40 Facts About the Tudor Era's Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour

Khalid Elhassan - March 22, 2019

There are run of the mill slimy politicians, and then there are politicians whose sliminess is so exceptional, it elevates them into a premier league of sleaze. The ranks of the super sleazy must include Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley – a Tudor era courtier from the reigns of kings Henry VIII and Edward VI. Among his highlights – or lowlights – were pimping out his sister to a king, sexually molesting a 13 year old princess living in his house, and killing an 11 year old boy’s dog during a botched attempt to kidnap the child.

Following are forty fascinating and/or significant facts about the life and career of the Tudor era’s sketchiest courtier.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Coat of arms of Sir Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. Wikimedia

40. He Rose From Humble Origins

Born circa 1508, Thomas Seymour was the fourth son of a knigh, Sir John Seymour, of Wolf Hall, in Wiltshire, southwest England, who traced his origins back to William the Conqueror’s 11th century Normans. Sir John was not of the high nobility, but a relatively minor member of the country gentry, so Thomas and his siblings had to make something of themselves, rather than have it made for them by an established sire. Little is known about Thomas’ childhood and education, and he first appears in the historic record in the 1530s, as a messenger in service to his cousin Francis Bryan, king Henry VIII’s ambassador to the French court.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Edward Seymour, Thomas Seymour’s older brother. Wikimedia

39. The Seymours Got Their First Big Break Thanks to King Henry VIII’s Libido

In the 1530s, the greatest issue roiling English politics was king Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir. His first wife, Katherine of Aragon, had only borne him a daughter, princess Mary, but the king wanted a male heir to feel secure in the continuity of his dynasty. So Henry sought to divorce Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn. After a years-long song and dance between the king and the Pope, who refused to grant a divorce, Henry VIII took England out of the Catholic camp, made the country Protestant, and married Anne. After all that, however, she failed to produce a male heir, only a daughter, princess Elizabeth. Henry VIII soured on Anne, and his wandering eye fell upon Jane Seymour – Thomas Seymour’s sister.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein the Younger. Google Art Project

38. Baiting Henry VIII With Jane Seymour

The Seymour family staked their fortunes upon introducing Jane Seymour to the notoriously randy king Henry VIII. She was the opposite of Anne Boleyn – the kind of female praised by contemporaries for correct conduct, while Boleyn had been spirited and wild. After his tumultuous years with Anne, Henry was ready for a change of pace, and he took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. In the spring of 1536, Thomas and Jane Seymour’s elder brother, Edward, was made a gentlemen of the privy chamber. Soon thereafter, Edward, his wife, and his sister Jane, moved into Greenwich Palace, in an apartment that the king could access via a private passage.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Thomas Seymour. Wikimedia

37. The Seymours Went From Relative Nobodies to Members of the Royal Family

On May 20th, just one day after Henry made himself eligible for remarriage by chopping off the head of his wife, Anne Boleyn, he was betrothed to Jane Seymour. They were married ten days later. Politics and politicking in those days revolved around proximity and access to the king, so Jane Seymour’s marriage to Henry VIII immediately catapulted her family from minor country gentry whom few had heard of until then, and into the ranks of major political players.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Edward Seymour. Wikimedia

36. Sibling Rivalry and Envy

The fortunes of Thomas Seymour rose when his sister became queen of England, which undoubtedly pleased him. The only fly in his ointment was that, while his fortunes rose, the fortunes of his elder brother, Edward Seymour, rose even higher. That gnawed at Thomas and filled him with envy, because he had reportedly resented his older brother ever since they were children. Sibling rivalry is nothing unusual in of itself, but as will be seen here, Thomas took it to such extraordinary lengths that it ended up costing him his head.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Queen Jane Seymour. Pintrest

35. The Seymours Lose a Queen, But Gain a King

In 1537, Jane Seymour accomplished what Henry VIII’s previous wives had failed to do, and gave birth to a male heir, Edward Tudor, the future king Edward VI. As relatives of a future king, the Seymour family’s stock rose even further, although it came at a price: Jane Seymour died of childbirth complications soon after producing the heir to the throne. Her brothers Thomas and Edward, making the best of their opportunity, cemented their place in the royal court, and steadily gained in stature and power.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Anne of Cleves, by Holbein the Younger. The Hairpin

