12 December 1546 – To the Tower for the Howards

Posted By on December 12, 2014

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

On 12th December 1546, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was led through the streets of London from Ely Place, where he had been held since the 2nd December, to the Tower of London. There, he was joined by his father, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, who was taken to the Tower by barge along the Thames.

The aim of this walk through London was to humiliate Surrey, but instead of booing and jeering the people of London appear to have been sympathetic to his plight. Surrey’s biographer, Edmond Bapst wrote: “the crowd offered nothing but loud sympathy, saying aloud that it was a pity to put so fair a knight in the Tower”.

Surrey and Norfolk had been interrogated after accusations had been made regarding Surrey incorporating the royal arms into his coat of arms, showing that he had “monarchic ambitions”, and allegedly telling his sister, Mary, widow of the Duke of Richmond, to try and become the King’s mistress so that her family would be favoured. There were, of course, many at court who wanted to see the fall of this powerful family and who could twist the truth to bring them down. As I said in my article on Surrey’s arrest, Surrey had been accused of improper heraldry by his former friend Robert Southwell, who claimed that Surrey had used the arms of his ancestor Edward the Confessor in a shield he’d had painted at Kenninghall, something which only the King was entitled to do, and that he had placed the arms of England in the first quarter of his shield, indicating that he had a direct claim to the crown. According to Edmond Bapst this last accusation was false: “Surrey had placed the royal arms in the second quarter, and had been careful to differentiate them by collaring the leopards.”

Norfolk tried to save himself by writing to the King and writing a confession, and you can read these im my previous article on their fall – click here.

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