A contemporary view of the Tudor peerage in 1538/9

1024px-Henry_FitzAlan,_12th_Earl_of_Arundel)_by_Hans_EworthThis list was printed in a book by William Maziere Brady (1825–1894) an Irish priest and journalist. Brady had been an Anglican priest in Ireland, but when the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1869, he went to the Vatican to work amongst the archives there. He subsequently converted to Roman Catholicism, and wrote a number of polemical works against the narrative of the Anglican church in Ireland. One of his publications was called the ‘Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland, and Ireland, A.D. 1400 to 1875’, and the list below comes from a document printed “found lately among some loose papers in the Archivio di Stato at Rome.”

The entry is reproduced in the peerless “Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII,  and in is Volume 13 Part 2, August-December 1538 if you want to have a look. The list must have been produced between July 1538 and March 1539, after the young earl of Shrewsbury, Francis, succeeded his father, and before Thomas Boleyn Earl of Wiltshire died.

Now I was once the proud recipient of some training from the lovely Michael Barber (that, my friends, is called name dropping), and in that he made the point how important it is to have a quick, broad view of any situation however complex, to allow you to identify where to spend your time and effort. So I thought I might help Henry VIII out, and do a RAG status list of his peerage, so that he can see at a glance how he’s fixed in terms of blokes around he could reply on in a crisis, or likely to cause him grief. Obviously, it’s about 500 years too late, but hey, better late than never – and anyway, Thomas Cromwell probably had one of these pinned to his wall in Austin Friars. Plus you can link to the lovely Wikipedia to find out more about these folks if you wish.

The picture is of Henry FitzAlan 12th Earl of Arundel doing a bit of Cosplay as a Roman Emperor. Or maybe on his way to a Toga party – do people still do those?

The duke of Norfolk, 72 years, the chief and best captain.
 The duke of Suffolk, of the same age, a good man and captain, sickly and half lame.
The marquis of Exeter, 36, lusty and strong of power, specially beloved, diseased often with the gout and next unto the Crown of any man within England.
The marquess Dorset, 26, young, lusty, and poor, of great possessions, but which (?) are not in his hands, many friends of great power, with little or no experience, well learned and a great wit.
The earl of Oxford, of 66 years, a man of great power and little experience.
The earl of Arundel, 60, a man of great power, little wit, and less experience; his eon, young and lusty, of good wit and like to do well. (listeners, the rating if of the old guy, not his more talented offspring. As if it matters!)
 The earl of Shrewsbury, of great power, young and lusty, and little wit and no experience.
 The earl of Derby, the greatest of power and land, young, and a child in wisdom, and half a fool.
 The earl of Cumberland, a man of 50 years, of good power, without discretion or conduct.
The earl of Westmoreland, of like age, of a great power, without wit or knowledge.
The earl of Rutland, of like age, of great power, with small wit and little discretion.
The earl of Essex, an old man, of little wit and less experience, without power.
The earl of Sussex, of 50 years, of small power and little discretion and many words.
The earl of Wiltshire, of 60, of small power, wise, and little experience, Queen Anne’s father.
The earl of Hampton and Admiral of England, made by the King; wise, active, and of good experience; one of the best captains in England.
The earl of Bath, old and foolish.
 The earl of Worcester, young and foolish, and of great power in Wales
 The earl of Hertford, young and wise, of small power, and brother unto the last Queen deceased.
 The earl of Huntingdon, of 60 years, of great power, little discretion and less experience.













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