviving daughters, she was the one eventually chosen to be the bride of Henry VI, as a marriage had already been arranged for her older sister.

Older sources give Margaret's year of birth as 1429, but C. N. L. Brooke and V. Ortenberg disproved this in an 1988 article in Historical Research entitled, "The Birth of Margaret of Anjou."

The Battle of Towton, where Margaret's forces were defeated on March 29, 1461, was fought just days after Margaret's thirty-first birthday.

Anyway, in honor of Margaret's birthday, I'm giving away two copies of my novel about her, The Queen of Last Hopes. One copy is reserved for a winner outside of North America. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment wishing Margaret a happy birthday! The giveaway ends March 28, as March 29 is a date Margaret would rather not think about. Please note whether you're an entrant outside North America and leave an e-mail where I can contact you. Good luck!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Great Precedence Battle of Katherine Parr and Anne Somerset

One episode of Katherine Parr's life that almost never fails to be mentioned is the battle between her and Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset, for precedence following Katherine's remarriage to Thomas Seymour. Thomas was the younger brother of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector to Edward VI. As generally reported, the Duchess of Somerset, indignant that she should have to give way to the wife of her husband's younger brother, fumed, "If master admiral [Thomas Seymour] teach his wife no better manners, I am she that will," and even physically forced the queen out of her appointed place.

But is there less to this dispute than meets the eye?

First, Anne never uttered the comment attributed to her. Rather, she is reported by Peter Heylyn, writing in the seventeenth century, as merely having thought it. The passage from Heylyn gets rather extravagant--so much so that it is worth quoting in full:

Thomas Lord Seimour, being a man of lofty aims and aspiring thoughts, had married Queen Katharine Parr, the relict of the King deceased; who, looking on him as the brother of the Lord Protector, and being looked on as Queen dowager in the eye of the court, did not conceive that any lady could be so forgetful of her former dignity as to contend about the place. But therein she found herself deceived; for the Protector's wife, a woman of most infinite pride, and of a nature so imperious as to know no rule but her own will, would needs conceive herself to be the better woman of the two. For if the one were widow to the King deceased, the other thought herself to stand on the higher ground, in having all advantages of power above her:

"For what," said she within herself [italics added], "am not I wife to the Protector, who is King in power, though not in title; a Duke in order and degree; Lord Treasurer, and Earl Marshal, and what else he pleaseth; and one who hath ennobled his highest honours by his late great victory? And did not Henry marry Katharine Parr in his doting days; when he had brought himself to such a condition by his lusts and cruelty that no lady who stood upon her honour would adventure on him? Do not all knees bow before me, and all tongues celebrate my praises, and all hands pay the tribute of obedience to me, and all eyes look upon me as the first in state; through whose hand the principal offices in the court, and chief preferments in the Church, are observed to pass? Have I so long commanded him who commands two kingdoms? And shall I now give place to her who, in her former best estate, was but Latimer's widow, and is now fain to cast herself for support and countenance into the despised bed of a younger brother? If Mr Admiral teach his wife no better manners, I am she that will; and will choose rather to remove them both,—(whether out of the court or out of the world, shall be no great matter)—than be out-shined in my own sphere, and trampled on within the verge of my jurisdiction."

Unless we are to suppose that Peter Heylyn had the gift of reading the mind of a woman who had been dead for many decades when he wrote, we must put down his account of Anne's thoughts to imaginative reconstruction.

The companion story of Anne's forcing the queen aside comes from a very dubious source: the Chronicle of King Henry VIII of England, or the so-called Spanish Chronicle, which also gives us the story of Katherine Howard's unlikely scaffold declaration that she would rather die the wife of Thomas Culpepper. (Among other choice errors, it has Henry VIII marrying Anne of Cleves after the execution of Katherine Howard.) The queen/duchess feud is reported thusly:

