Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset
Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset

On 8th May 1536, just over a week after the first arrest and four days before the trial of Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton, courtiers were already clamouring over the spoils that may result from their falls from grace. These men had not been found guilty of anything yet, but courtiers were desperate to benefit from their lands and offices.

The ‘vultures’ included:

  • Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle – He wrote to Cromwell on 8th May, expressing his shock at “the most mischievous, heinous, and most abominable treasons” and saying, “I wholly trust that his Grace, being good lord unto me, will vouchsafe to employ some part of those same upon me.” He wasn’t fussy, he just wanted to benefit in some way.
  • Richard Staverton, a lawyer and landowner of Warfield, Berkshire, who wanted Sir Henry Norris’s “various rooms” near Windsor because he had 14 children to care for.
  • Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, who wanted the stewardship of Banbury, which was Sir Henry Norris’s. Unfortunately for Richmond, Thomas Cromwell had already taken the post.

Notes and Sources

  • LP x. 791, 804, 829 and 891

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13 thoughts on “8 May 1536 – The Vultures Descend”
  1. It is becoming clear that the outcomes of the trials ahead of the men in the Tower and the Queen are going to be in the negative and therefore the outcomes are forgone conclusions: guilt is expected. The fate of all five of the men is obviously sealed and their enemies are quick of the mark to claim their rewards. I am surprised that the Duke of Suffolk has not made a claim on their assets as well as Henry’s family and associates. I am also surprised that the Seymours are not already in line for property belonging to the Boleyns and others. But perhaps that would be a bit too clear a message and would really look like triumphal dancing on the graves of the condemned. The vultures are going in to pick at the dead before they are fully so. I do not admire these people and think anyone who does is as bad as they are. I think they are clever, yes, but it is not a cleverness to be admired and it sickens me when people behave in such a cold and calculating manner.

  2. I often wonder what sort of mental disorder do these people have ?no emotion ,no feeling just sheer me me me all the time ,is this narcissism?

    1. Unfortunately, these people are perfectly normal; sadly such people exist today and are only too quick to move in when someone falls from grace or loses power or their career or whose reputation is ruined. Anne had many enemies who had tried to prevent the marriage in the first place, some had accepted it and kept quiet for the sake of their own lives and families, others had accepted it hoping one day to bring her down. The worst of these, may-be those with the most lack of feeling or conscience moved in first, not even the decency to wait until the trial was over or the poor condemned Queen and her friends dead and mourned before moving in for the kill. These people are full of their own importance; they have nothing but me me me, as you say; they see their enemies as just someone to attack and to hurt no matter what; no matter if they are innocent victims of vindictive vengence and attacks from others; and they do not see that they themselves may also fall victim to the political reenge of others. In one sense Richmond himself is partly innocent as he was only a young man and had been raised under the influence of his father and with his fathers beliefs and influences around him. He had come to believe Anne was going to do him harm and he supported his half sister Mary. He can be partly excused his motives at this time but the others are just taking unfair advantage of the misfortune of their fellow courtiers and grabbing what they can. Others, I am sure would benefit from the fall of the Boleyns but they seem to have concealled their delight and desires until it was all over.

  3. Vultures indeed!

    But though their behavior is incredibly distasteful to us today, these people knew very well that no queen was arrested without the outcome being a forgone conclusion (though they likely imagined exile, at least for Anne). To show anything but complete agreement in their guilt would definitely not win favor, much less favors, and might even get one arrested as an accomplice.

    Even Archbishop Cranmer had to tiptoe with his wording when it was obvious that he did not believe what he was hearing. Writing to Henry in an attempt to speak on Anne’s behalf, he ends up waffling between his dread Lord and his gracious lady: “And I am in such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed: for I never had better opinion in woman than I had in her; which maketh me to think that she should not be culpable. And again, I think your highness would not have gone so far, except she had surely been culpable. Now I think that your Grace best knoweth, that, next unto your Grace, I was most bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore, I most humbly beseech your Grace, to suffer me in that, which both God’s law, nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may with your Grace’s favour, wish and pray for her, that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent.”

    But at least Cranmer had the nerve to try to speak up for Anne!

  4. People havnt changed much today, in his picture Richmond does resemble King Henry, he has his long nose and small mouth, a nice looking boy.

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