John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk

John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk KG (* around 1425 , † August 22, 1485 at Market Bosworth ) was an English nobleman and military. During the Wars of the Roses he was a loyal supporter of the House of York , whose kings he served as a military, administrator and diplomat. He was considered one of the most successful English diplomats of his time. From Richard III. Raised Duke of Norfolk , he supported this, albeit not selflessly, until his death in the Battle of Bosworth .


John Howard came from the English Howard family . He was the only son of Sir Robert Howard and his wife Margaret Mowbray, a daughter of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk . His year of birth is unknown, but his mother was unmarried in 1421 and since Howard's first child was born in 1443, he was likely born in the mid-1420s. His father died in 1436. After the death of his grandfather Sir John Howard in 1437 he inherited a small estate in Stoke-by-Nayland in Suffolk from his grandmother Alice Tendring , which became his residence.

Rise as a vassal of the Duke of Norfolk

Like his father, Howard entered the service of the Dukes of Norfolk from the House of Mowbray, who were related to him . As a vassal of his cousin John Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk , he was also a member of his council. He was involved in the power struggle in East Anglia between Norfolk and William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk . Howard has been charged with numerous misdemeanors such as demolishing fences and illegally hunting Suffolk lands. In 1453 he lost a trial against Suffolk's widow Alice Chaucer. His attempt to sue for several goods belonging to the Kerdiston lordship as the heir of his grandmother also failed. In the 1450s, Howard held a number of offices in East Anglia, where he became increasingly influential. He served as a judge in Norfolk and Suffolk, and from the early 1450s held various local offices. In the general election of 1449 he was elected Knight of the Shire for Suffolk . In the controversial general election of 1453 and 1461, he was elected Knight of the Shire for Suffolk and 1455 for Norfolk. In 1461 he served as sheriff for Norfolk and Suffolk. According to later information, he took part in the final phase of the Hundred Years War in Lord Lisle's campaign in Gascony , which ended with the defeat at the Battle of Castillon on July 17, 1453.

Further advancement in the service of Edward IV.

Participation in the battles of the Wars of the Roses

During the Wars of the Roses in 1461 Howard led the troops of the Dukes of Norfolk, who supported Edward , the heir to the throne of the House of York. After the decisive victory in the Battle of Towton , he was knighted by Edward at the coronation. He was then appointed Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk and in command of Norwich and Colchester Castle . After the death he now moved to the royal household, where he served the king primarily as a military. In 1462 and 1463 he was a member of the siege army that besieged the three great castles of Alnwick , Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland , which were still in the hands of supporters of the House of Lancaster . In 1464 he led a campaign against the Lancastrians in Denbighshire, North Wales . Norfolk's Holt Castle , commanded by Howard, served as his main base. He then led his own force to northern England that same year, where he joined the king's last campaign against the Lancastrians in northern England.

Activity as diplomat and courtier

From November 1467 to November 1468 Howard served as Sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. In June 1467 he organized a tournament in Smithfield as the deputy of his cousin Norfolk , which was considered to be the most splendid of the time. Howard himself spent 300 marks on it. In the tournament tjostierte Anthony, Lord Scales , a brother of the Queen against Antoine , an illegitimate son of Duke Philip III. of Burgundy . Through his services to the king, Howard rose to the king's Knight of the Body prior to 1467 . In the same year he was appointed royal ambassador for the first time. He was a member of the high-ranking delegation negotiating in Burgundy to marry Margaret , the king's sister, with Duke Charles the Bold . Then he belonged to a far less high-ranking legation to France, where the French King Louis XI. tried to disrupt the alliance between England and Burgundy. The delegation consisted of Howard, Sir Richard Tunstall and Thomas Langton . Despite the unsuccessful mission, the embassy impressed both the French and the English kings, and the three subsequently rose to become the most important English envoys of the time. Howard also became a member of the royal council . In 1468 he was part of the escort that Princess Margaret accompanied to her wedding in Burgundy, and in September 1468 he was appointed Treasurer of the Household . Between December 29, 1469 and February 12, 1470 he was raised to Baron Howard .

