11 October 1542 – Death of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder

Oct11,2014 #Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt, the ElderOn this day in history, 11th October 1542, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, poet and diplomat, died at Clifton Maybank House, the home of his friend Sir John Horsey, in Sherborne Dorset. He had been complaining of severe headaches since 1539 and he was just 39 years old at the time of his death.

You can read more about this fascinating Tudor personality, a man who managed to escape Anne Boleyn’s fall in 1536 and who has become known as “the Father of English Poetry” and for introducing the sonnet into English, in my article Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder.

Two excellent books on Wyatt are Susan Brigden’s Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest and Nicola Shulman’s Graven With Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Poet, Lover, Statesman, and Spy in the Court of Henry VIII.

Also on this day in history…

  • 1521 – The title of Fidei Defensor, “Defender of the Faith”, was conferred by Pope Leo X on Henry VIII. This was a reward for Henry VIII writing his pamphlet Assertio septem sacramentorum adversus Martinum Lutherum (Declaration of the Seven Sacraments Against Martin Luther), defending the Catholic Church against the works of Martin Luther.
  • 1532 – Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn left England for Calais, where Anne was treated as Henry VIII’s Queen and consort. Click here to read more.
  • 1537 – Solemn procession at St Paul’s to pray for the Queen, Jane Seymour, who was in labour, a labour which lasted over 30 hours. Charles Wriothesley wrote of how the procession was made up of “all the orders of friars, preistes, and clarkes… the major and aldermen, with all the craftes of the citie” and that it was “donne to pray for the Queene that was then in laboure of chielde.”
  • 1549 – Arrest of Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector of the Realm and Governor of the King’s Person. He was brought in front of Edward VI, who summarised his charges as “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.” Click here to read more.
  • 1551 – John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, became the Duke of Northumberland and Henry Grey, father of Lady Jane Grey, became the Duke of Suffolk.
  • 1982 – The raising of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s ship, from the seabed just off the coast off Portsmouth where she had lain since she sank on 19th July 1545. Click here to read more about the Mary Rose.

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4 thoughts on “11 October 1542 – Death of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder”
  1. As Thomas Wyatt had recently spent a time in the Tower accused of treason, although his use of words and may-be the intervention of Catherine Howard, helped him to gain his release, on condition that he return to his wife; from whom he was long estranged; could it be this that was partly to blame for his premature death? Thirty nine was not that old even for the time, certainly not for the gentry, although Thomas Wyatt did have a tendency to gamble and drink and live life on the edge a bit, which may also explain his health going into decline. I wonder, however, could the headaches have been caused by a brain tumour or severe migraines? He did regain some of the Kings favour and was in royal service when he died. I think that Thomas Wyatt is one of the most talented people of the Tudor Age, not just as his trade mark talent as a poet, but he was a wordsmith that enabled him to be used on diplomatic missions, one even a few months before his death; and his translations of the Psalms are amongst the best in the business. His words; his explanation of his faults and his prolemic writing all went into a long letter and presnetation of his case that was so persuasive that it saved his life and gained his freedom; not many people locked up by Henry VIII in the Tower can say that they were let out again. He wrote theological treatise, letters, poems, tracts, translations of holy works and sections of scripture; he could speak and write in Greek and Latin as well as English and must have also have spoken French and Spanish or even German, given his use abroad by the King over a number of years. His posts were not brief either; he spent a number of years at the Imperial Court in the Netherlands as well as Spain and went on embassys to Spain and Austria. He has been sadly neglected by historians.

  2. Cancel the last part, Thomas Wyatt has been published in a number of books on his works and poems, although few lives are available, the two mentioned are both excellent modern works. I do, however ark that most historians could have given him more attention than they have. A number of good novels also exist on Wyatt and his love for Anne Boleyn.

    1. I enjoyed reading Banditqueen’s posts. So pleasing to read informed comments on Thomas Wyatt (Claire’s knowledge is peerless, of course!). I think it’s reasonably safe to say my novel about Wyatt is the latest. It is entitled ‘Mistrustful Minds’ and is on Amazon. They allow you to read quite a chunk of it via ‘See Inside’.

      1. Hi Nicholas, have downloaded the book recently, looks a good read. Thanks for your kind words on my posts.

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