Henry VIII’s Last Victim
This book is rightly subtitled ‘The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.’ The author is to be congratulated on the width and depth of her research which leave the reader thinking, ‘If only.’ Born to greatness, probably in 1517, son and heir to the Duke of Norfolk, Henry Surrey lived and died under two giant shadows: his father, an unscrupulous, manipulative bully and arch-survivor; and King Henry VIII, who looms with the monstrous unpredictability of a volcano over a reign of political and religious terror. If only the Earl’s beloved friend – the King’s cherished bastard, the young Duke of Richmond – had lived beyond seventeen to delight his royal father with the strong bond between two young men in love with honour and chivalry. If only the Earl had survived the King, living to serve the young Elizabeth in his maturity. Henry Surrey reveals his potential greatness in Chapter 10 (‘Poet Without Peer’).
This is a sympathetic portrayal of a prideful aristocrat at odds with the Tudor Court as it is increasingly dominated by the King’s brutally ambitious ‘new men.’