Bess of Hardwick

Bess of Hardwick rose from obscurity to be one of the richest women in England and a friend of Elizabeth I.

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  • On This Day 15th January 1569

    On 15th January 1569 Katherine Carey, Lady Knollys, died. She had been ailing for some time, and her husband, Sir Francis, was desperately upset that he had not been able to be with her. Instead, he was at Bolton Castle, guarding Mary, Queen of Scots. Lady Knollys was born in 1524. Her mother, Mary Boleyn, at some time was the mistress of Henry VIII, and there has been speculation that Katherine was his daughter. Since no-one knows exactly when Mary was Henry’s mistress, nor for how long, it can be no more than a theory. Legally, her father was Sir William Carey. As was customary, Katherine was married young, aged 15 or 16. Her husband was around 13 years older, but they were happy together, and had twelve children who survived infancy. Katherine and her husband were evangelical Protestants, so they left England when Mary I reintroduced Catholicism, and went to Geneva. On their return at the accession of Katherine’s cousin, Elizabeth I, she was appointed a Lady of the Bedchamber. Elizabeth was extremely fond of her, and very upset when she died.

    Picture is Katherine Carey, Lady Knollys, by Steven van de Meulen

  • On This Day 14th January 1526

    On 14th January 1526, François I of France and Emperor Charles V signed the Treaty of Madrid. François claimed later it was done under duress, and, in fact, he had little choice. His forces had been completely defeated by Charles at the Battle of Pavia, and François himself captured. In summary, the terms of the Treaty were that François would cede his claim to the Duchy of Milan, and to the Burgundian territories which had been denied to Charles’ grandmother, Mary of Burgundy, because French law would not recognise female succession. Francois was obliged to offer up his two sons as hostages, and agree to marry Charles’s sister, Eleonor, the widowed Queen of Portugal. As soon as he was safe in France, François repudiated the treaty.

    Picture is François I by Jean Clouet

  • On This Day 13th January 1542

    On the 13th January 1542, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was tried and convicted of treason at the Guildhall. Surrey, the eldest son of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was the cousin of both Anne Boleyn and Katheryn Howard. He was brought up with Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, and the two were close friends until Richmond’s early death. Surrey was probably the most accomplished poet in the English language until the emergence of the Elizabethan poets. He introduced the Petrarchan sonnet form into English, widely admired and copied by Sir Thomas Wyatt.

    Surrey was also a man of action – he won high praise from Henry VIII for his initial campaigns in France, but fell into disgrace when he did not obey orders and failed to tell the King and Council the truth about events. He might well have survived this, but he was of a rash and quarrelsome nature, with undue pride in his birth (grandson of the Duke of Buckingham, he had a very respectable claim to the throne). He made no secret of his contempt for ‘new men’ such as Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, Henry VIII’s brother-in-law. In the factional politics of the end of Henry VIII’s reign, Surrey became a victim as a way to strike at his father, leader of the conservative religious faction. Surrey was convicted of treason on very dubious grounds, some of the evidence supplied, willingly or not, by his sister, and executed. He is buried in the Church of St Michael, Framlingham.

    Picture is the tomb of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in the Church of St Michael at Framlingham

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