¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 This section offers biographies of the men and women associated with the production, compilation, circulation, and preservation of the Devonshire Manuscript, as well as those authors whose works are included in the manuscript. The names on a grey background mark the contributors whose familial, spousal, employment, national, and personal relations have been added to the text in the form of RDFa.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Anne Boleyn (c.1500–1536) was the younger daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard. Her grandfather was Thomas Howard, the second duke of Norfolk, connecting her to one of most powerful noble families of England. Her father was a courtier and diplomat and, when he visited what was then the court of Margaret of Austria in 1512, he secured a place for Anne. She was to learn all the skills of a noble lady at one of the most prestigious courts in Europe. Her education centered mostly on acquiring “continental manners and good French” so that she could return to England to secure a position in the court of the French-speaking Queen, Katherine of Aragon (Ives, Anne Boleyn 23). It is possible that Anne met Henry VIII after the Battle of the Spurs in August 1513, when Margaret of Austria and her court met Henry and his entourage at Lille, and probably again at Tournai one month later. After her time at Tournai she attended Henry VIII’s sister, Mary, during her brief marriage to Louis XII of France. Afterwards, she was an attendant to Queen Claude of France.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 When England and France were at the brink of war in 1521, Anne returned home to England, where her education abroad gave her a fashionable Continental polish that was to contrast sharply with the other ladies of Henry’s court. Anne was soon the subject of much maneuvering by her relatives and had many admirers including Henry Percy, fifth earl of Northumberland, and the poet, Thomas Wyatt. In 1522, she made her debut in the role of Perseverance in the Shrove Tuesday pageant—the assault on the Château Vert. At some point in 1526, she seriously attracted the notice of the king. Henry was looking for a mistress, but Anne had higher expectations and was careful to remain unavailable, and without the promise of marriage to any other man. Henry was already considering an annulment from his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, and, in the summer of 1527, he proposed to Anne. The politics surrounding the annulment were intricate, and Anne’s marriage was delayed until her pregnancy in December 1532 pushed Henry to decisive action and the pair wed in January 1533. Anne’s coronation ceremonies were held in June, and Princess Elizabeth was born in September.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The drastic changes in the King’s policy toward the churches under Anne’s influence were greatly resented by many in England, and, as a result, the new Queen was not popular. Anne knew little Latin but, trained at a French court, she was influenced by an “evangelical variety of French humanism” which led her to champion the vernacular Bible (Dowling, “Woman’s Place” 39). She was sympathetic to those seeking further reformation of the Church, and actively protected scholars working on English translations of the scriptures: “Like Katherine before her, Anne was a generous patron of scholars. Also like Katherine, who had devotional works read to her ladies in her apartments, Anne tried to educate her waiting-women in scriptural piety” and is believed to have reproved her cousin, Mary Shelton, for “having ‘idle poesies’ written in her prayer book” (Dowling, Humanism 232).
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Without the birth of a male heir, Queen Anne’s position and influence rested upon her relationship with Henry; both Katherine and her daughter Mary’s intransigence with regards to the annulment exacerbated the situation. Princess Mary had to yield precedence to her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, since the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon rendered her illegitimate. The Queen’s aunt, Anne Shelton (née Boleyn) was placed in charge of Mary’s household, perhaps in the hope that she would influence Mary to recognize the new queen. Later, the Sheltons were the stewards of the princesses’ joint household.