34. Thomas Seymour, Diplomat

By all accounts, Thomas Seymour was a likeable fellow who knew how to put on the charm, so his royal brother in law made use of those talents by putting him to work as a diplomat. In 1538, Thomas was sent to the English embassy in France, and a year later, he accompanied a scouting mission to check out and report back on Anne of Cleves, who ended up as Henry VIII’s fourth wife. Soon thereafter he was sent to try and forge an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor and the king of Hungary against France, and he eventually ended up as ambassador to the Hapsburg court.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine Parr, as depicted in the TV series ‘The Tudors’. Pintrest

33. He Lost His Lover to Henry VIII

Thomas Seymour had demonstrated his skill as a diplomat, but the main reason he ended up as ambassador to the Hapsburgs was that Henry VIII took a shine to Seymour’s lover, and wanted him out of the way. In 1542, Seymour had started a romantic relationship with a wealthy widow, Katherine Parr, and the duo began making plans to marry. Then the king became infatuated with Parr, decided that he would like her for himself, and got Seymour out of the way by bundling him off to the Hapsburg court. Parr reportedly loved Seymour, but when Henry VIII proposed, she decided that should could not say no to the king.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Coat of arms of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. Wikimedia

32. Seymour Was Also a Decent Military Commander

While Seymour was serving as ambassador to the Hapsburgs, war broke out against France, so Henry VIII made him a marshal and second in command of the English forces in the Netherlands. Seymour demonstrated that he was a competent commander by capturing and destroying some important French castles. He also took overall command temporarily when the commander in chief fell ill, and gave a credible performance in that leading role. He was rewarded with prestigious military appointments, such as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Master General of the Ordnance.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Henry VIII, passing power on to Edward VI and his regency council. Wikimedia

31. He Served in His Nephew’s Regency Council

Henry VIII died in 1547, and was succeeded by his 9 year old son, and Seymour’s nephew, Edward VI. A regency council was set up to rule England during the king’s minority, to which Thomas Seymour, now 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, was appointed. So was his older brother Edward, who received an even more prestigious title of nobility, and became Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. Thomas’ envy of his older brother, which had lain dormant while he was abroad, was rekindled.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
The coat of arms of Edward Seymour, Thomas Seymour’s older brother. Wikimedia

30. Sibling Rivalry and Envy Turns to Enmity

Thomas’ envy of his older brother – he was made a mere baron while Edward became a duke – increased when Edward became the regency council’s chief, with the title of Protector, and became known as Lord Protector of England. As a consolation prize, Thomas had been made Lord High Admiral, but the power and prestige of that paled in comparison to what his brother had secured for himself. Jealousy gnawed at Thomas, and his lifelong resentment of Edward soon blossomed into hatred.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Edward VI. All Things Robert Dudley

29. Charm the King? Marry a Princess? Or Both?

Thomas Seymour actively set out to undermine his older brother in a bid to weaken his hold on power, and thus replace him as Lord Protector. Unsurprisingly, Edward Seymour resented that, and the siblings’ relationship took a nosedive from rivalry to enmity. Thomas adopted a two track strategy to increase his power: gain personal influence over the child king by charming him, or wed one of the king’s sisters, Mary or Elizabeth. He was relentless in his pursuit of both strategies.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Princess Elizabeth Tudor. Kathryn Lasky

28. He Sought to Increase His Power by Marrying 13 Year Old Princess Elizabeth

Ticked off that his older brother seemed to be hogging all the power via his control over the underage king Edward VI, Thomas Seymour figured he could get his own access to power by controlling another royal: princess Elizabeth. Less than a month after the death of her father, king Henry VIII, Thomas Seymour wrote a letter to 13 year old princess Elizabeth, asking her to marry him. An alarmed Elizabeth elegantly rejected his proposal, writing him back that she was too young – Seymour was 25 years older – and that she planned to mourn her father for the next two years.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Sarah Bolger, as Mary Tudor. Pintrest

