2 December – Elizabeth I finally agreed to sentence Mary, Queen of Scots; to death and Henry Howard was arrested

On this day in Tudor history, 2nd December 1586, following a joint petition from the Houses of Lords and Commons, Elizabeth I finally agreed to a public proclamation of sentence against Mary, Queen of Scots: death.

Mary had been found guilty of high treason back in October 1586, but Elizabeth had not wanted to contemplate regicide. However, Parliament believed that if Mary, Queen of Scots, was not executed, that she’d continue to plot against Elizabeth and would utterly “ruinate and overthrow the happy State and Common Weal of this most Noble Realm”. She was too much of a danger and needed dealing with once and for all.

Find out what Parliament said and what happened next in this talk…

Also on this day in Tudor history, 2nd December 1546, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, poet, courtier, soldier and the eldest son of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was arrested after a former friend gave evidence against him.

King Henry VIII had just weeks to live and was increasingly paranoid, so the ‘evidence’ was just what Surrey’s enemies needed to bring the earl down.

Find out more about the Earl of Surrey’s downfall, and how his father managed to keep his head in this video…

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One thought on “2 December – Elizabeth I finally agreed to sentence Mary, Queen of Scots; to death and Henry Howard was arrested”
  1. This really was a complete stitch up. It’s a case of getting rid of the old nobility once and for all. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was far more likely to cause trouble than his ageing father, the Duke of Norfolk who was quite passive during these last years of Henry Viii.

    Why would he cause trouble? Simple, control of the heir to the throne. The Last Will and Testament of King Henry Viii didn’t make anyone Lord Protector. Henry wanted a Regency Council but it wasn’t certain who would head it and during 1546 there had been factional clashes in Court and punch ups in the Council Chambers. Ah modern politics.

    There had been name calling by the Seymour brothers and Gardiner and Rich and others as well as trouble from the Howards who as the highest ranking nobles saw themselves as the natural ones to rule for Prince Edward. His arrogant uncles, Edward and Thomas Seymour saw things differently as they were his blood relatives. They wanted control and nobody was going to stand in their way. It was genuinely recognised that King Henry was dying, even if he didn’t as yet. The members of the Council were courting both brothers because they recognised their growing status and Henry Howard was no exception. Despite the fact that he hated them and had written poetry to mock them he knew they were the power behind the throne at the moment and so he sought an alliance.

    Howard proposed several marriages between the Howard family and relatives of the Seymours. One included his sister, Mary Howard but she was less than keen and fell out with her brother over this and her reformed tendencies. Howard only succeeded in making a lot more enemies.

    The Seymours and their allies now sought to get rid of him. Henry Howard was already in trouble with the King. He had been left in charge of Bolougne with others but had been lured into defensive open battle action. Himself and all the captains were in the front of the attack… the vanguard and several of them were killed. Although the overall engagement was a success Howard took heavy casualties and was summoned home to explain himself. He was given a dressing down and fell out of favour. Although back in favour by the end of the year, his rivals had moved against him.

    His erstwhile friend, Sir Richard Southwell, a well known snake, bore false testimony against him and Howard was arrested and charged with treason. Its a mystery as to why Southwell moved against him but he too could see which way the wind was blowing and allied himself with the new order. The main thing Howard was accused of was claiming to have a right to the coat of arms of King Edward the Confessor and to display them. This was said to be treason as he was accused of putting his lions in the first quarter which only the King could do. It was nonsense as his lions were in the second quarter and this could be shown. The Howards were entitled to these arms and Henry must have been aware of that fact. It was enough to have him held for trial and he was arrested.

    It wasn’t enough to find him guilty of treason and a whole load of nonsense followed. Southwell testified and its believed his sister, Mary also wrote her testimonial against him. The actual evidence was challenged but it was clear that Howard was being set up and orders were given to find him guilty no matter what. It was a tragic end to a young man whose sword and poetry had served Henry for years. He would put up a good defence and his judges were reluctant to find him guilty. Treason trials rarely resulted in a not guilty verdict and this was no exception. Henry Howard was found guilty and he was executed on 19th January 1547, 8 days before the King died.

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