(ca. 1517-1547) Henry Howard was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, who became the third duke of Norfolk in 1524, and Elizabeth Stafford, daughter of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham. No birth record or christening record exists, but Henry Howard seems to have been born early in 1517. When his father was elevated to the dukedom, Henry received the courtesy title of earl of Surrey. His father was a leader of the conservative nobles who opposed Henry Vlll's Reformation. The Howards as a family had earlier resisted the Tudor claims to the English throne. Nevertheless, in 1530 Surrey and Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond and illegitimate son of Henry VIII, became close friends. They traveled with the king to France in 1532 and spent a year in the court of King Francis I. That same year, Surrey married Lady Frances Vere, the daughter of the earl of Oxford. During this period, Surrey was exposed to Italian humanism.
These carefree days were soon to end. In 1535 Surrey was back in England to witness his father preside over the trial of Anne Boleyn, his cousin, and Henry Vlll's second queen. The following year, 1536, saw the death of Surrey's good friend Henry Fitzroy and the rise of Edward Seymour, brother of Henry vIII's new queen, Jane Seymour. The two men became instant enemies, and Surrey was jailed in 1537 for assaulting Seymour at Hampton Court.
When Surrey's cousin, Catherine Howard, became Henry vIII's fifth wife, he was made a knight of the Garter. He was also jailed twice more for public violence but was released in spring 1543 to fight on the continent against France. For Surrey's excellent military service, Henry vIII named him marshal of the field in 1543 at age 27, and in 1545 he was named lieutenant general of the king on sea and land. These honors were short-lived, however. The great success that Surrey achieved at such a young age led to Seymour and many of the new Tudor men becoming jealous, and Seymour plotted his revenge. Surrey was demoted and recalled to England in March 1546 after his outnumbered, insufficiently funded, and poorly supplied troops were routed at Boulogne in January that year.
In December 1546, Surrey was jailed in the Tower of London for treason. He was brought up on trumped-up charges, one of which was including the royal coat of arms of King Edward the Confessor in the first quarter of his shield. Edward the Confessor was the only Catholic saint not defiled by Henry vIII and his adviser Thomas Cromwell. Thus, this was both a political and religious matter. Seymour claimed that Surrey did not have the right to the royal arms. Surrey did; however, he did not first receive Henry Vlll's permission, which was required for the change. Being a commoner and not a peer of the realm like his father, Surrey was quickly tried in common court with no objective evidence and no cross-examination. He was found guilty and beheaded just before his 30th birthday on January 19, 1547, nine days before the king himself died. Surrey was the last man executed by Henry VIII.
Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, was much more than a political figure. He was also an excellent poet who left behind 60 poems, all unpublished at his death except for his tribute to Sir Thomas Wyatt, which appeared in 1542. He wrote 15 sonnets, some of which are a direct translation of Petrarch and others that are imitations, although all of his sonnets are composed in the English sonnet form. Surrey also composed elegies, songs, verse letters, a satire ("London, hast thou accused me"), and translations. His translation of books 2 and 4 of Virgil's Aeneid also arguably introduced blank verse poetry into the English canon. This may be his greatest poetic achievement. He cast off the archaic forms and aureate language of his predecessors to write in a fresh poetic diction.
PEACE WITH FOUL DESIRE"; "SOOTE SEASON, THE"; "WHEN
Windsor Walls." further reading
Casady, Edwin. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. 1938. Reprint,
Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus, 1975. Jones, Emrys, ed. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Poems.
oxford: Clarendon, 1964. Sessions, William A. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Boston: Twayne, 1986.
SYNECDOCHE Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used in place of the whole. It is a commonly employed poetic device in the sonnet, especially the love sonnets, where a portion of the beloved's anatomy stands in for her entirety. Synecdoche is related closely to metonymy.
R. Jane Laskowski
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