Heroic Hunk in History: Thomas Wyatt the Younger

HolbeinThomasWyattAfter the Wyatt Rebellion in 1554, Princess Elizabeth Tudor was imprisoned in The Bell Tower at The Tower of London by order of her half-sister , Queen Mary I of England. When their father, King Henry VIII, died, he-was succeeded by their Protestant half-brother, Edward, the son of Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour. After Queen Jane’s death, Henry acquired three more wives, but no additional children. Edward, a staunch Protestant, was nine years old when he became king. He was brilliant but sickly and died from tuberculosis in 1553 when he was only seventeen. Although he had named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as his successor, she reigned for only nine days before Princess Mary Tudor put her aside and later had her and her husband beheaded for treason.

Queen Mary I, a staunch Catholic in the now Protestant England, was thirty-four when she succeeded to the throne. Her father had divorced her mother to marry his pregnant mistress, Anne Boleyn. She had been declared a bastard, removed from the succession, and forced to play nursemaid to her half-sister Elizabeth. Her mother had died in poverty which she often shared. When Mary succeeded to the throne, she did so with the support of both Catholic and Protestant supporters, including Thomas Wyatt.

Thomas Wyatt the Younger, the son of the courtier and poet who was one of Anne Boleyn’s accused lovers, rose up in rebellion when it was announced that Mary would marry King Phillip of Spain. Having seen the Inquisition first hand, he wished to spare England. He wrote a letter to Elizabeth pledging his support. When Thomas was captured as he prepared to attack Queen Mary in London, Wyatt was beheaded and later, hung, drawn and quartered. (Portrait of Thomas the Younger c. 1540 by Holbein) More on Elizabeth in the Tower this whole week at Rita Bay’s Blog.

Tomorrow, Elizabeth’s Fate. Rita Bay

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