27. Thomas Seymour Also Proposed to Elizabeth’s Sister, Princess Mary

Thomas Seymour was clearly not interested in princess Elizabeth because of who she was as a person, but because of what she was – the king’s sister, and a potential heir to the throne if the frequently ailing Edward VI kicked the bucket. What Seymour wanted was a princess – any princess – and so to hedge his bets, even as he was trying to get the 13 year old Elizabeth to marry him, he also proposed to her older sister, princess Mary. Like her kid sister, princess Mary rejected Seymour’s proposal.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Queen Katherine Parr. Wikimedia

26. Rejected by Both Princesses, Seymour Settled For Marrying Their Stepmother

When Seymour’s marriage proposal was rejected by princesses Elizabeth and Mary, he simply moved down the ladder to the next closest royal marital link, and made his moves on their stepmother and the late king’s widow: his former lover, Katherine Parr. The dust had hardly settled on Henry VIII’s grave before Thomas set about the rekindling the romance that had been interrupted when the late king swooped in and snatched Katherine Parr from Seymour. The former lovers were married within six months of the king’s death – a scandalously brief period of mourning, that set tongues wagging.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Chelsea Manor, where Thomas Seymour lived with his wife, Katherine Parr, and her stepdaughter, princess Elizabeth. Pintrest

25. Seymour’s Marriage to Katherine Parr Gave Him an Opportunity to Seduce Princess Elizabeth

13 year old princess Elizabeth, who had rejected Thomas Seymour indecent marriage proposal, found herself faced with a serious problem when the baron married her stepmother. Elizabeth’s father had chopped off the head of her mother, Anne Boleyn, and now that he was dead himself, the princess was a double orphan. Katherine Parr had filled the role of mother when she married Henry VIII, and Elizabeth was raised in her stepmother’s house, Chelsea Manor. Parr’s marriage to Thomas Seymour brought into that house as a stepfather the man who had sought to marry Elizabeth just a few months earlier. He would prove to be an exceptionally creepy stepfather.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Princess Elizabeth in 1546. Wikimedia

24. Seymour Began Molesting Princess Elizabeth Soon As He Moved In

Katherine Parr had been in love with Thomas Seymour since before her marriage to Henry VIII. However, whatever affections he might have felt for her years earlier, he probably married Parr only as a means of getting closer to her stepdaughter, princess Elizabeth, who lived in the dowager queen’s house. Elizabeth was a potential route to power, and perhaps to the crown itself, so Thomas was determined to secure her, and decided that the best way to do that was to seduce the 13 year old princess. He got started on that before he had finished unpacking.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Wood engraving of Thomas Seymour. Britton Images

23. The ‘Tickle Monster’

As soon as he moved into Katherine Parr’s house, Thomas Seymour started making his moves on princess Elizabeth, and began flirting with her nonstop. Under the guise of fun and games, he got into the habit of bursting into the 13 year old girl’s room at all hours of the day and night, sometimes dressed just in his nightgown, to tickle, pinch, wrestle, “romp with”, and smack her butt as she lay in bed. It raised eyebrows in the household, and Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashley, was so scandalized by the creepy behavior that she complained to Katherine Parr.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Princess Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashley. Wikimedia

22. Elizabeth Did Her Best to Thwart Seymour, But He Kept Creeping on Her

According to later testimony by princess Elizabeth’s household staff, including her governess, Kat Ashley, Thomas Seymour started subjecting the young girl to early morning visits in her bedroom as soon as he moved in. As the governess put it, he would: “make as though to come at her“, and she would shrink back from him. Elizabeth tried to thwart him by waking up earlier, so he wouldn’t catch her in bed when he stopped by, only for him to counter that by visiting her earlier still, to ensure that she was in bed when he dropped by.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Princess Elizabeth, as depicted in ‘The Tudors’. Pintrest

21. Seymour Did His Best to Catch Elizabeth in a State of Undress

It became clear that Seymour was trying to catch the young Elizabeth when she was barely dressed. As her governess testified in a later deposition, if Elizabeth was in her nightgown when Seymour burst into her bedroom, he would proceed with his routine and tickle, “romp”, slap her behind, “strike her in the back or the buttocks familiarly“, and otherwise endeavor to cop a feel. However, if the princess was fully dressed when Seymour arrived, he would promptly turn around and leave her bedroom.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Greenwich Palace, a royal Tudor residence. Queen Elizabeth I

