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More Lord Protectors and Defenders of the Realm

Many readers of Carson’s “Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England” will be curious, given “Tudor” criticism of the Duke’s twin roles in 1483, of their practice in the next century, by comparison.

The occasion in question was, of course, the accession of Edward VI as the only surviving son of Henry VIII. It is well established that Edward IV had appointed Gloucester, Edward V’s paternal uncle just as the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester had been to Henry VI, to the role of Constable in 1471 (Carson p.85) and of Protector by his codicil, which took effect in 1483, although the Woodville faction sought to prevent him from receiving the seals. The position of Lord High Constable effectively expired in 1521 when Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was attainted and executed, although one has subsequently been appointed solely to serve at each coronation.

Henry VIII’s will left no order regarding the Protectorship but on 1 February 1547, just four days after Henry’s death, appointed Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, to this position. The new King, who was nine, had no paternal uncle and Somerset was his elder maternal uncle, Admiral Thomas Seymour being the younger. As we know, the Admiral was executed in 1549 and Somerset was removed at the same time. He was executed in 1552 along with Sir Michael Stanhope, who we now know to be an ancestor of the journalist Frank Gardner. John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and made Duke of Northumberland, succeeded Somerset but only as Leader of the Council and not Lord Protector.

So, just as we established yesterday (https://murreyandblue.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/fabricating-precontracts-richard-iii-vs-henry-viii/) with reference to pre-contracts, the “Tudor” regime criticised the conduct of Yorkist (and Lancastrian) Kings, but followed it almost exactly with reference to the appointment of a Lord Protector.

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2 thoughts on “More Lord Protectors and Defenders of the Realm

  1. I recall no criticism from any Tudor writer about the joining of the two positions. In fact, they could simply accuse Richard of perfidy in how he conducted either office. They needn’t have cared about the joining.

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  2. The other “Tudor” case was the soi-disant “Protector”, Thomas Stafford, who claimed the title as Mary I had married a foreign King.

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