Establishment of a significant property

By serving the King, Howard had become a rich man. From his estate in Stoke-by-Nayland he had built an estate that comprised about sixteen estates. He had received seven of these estates from the king in 1462, two estates he held as fiefs of his cousin Norfolk and two more as fiefs of his cousin Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Oxford , the heir of her grandfather Sir John Howard and his first wife Margaret Plaitz. He had probably bought the rest of the goods, possibly at the time of his marriage to Catherine Moleyns in the early 1440s. His records and other documents show that Howard was very much involved in the day-to-day running of his estates. In doing so, he proved to be a prudent and efficient administrator. From 1463 he bought or received other goods, including six that were confiscated from the Earl of Oxford , son of his cousin Elizabeth. This made Howard the main supporter of Edward IV in East Anglia. Of the other four magnates in the region, the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Suffolk were politically insignificant, Anthony, Lord Scales resided permanently at the royal court rather than East Anglia, and the Earl of Oxford was in exile. At this time Howard had an annual income from his estates of about £ 800, plus his income from office and trade. By 1467 he had gotten rich enough to loan his impoverished Norfolk cousin £ 1,000.

Activity as ship owner and admiral

Apparently, Howard was involved in seafaring from an early age and rose to become one of the greatest shipowners in 15th century England during his life. Before Edward IV's accession to the throne he was a member of a committee dealing with maritime affairs, and before 1464 he was appointed deputy admiral for Norfolk and Suffolk. The first surviving volume of his household books mainly contains payments for the construction of a ship in Dunwich . The construction costs for the 80  ton ship ranged from £ 150 to £ 200, with Howard receiving £ 30 financial support from the King. Several voyages of the ship, finally named Edward, are documented. As a result, Howard had more ships built, and for several years owned ten, maybe even twelve ships, six of which were large enough to trade abroad. Your journeys can be traced through invoice books and customs documents. Howard's ships were chartered for trade trips, and they also served as escort ships to protect smaller ships against attacks by pirates. They also served the king as part of the royal fleet . In 1468 he was responsible for the equipment and provisions for several warships from the east coast of England, which were commanded by Lord Scales. In 1470 he himself served as the commander of a fleet that patrolled the English Channel , and on July 2, 1470 he was appointed deputy governor of Calais , the English bridgehead in France.

Another service for Edward IV.

As supporters of the House of Lancaster in the summer of 1470 Edward IV overthrew and Henry VI again . on the throne, Howard lost his offices. However, he did not follow Eduard into exile, but was re-elected as a baron in October 1470 by Heinrich VI. invited to parliament. When Edward IV landed back in England the following year, Howard raised a force to support him to fight for the Yorkists at the Battle of Barnet . After the victory of Edward IV, Howard was accepted into the Order of the Garter in 1472 . In addition, he received his post as deputy governor of Calais back, which is why he spent a lot of time in Calais over the next few years. During the Hanseatic-English War, Howard once again crossed the ship to Calais in 1473, from where he wanted to travel on to Bruges . The aim of his trip was to clear the tensions in trade relations with Burgundy before the planned joint attack by Burgundy and England on France began. During the crossing, however, Howard's ship was attacked by three Hanseatic ships and pushed onto a sandbank. Sixteen of his servants and companions were killed in the attack, but Howard himself barely escaped in a dinghy. When the planned English attack on France began in 1475, Howard provided a contingent of 20 men-at-arms and 200 archers. Above all, however, he played a role in the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Amiens , which ended the war with France. He then stayed hostage in France while the English army withdrew to England via the English Channel. In France he met the French chronicler Philippe de Commynes , who later noticed that the English did not conduct their negotiations with the cunning of the French, but with openness and honesty. He advised that the English should not be snubbed, as it would be dangerous if they interfered. This general characterization is consistent with the properties known from Howard. Like a number of other councils, Howard benefited financially from the peace. He received from the French King Louis XI. a pension of 1200 écu and more money and silver. Until Edward died, Howard remained one of the King's most trusted envoys. In 1481 he made a successful advance to Scotland with his ships, during which he burned several Scottish ships in the Firth of Forth .