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 When Katherine of Aragon died in January 1536, those who opposed Anne saw an opportunity. Thomas Cromwell, originally one of the Queen’s supporters, had become annoyed at Anne’s influence over the King, particularly inasmuch as Henry allowed his desire for his wife’s recognition as a legitimate sovereign to shape his foreign policy. In April 1536, Cromwell had a minor court musician, Mark Smeaton, arrested and questioned. The next day, Cromwell approached the king with Smeaton’s confession. The queen and her alleged adulterers were immediately sent to the Tower. Anne’s opponents had been advancing Jane Seymour for some time within the court, and were committed to keeping Anne’s supporters away from the ear of the king. Cromwell undoubtedly controlled the grand jury, and Anne, Sir Henry Norris, Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton, Sir Thomas Wyatt, and Richard Page were all accused of adultery, and thus, treason. Wyatt and Page alone escaped execution. On 17 May, Smeaton, Norris, Weston, and Brereton were executed; the same day, Cranmer declared Henry’s marriage to Anne null and void, rendering both of Henry’s daughters illegitimate. Anne was executed two days later. Curiously, none of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting were accused as accomplices, and they were retained to serve the new queen, Jane Seymour, who succeeded Anne eleven days later.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 The question of Anne’s contribution to the Devonshire Manuscript, if any, is the subject of much debate. Apart from two jottings whose links to Anne are tenuous at best—the line “amer ann i,” supposedly an expression of goodwill, on f. [56r]; a sketch of a hand alongside “ana,” supposedly a signature, on f. [69r]—the discussion has focused on the following entry:
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Earlier editors and critics routinely pointed to the last line as an indication of Anne’s involvement with the Devonshire Manuscript, supposing that it is evidence of a personal response to Wyatt. In her edition of Wyatt’s poetry, Agnes Foxwell incorrectly identified this “inscription” as “the handwriting of Anne Boleyn” (2: 243). Kenneth Muir similarly suggested that “someone, perhaps Anne Boleyn,” was responsible for these lines (282 n. 41). Raymond Southall, following Foxwell and Muir, argued that the inscription penned by Anne is a riddle, solved by transposing the second and fourth letter of each line: “a lemmen / amene / ah I saue dese / I ama yours an” (143). Richard Harrier, in turn, accepted that “the top three lines of this inscription are indeed a riddle,” but dismissed Southall’s solution:
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Even if one allows the transposition and reads “lemmen” as the Middle English word for “sweetheart,” the result makes little sense. More important, this handwriting is not Anne Boleyn’s. As the position of the “an” in the last line shows, it is not even a signature but the start of the new word “and.” (28-29)
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The most recent assessment of the riddle and the other putative evidence of Anne’s direct involvement with the Devonshire Manuscript is that of E. W. Ives, who dismisses the argument as follows:
¶ 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Unfortunately for romance, very little of this stands up to close scrutiny. There is no evidence that Wyatt ever handled the Devonshire Manuscript; its Wyatt poems represent the taste of Mary Fitzroy and her circle. Nor is the evidence for Anne at all convincing. […] The ‘signature’ is a couple of letters written to test a pen. The expression of goodwill is a mere doodle and is certainly not in Anne’s hand. As for the riddle, not only is it hardly intelligible in solution, on the page the lines are randomly scattered, probably not written at one time and possibly by different writers. They are better understood as casual exercises, the last two, clearly part-versions of phrases such as “as I have deserved” and “I am yours and ever will be”—expressions of courtly love as stock as the greetings on any Valentine card. (Life and Death 73)
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 In the final analysis, Anne’s contribution to the Devonshire Manuscript is perhaps better appreciated as indirect: the culture that she cultivated at court—the result of her education abroad, her piety, and her patronage of scholars and artists—provided the perfect environment in which the manuscript could be compiled and circulated.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Lady Margaret Douglas (1515–1578) was the daughter of Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus, and his second wife, Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV of Scotland. As Henry VIII’s niece, Lady Margaret was in the line of succession to the English throne, a position that resulted in her being used as a political pawn on a number of occasions. Her parents were separated in 1521; the earl of Angus retained custody of Margaret until 1528, when she was sent to the household of her godfather, Cardinal Wolsey. When Wolsey died in 1530, Lady Margaret was invited to Beaulieu, where she resided in the household of Princess Mary.
