Henry VIII,the Reign
The Royal Progress 1535
Thruxton to Southampton
Page 3 of 4
In March 1533, Henry promised that he would repair the insult to Kings Henry II and John, who had been tricked into offering the realm in tribute to the Holy See. He was also determined to reunite the crown with the goods churchmen had appropriated from it.
7 Sep 1535
Less than five miles west of Andover, Thruxton was a town on the road to the royal progress’s next destination, Priors Hurstbourne. Andover was destroyed with fire by the forces of Matilda de Boulogne in 1141 during the lead-up to the Rout of Winchester. The extent of the damage to the town may be judged by the obliteration of its written history for the twelfth century. Matilda’s adherent William of Ypres also fired Wherwell Abbey, just south of the town.
Arthur Plantagenet (Viscount Lisle) had come to Thruxton by marriage to Elizabeth Grey (sixth Baroness Lisle), mother by her first marriage of John Dudley, the future Duke of Northumberland. John probably organised the royal progress’s visit on his step-father’s behalf; he had already offered the king hospitality (again on his step-father’s behalf) at Painswick and Kingston Lisle.
The Lisle, also known as Insula, family rose to prominence in the reign of King John, and Brian de Lisle was one of the group that has become known as King John’s ‘evil counsellors. Lisle marriages over the years included unions with Pevrils, Beauchamps and Seymours.
Arthur Plantagenet was arrested in 1540 on suspicion of collusion with the French. He was released about two years later but died of a heart attack upon receiving the news. John Dudley inherited the title; he became a principal governor of England in the reign of Edward VI and advocated Lady Jane as queen. A little over four miles from Thruxton is Ludgershall, where John Wycliffe became curate in 1368.
In 1141, Matilda took refuge in Ludgershall Castle as she fled from King Stephen’s army. She was accompanied by Miles Fitzwalter of Gloucester, first Earl of Hereford and Lord of Brecknock, and escaped disguised as a corpse to Devizes and then to Gloucester.
King John improved the castle as a hunting lodge in 1210.
Priors Hurstbourne, Hampshire
10 Sep 1535
An overnight convenience stop.
11 Sep 1535
Winchester is an ancient capital of England with a magnificent cathedral. During the Rout of Winchester on 14 September 1141, the army of imprisoned King Stephen of England – led by his wife (Queen Matilda of Boulogne), his brother (Bishop Henry of Blois) and William of Ypres – faced the army of Stephen’s cousin, Empress Matilda, whose forces were commanded by her half-brother, Earl Robert of Gloucester. After Empress Matilda’s army besieged a castle on the edge of Winchester, Queen Matilda’s army arrived and blockaded the Angevin army within the city. Cut off from its supplies, the Angevin army gave up the siege, then was crushed as it began to retreat. Robert of Gloucester was captured and subsequently exchanged for Stephen, who was returned to the throne of England.
Winchester was ‘now the setting for one of the most remarkable scenes of the reformation’. (David Starkey: Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, page 538)
Bishops Waltham, Hampshire
16 Sep 1535
The building of a palace was begun sometime in the 1130s by Henry of Blois, who was Bishop of Winchester from 1129 to 1171 and a younger brother of King Stephen. Henry was of significant influence in the manoeuvrings that brought Stephen to power in England. He served as Stephen’s chief adviser, albeit that he changed sides twice during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda.
Waltham Palace was one of the most ostentatious residences of the Bishops of Winchester, who ranked among the wealthiest of the clergy in Christendom.
Return to Winchester
25 Sep 1535
The party had first arrived at Winchester on 11 September and by the time the king departed for Southampton almost three weeks had been spent in and around the ancient capital working to save Henry from the Papal Brief that had French fingerprints all over it.
30 Sep 1535
Originally known as Hampton, the port served the ancient capital of England, Winchester. Southampton Castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest and became one of the kingdom’s most important fortifications. During the Anarchy, it was held by William le Gros, the Bishop of Winchester for Stephen. The ruins of King John’s Palace stand in the city centre but for the Henry–Johnites the significance of the visit was the memory of the so-called Southampton Plot.
Lollard leader Sir John Oldcastle (originally the name of Shakespeare’s Falstaff) had been friendly with young Prince Henry, Prince Hal as Shakespeare dubbed him (the future Henry V), and they had fought against the Welsh together. Henry was born in the bosom of Henry–Johnite country in the Welsh Marches at Monmouth, and Oldcastle was from nearby Almeley. Henry V is reputed to have been the first non-French-speaking English king since the Conquest and was engaged with Oldcastle’s Lollard politics. When his father Henry IV died and he acceded to the throne, however, in the face of the Lollard ascendency, the ecclesiastical lords appealed to the young king’s military passions and persuaded him to divert the kingdom’s energies from these domestic tribulations, to invade France, and so to unite his subjects.
Thus, Hal turned his back on the Lollards, his fellow Henry–Johnites, and in so doing infuriated his old friend, Oldcastle.
Henry V had not been born to be king and the proposition probably did not even occur to him until his father usurped (some may say) the crown from Richard II. Some argued that Edmund Mortimer had a superior claim to the kingdom of England.
It was to Mortimer that Oldcastle and his adherents intended to turn; they planned to oust Henry as he was about to leave Southampton for France and replace him with Mortimer. The plot, however, was discovered – Mortimer himself reported it to the king at Portchester Castle and most of the ringleaders were rounded up and executed. Oldcastle escaped back to Herefordshire but was finally captured and executed in 1417.
Henry V of course did cross the Channel to fight in France and so ensued a series of hostilities – which, as intended, suppressed religious politics – that only ended with the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.