On June 2nd, 1572, the 4th Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, was executed for treason under the order of Elizabeth I. Thomas was born into one of the noblest families in England. Thomas’ family had been powerful for some time. His Grandfather, (also called Thomas Howard since the Tudors only had about 3 names), was a powerful politician during Henry VIII’s reign. This overambitious prick was the uncle of Anne Boleyn, and one of the main reason she found herself in the mix with the fat, spousicidal twat of a king in the first place.
Thomas’s Dad, Henry Howard, was a bit more vanilla than his father. However, he was still executed under Henry VIII’s orders for suspected treason. Thomas Boleyn senior was also due to be beheaded, but as luck would have it Henry VIII died the day before the order was to be carried out, so he managed to dodge his sentence… and still it was only women who were accused of witchcraft!
Anyway, after the king’s death, his daughter, Mary Tudor, took the throne with her very catholic and very Spanish, dick of a husband, Phillip of Spain. Mary had Thomas Howard Snr. released from the Tower and reinstated as Duke of Norfolk, a title which passed to his grandson on his death in 1554. Thomas junior was now the 4th Duke of Norfolk and in royal favour, which was still the case when Elizabeth I inherited the throne upon Mary’s death.
Elizabeth thought very highly of Thomas, she referred to him as ‘her cousin’, (Anne Boleyn and Henry Howard were first cousins, and Elizabeth liked to think that she and Thomas were also very close). Thomas might have been close to the queen, but he was still no comparison to Elizabeth’s favorite, Robert Dudley. It was said that Thomas Howard was jealous of Dudley because Dudley could influence the queen’s decisions, whereas he could not, despite being the richest bloke in the country. That aside, she still relied on him to do her bidding, and sort out the unholy shit storm that her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, had caused when she came to England to seek refuge.
The catholic Queen Mary had basically run away from all kinds of mess that she had been tied up in back in Scotland. She was hoping that her cousin would help her, but Elizabeth, quite rightly, saw her as a threat to her throne. Mart was catholic, the country had just reformed, Mary had a family link to the English throne, ergo she was a massive threat, and she now being in England brought about the threat of rebellion against Liz. So off went Thomas Howard to sort it out.
Howard was all for laying some smackdown on Mary, until he met her Secretary of State, a slimy dude called Maitland. Maitland not only convinced Howard that Mary was innocent of any ill intent towards Elizabeth, but he also convinced Howard that it would be a good idea if he married Mary and then tried to blag Elizabeth into naming Mary as her successor to the English throne upon her death. Talk about being played like a fiddle, but Howard was stupid enough to go for it. The problem was that he didn’t have the bollockss to actually put the idea to Elizabeth, so, like a deluded fuckwit, he kept it a secret and but carried on making plans to wed the Scottish Queen regardless.
Because Howard suspected Elizabeth wouldn’t go for the idea, and because he shat himself at the prospect of being the one to put it to her, Maitland and Howard decided that Maitland would approach Elizabeth and make the suggestion. After all he had been able to chat shit to Howard and convince him of the shit idea in the first place. In the meantime, the plans for Howard and Mary to wed continued to be hatched.
When Elizabeth found out, was had none of it. Why the fuck would she hand the throne to her knob head cousin, who had literally THE WORST track record with men in History*, and who would seek to restore England back to Catholicism with the help of that snivelling cunt, and Elizabeth’s sworn enemy, Prince Philip of Spain? So as you can imagine, Howard’s plans started to look a tat premature, and a lot ridiculous.
For acting like a knob and going behind her back, Elizabeth had Howard was arrested and imprisoned in the tower. Elizabeth didn’t quite have the same blood thirst as her father and didn’t want the PR nightmare that sending Howard to trial would cause, so when shit settled down, he was eventually released from the tower. However, this is not where the story ends, because like an utter fucking spafftool, Howard continued to write to Mary, who wrote back chatting all kinds of love shit, and kissing him up via letters. This eventually lead to Howard getting himself involved in a fucking stupid idea with the shitehawk, Phillip of Spain and his cunt faced, London based banker pal, (yep, they were around being fuckheads in Tudor England too), Roberto Ridolfi.
The ‘Ridolfi Plot’, as it is now known, was basically a plan hatched by the men to free Mary, marry her to Howard, boot Elizabeth off the throne and restore England to its catholic glory with the help of Spain. Can you imagine?! What a misled knobweasle Howard had become.
The perpetrators of the plot had not counted on three things: firstly, Howard’s incompetence, Secondly, the pure badassness of Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham (think Varys from Game of Thrones), and finally, the fact that Howard’s servant sang like a bunch of shitbirds when put to the rack.
Howard had also mistrusted one of his servants to convey messages between himself, Phillip and Ridolfi. The servant had then found a merchant to do the dirty work, taking letters and money between the parties. The merchant was found out pretty sharpish as his sacks weighed more than they were supposed to, arousing the suspicion of the port guards, so he was arrested and questioned and he too spilled the beans on Howard.
Meanwhile, back at home, Howard’s servants had been arrested and tortured, during which time they told their captures that Howard had been squirrelling away letters about the plot under one of his roof tiles at one of his many properties.
Elizabeth was beside herself when she found out. How the fuck did Thomas Howard find himself mixed up in all this bullshit? He had always maintained his loyalty to Elizabeth and, to a certain extent, she believed him. She did not want to condemn him to death, signing and retracting his death warrant several times, until eventually parliament stepped in and insisted she should stop fannying about and just get it over and done with.
Thomas Howard’s death warrant was eventually signed and he was sent to his death for being a treasonous prick, just like his father and Grandfather, on June 2nd, 1572. He is now buried in the church of St Peter and Vincula at the Tower of London, a dumping ground for headless Tudor traitors. ‘And what of Mary?’ I hear you cry. Well she continued to plot and scheme once she found out that Elizabeth would not name her as heir to the throne. In 1586, Walsingham uncovered enough evidence to have her sentenced to death, and in 1587 she met a very sticky end.
*If you need proof of Mary’s terrible choice in men, or you want to know more about her rather shitty execution, you may be interested in this plots-execu:https://thetudorials.com/2015/07/17/july-17th-1586-tions-treason-and-the-dick-end-men-in-mary-queen-of-scots-life/