19 January 1547 – Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, is executed

Posted By on January 19, 2017

On this day in history, 19th January 1547, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Tudor poet, courtier and soldier, was executed by beheading on Tower Hill.

Surrey was the son of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, and so was the cousin of Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. He was laid to rest at All Hallows-by-the-Tower (All Hallows Barking), but then moved by his son, Henry, Earl of Northampton, in 1614 to a tomb in the family church, St Michael’s at Framlingham.

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13 thoughts on “19 January 1547 – Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, is executed”

  1. Globerose says:

    Just been reading the 2012 comments and your replies Claire – also v. interesting.

  2. Christine says:

    He certainly was a hot head and very arrogant, he had an insufferable pride in his lineage and that was his downfall, sadly he was very talented being a poet but let his pride and arrogance get in the way of his good qualities, he seemed to take a delight in deliberately rubbing Henrys nose in it about his use of the Royal arms at a time when he knew Henry was worried about the succession, he was Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard’s cousin so had no love for Henry there but it seemed he deliberately courted danger, Henry was not the affable cheery hearted monarch he once was who in his youth would probably just have flung him in the Tower for a few months before releasing him, Henry was changed now he was suspicious bad tempered and a despot, Surrey had gone too far he was guilty of that most heinous of crimes – treason, he was more or less saying to the monarch ,’I am more Royal than you’ there was no chance for Surrey as he languished in the Tower did he have regrets? possibly, his tomb in Framlingham is very beautiful and shows what a proud important and wealthy family the Howard’s were.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    Henry Howard was another innocent victim of the late Tudor clearing house to make way for the new regime. He had every right to his style of royal arms, he had quartered them correctly, made clear the leopards or lions or whatever were collared, he was probably more royal than Henry, anyhow, had acquired two many upset nobodies, like the Seymours, with his wayward ways and he was only precariously back in favour after a disaster in France. The Lords could find nothing against him and said so. They were told to find him guilty or else. He was actually no more guilty than Anne Boleyn. Just because he was often an arrogant, popular fool, it did not make him a traitor. It’s actually amazing he actually got a trial as many others had been stitched up by Act of Attainment. He conducted himself well and nothing was found against him, but they were told, so what find him guilty or else. I wish he had have succeeded in escaping, I would have been cheering him on. Sorry, big Henry Howard fan.

    1. AB says:

      I do not know enough about Henry Howard, so I cannot comment, but if he was not guilty of very much, then it would not surprise me that he was tried and executed anyway. Academics often sneer at websites like this and the Tudor History blog – I’ve seen it for myself in books – but I don’t think even they could deny that Henry VIII was perhaps one of the cruellest kings in English history. He was certainly one of our most important monarchs, there is no doubt about that, but there is plenty of contemporary evidence that suggests that individuals living at the time were critical of his behaviour and policies. Whether in regards to the ill-treatment of his wives (Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard spring to mind); the disinheriting of his daughters (Mary, in particular, was widely sympathised with, and the 1536 rebellion aimed to restore her to the succession); the culture of conspiracy and ruin at court, which led to the downfalls of the likes of Surrey; and the ruthless treatment of those dwelling in monasteries and religious houses. The so-called Exeter Conspiracy led to several executions, based on little evidence, and the 1541 execution of Margaret Pole was one of the most heinous acts committed by Henry’s regime.

      And yet Henry remains such a popular monarch. I believe that his father, the much underrated Henry VII, ruled more effectively and favoured bonds and recognisances, rather than imprisonment and execution. Henry VIII’s children could also be ruthless in their policies, but Mary in particular was often inclined to show mercy and even Elizabeth was relatively accommodating towards her Catholic subjects for the first decade or so of her reign. So many historians are highly positive about Henry VIII and I personally do not know why. His reign is undoubtedly important, but his court was an extremely dangerous place to be and, towards the end of the reign, executions and imprisonment became more and more common.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        I quite agree. Henry did plenty of good for a number of years, but his last decade saw an increase in state executions, religious and political executions, numerous harsher laws, including death for sorcery, witchcraft or malficia, rape, sodemy, begging without licence, theft over 30 shillings value, fraud in minting coins, heresy, trespass, petty treason or killing your husband, adultery, plus many more. It also saw the important steps to defend the realm, advanced artistic and economic measures, new advances in building, the Bible in English and the reform of local government. Henry’s reign was very important for a number of scientific and medical at architecture advances. It saw advances in weapons, education, the merchant navy, medical schools, art, building technology, shipwrights, farming, brewing, printing, siege warfare, guns, shipping, mining, brickmaking, chimney building, the organisation and licensing of the medical profession, the list goes on. Yes, it was important, it was also for the last decade bloody and turbulent. Henry is fascinating probably because of his six marriages and all the above as you note..even if his father did rule more effectively. Colourful people, regardless of how good they are or how immoral they are attract attention. I think it’s possible that we really don’t get rulers like Henry Viii, Genghis Khan and Ivan the Awesome, but we are still fascinated by them, tyrannical though they may have been.