20. Elizabeth’s Governess Tried to Get Seymour to Back Off, to No Avail

Elizabeth’s governess described in her depositions that she grew so alarmed by Thomas Seymour’s behavior, that she started visiting the princess’ room at the crack of dawn or earlier, to make sure that her mistress was not left alone with him. He was not pleased. Elizabeth’s governess also testified that she remonstrated with Seymour about his scandalous behavior, told him to “go away for shame“, and warned him that word of his unseemly conduct was spreading. However, he dismissed her concerns, and told her that he “meant no evil“.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Thomas Seymour. Flickr

19. Seymour Took Chutzpah to New Levels in Defending His Molestation of Elizabeth

When Katherine Parr questioned her husband about what he was up to with Elizabeth, he put on an indignant routine, and claimed to be aghast at the kinds of dirty minds that could have possibly misinterpreted or misunderstood what he was doing. Indeed, in a piece of mental jujitsu, he basically argued that backing off would be an affront to his honor, and would let the bad guys win. Thus, the only right thing to do in the circumstances would be keep doing what he was doing. As he exclaimed: “By God’s precious soul, I mean no evil, and I will not leave it!

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
TV princess Elizabeth. Fanpop

18. Seymour’s Wife Enabled His Molestation of Her Stepdaughter

Katherine Parr accepted her husband’s protestations that he was just having innocent fun with princess Elizabeth, and dismissed the complaints of scandalized servants and household staff as unwarranted. Indeed, in a bid to demonstrate just how little credence she gave to the wagging tongues, Katherine took to joining in the “romps” between her husband and stepdaughter. She even reportedly held the teenaged girl down on a few occasions, while Seymour went about tickling the girl and slapping her butt. On another occasion, Seymour wrestled with Elizabeth in a garden, and Katherine Parr stepped in to hold the girl down while he cut the princess’ gown “into a hundred pieces“.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Iain Batchelor as Thomas Seymour. BBC

17. Living With Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour Was Awkward For Princess Elizabeth

Understandably, it got confusing and uncomfortable for the teenaged Elizabeth, living under the same roof with a stepfather who had wanted to marry her not that long ago, and who was in the habit of feeling her up under the guise of play whenever he could. On the one hand, Elizabeth reportedly bore Thomas Seymour a certain degree of affection. On the other hand, the girl exhibited signs of discomfiture around her stepfather that modern child sex abuse investigators could readily identify.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Katherine Parr in wax. Flickr

16. Katherine Parr Eventually Grew Suspicious

Katherine Parr eventually asked Elizabeth’s governess to keep an eye on the young girl, claiming that her husband had told her that he had seen the princess “cast her arms about a man’s neck“. However, nobody else in the household had ever seen any such behavior from Elizabeth, and the governess concluded that Parr must have made the story up. As the governess figured, Parr’s real goal was to get her to spy for her on Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
CGI recreation of Tudor London. Pintrest

15. Respite From and Resumption of the Molestation

During the winter of 1547 – 1548, Thomas Seymour and Katherine Parr moved to London. At her stepmother’s suggestion, Elizabeth was left behind with the household staff. It was a welcome break from Seymour’s advances, but it only lasted for a few months. When Elizabeth joined her stepmother and her husuband in the spring of 1548, Seymour promptly resumed his routine of early morning visits and creepy conduct. The princess’ governess once again complained to him of the unseemliness of dropping into “a maiden’s chamber” in his nightgown, but to no avail.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Cate Blanchett, as Elizabeth Tudor. Fanpop

14. “Thou, Touch Me Not”

In the summer of 1548, when Seymour was away, Katherine Parr asked Elizabeth to arrange the delivery of a letter to him. Before handing the letter to a messenger, Elizabeth took the opportunity to write on the outside, in Latin, “thou, touch me not“. She then scratched it out, and replaced it with “Let him not touch me“. It spoke volumes of the princess’ desperation at finding herself in a helpless situation, in the clutches of a predator whom she wanted to warn off, yet was too frightened to challenge or confront directly.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Chelsea Manor in the 19th century. Magnolia Box