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 When Anne Boleyn’s court was established, Lady Margaret was appointed as a lady-in- waiting. There she met the Queen’s uncle, Lord Thomas Howard, and they began their courtship. By the end of 1535, Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret had agreed to wed. When the Queen was charged with adultery and treason in May 1536, her daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, was made illegitimate. Princess Mary had already been made illegitimate by the annulment of Katherine of Aragon’s marriage to Henry. Lady Margaret thus found herself heir presumptive to the throne where she had once simply been an attractive marriage prospect for the Howards. While Henry may have encouraged the original courtship, the discovery of their marriage contract in July 1536 resulted in their arrest and imprisonment in the Tower. Lord Thomas was attainted—condemned by decree without trial—on 18 July 1536. The act of attainder alleged that Howard was
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 […] ledde and seduced by the Devyll not havyng God afore his eyes, not regardyng his duetye of Allegeaunce that he oweth to have borne to the Kyng oure and his most dread Sovereign Lorde […] yt is vehemently suspected and presumed malicyously and trayterously myndyng and imagynyng to putt dyvisyon in this Realme. And to interrupt ympedyte and lett the seid Succession of the Crowne contrary to the lymytacyon therof mencyoned in the sayd acte. (“An Acte concernyng”)
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 By the end of 1536, Lady Margaret had been removed to confinement at Syon Abbey, where she eventually renounced her love for Lord Thomas. Lady Margaret was released on 29 October 1537, while Lord Thomas remained in the Tower until his death of an ague two days later. With the birth of a male heir, Edward VI, and the death of her lover, Henry felt Lady Margaret was no longer a “valuable and dangerous pawn in the succession” and he finally freed her from her confinement (Head, “Beyng Ledde” 15). Upon her return to court, Lady Margaret regained royal favor and was made first lady-of- honor to Anne of Cleves, later adopting the same position in Katherine Howard’s court. She eventually married Matthew Stewart, earl of Lennox, in 1544. Her son, Lord Darnley, wed Mary, Queen of Scots, and her grandson became James VI of Scotland (later James I of England).
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Margaret contributed much to the Devonshire Manuscript—hers is the single most prolific hands found in the miscellany. A group of poems within the volume (ff. [26r]– [29v]) are ascribed to Lord Thomas or Lady Margaret, probably composed during their imprisonment in the Tower. It is possible that the manuscript may have been their only point of contact during this time, entered by hand or by a scribe and passed back and forth through intermediaries. Two other poems have been attributed to Lady Margaret: “the sueden chance ded mak me mves” (f. [67v]) and “now that ye be assemblled heer” (f. [88r]). In addition to these verses, Lady Margaret’s presence in the Devonshire Manuscript is also evident in her extensive annotations, corrections, and demarcations throughout the volume.
Mary (Howard) Fitzroy
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Mary Howard(c.1519–1555) was the daughter of Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, sister to Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, and the niece of Lord Thomas Howard. In late 1529, Henry VIII suggested to Norfolk that one of his daughters should marry his illegitimate son by Elizabeth Blount, Henry Fitzroy, duke of Richmond and Somerset. On 26 November 1533, Mary and Henry were married. Still in her early teens, Mary was judged too young to live with her husband and to consummate their union. Instead, she entered the household of her cousin, Anne Boleyn, as one of the Queen’s attendants. During her time at court, Mary was under suspicion of being an accomplice to Lady Margaret Douglas’ courtship with Thomas Howard.
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 The fall of Anne Boleyn in May 1536 was swiftly followed by the death of Fitzroy in July, leaving his widow to return to her family estate at Kenninghall. Mary briefly returned to court in 1540 as part of the entourage of Anne of Cleves, later serving in Katherine Howard’s court as a lady-in-waiting. She retired to Kenninghall after the fall of Katherine Howard in November 1541. Mary was a convert to the Protestant faith, somewhat to the dismay of her brother, the earl of Surrey. When her father and brother were arrested in December 1546, she was also interrogated. After 1548, she was the caretaker of Surrey’s children, engaging Protestant martyrologist John Foxe as their tutor.
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The material contribution of Mary Fitzroy (née Howard) to the Devonshire Manuscript is twofold. First, the manuscript itself—presumably purchased blank and already bound— was initially in Mary’s possession, most probably given to her as a wedding present in 1533, as suggested by the initials “M.F.” (Mary Fitzroy) stamped on the front cover. Second, Mary was responsible for entering her brother’s poem, “O happy dames” (f. [55r–v]), into the manuscript. The poem was likely entered after Mary returned to Kenninghall in 1541. Mary’s hand is not present elsewhere in the manuscript.
