Thursday, 20 October 2011

William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (1501–1570)

This is a fascinating man, and one who embodies the type of pragmatic and opportunistic men of the Reformation. It was men such as the Earl of Pembroke who earned the contempt and censure of progressive reformers such as William Baldwin and Robert Crowley. He was intensely ambitious, and was described by John Aubrey as a "mad fighting fellow.

Pembroke was a staunch supporter of Edward VI and benefited tremendously from the dissolution of the monasteries during Henry VIII's reign. He had been granted Wilton Abbey and other land by Henry VIII and pulled down the abbey to build Wilton House. He was also granted the guardianship of Edward after Henry's death. 
However, when Mary came to the throne, he didn't hesitate to distance himself from the Lady Jane Grey faction, which he supported to the extent of organising the betrothal of his eldest son to Lady Jane's sister, Catherine. He immediately cast Catherine out of his home and declared himself a faithful servant to the Catholic queen. Mary went on to have complete faith and trust in counselors such as Pembroke and Paget, who were staunch Protestants under Edward. In fact she paid far more attention to their advice than to her Catholic advisers - men such as Gardiner. These men ensured their favour with the queen by supporting the highly unpopular Spanish marriage resisted by her Catholic advisers, and helped the queen overcome the most dangerous rebellion during her reign - the Wyatt Rebellion.

People may think of Mary as a Protestant persecutor, but she only persecuted Protestants who made an issue of their faith. She was more than happy to work with moderate Protestants, especially aristocratic ones, who knew which side their bread is buttered.

The Earl of Pembroke

No comments:

Post a Comment