Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Howards Revisited

A review of Robert Hutchinson's House of Treason by Stephanie Mann.
As the synopsis accurately states, the Howard family was certainly one of the most important noble families in England, but Hutchinson aptly describes the difficulty of staying on the right side of any of the Tudor monarchs. The Howard family definitely started out at a great disadvantage, since they had fought for Richard III! The factions at the Tudor Court and the desire for power, influence, and wealth are the sources of the drama involved, especially during the reign of Henry VIII, as Thomas Howard struggled against first Wolsey and then Cromwell for years and then the Seymour family at the end of his life to influence the king and maintain his favor. Even after his first two great rivals had fallen, Howard and his son found themselves out of favor and sentenced to death under Henry VIII's elastic definition of treason. Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey was executed, but his father survived simply because Henry VIII died before signing the death warrant.

Surrey's son also ventures too near the throne, dealing with Mary of Scotland and threatening Elizabeth's shaky hold on power; he is also executed. In the next generation, Philip Howard endures imprisonment and death when he returns to the Catholic Church after hearing Edmund Campion speak. The next generation holds on, in spite of one Howard's suspected Catholicism, during Elizabeth I's reign and the Howard family is secure, for a time, when James VI of Scotland comes to the throne. (Read entire review.)

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