On the morning of the 20th of March 1549, two strokes from the axe ended the life of a man who did not deserve such an ending. A man who, had been loyal to Henry VIII, and who had a way of getting attention. A man who believed he had been wronged.
Thomas Seymour’s execution, whether you believe it justified or not, will always remain a debate. For those, like myself, who are a bit more sympathetic to his cause we see it as Thomas being railroaded. Others believe he got what he deserved. What it really comes down to is whether or not it was right (since fair would not matter) to refuse a man a trial of his peers. Had Thomas been allowed to speak for himself, or if he had the opportunity to speak with his brother, I believe he would have had a longer life.
I have often compared Thomas’ story to that of Anne Boleyn’s – but at least Anne had a trial (even though it was rigged). The other person his story reminds me of is Katheryn Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Katheryn was also deprived of a trial and just like Thomas Seymour, had an Act of Attainder passed against her.
When it comes to Thomas’ motivation for the events that occurred after the death of his wife, Kateryn Parr, it is obvious that Thomas had lost his moral compass – and that in his grief he made terrible, hasty decisions that allowed men, who had more power than he, to work out thirty-three charges against him. Those men (or their lackeys) questioned many people, but the evidence that remains is not as impressive as the thirty-three charges would lead you to believe.
Of the people who were interviewed (or the evidence that remains), mostly include:
Sir William Sharington
Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset
William Parr, Marquis of Northampton
John Dudley, Earl of Warwick
Thomas Parry, Elizabeth’s Cofferer
Kat Ashley, Elizabeth’s Governess
John Harrington, Thomas’ loyal servant
Richard Weston, Seymour’s servant/lawyer
Wyghtman, Seymour’s new servant
and Thomas himself.
Who benefited the most from Thomas’ execution? Not just at that moment but a little bit in the future. The man who, in my opinion, masterminded the downfall of the Seymours to his advantage was………….none other than John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. The man whose father was executed by Henry VIII, the man who relinquished his prized position of Lord Admiral to the younger brother of the Protector. John Dudley clearly never forgave either of them for that choice, and soon after Seymour’s execution Dudley was reinstated as Lord Admiral. Before the end of 1549, Edward Seymour had lost his title of Lord Protector and was removed (albeit for a short period of time) from the Council.
Thomas Seymour is a courtier who will not soon be forgotten. Maybe we have the salacious stories about his life to thank for making him the continued gossip of our community.