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Lord Thomas Howard (c.1512–1537), not to be confused with his father Thomas Howard, the second duke of Norfolk, or his elder half-brother Thomas Howard, the third duke of Norfolk, was a courtier during Queen Anne’s reign. His first appearance of record is at the King’s marriage to Anne, and subsequently he became part of the Howard family group at court. As the queen’s uncle, he presumably had easy access to her court, where he met Lady Margaret Douglas, the king’s niece. His close connections with the powerful Howard family, and thus also with the Boleyns, created numerous problems for their courtship. Margaret had a close claim to the throne, and, depending on to what degree Princesses Mary and Elizabeth were considered legitimate, was among the first three heirs to Henry VIII. By the end of 1535, Thomas and Margaret had agreed to wed. There is some degree of dispute as to whether they had contracted a true marriage, or simply a formal betrothal contract. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography uses the phrase “contract” to describe their agreement to marry (Riordan).
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 When Anne Boleyn was charged with adultery and thus treason in May 1536, her daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, was no longer legitimate in the King’s eyes. Suddenly, Lady Margaret was no longer merely a good marriage prospect for the Howards, but the heir presumptive to the throne. While Henry may have encouraged the original courtship, the discovery of their marriage contract in July 1536 resulted in their arrest and imprisonment in the Tower of London. Lord Thomas was attainted on 18th July 1536. The act argued that Howard was
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 […] ledde and seduced by the Devyll not havyng God afore his eyes, not regardyng his duetye of Allegeaunce that he oweth to have borne to the Kyng oure and his most dread Sovereign Lorde […] yt is vehemently suspected and presumed malicyously and trayterously myndyng and imagynyng to putt dyvisyon in this Realme. And to interrupt ympedyte and lett the seid Succession of the Crowne contrary to the lymytacyon therof mencyoned in the sayd acte. (28 Hen. VIII, c. 24)
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 He was sentenced to death, although the sentence was not carried out; by the end of 1536, Lady Margaret had been removed to confinement at Syon Abbey, where she eventually renounced her love for Lord Thomas. Lady Margaret was released on 29 October 1537, while Lord Thomas remained in the Tower until his death of an ague two days later.
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 During the period of their mutual incarceration in the Tower, the Devonshire Manuscript may have been the pair’s only point of contact, passed back and forth through intermediaries. A large number of the poems within the Devonshire Manuscript are ascribed to either Thomas or Margaret, and more may have been written for them by a scribe. The correspondence between Margaret Douglas and Thomas Howard present in the Devonshire Manuscript is a good example of the elaborate interactions, coded in poetic metaphor, taking place within this select circle of courtiers. There are eight lyrics in Thomas Howard’s hand that are possibly of his own creation. Howard and Margaret Douglas also adapt some of Chaucer’s verse in interesting ways in order to communicate their mutual attachment, as well as to complain of their misfortunes.
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Sir Edmund Knyvet (c.1508–1551), often confused with his uncle and namesake, a serjeant-porter to the King, who died in 1539, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Knyvet, a distinguished courtier and sailor, and his wife Lady Muriel Howard, the daughter of Thomas Howard, second duke of Norfolk. After his father’s death at sea in 1512, Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, Sir Thomas Wyndham, and Anthony Wingfield, successively purchased Knyvet’s wardship until Knyvet reached majority and later came into his inheritance in 1533. Now a Norfolk landlord, Knyvet joined his uncle Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, in suppressing the Pilgrimage of Grace uprising in Yorkshire in 1536. He was knighted in 1538 or 1539, and made sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk in November 1539.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 By 1527 he was married to Anne Shelton, cousin to Queen Anne Boleyn and sister of Mary Shelton. Knyvet was therefore intimately connected to the Norfolk gentry, in particular the Boleyn, Howard, and Shelton families. At times his relationship to the Howards was strained: for example, his uncle Thomas Howard, third duke of Norfolk, “always wrote about Knyvet in terms which revealed small sympathy for his hotheaded, conceited and clever young kinsman” (Virgoe 482). In 1541 his hotheadedness led to an altercation during a tennis game within the precincts of court, when Knyvet struck Thomas Clere, a close friend of his cousin Henry Howard, earl of Surrey. In keeping with a recent statute enacted to curb violence at court, Knyvet was sentenced to have his right hand struck off—a sentence he only narrowly escaped by a last-minute royal pardon. When the earl of Surrey was brought to trial for treason in December 1546, Knyvet testified against him. Knyvet received material benefit from the disgrace of the Howards as well, since he subsequently received a lease of some of their lands. The following year, Knyvet was elected to the Commons as a knight of the shire of Norfolk. He died in London on 1 May 1551.