Richard III supporter and elevation to Duke of Norfolk

When the last Mowbray Duke of Norfolk died in 1476, his only child, his daughter Anne , was quickly married to Richard of York , the king's younger son, but she died as a child in 1481. The next potential heirs to the Mowbray family lands were through their mothers Howard and his cousin William Berkeley, 2nd Baron Berkeley . Her inheritance claims were invalidated by two parliamentary resolutions, after which the Mowbray inheritance fell to Richard of York, who had also been raised to Duke of Norfolk. Berkeley was richly compensated for the loss of his inheritance from Edward IV, but Howard was not. When Edward IV died in 1483, Howard was not a declared supporter of Queen Elizabeth Woodville and her family. Instead, he had worked several times with Richard, Duke of Gloucester , the king's brother. Gloucester secured the support of Howard in his reach for the crown by making him Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshal on June 28, 1483, two days after he had usurped the throne . Howard's elevation to the Duke of Norfolk invalidated the Richard of York dukedom and the two parliamentary decisions before rumors surfaced that Richard of York or his older brother, the rightful heir to the throne, Edward, might be dead. From the Mowbray inheritance Berkeley received the estates in the Midlands and the title Earl of Nottingham , while Howard received the estates in East Anglia and Surrey and Sussex . Richard III Howard gave even more lands, he was also on May 13, 1483 administrator of the lands of the Duchy of Lancaster south of the Trent and on July 25, 1483 Admiral of England . This made Howard one of the richest magnates in England. In return, Howard was a loyal supporter of Richard III. During the Duke of Buckingham rebellion , Howard successfully secured the City of London for the king. In 1484 he was part of the king's entourage when he received a Scottish embassy in Nottingham . However, despite his title and offices, Howard was rarely at the court of Richard III, but lived mainly on his estates in East Anglia. When Henry Tudor landed in Wales in 1485 , Howard put up a 1,000-strong contingent, which on August 22, 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth for Richard III. fought. Although Howard was around 60 years old, he commanded the king's vanguard in battle. For a long time, this unit was the only division of the royal army that actively fought and fought against the Earl of Oxford. Shortly after Richard III. Even in a desperate attempt to attack Henry Tudor, Howard was killed. His body was transferred to Thetford Priory , the traditional burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk. The first parliament of the victorious Henry VII posthumously imposed a Bill of Attainder against him, and one against his son Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey . His son was later rehabilitated and received his father's title as the second Duke of Norfolk.

Marriages and offspring

Howard was married twice. His first marriage was between 1440 and 1442, Catherine, daughter of William Moleyns and his wife Margery Whalesborough. He had at least six children with her:

  • Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524)
  • Nicholas Howard († around 1468)
  • Isabel Howard ∞ Sir Robert Mortimer
  • Anne Howard ∞ Sir Edmund Gorges
  • Margaret Howard ∞ Sir John Wyndham
  • Jane Howard († 1508) ∞ John Tymperley

After the death of his first wife on November 3, 1465, Howard married Margaret († 1494), widow of Lord Mayor Nicholas Wyfold († 1456) and John Norris († 1466) in January 1467 . She was a daughter of Sir John Chedworth . With her he had a daughter:

Through his son Thomas, Howard was the great-grandfather of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard , the second and fifth wives of Henry VIII , who were both executed.


  • Anne Crawford: Yorkist Lord: John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, c.1425-1485. Continuum, London 2011, ISBN 978-1-4411-5201-5
  • Anne Crawford (Ed.): The household books of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, 1462-1471, 1481-1483. Sutton, Phoenix Mill, 1992. ISBN 0-7509-0143-8 ·
  • Anne Crawford: The Mowbray inheritance . In: James Petre: Richard III: crown and People . Richard III Society, London 1985, ISBN 0-904893-11-1 , pp. 79-85
  • R. Virgoe: Three Suffolk parliamentary elections of the mid-fifteenth century . In: Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 39 (1966), pp. 185-196
  • John Ashdown-Hill: Richard III's "Beloved Cousyn": John Howard and the House of York , The History Press 2009, ISBN 978-0-7524-5131-2
  • William Hunt: Howard, John (1430? -1485) , in: Dictionary of National Biography . Volume XXVIII . Macmillan, Smith, Elder & Co., London and New York 1891, pp. 42-44

Web links

predecessor Office successor
New title created Baron Howard
Title forfeited
New title created Duke of Norfolk
Title forfeited
( Thomas Howard from 1514)
Anne Mowbray
(until 1481)
Baron Mowbray
Baron Segrave
Title forfeited
( Thomas Howard from 1554)