        1. Christine says:

          I like the one about killing your husband Banditqueen, since he killed two of his wives that made me laugh.

      2. Christine says:

        The murder of Margaret Pole was dreadful as she was sacrificed because Henry couldn’t seize her son, she also was his cousin, ( another Plantagenet contender to the throne) therefore Henry saw her as a threat like Henry Howard, he was cruel and tyrannical especially during the end of his reign yet as monarchs go he hasn’t got such as bad a name as King John whose name does tend to fill people’s minds with the image of a very wicked ruthless King who was forced to sign Magna Carta by his rebellious barons, he is said to have had his young nephew murdured and starved his enemies to death, he also lost the Crown Jewels in the Wash and seduced the wives of his nobles, lost most of England’s French territory’s and not even the most generous of historians have much good to say about him, he is vilified yet Henry V111 although he has had his fair share of detractors down the centuries has been revered and admired by many although he also did many dreadful things, the two things which stand out are the executions of his two wives, one being not more than a child and the dissolution of the monasteries, add to that the terrible vengeance he wrecked on the north for the uprisings and the executions of two men who the world looked on as saints, one Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More, yet history does still portray him as the golden prince who won the hearts of his people and so many more, foreign ambassadors, visitors to England etc, the prince who the hopes of his kingdom rested on, he heralded a new sunny age yet as he grew older and turned into the Henry of legend, some people just see him as a bloated monster who killed thousands, that is the reality but to many he does remain a hero for breaking England from the shackles of Rome, he also remained very popular with his people and all his children adored him, he had what we call magnetism – charisma, when he was pleasant he could make people love him, it was said of him that he would put his arm around you and make you feel like you were that important, that was his appeal I think, he was never on ceremony with even the lowliest of his subjects, he made them feel special and it’s that charisma that has carried on down the ages, he stands out as the King who did the unthinkable, break with Rome he also loved his country and was very patriotic, he is known for building up the navy which did become the largest in the world, and was interested in finding new lands, his daughter Elizabeth gave her name to Virginia – the virgin queen, so although in his lifetime a lot of blood was shed his name is rembered by many with affection like his daughter after him.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    You mean he was a chameleon, whereas John was boring old grouch lol. I think because Henry was a golden King for so long, that and the image we were left with by Holbein, you know the giant that stares out at you from an enormous canvas are his joint heritage, his legend, which have come down to us. Henry Viii and his heir had an excellent propaganda machine, which they used spectacularly. They turned out public pamphlets that were widely circulated with their vision of kingship or queenship, their way of seeing the new order, the new monarchy, which people lapped up with great enthusiasm. The Tudors showed themselves at their most magnificent, had the best art, best palaces, flooded everything with bright colours and light, showed off, were actually more accessible to the ordinary people than the early Plantagenets, put on elaborate shows and pageantry, exploited and used widely the media of plays and entertainment to get their message across, they lef tangible reminders of who they were and boasted about them…they singed their image and legacy into the public imagination and English psyche. We are fascinated by them to the point of obsession and reverence because that is how deeply they have captured us as an audience. It only seems to be the more mythological or colourful or warrior Plantagenets, the ones who we can’t quite make out who have succeeded in being held in the positive imagination. John was such a dour, downright failure, with no charisma who was eclipsed by another more mythical English King (who spoke no English and spent little more than six months here, although he was born in Oxford); his brother Richard to such an extent that it is Richard the Lionheart, the mighty warrior that we admire and John we hate. It’s Richard who has succeeded in having his statue outside of Parliament, although it was Simon de Montfort who got Henry iii to set up the first Parliament. It’s Richard that people see as a heroic King, associated with Robin Hood and all sorts of mystery. John, we simply dismiss. We find Henry Viii more in the ideal of a Medieval knight because we like this image and it was one that Henry wanted us to see…. The image makers, propaganda and art, pus of course, Hollywood, all did a great job. The public lapped it up then and we are doing it today. And, let’s face it, the more colourful and wilder a person is, the bad boys and gals, those are the ones we find more interesting. Unfortunately, the darker a person’s character, for some weird reason, the more attractive they appear to become. A character on a certain tv show years ago who was now good was revealed to have a dangerous, dark past…the actor and character instantly got a much bigger fan following…mostly female. Don’t really know what attracts us to ruthless men and women….a harmless exploration of our own dark side, perhaps.