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 The Devonshire Manuscript contains two lyrics attributed to Sir Edmund Knyvet: “Wyly no dought ye be a wry” (f. [59v]), signed “E knywet,” and “If that I coulde in versis close” (f. [63v]), signed “E k.” Knyvet, whose hand does not occur in the manuscript, entered neither poem (Baron 334-35).
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Sir Anthony Lee (1510/11–1549) was the first son of Sir Robert Lee of Quarrendon, a wealthy member of the Buckinghamshire gentry. By 1531, Lee married Margaret Wyatt, sister of Sir Thomas Wyatt, who bore him nine children. A courtier like his father, Lee was made an esquire of the body by 1532. In 1539, Lee was made a knight and a justice of the peace for Buckinghamshire, an office he had acquired after the death of his father. He was probably a Member for Buckingham in Parliament from 1539, and was re-elected in 1547. Lee remained an MP and justice of the peace until he became ill and passed away in 1549.
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 One poem in the Devonshire Manuscript is attributed to Sir Anthony Lee: “May not thys hate from ye estarte” (f. [10v]). Comparison with independent examples of his hand, however, suggest that Lee did not enter the poem into the volume himself (Baron 334).
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Mary Shelton (1510×15–1570/71) was the sixth daughter of Sir John Shelton and his wife Anne Boleyn, the Queen’s aunt. Her parents were appointed stewards of the household for Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, and Mary became a maid of honour in Queen Anne’s court. She was engaged to Thomas Clere, a gentleman retainer of the duke of Norfolk, and was a close friend of Henry Howard, earl of Surrey. Clere passed away in 1545, and Mary married Sir Anthony Heveningham in 1546, was widowed in 1557, and finally married to Philip Appleyard in 1558.
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 Mary Shelton’s hand is the second most prolific in the Devonshire Manuscript, and is to be found intermittently throughout. Mary Shelton and Lady Margaret Douglas likely kept close company, suggested by the fact that Mary’s hand often immediately follows Lady Margaret’s (Baron 328). Though it is difficult to ascertain whether Shelton created original verse—there is the possibility that three of the poems are her own—her entries are certainly more than mere transcriptions. As Paul Remley has argued:
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 Shelton’s entries in the volume […] should not be dismissed as mechanical exercises in transcription punctuated by a few haphazard scrawls. Her method, however hastily conceived, involves a deliberate attempt to recast poetry written by others as a new and proprietary sort of literary text. (42)
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 Moreover, Remley suggests that Shelton possibly facilitated the secret correspondence between Lady Margaret Douglas and Lord Thomas Howard during their imprisonment in the Tower. Her father commanded a contingent of palace guards and her brother was a porter at the Tower, which could have enabled her to have easy access to the lovers (Remley 54). Whether she actively participated in the correspondence or not, she contributed to the “covert yet dissentient response to some of the incivilities of the Henrician court” found within the pages of the Manuscript (Remley 62).
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 Henry Stuart, or Stewart, Lord Darnley, had strong claims to both the English and Scottish thrones as a descendent of both Henry VII and also of James II of Scotland. The son of Margaret Douglas, niece to Henry VIII, and Matthew Stewart, the Earl of Lennox, Henry was brought up and educated as a potential heir. Tutored by John Elder and Arthur Lallart, he demonstrated proficiency in Latin, Scots, English, and French.
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Though his father had be declared guilty of treason in 1545, by 1564 Queen Elizabeth granted permission for Darnley to return to Scotland and have his family lands returned. He quickly became a favorite of Queen Mary, and by May 1565 it was clear that the two were engaged. They were wed according to Roman Catholic rites in Mary’s private chapel on 29 July 1565.
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 Although Mary had granted Darnley equality in their marriage, thus granting him precedence over her by allowing him the title of King of Scots, he garnered little support among the Scottish nobles. By December of 1565, Mary still refused to grant Henry the crown matrimonial, that would have allowed Henry to rule in his own right. In March 1566, the Queen was pregnant with the future James VI of Scotland (James I of England). In the wake of the his authorization of the murder of David Riccio, Mary’s secretary, in the Queen’s presence, Henry’s position further deteriorated. Along with his servant, Darnley was murdered by unknown persons on 9/10 February 1566.