Hardly a year had passed after the marriage of the Queen with the Admiral before there was great jealousy between the Queen and the Protector's wife, who seeing that the Queen was the wife of the younger brother, resolved not to pay the usual honours to her. When the Queen saw it she was much annoyed, and said to her husband the Admiral, "How is this, that through my marriage with you the wife of your brother is treating me with contempt and presumes to go before me? I will never allow it, for I am Queen, and shall be called so all my life, and I promise you if she does again what she did yesterday I will pull her back myself." The Admiral was greatly grieved at this, first that his brother should not treat the Queen with more respect, and next because he did not wish these two to be on bad terms; so he spoke to the Duke about it; but as he (the Duke) was more ruled by his wife's desires than anything else, instead of trying to pacify the Admiral, said, "Brother, are you not my younger brother, and am I not Protector, and do you not know that your wife, before she married the King, was of lower rank than my wife? I desire, therefore, since the Queen is your wife that mine should go before her."

Here the Protector showed his great arrogance; and it is thought when he got the Queen to marry his brother it was principally to exalt his own wife over her, as he was Protector. The Admiral was very sorry at what his brother said, and he replied, "My brother, I am sorry there should be any anger between them, but I can tell you that the Queen is determined not to allow it, so do not blame me for it." And no more passed.

The next day, at the time when they usually went to the chapel of the palace to hear matins, the Protector's wife came and thrust herself forward, and sat in the Queen's place; and as soon as the Queen saw it, she could not bear it, and took hold of her arm, and said, "I deserve this for degrading myself from a Queen to marry an Admiral."

This is entertaining indeed, but unlikely. For one thing, the passage follows a chapter in which a match-making Protector arranges the marriage between Thomas Seymour and the queen himself--when Katherine Parr's and Thomas Seymour's letters to each other, and Edward VI's journal, make it clear that the Protector opposed the marriage. For another thing, assuming that Katherine Parr's marriage took place in May or June 1547, "hardly a year" after the marriage brings us to the spring of 1548, when Katherine Parr was not at court jostling with the Duchess of Somerset, but at her own manors, and later Sudeley Castle, preparing for the birth of her first child (born on August 30, 1548). In fact, the Duchess of Somerset was also pregnant in the spring of 1548, giving birth in July. It's hard to believe that the fine sight of two heavily pregnant great ladies jockeying for position would have gone unnoticed at court.

Other accounts of the alleged battle for precedence are more prosaic, but also problematic. Nicholas Sander in the Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism, published in 1585, whose anti-Protestant bias is quite apparent, writes,

The protector, the duke of Somerset, had a brother, Thomas Seymour, admiral of the fleet, who had married Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII., after the king's death. Between her and the wife of the protector there sprung a quarrel about precedence, and the quarrel was not confined to the wives, it passed on to the husbands. And as the rivalry grew from day to day, and as the protector's wife gave her husband no rest, matters came at last to this: the protector, who, though he ruled the king, was yet ruled by his wife, must put his brother to death, that he might satisfy his ambition without let or hindrance. But as Thomas Seymour was innocent of everything for which he deserved to die, except heresy, and as the protector, himself a heretic, could not lay that to his brother's charge, it was necessary to have recourse to falsehood.

John Clapham, writing about Elizabeth I in 1603, picked up the theme of the battle for precedence, but I have not seen his work. The story, however, is presented in full bloom by John Haywood in The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixth, published in 1630, three years after the death of its author. Heywood, it is safe to say, had issues with women:

O wiues! The most sweete poison, the most desired evill in the world. . . . [T]here is no malice to the malice of a woman, so no mischiefe wanteth where a malitious woman beareth sway, a woman was first giuen to man for a comforter but not for a counsailor, much lesse a controler and directer.

For Hayward, all of the Duke of Somerset's problems began at home, starting, of course, with the quarrel over precedence.

This woman [the duchess] did beare such invincible hate, first against the Queene Dowager for light causes and womens quarrels, especially for that she had precedency of place before her, being wife to the greatest Peere in the land, then to the Lord Sudley [Thomas Seymour]for her sake. That albeit the Queene Dowager dyed by childbirth, yet would not her malice either dye or decrease. . . . The Duke embracing this womans counsaile (a womans counsaile indeede and nothing the better) yeelded himselfe both to aduise and demuise for destruction of his brother.

