Monday, 12 July 2010

Wednesday, 12 July, 1553 – Mary arrives at Framlingham

“...she [Mary] hurried on to reach Framlingham castle about eight-o-clock in the evening, where as many as possible of the local gentry and justices, together with a crowd of country folk, awaited her highness’s arrival in the deerpark lying below the castle.”

(Wingfield, The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae, 1554)

Sir Richard Southwell was a survivor from Henry VIII’s court. His ability to adapt to the times had won him offices and land; he was even one of the assistant executors of Henry VIII’s will. In 1549 he had supported the duke of Northumberland (then the earl of Warwick) against the Lord Protector and had even been made a member of the Privy Council for a short space of time. Subsequently imprisoned in the Tower in 1551 for allegedly writing seditious bills, he was released and led a quieter existence. The events of July 1553 drew him back into political life. Evidently he had no reason to love the duke and his cause thus on the 12th he marched to Framlingham with ‘reinforcements of men, a store of provisions and moreover money’ along with ‘his own skills in counsel and long experience’.

Mary's decision to make Framlingham Castle her base and to move there on this date was motivated by several factors. Space was one, plus Framlingham was better fortified than Kenninghall. Framlingham had been the principal seat of Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, who was currently lodged in the Tower. Upon his arrest in 1546 his properties were seized and after plans extending back to December 1552, Mary received Framlingham from the Crown around two months before Edward VI died. It was an impressive estate and Mary was certainly keen to move to such a place to hold her early court. But she took a risk in moving there. For all its advantages the property was located nearer to London than Kenninghall. Furthermore as she moved there the duke, the marquess of Northampton and the earl of Huntingdon, were preparing their forces to leave London. As mentioned in the last post several dates have been proposed for the duke’s decision to depart from London though on this date letters announced that the men ‘and other personages of estate is presently in the field with our said sovereign’s power for the repression of the rebellion’. So Mary was taken a risk in advancing to Framlingham whilst the duke was preparing to progress northwards. She was relying on the hope that supporters would be coming in significant numbers to the castle. The arrival of Southwell with men on the same day as her own arrival there – he probably arrived before her as she reached the castle at eight o’clock in the evening – must have been incredibly reassuring.

And it was not just Southwell who rushed to his queen. Sir John Mordaunt of Bedfordshire offered his allegiance at this time. His wife, Joan, had once been one of Mary’s ladies; perhaps this was a factor behind Mordaunt’s support. He was also another religious conservative and was evidently trusted by Mary that she would later rely upon him to carry out several important tasks including escorting the the marquess of Northampton to the Tower. He would later be involved in the controversial heresy trials of her reign. Simultaneously Edward Mone, Edward VI’s tax collector, rode to Framlingham with money that he had collected. Jane’s supporters controlled the treasury but Mone regarded the royal finances in his control as the rightful property of Queen Mary. As satisfying as Mone’s actions were to her, the knowledge that she had support from various ordinary people was also pleasing. For as she rode into Framlingham she was greeted not only by ‘the local gentry and justices’ but by a ‘crowd of country folk’.

As Mary presided over her household, the duke was preparing to set out into Cambridgeshire. Frustration and anger must have overcome him and his allies with every report reaching them that Mary’s support base was growing by the day. It was time to teach them a lesson – to show them what happens to men who abandon Queen Jane to support that ‘incestuous bastard’ (Marquis of Winchester’s alleged words). Thus the duke ordered the destruction of Sir John Huddleston’s house, where Mary had previously been offered refuge. His home may now be partly destroyed but Huddleston continued to fight and was en route to Framlingham with a prisoner – the earl of Sussex’s son. Mary would never forget Huddleston’s ardour despite his troubles. Immediately into her reign he would be awarded numerous estates and offices.

Some sources allege that the duke’s decision to enact the role of general was based on Jane’s reluctance to send her father, the duke of Suffolk, away to head an army. Instead he was to stay in London with her and ensure that members of the Council did not start to have second doubts about Jane’s claim to the throne. This decision has been attacked – by contemporaries and subsequent historians – owing to the duke of Suffolk’s allegedly weak character. As Commendone would phrase it, Suffolk ‘was not a man of great valour and therefore lacked authority’. Suffolk was not a stupid man as he has sometimes been portrayed including in the film, Lady Jane (1986). He was a cultivated nobleman, educated and interested in learning though clearly outshone in this regard by his precocious child. But he did not exude the confidence and ability that the duke did. By this date Mary’s cause had yet to reach a turning point. Jane’s hold on the throne was still secure; she still had the support of nearly all the highest peers in the land and of the church, and her armies were more significant than Mary’s. But with every desertion, her situation weakened. And the loss of the duke from the capital would prompt dissension in the ranks. In contrast Mary’s persuasive methods, which now entailed kidnapping, only sought to strengthen her position.

(Image - Framlingham Castle).

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