Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Question from Francis - Letter in Thomas Seymour's boot

I would like to ask where did the story after the execution of Thomas Seymour in his boot found the letter is known that the execution was not popular among the people whether it is possible that the letter was just planted that would discredit him as a traitor?

1 comment:

Foose said...

The story is certainly fishy, especially since the only source for it appears to be Bishop Hugh Latimer, who preached a series of sermons before the King on Thomas Seymour's death in a sequential masterpiece of character assassination.

In the course of one vituperative peroration, delivered at Windsor nine days after the execution, Latimer described Seymour's final plot:

"The man beyng in the Tower, wrote certayne papers, which I saw my selfe. Thei were two lyttel ones, one to the ladye Mary's grace, and another to my ladye Elizabeth's grace, tendynge to thys ende, that they shoulde conspire against my Lord Protectoure's grace ... Hys servaunt confessed these two Papers, and they were founde in a shooe of hys. They were so sowen between the soules of a velved shooe ..."

Latimer goes on to say that the plot was detected when Seymour at the block directed the Lieutenant of the Tower's servant "Bid my servaunte spede the thyng he wottes (knows) of."

However, there's no independent confirmation of the story. The various "servants" are not named, although some later sources say Seymour's servant was executed for his complicity - you would think there would be a record of his confession, trial, and execution. There is confusion over whether the letters were found in Seymour's shoes or his servant's shoes - as a convicted traitor, all of Seymour's effects were forfeit, so the servant's shoes might make more sense.

Historians often repeat the story without comment or much analysis, but some condemn Latimer at worst as a liar, or at best as a dedicated propagandist for the Protector's regime. The execution of his brother brought Somerset into great disrepute, and if Latimer concocted the story of Seymour's final treason, he might have done it as a damage-control measure.

Again, there's no corroboration in the records. Latimer's account is fascinatingly detailed, though, describing Seymour's pen as made from an aglet "from a poynte plucked from hys hose." If he made up the story about Seymour, there's perhaps a clue in his sermon that he may have borrowed the specifics from his own experience: "I was prisoner in the Tower miself, and could never invente to make ynke so..." Really, Bishop?

Latimer was a famed evangelical orator, the "Apostle of the English," originally rising to prominence under Anne Boleyn until he offended Henry VIII by disputing with him over the biblical authority for Lenten fasting. A Spanish source noted that he had fallen from a horse onto his head as a youth, and was for that reason barking mad. Under Edward VI he became one of the more extreme pillars of a radical Protestant regime. Queen Mary had him burnt.