John Foxe also noted a quarrel between the ladies, but did not assign a cause:

Now it happened (upon what occasion I know not), that there fell a displeasure betwixt the said queen and the duchess of Somerset, and thereupon also, in the behalf of their wives, displeasure and grudge began between the brethren; which, albeit, through persuasion of friends, it was for a time appeased between them, yet, in short space after (perchance not without the privy setting-forward of some, who were back friends to the gospel), it brake out again, both to the trouble of the realm, and especially between to the confusion of them both, as after it proved. First, to the lord admiral's charge it was laid, that he purposed to destory the young king, and translate the crown unto himself; and for the same being attainted and condemned, he did suffer at Tower-hill the twentieth of March 1549. As many there were, who reported that the duchess of Somerset had wrought his death; so many more there were, who, misdoubting the long standing of the lord protector in his state and dignity, though and affirmed no less, but that the fall of the one brother, would be the ruin of the other; the experiment whereof, as it hath often been proved, so, in these also, eftsoons it ensued.

Now, there is no doubt that the Duchess of Somerset had a prickly personality, and also no doubt that Katherine Parr disliked her. In a letter to Thomas Seymour written early in the couple's courtship, she wrote, "This is not his first promise I have received of [the Protector's] coming, and yet unperformed. I think my lady hath taught him that lessson, for it is her custom to promise many comings to her friends and to perform none." In another letter to Thomas Seymour, this one composed after the couple had married, the queen stated, "This shall be to advertise you, that my lord, your brother, hath this afternoon a little made me warm. It was fortunate we were so much distant, for I suppose else I should have bitten him. What cause have they to fear having such a wife? It is requisite for them continually to pray for a short dispatch of that hell." In neither letter, however, does Katherine mention any quarrel about precedence; the cause of her anger in the second letter appears to have been the Protector's handling of her dower lands. Katherine also was involved in a dispute with the Protector about his appropriation of the queen's jewels; if some of these jewels had ended up gracing the person of the duchess, it's easy to see how this would have angered the queen.

So what does that leave us with? As Retha Warnicke and Linda Porter both note, there is no contemporary evidence that the queen and the duchess battled for precedence; the source nearest in time, the Spanish Chronicle, is unreliable. The later sources each have the dispute about precedence leading to a feud between the Seymour brothers--but contemporary evidence of Seymour's scheming against his brother, which led to Seymour's execution in 1549, makes it clear that no help was needed from Anne Somerset. It seems most probable, then, that while the two women had no love for each other, their supposed battle over precedence was used by later writers to explain and oversimplify the much more deadly contest between the Seymour brothers.


Stephen Reed Cattley, ed., The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, Vol. VI. London: Seeley and Burnside, 1838.

John Hayward, The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixth, ed. Barrett Beer. Kent State University Press, 1993.

Peter Heylyn, Ecclesia restaurata: The History of the Reformation of the Church of England. Vol. I. James Craigie Robertson, ed. Cambridge University Press, 1849.

Martin A. Sharp Hume, ed., Chronicle of King Henry VIII of England. London: George Bell and Sons, 1889.

Susan James, Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999.

John G. Nichols, "Anne, Duchess of Somerset." Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 177, 1845.

Linda Porter, Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr. London: Macmillan, 2010.

Nicolas Sander, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism. David Lewis, trans. London: Burns and Oates, 1877.

Retha M. Warnicke, "Inventing the Wicked Women of Tudor England: Alice More, Anne Boleyn, and Anne Stanhope." Quidditas: Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, 1999.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The First Battle of St. Albans: More From Whethamstede

A while back, in the best tradition of putting the cart before the horse, I posted a translation by Hannah Kilpatrick of an account of the aftermath of the first Battle of St. Albans. Here is the account of the lead-up to the battle and the battle itself, as seen in Registrum Monasterii Sancti Albani, otherwise known as Whethamstede's Register.