13. Seymour’s Wife Caught Him in a Compromising Position With Princess Elizabeth

It is unclear whether Katherine Parr had truly believed that her husband’s behavior around Elizabeth was innocent, whether she was deluding herself, or whether she knew, but was so desperate to please her husband and too afraid to challenge him, that she ignored his antics. Whatever she truly thought, things came to a head, and to an end, on June 11th, 1548, when Parr chanced upon her husband and stepdaughter alone in a room, embracing. She hit the roof. As a household servant put it: “they were all alone, he having her in his arms, wherefore the queen fell out” with Thomas Seymour and her stepdaughter.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Coat of arms of the Champernownes, the family of Kat Ashley, princess Elizabeth’s governess. Wikimedia

12. Seymour’s Wife Finally Sent Elizabeth Away

Catching her husband and stepdaughter in a compromising position sufficiently alarmed Katherine Parr, and finally convinced her that the time had come, at last, for her to take action and do something. Thus, a year into the marriage, a pregnant Katherine grew fed up with her husband’s ceasless flirtations with her stepdaughter – especially after catching the duo embracing and kissing. So she packed off the by-then 14 year old Elizabeth, and sent her away to go and live with the family of Kat Ashley, the princess’ governess.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Katherine Parr. Wikimedia

11. Seymour Became Fabulously Wealthy

A few months after sending Elizabeth away, Katherine Parr bore Seymour a daughter, then took ill and died shortly thereafter as a result of birth complications. The dowager queen had been England’s richest woman, and she left it all as an inheritance to Thomas Seymour, who suddenly became one the realm’s wealthiest magnates. That only served to further enhance his ambitions, and no sooner had Parr’s corpse grown cold, than Seymour’s covetous gaze returned to princess Elizabeth, now all of 15 years old.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Hatfield House, princess Elizabeth’s residence after moving out on her own. Wikimedia

10. Back to Creeping on Elizabeth

Soon as his wife died, Thomas Seymour went back to creeping on Elizabeth. When the princess moved into and set up her own household at Hatfield House, Seymour sent his nephew, John, to help her move and settle into the new place. However, Seymour being Seymour, lending out his nephew was bound to have not been mere altruism on his part, and there was bound to be a creepy element to it. Sure enough, Seymour wanted to know whether Elizabeth’s butt had filled out, and instructed his nephew to ask: “whether her buttocks were grown any less or no“.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Princess Elizabeth, as depicted in ‘The Tudors’. Pintrest

9. Elizabeth Finds Her Voice

While living under the same roof as Katherine Parr and her creepy husband, princess Elizabeth had been constrained in her ability to openly defy Thomas Seymour. Moving into and setting up her own household made her more independent. When rumors circulated that she was to marry Seymour, and she was asked whether she would accept his proposal if he asked, she replied: “when that comes to pass, I will do as God shall put in my mind“. It was an ambiguous response that contemporaries interpreted as a de facto rejection.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Edward VI at age 9. Wikimedia

8. The Cool Uncle

Elizabeth’s growing coolness towards Seymour spurred him into putting more effort into his other strategy to secure power: gain personal influence over his nephew, the child king Edward VI. He sought to pull that off by being the cool uncle. Soon as the 9 year old Edward was made king, Seymour began to visit him frequently, and to give him a generous allowance of coins so he could splurge them on his friends, teachers, and household servants, and thus feel more grownup.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Edward VI. All Things Robert Dudley

7. Attempts to Bend the King to His Will

Edward VI became so accustomed to his uncle Thomas’ gifts of coins, that he began to freely ask him for his allowance. In addition to currying favor with the child king by showering him with pocket money, Seymour bribed one of the king’s men, John Fowler, to say nice things about him. He also started reading law books, with an eye towards making himself co-Protector, alongside his older brother. To that end, Thomas tried pushing a bill through Parliament that would have made him the king’s personal Governor, and sought to get his nephew’s royal signature on it.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Tudor era Parliament. History of Parliament

