The King’s Servant

  • A. L. Rowse


The grandeur of the Wriothesley family is almost entirely due to the Reformation. Before that happy event, it is true, they had been heard of under their original name of Writh, a Wiltshire family by origin.1 And indeed they were already noticeably on their way up at the end of the fifteenth century, through the curious — but in the age of bastard feudalism not uncharacteristic — profession of heraldry. However, the Reformation, in particular the Dissolution of the Monasteries, with the splendid opportunities which it gave of garnering Church lands, made the classic period in the formation and establishment of English families. It was then that their fortune was made for them in the person of Thomas Wriothesley, first Earl of Southampton. He was not precisely a novus homo.


Henry VIII Gold Ring Happy Event Southampton Water Parish Church 
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© A. L. Rowse 1965

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  • A. L. Rowse

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