Meanwhile, while they remained deliberating, the King, having been informed of their arrival, sent the Duke of Buckingham to them to enquire whether their intentions were peaceful or otherwise. And they responded, to a man:

“We are the King’s faithful liegemen, and we intend no harm to him, nor did we come here for such a cause as to intend harm to any man. However, may that impious man be handed over to us who lost Normandy and neglected Gascony, and who has brought the realm of England to her current miserable state, bringing her who was until recently the queen of nations, the prince of provinces, to sit like a derelict widow, who has not for consolation any other son but those whom she must devour, together with all their substance. Give him over to us, without the trouble of a fight, or the injury of peace, and we will return peacefully to our homes. But otherwise, if our desire be not granted to us, and the King will not part with him for any of the reasons we have said, then let him know, that we will not voluntarily cede the field, nor, frustrated in our intent, return to our homes without our desired prey."

The king having been informed of their words and desires, and thinking them more than reason or law would allow, chose rather to try the doubtful outcome of battle rather than either lose this Duke [Somerset] or betray him into the hands of his enemy. And hearing this, to the sound of loud horn blasts these enemies charged in, tearing down barriers, into the centre of St Peter’s Street, where finding their way blocked by the King’s troops they fought together for a short space of time with such atrocities that here you might see brains shaken from the skull lying in the street, there another severed arm, in a third place a punctured throat, in a fourth a perforated chest, and the whole broad street was filled with the bodies of the slain, from here to there on all sides; so that one might see a shield driven back by a shield, a boss by a boss, or a sword threatened by a sword, a foot by a foot, a spearhead by a spearhead, so that, for a very short time until one side should cede victory, the outcome was in doubt, fate’s dice game perfectly balanced.

Yet finally, whether through terror sent from heaven, or by some spirit of frenzy from within or without, turning their backs, many of them were turned to flight, the greater part being of the king’s troops; and, dashing off in different directions into gardens and fields, brambles and briars, hedges and woods, they sought each for himself a place and a bolthole where he might creep and hide snugly, until such a time as the tempest of battle might be quite calmed. Among these were many of the knightly class, men who seemed goodly enough in form, but were more like Paris than Hector in disposition. And because to these men

It was more pleasing to lie upon a soft couch
Twined in the arms of a tender woman
Than to have one’s right shoulder burdened with shield or spear,
Or to have one’s hair confined by a helmet.

And therefore pursuing softness rather than knighthood, and seeking out the nearby farms rather than battle, they abandoned the King in the field of battle, and sought out scattered places where they might hide themselves. They and others of the royal household were among those men who for the most part, because they were dressed in soft clothes, or out of a softness of spirit hated the sight of blood, removed themselves from the camp, that they might not see their own spilt. They were furthermore of that easternmost region of the kingdom, the inhabitants of which are all (by reason of their origins) soft and womanly, and very delicate, as in this couplet:

He who is born under the morning star and in the warm lands
His soul is softened by the clemency of the skies.

therefore they were stricken by the spirit of terror and left their lord alone in the camp; and they fled as the sheep or the tiny lambs flee the shepherd at the approach of the wolf.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Marital Misadventures of Edward Seymour

Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Duke of Somerset, married twice: the first time to Katherine Fillol, the second time to Anne Stanhope. Though his first wife was repudiated and died in obscurity, her descendants would ultimately succeed to her family dukedom.

Katherine Fillol was the daughter of Sir William Fillol. She and Edward Seymour (whom we'll call Hertford from now on to avoid confusion, although he did not obtain his earldom until 1537) had two sons together: John and Edward.

At some point, the marriage of Hertford and Katherine went sour. In his will, dated May 14, 1527, William Fillol gave his daughter an annuity of forty pounds "as long as she shall live virtuously and abide in some house of religion of women." (William also states, "I will that, in the best wise that may be, that the wall above the high awter wyndowe be made playne, in Horton Church, with playster of parys, yf yt made be reasonable had, & that playne & surely made, that Jesus be paynted therevppon, sitting upon a Rainbow, in as large stature as the rome will give, & underneath hym ymages arysing in significance of the Dome to come." I must admit that the Rainbow Jesus makes me giggle.) More pointedly, Hertford and Katherine were not to "have any part or parcell" of his estates, except for some land in Sussex.