    1. Christine says:

      It is true that we do find wicked people more interesting, something perverse in our human nature maybe, but as for John, he wasn’t considered dour, he was a bit of a playboy who just enjoyed doing nothing but sleeping around and feasting, he had a really bad name for mocking God to which in that religious age was thought shocking, his brother Richard I agree has been revered yet he was a most indifferent King and spent just a few years in England preffering to go on his crusades which the poor people were taxed for and it is said he was most brutal to his enemies and went through towns and cities pillaging and raping the women, he appears cold and emotionless, in the highly acclaimed series ‘ The World At War’ one episode focuses on the Battle of Britain, at the end the last image is of his statue astride his horse, he represents England yet it was a country he wasn’t fond of and like his mother who was from Aquitaine he was basically a child of that province, yes the Tudors were great for promoting their image, Henry V111’s court was said to be the most sophisticated in the world and he was a great builder of palaces, he liked people to see him as a powerful monarch and so he spent lavishly on feasts and banquets and clothes and jewels as that was the image he wanted to portray, he was vain and Elizabeth took after him in that aspect, she too loved her clothes and jewels yet whearas Henry wasted a lot of money, Elizabeth had a reputation for parsimony, the image by Holbein though of Henry standing legs apart is well known to all of us, i don’t know where the portrait is, is it in Hampton Court or Windsor or one of the other palaces maybe? But I bet wherever it is, it totally dominates the room, you cannot but be drawn to it, so powerful is its image, monster, golden prince, psychopath to some people or just a hopelessly misunderstood man, he’s many things to all people and that’s the secret of his appeal.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        It’s here in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, although there are versions of it around the place. There is a fantastic book on this and the related copies and various scaled down versions that would have been purchased by loyal courtiers, so there are several around, but the original was on the private chamber wall of the King, to intimidate ambassadors and courtiers when they had an audience with him. We had a fantastic exhibition here based on this portrait. Now I know what got me so interested in Henry as a teen, I was in that gallery more than I was home..I have spent hundreds of hours looking at it…no wonder I was attracted to him as a personality. I am not surprised that people were overwhelmed by him. His eyes just stare out at you; the real Henry must have been literally larger than life, even when he was skinny and tall.

        We visited John’s tomb a couple of years ago at Worcester, although we actually went to see Prince Arthur, so we got two in one. It’s quite a lovely tomb. They are both in there, they had a look and the will of King John is there, it is very small, but a precious document.

        Here is the details of the book….Henry Viii. Images of the Tudor King by Lloyd and Thurley. Cheers.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          I must add that originally the cartoon was part of the famous Whitehall Mutual, destroyed by fire at the end of the 17th century, with Henry, father, mother and wife Jane Seymour. All of the single portraits came from this. This is the first although the National Portrait Gallery claim theirs is, the experts favour the Walker. Other cartoons exist at several country houses but all appear different. The Walker matches in every way. I have always believed it is the original and the consensus was good enough for it to go on tour in 2009 for six years, but we are glad to have it back.

        2. Christine says:

          Thanks Banditqueen, are you a Liverpool lass then?.

  5. Globerose says:

    History, that Grand Master of illusion and Deceit, grasps at facts and pats them about like clay on a potter’s wheel: and in this mercurial process, people and events are somehow or other “molded nearer to the heart’s desire”.

    This has been a terrific discussion and I’ve lapped it up. Thanks to all. More please!

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