“And if you will ponder all these matters without passion of selfishness, you will recognise that they are unbearable and blameworthy. I believe that you know well enough the ways and means that the Duke is using to reduce to subjection this Kingdom and that he is not moved either by zeal of the public welfare nor of the Religion, but only by the ambition to rule because to enslave a free Kingdom cannot be regarded as caring for the public welfare, nor can he be called religious who has violated the faith due to his King.”
(Earl of Arundel’s speech to the Privy Council convincing them to abandon Jane Grey and blame the affair on the duke of Northumberland, 19 July 1553)
“And consider that I have done nothing but by the consents of you and all the whole council.”
(The duke of Northumberland’s remarks to the earl of Arundel upon his arrest on 20 July 1553)
As the duke of Northumberland left Cambridge for Bury St Edmunds on the morning of the 18th, his colleagues back in London were preparing to betray him. It now seemed obvious that Jane’s cause was all but lost and they had their properties, positions and their lives to consider. Regardless of this understandable desire to safeguard all they held dear, there is something distinctly unpleasant about this whole affair. Even Mary’s most ardent admirers, pleased as they were by this abandonment of Jane, were uncomfortable with this treachery. As Robert Wingfield reported, the duke was ‘so ill-served by his followers’. The men in question chose not only to reject Jane’s cause but also to find someone to blame for this all mess – a scapegoat who could easily be discarded. And that was of course the duke.
The earls of Arundel and Pembroke were now residing in Baynard’s Tower and were joined by others including William Paget. Despite discussions about switching to Mary’s side, the Council itself was still, officially at least, for Jane and were sending letters urging local gentry to suppress Mary’s forces. Robert Dudley called again for Jane at King’s Lynn on this date and even Jane wrote to some, including John Brydges and Sir Nicholas Poyntz of Gloucestershire, requiring them to continue to fight in her name. But their efforts were in vain. Now the men who helped to place Jane on the throne were busy discussing a way to negotiate with Mary and save themselves in the process. They were entirely innocent, they claimed. They had supported Jane not out of their own free will, succumbing instead to the duke’s threats and lies. They were merely the victims of the wicked duke’s ambition. No longer was Edward VI responsible for the alterations to the succession. It was the vile, tyrannical and traitorous duke who wished to see the advancement of his own line. They had always loved Mary and were now taking a stand. Conveniently this demonstration of loyalty took place after Mary had won the royal fleets, commanded numerous forces and won the support of various counties.
The following day the earl of Arundel would make a speech calling on the Council to proclaim Mary queen in London. Though made on the 19th, the ideas within the speech were evidently formed in the last days of Jane’s days. The earl had been one of the duke’s closest allies and had offered felicitous words when the duke left London to face Mary’s supporters. How quickly he now changed his views. He felt compelled to “speak against the Duke of Northumberland, a man of supreme authority and who disposes of all our armies, and also desirous of bloodshed as vell as unhampered by scruples.”
This man, he claimed,
“endeavoured to put me to death with such perverse wickedness, as your goodselves have witnessed, but only the concern for the public weal and the freedom of this Kingdom, to which it is our duty to attend more than to our own welfare. At the same time my conscience was burdened with remorse considering how the rights of My Lady Mary, true heir to this Crown, were usurped and that we have been robbed of that liberty which we have enjoyed so long under the rule of our legitimate Kings. And if you will ponder all these matters without passion of selfishness, you will recognise that they are unbearable and blameworthy. I believe that you know well enough the ways and means that the Duke is using to reduce to subjection this Kingdom and that he is not moved either by zeal of the public welfare nor of the Religion, but only by the ambition to rule because to enslave a free Kingdom cannot be regarded as caring for the public welfare, nor can he be called religious who has violated the faith due to his King.”
The duke would learn of the Council’s decision to call for Mary on the 20th – the day after the Council proclaimed her queen and the same day Mary learnt of the news. When she heard she was naturally delighted and she would send the earl of Arundel to arrest the duke and take him to the Tower. It was a calculated choice. Now the betrayer faced the man he deserted – a brilliant act deemed to test the earl’s loyalty to herself whilst making him face the consequences of his actions. And, of course, to taunt him with an example of what she would do to those who were the subject of her displeasure.
(Image - Portrait of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel by unknown artist, 1560s. NPG, London)