Plainly, something had happened to estrange Katherine from her father and from her husband, and it seems to have involved the paternity of Hertford's oldest son, John. In 1540, Hertford, who was now married to his second wife, obtained this grant:

Grant to the earl of Hertford that the lands he now holds in fee simple may descend as follows:—The manors of Mochelney, Drayton, Westhover, Yerneshill, Camell, Downehed, Kylcombe, and Fyffec, Soms., to the heirs male of himself and lady Anne, his wife, or any future wife he may have; with contingent remainders in tail male to Edward Seymour, his son by his late wife, Katharine, dec., one of the daughters of Sir Wm. Fylolle, dec., to Henry Seymour, brother of the Earl, and to Sir Thos. Seymour, youngest brother of the Earl; with remainder to heirs female of the Earl's body; with remainder to the right heirs of the said Edward Seymour. All other his possessions which he has or hereafter may hold to be judged to descend in the same manner.

Under the terms of the grant, Edward, Hertford's second son by Katherine, would inherit only if Hertford left no male heirs by his second or any subsequent wife. John was cut out altogether.

It is not until later that writers would explicitly accuse Katherine of adultery. Peter Heylyn, writing in the seventeenth century, had this explanation for the disinheritance of Hertford's offspring by his first wife:

Concerning which there goes a story, that the Earl having been formerly employed in France, did there acquaint himself with a Learned man, supposed to have great skill in Magics: of whom he obtained, by great rewards and importunities, to let him see, by the help of some Magical perspective, in what Estate all his Relations stood at home. In which impertinent curiosity, he was so far satisfied, as to behold a Gentleman of his acquaintance, in a more familiar posture with his wife, than was agreeable to the the Honour of either Party. To which Diabolical illusion he is said to have given so much credit, that he did not only estrange himself from her society at his coming home, but furnished his next wife with an excellent opportunity for pressing him to the disinheriting of his former Children.

A tawdrier explanation can be found in this marginal note that appears in Vincent's Baronage in the College of Arms: "repudiata quia pater ejus post nuptias eam cognovit." This note, which older sources like the Complete Peerage preferred to leave discreetly untranslated, suggests that Katherine had committed adultery with her own father-in-law, John Seymour. Nothing else, however, supports the story that Katherine and her father-in-law were lovers. It is noteworthy that John Seymour did have an illegitimate son, John, who may have been confused with Katherine's son John, thereby giving rise to the report that the elder John Seymour had fathered Katherine's child.

Modern writers, even authors of nonfiction, have improved upon the bare allegation of incest. Alison Weir in The Six Wives of Henry VIII writes that "the scandal had shocked even Henry VIII's courtiers," while Elizabeth Norton in her biography of Jane Seymour states that the relationship between Edward Seymour and his father "would have been irreparably damaged" and that society would have "shied away from any alliance with" the Seymour family. Joanna Denny in her peculiar biography of Anne Boleyn writes of "the great scandal that attached to the Seymour name." None of these writers give any sources for their statements. In fact, there is no contemporary evidence of hostility between John Seymour and his son, no evidence that Hertford's marital difficulties excited any interest at Henry VIII's court at the time, and no evidence that the Seymour family was shunned. Far from being a pariah at court, Hertford enjoyed increasing royal favor throughout the 1520's, long before his sister Jane came to Henry VIII's attention. Thus, while Katherine Fillol may have been unfaithful to her husband, or at least may have been thought by him to have been unfaithful, there is no contemporary evidence to support the later story that her sexual partner was her father-in-law.

Nothing seems to be known about Katherine after her father made his will. By March 9, 1535, when the couple were given a grant of land, Hertford had married his second wife, Anne. It is said in various places that Hertford divorced Katherine, but there are no records of such a proceeding. More likely, Katherine had simply died, leaving Hertford free to remarry.

Hertford did not entirely throw off his sons by Katherine. Accounts from 1536 and 1537 refer to a "Mr. Edward" who was delivered to the Prior of Sempringham and who received a coat, hose, and a doublet, and to a "Mr. John Seymour," who was supplied with money for a winter coat and other necessaries, for "necessaries against Christmas," and for "necessaries against Easter." (It may be, however, that the John referred to was Hertford's illegitimate brother, not his son by Katherine.)

