Thursday, March 20, 2014

On This Day in Elizabethan History: Thomas Seymour is Executed

A portrait of Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral of England and 1st Baron Sudeley. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

On this day in Elizabethan history in 1549, Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour was executed for a variety of reasons, including the attempted kidnapping of his nephew, King Edward VI, and the production of counterfeit money. In all, he was found guilty of 33 counts of treason. Princess Elizabeth was said to have remarked upon receiving news of his death, 'this day died a man of much wit, and very little judgement.' The young Princess had endured a very complicated relationship with her brother's uncle, who had also been her deceased stepmother's last husband.

A portrait of Princess Elizabeth from 1546. Attributed to William Scrots. The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

While Princess Elizabeth was living in the household of her stepmother, Katherine Parr, and Thomas Seymour, Thomas began abusing Elizabeth, his ward, by behaving inappropriately with her. It is my opinion, evaluating the sources, that Seymour's attentions were sinister in nature and that he probably molested her. Katherine Parr, although a highly educated and perceptive woman, was conflicted as to how to handle the situation. Torn between her husband and the stepchild she regarded as her own daughter, Katherine began participating in her husband's escapades. Because of Thomas Seymour's actions toward Elizabeth, she was accessed of planning to marry him without her brother Edward VI's consent, and she was put under interrogation at the age of 15.  When Elizabeth Tudor was questioned about the longstanding unscrupulous activity of Thomas Seymour, she eventually earned the respect of her interrogator. You can read about her remarkable composure under pressure and the statement she wrote in 1549 addressing the nature of her relationship with Thomas Seymour in here.

Princess Elizabeth Tudor's signature, taken from a letter she wrote to Edward Seymour, the Lord Protector, who was Thomas Seymour's brother.