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Stewart entered a single poem in the Devonshire Manuscript: “My hope is yow for to obtaine,” (f. [57r]). Elegantly written in italic script, the poem is signed by “Hary Stuart” it its last line and seems to refer to his courtship of Mary, Queen of Scots. It postdates much of the other material in the manuscript, likely being entered between 1560 (the year of their first meeting) and 1565 (the year their courtship ended in marriage).
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 Thomas Wyatt (c.1503–1542) was born at Allington Castle, Kent, the eldest son of Sir Henry Wyatt, a politician and courtier who served both Henry VII and Henry VIII. Wyatt attended St. John’s College, Cambridge, but did not take a degree. By 1520 Wyatt had married Elizabeth Brooke, who bore him a son, Thomas Wyatt the younger, in 1521. In 1524, Wyatt became clerk of the king’s jewels, and then esquire of the king’s body in 1525. Wyatt then embarked on the first of many diplomatic missions, first to France in 1526, and later to Venice, Rome, and Ferrera in 1527. In this diplomatic capacity Wyatt came into contact with continental court culture, in particular, the popular Italian and French poetic forms and themes. Upon his return to England, began work on Quyete of Mynde, an English verse translation of Plutarch based on Guillaume Budé’s Latin version, which he presented to Katherine of Aragon at new year 1528.
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 Wyatt was next appointed high marshall of Calais from 1529 to 1530, and then commissioner of the peace for Essex when he returned to England in 1532. He is likely to have accompanied Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn (already established as the king’s mistress) to meet François I at Calais. His subsequent rise at court was rapid, culminating in his being knighted in 1535. His advancement came to a halt in May 1536 when he was accused of adultery with Anne Boleyn and subsequently imprisoned in the Tower, along with Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, William Brereton, and Sir Francis Weston. Wyatt did not, however, suffer the fate of a traitor and was released a month later. Editors and critics have routinely alleged that Wyatt was romantically involved with Anne Boleyn, pointing to putative evidence in his poems. However, as Colin Burrow has argued,
¶ 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 Neither Wyatt’s imprisonment nor his poetry indicates that he was a lover of Anne Boleyn. […] The most probable explanation of both Wyatt’s imprisonment in 1536 and his release is not romance but family loyalties and locality: his family was close to the Boleyns by geography and allegiance, and his detention, probably at the instigation of Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, served to indicate that all family and friends of the Boleyns were in danger. His release is likely to have resulted from his family’s and his own close ties with Cromwell. (n. pag.)
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Wyatt was released following the fall of Anne Boleyn, and, despite his vocal complaints about his imprisonment, he had not lost any royal favour and proceeded to receive new appointments. In 1537, he became ambassador to the court of the emperor Charles V, and spent the next two and half years at the centre of negotiations designed to ensure that an alliance with François I against England was avoided. These plans were fraught with difficulties and ultimately unsuccessful, and Wyatt was recalled to England in April 1540. After the fall and execution of Thomas Cromwell in June the same year, Wyatt retired to the safety of his residence at Allington. Without the protection of Cromwell, earlier accusations that Wyatt had committed verbal treason reemerged and were this time taken seriously. Wyatt was taken, bound and under guard, to the Tower on 17 January 1541. Whether by virtue of his eloquent defense or the intercession of Queen Katherine on his behalf, Wyatt was pardoned by Henry VIII and released in March. Wyatt’s return to royal favour was once again marked by the granting of land and offices, culminating in his appointment as knight of the shire and MP for Kent in 1542. On the return from a diplomatic engagement in early October that year to meet the Spanish Envoy at Falmouth, Wyatt contracted a fever and died in the house of Sir John Horsey in Sherborne, Dorset.
¶ 44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 Although Wyatt’s hand is not present in the Devonshire Manuscript, a sizeable majority of the verses entered into the volume—some 129 of the total 185 items—are those that have been attributed to him. Many of these verses are unique to the manuscript, and others considered significant textual variants. As a result, much of the critical work on the Devonshire Manuscript has been in relation to its important place in the canon of Wyatt’s poetry. The present edition seeks in part to rectify this author-centric focus, acknowledging the importance of Wyatt’s contributions without privileging them to the exclusion of the rest of the manuscript.