More is known, naturally, about the two men as adults. John Seymour represented Wooton Bassett in Parliament. He is often said to have accompanied his father to prison in the Tower in 1551; in fact, the John Seymour who was imprisoned was Hertford's illegitimate brother. The younger John took advantage of his father's execution in 1552 to attempt to recover lands of his mother that Hertford had sold without her assent. He was successful, but he did not live long to enjoy them. He died in December 1552, unmarried and childless. In his short will, witnessed by his recently pardoned uncle John, he left the bulk of his property to his brother Edward:

That I John Seymor hath and doth give and bequeathe thes p[ar]celles and somes of money as followith /. In primis I give and bequeathe to Mastres Yonge for her paynes taken with me vjli xiijs iiijd /. Item I give and bequeathe to Mystres Alice for her paynes taken with me vjli xiijs iiijd /. Item I give and bequethe unto Thomas Wright my boye xxs /. Item I give and bequeathe unto Nicholas Skynner my s[e]rv[a]unte twentie poundes /. Item I give and bequethe unto Mother Yonge fourtie shillinges /. Item I give to Richard Whytney the lease of Bridgenorth and of Clarley and of Bevyngton which is all but on lease of the kinge / and also I give hym the lease callyd Seynt Mary Lande of Martley /. Item I give to Thomas Bydyll three poundes / Also I make my brother Sir Edwarde Seymor thelder my full Executour and I give hym all my landes and goodes that is unbequeathed he to paie and discharge all my debtes
Witnesses Richard Corbet. John Skynner / John Seymor

John Seymour was buried at Savoy hospital.

Edward Seymour accompanied his father to Scotland in 1547 and was knighted there. He also gained by his father's death; in June 1553, he was granted a number of lands, including Berry Pomeroy in Devon. He married Jane Walsh and died in 1593, a prosperous man. Although he had only one son, another Edward, that was enough to mean that in the eighteenth century , the dukedom of Somerset would pass to his descendants. Two hundred years after Katherine Fillol had been put aside by her husband, her descendants had been restored to their rightful inheritance.


Barrett L. Beer, ‘Seymour, Edward, duke of Somerset (c.1500–1552)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2009 [, accessed 5 March 2011]

S. T. Bindoff et al. The House of Commons, 1509-1558. London, Secker & Warburg, 1982.

Calendar of Patent Rolls.

Frederick Arthur Crisp, Abstracts of Somersetshire Wills. Volume 2. 1888.

Peter Heylyn, Ecclesia restaurata: The History of the Reformation of the Church of England. London, 1674.

Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on the Manuscripts of the Most Honorable the Marquess of Bath, Preserved at Longleat. Vol. IV, Seymour Papers. London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1968.

Letters and Papers of Henry VIII.

A. Audrey Locke, The Seymour Family: History and Romance. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1914.

PROB 1/29 (Will of John Seymour)

William Seymour, Ordeal by Ambition: An English Family in the Shadow of the Tudors. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1972.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Search Terms, January and February 2011!

Does a search term post need any introduction?

compact of thankless earth - analysis

Some things are best left unanalyzed, I always say.

illustrated naked and helpless women in literature

Find an interest in life and pursue it, I always say also.

who the father of edward of lancaster?

Richard, Duke of York. Run and put that on Wikipedia. Now.

this is the most commonly reproduced depiction of edward v of england and richard of shrewsbury 1st duke of york otherwise known as the princes in the tower.they were the only living sons of edward iv and after his death were brought to london. edward was held in the tower of london after his coronation and richard joined him after being forced out of sanctuary with their mother. they were declared illegitimate by an act of parliament and richard duke of gloucester edward iv’s brother was made king richard iii.the princes were kept in the tower and it believed that they were eventually murdered or else died of plague. either way it was royal ambitions of richard iii that condemned them to their imprisonment and their early deaths.

In case you're wondering why Google was down the other day, this search string is why.

melusine despencer

Ah, so that's how the battle of Boroughbridge was won.

melusina water goddess elizabeth woodville

Watch out, Woodvilles! Melusine has been cheating on you with the Despensers!

susan higginbotham she-wolves

Only when I don't have my morning Coca-Cola.

a photo of margaret of anjou the wife of henry vi

She meant to get it developed when she got to England in 1471, but stuff happened.