The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor

The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor by Elizabeth Norton Read Free Book Online

Book: The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor by Elizabeth Norton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Norton
king nor I will be governed by you; nor would we be governed by your brother, were it not that his virtue and loyalty towards the king and the kingdom make him the man fittest to administer the affairs of the country during the king’s minority.’ 16
    Humbled, Thomas apologized to his brother for his presumption, averting any quarrel – for the moment. Yet the rebuke smarted.
    John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, was a wily and highly intelligent politician. He was not content with merely knocking Thomas Seymour off his perch for his presumption. As the son of an executed traitor, he had clawed his way almost to the summit of society with his wits alone. *2 He saw weakness in Somerset’s regard for his brother and was determined to use it as a way of sowing discord. Shortly after their exchange in the Council room, Dudley came to Thomas and pointed out that, since his brother was Lord Protector, he himself might aspire to the role of governor of the king, Edward’s guardian, and he offered ‘all his help and furtherance’. 17 The possibility that he could become governor had not occurred to Thomas before and he gave his hearty thanks, asking if his old naval superior would raise it himself in Council. Dudley refused. After all, he argued, how could such a reasonable request be denied? 18 Thomas could see logic in this, since he was entirely oblivious to his own political shortcomings. He was accordingly full of confidence when he raised it in front of the Council the next day – and shocked when his brother, listening in furious silence, suddenly rose to his feet and dissolved the meeting. 19
    Later that day, Dudley came to Somerset and whispered: ‘Thus, Your Grace may see this man’s ambition.’ 20 He reminded him that he had previously warned the Protector that his younger brother ‘would envy your state and calling to his room’. 21 The duplicitous John Dudley – who was trusted by both siblings – counselled Somerset to be wary of his brother. 22
    Thomas Seymour, his ambitions roused, now had no intention of abandoning his claim to the governorship. It must, after all, have seemed terribly unfair. Apart from the accident of birth order, he could have been Protector and governor – he and Somerset even looked similar. He began to take steps to enlist others to his cause, beginning with a carefully composed a letter to the Marquess of Dorset, outlining plans that he had conceived for his daughter Jane Grey. Sealing it, he passed it to John Harington, with whom he had consulted as he wrote. The persuasive young servant was the perfect emissary. He hot-footed it over to Dorset’s residence for the second time that winter. 23
    On taking Harington aside, the marquess’s face grew ‘cold’ and unfriendly as he scanned the letter, which proposed that he pass his eldest daughter into Seymour’s care. The eminent marquess can only have supposed that Seymour meant to marry his nine-year-old heiress, and it was left to Harington to hastily reassure him otherwise. Had Dorset not heard Seymour say of his daughter ‘that she was as handsome a lady as any in England, and that she might be wife to any prince in Christendom’? Why, Harington had heard Thomas declare this, he assured the peer. Confidentially, he informed his host that Seymour had gone further, saying: ‘if the King’s Majesty, when he came to age, would marry within the realm, it was as likely he would be there, as in any other place, and that he would wish it’.
    Dorset believed that his pretty red-haired daughter was worthy of a crown, so the suggestion was a tantalizing one. Confidentially, Harington whispered that ‘being kept in My Lord’s house, who was uncle to the king, it were never the worse for her; and that My Lord would be right glad, if the King’s Majesty could like any in his house’. Dorset must have heard of Seymour’s claims to become the king’s guardian – was it true that the king would soon be lodged in his uncle’s own

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