6. Failure to Control the Child King

Edward VI was more than happy to accept his uncle Thomas’ coins, but although a child, he was shrewd enough to not fall under his scheming uncle’s grasp. So when Thomas asked him to sign a bill that would make him the king’s official Governor, the underage monarch saw through the power play, and refused to go behind the back of his other uncle, the Protector. Thomas Seymour might have been the fun uncle, but he was dangerous. His other uncle, Edward Seymour, might have been a stick in the mud and buzz kill, but he was clearly a responsible and serious grownup.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Princess Mary Tudor. Biography

5. Failed Attempt to Marry Princess Mary

In addition to his attempts at seducing princess Elizabeth, Thomas Seymour had also made an attempt at marrying her older sister, princess Mary. Luckily for Mary, she never had the misfortune of living under the same roof as Thomas, so she did not have to endure what her younger sister had. Thomas asked the Privy Council for permission to marry Mary Tudor, but his older brother shot that idea down, explaining that neither of the Seymour siblings should be king or marry a king’s daughter. As to Mary, when she was informed of the proposed match, she laughed.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Hampton Court Palace, the Tudors’ chief royal residence. Pintrest

4. Frustration Sets the Stage for a Fall

By early 1549, Thomas Seymour was growing increasingly frustrated by the failure of his plans to increase his power and supplant his older brother. His efforts to manipulate and control his nephew, the child king, had borne no fruit. Similarly, his attempts at marrying either princess Mary or princess Elizabeth were going nowhere: Mary loathed him on general principal, while Elizabeth was shook by her experiences living with him. So Thomas began contemplating a more direct path to power: open rebellion.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
English spaniel. Select Dog Breed

3. Rebellion

Although Thomas Seymour hated his older brother and sought his ruin, Edward Seymour went out of his way to try and save his kid brother from himself. When the Privy Council grew alarmed at Thomas’ increasing brazenness, including efforts to stir up rebellion, and allying with pirates in a bid to secure their support, the Protector invited his younger brother to come and explain himself. Thomas failed to do so, and instead, tried to kidnap the king. On the night of January 16th, 1549, Thomas Seymour tried to break into the child monarch’s apartments, but his attempt was foiled when one of the king’s spaniels woke the place up with its barking. So Thomas shot it dead.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
A Tudor beheading block. Pintrest

2. Downfall

The day after the failed kidnapping, Thomas Seymour was locked up in the Tower of London. Considering that he had been caught outside the king’s bedroom at night, with a loaded pistol, there was little that his older brother – or anybody else for that matter – could do to help. Thomas was charged with thirty three counts of treason, convicted, and sentenced to death. Parliament passed a Bill of Attainder against him on March 5th, 1549, and he was beheaded fifteen days later.

40 Facts About the Tudor Era’s Awful Courtier, Thomas Seymour
Queen Elizabeth I. ThoughtCo

1. Seymour’s Molestation of Elizabeth Had Long Term and Significant Consequences

It is unclear if Thomas Seymour ever actually had sex with princess Elizabeth, but his conduct made it clear that he had wanted to. Like any child victimized by a predator, Elizabeth’s experience at a tender age was bound to leave some scars. When she wrote about Seymour “Let him not touch me“, it seems to have applied not just to him, but to all men. Whether or not the “Virgin Queen” ever had any lovers or was literally a virgin, she certainly never married. Her decision to stay single was probably associated, at least in part, with the sexual harassment she had been subjected to by Thomas Seymour during her formative years.

_________________

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Elizabethan Era Org – Teenage Scandal of Queen Elizabeth I

Encyclopedia Britannica – Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour

Factinate – 42 Diabolical Facts About Thomas Seymour, Henry VIII’s Scheming Courtier

Hibbert, Christopher – The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age (1992)

History Extra – Did Thomas Seymour Sexually Abuse the Teenage Princess Elizabeth?

History Jar – Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour

History Jar – Scandal at Chelsea: the Courtship and Marriage of Katherine Parr and Sir Thomas Seymour

Jenkins, Elizabeth – Elizabeth the Great (2000)

Spartacus Education – Thomas Seymour

Tudor Place – Thomas Seymour

Wikipedia – Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley

Advertisement
Advertisement