Duke of RichmondQueen Anne Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, George Boleyn (Lord Rochford), Sir Richard Page and Sir Thomas Wyatt are all in prison and, as yet, have not been to trial, yet courtiers are already clamouring over the spoils that may result from their fall from grace.

It really is sickening that people can act like vultures circling a corpse, like the Roman soldiers casting lots over Christ’s clothes, and three ‘vultures’ who have come to our attention are Sir Henry Fitzroy (the Duke of Richmond and the illegitimate son of the King), landowner and lawyer Richard Staverton and Lord Lisle. Here are three letters which we have acquired copies of which show the true character of these men:-

Letter from Lord Lisle to Thomas Cromwell

The following letter was written today in Calais by Lord Lisle (Arthur Plantagenet) to Thomas Cromwell:-

“And seeing there are many things now in his gracious disposition and hands by reason of the most mischievous, heinous, and most abominable treasons against his most gracious and royal Crown and person committed, I wholly trust that his Grace, being good lord unto me, will vouchsafe to employ some part of those same upon me, which I do well know may so much the rather be obtained by your good mediation and furtherance.”1

Letter from Richard Staverton to Thomas Cromwell

This letter from Richard Staverton is dated the 2nd May, just two days after the arrest of Henry Norris. He didn’t waste much time did he?:-

“It pleased you to write to me of your good will to my preferment. Various offenders have been committed to the Tower, among others Master Henry Norris, who has various rooms in the parts about me near Windsor, for which I hope you will have me in remembrance. He has the Little Park, the Park of Holy John (Foly John), Perlam (Perlaunt) Park, and the room of the Black Rod, in Windsor Castle, which I shall be glad to have, as I have 14 children.”2

Letter from the Duke of Richmond to John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln

Henry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond, wrote the following letter today to the Bishop of Lincoln:-

“As the stewardship of Banbury is like shortly to be vacant in consequence of Mr. Norres’ trouble (many men thinking that there is no way but one with him,) asks the Bishop for a grant thereof under the chapter seal, that he may exercise the office by his deputy Gyles Forster, master of his horse, the bearer. London, 8 May”3

Unfortunately for Richmond, the post has already been given to Thomas Cromwell. Here is an extract from a letter from the Bishop of Lincoln to Cromwell, dated 5th May:-

“If it is true that Norrys has not used himself according to his duty to his sovereign lord, offers Cromwell the stewardship of the University of Oxford, if he will accept so small a fee as 5l. When the duke of Suffolk exchanged his lands in Oxfordshire with the King, he gave up the stewardship of Banbury to the behoof of Norris, on condition that in the new grant to Norris he might be joined with him for the longest liver. Advises Cromwell to ask the Duke to give up his interest in it. The fee is only 6l. 13s. 4d. Will then give Cromwell a new patent.”4

Poor Richmond!

Is anyone else wondering if a man who is profiting from the falls of these men and the Queen, i.e. Cromwell, is likely to see that justice is done?

Notes and Sources

  1. LP x.829
  2. LP x.791
  3. LP x.891
  4. LP x.804

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5 thoughts on “8 May 1536 – Clamouring for the Spoils”
  1. hmmmmm … I’m kind of torn on this issue. When you consider the passage of time iand communication methods in the present, I agree these examples appear like the inddividuals cited may be acting with unseemly haste, but back then … I don’t know … maybe these men thought to “beat the rush of beggars” and express interest as early as possible for potential opportunity.

    There’s no reason to doubt ANYBODY didn’t see the obvious when it came to Anne Boleyn’s trial. People were looking out for their own interests though it might be in poor taste,

    While enjoying Henry’s favor, Anne Boleyn certainly did her own share of pushing and grabbing for property belonging to Katherine of Aragon. That was tacky too, in my mind. I certainly wouldn’t want jewelry, baby dresses, and other accessories belonging to my husband’s first wife. But is it really tacky, or just an example of how things were done at that time?

  2. I, as I am quite sure along with a good number of readers, have had the unsettling experience of seeing the more unsavory characteristics of people upon death. I truly believe that we see “the true person” emerge upon a death in the way that some people behave. I have contemplated this behavior upon impending death often and it never ceases to astonish me how downright greedy folks can be… I used to believe that people started divvying up personal items (of the person to die or recently passed) to feel like they were closer to the dying or deceased. I know now that this is not the case nor was it the case with these men. …How disgusting!

  3. We think that age was greedy and barbarous but human nature has not changed—families still argue and grab when there is something to be had–it does seem to bring out our worst–this grubbing for goods. I’m surprised at Henry Fitzroy’s appearance, though–he already had so much! Well, I guess they all did. Just goes to show how what we think of as justice was not going to happen.

  4. I think that greedy people have been around ever since man inhabited this planet. You will always find someone trying to make a quick profit out of someone else’s misfortune. I think Tiffaney has a very good point about seeing what a person is really like under these circumstances and you often find a very unpleasant side to people you thought that you knew well.

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