Monday, August 15, 2016

Question from Camilla - Edward Seymour, the "Good Duke"

Hello, I am 17, currently researching Edward Seymour 1st Duke of Somerset for my A Level History coursework and looking to reassess the title of "Good Duke" which has long lingered over Seymour's reputation.

I am finding it particularly difficult to find written correspondence originating from Seymour himself (which would help to shed light upon his personal character) and/or any sources from the general populous (around the period 1547-1549) as to the common consensus on his character/protectorship. Would it be possible for any help in direction towards possibly useful sources? Is there any trace of the Duke within folk tales/song?

My main question however is if this "Good Duke" title originated within posthumous historical thought or whether the common people genuinely saw the Lord Protector in such a light- and more importantly, whether this corresponded in actuality to Somerset's protectorship/personality. In short, was his title duly granted?



PhD Historian said...

Do you have access to the Bibliography of British and Irish History, a subscription-only database for secondary works in British history? Most universities and some public libraries have access to it. You can search there for all works on Seymour. I see in particular an article by Glyndwr John Robert Parry entitled "Inventing 'the good duke' of Somerset" (Journal of Ecclesiastical History 40:3[1989], pp.370-380). But there are also book-length studies by Jennifer Loach, George W. Bernard, and Ethan Shagan. Also consider W.K. Jordan's two-volume study of Edward VI. You can check the bibliography of any of those works to see which archives and sources those authors used.

If you are looking for insights into Seymour's character, I assume you want *personal* correspondence rather than *official* correspondence. I would be very surprised, however, if any personal correspondence originating with Seymour has survived. The most likely place to find it would be the archives of the Marquess of Bath at Longleat. Check with a local university library to see whether they have a copy of the Historical Manuscripts Commission calendar (summary) of those manuscripts. Their is a microfilm of them at the Institute for Historical Research at the Senate House in London, but you would probably not be able to access that, unfortunately. A portion of the HMC published calendar is also available through under the title "Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis [sic] of Bath."

camilla langdon said...

Thankyou very much for your informative reply- such a lot for me to follow up and extend my research! Thankyou again!