Auction 23148  31 May 2023
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Lot 126

Starting price: 550 GBP
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"He could not without anger and shame behold a princess whose blood he shared, whose character he honoured, and whose service he had himself embraced with pure devotion...", , An Highly Important Elizabethan Placard Responding to the Insurrection of the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland Signed by Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, Signatory of the Letters Patent for the Accession of Lady Jane Grey, Marriage Broker for 'Bloody Mary', 'The Most Courtly and Grand of Elizabeth's Peers', the 'Angry Opposite' of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and Reformer of the Queen's Revels Office for Actors and Playwrights as Lord Chamberlain for England , , "The Rising of the North" - 1569 (Eliz. XI) Placard from Lord Lieutenant, The C[onstable] in York ", , To all majors, cunstables and other the Queens's Majesty's officers and subjects whatsoever they be" [sic], announcing: "we have appointed the berer herof Mr. Bunny to conduct certen horsemen and fotemen sent from our verie good lord the lord admiral to us, we will and comand you in the Q[ueen] Majesty's name, to see him furnished of vittalls carriages lodging and all other neccessaries from place to place untill he shall come unto us. And to obey to all other his directions tending anie maner of wayes to the premisses or to the good conducting of them to us. Dated our yeare the eigte of Decemb 1569". Signed "T Sussex" [sic], some new paper added not affecting the text, fine and very rare, dating mere days before Sussex's advance from York to crush the 'Rising of the North'.
From the Mayflower Collection
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Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, late Viscount Fitzwalter was born about 1525 to Henry, the 2nd Earl and his first wife Elizabeth Howard, granddaughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, the victor of Flodden.
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From 1542, after his father's succession to the Earldom, the newly styled Viscount Fitzwalter served in the English Expeditionary Forces overseas, returning in 1551 to broker the marriage of King Edward VI to the daughter of King Henri II of France. His prominence and piety are most evident in his name appearing amongst the signatories of letters patent settling the crown on Lady Jane Grey in June 1553. A political chameleon, Radclyffe would almost immediately recover the favour of 'the true daughter of time' 'Bloody' Mary who instructed his separate services in the arrangement of her marriage to Philip II of Spain, and installed him as 'Baron Fitzwalter' for the pleasure in August 1553. Following a mission to the Holy Roman Emperor, Fitzwalter was installed as Lord Deputy of Ireland in April 1556 to implement Queen Mary's policy of reversing her predecessor Edward VI's promotion of Protestantism there. Before Fitzwalter could attend to matters, he ventured into Ulster; then in a constant state of disturbance by the Highland Scots from Kintyre and the Islands who were making settlements along the Antrim coast, and the separate efforts of Shane O'Neill to dominate more territory in Ulster. Brutal methods were employed, as Sussex along with the Earl of Ormond, Sir Nicholas Bagenal and others deployed to Rathlin Island in September 1557. They stayed for three days, hunting the occupiers of the island and killed 'as many as they might come by or get out of caves, both man, woman, child and beasts'. Having defeated O'Neill and the MacDonnells, Radclyffe succeeded his father in February 1557 as Earl of Sussex. Returning to Dublin, he summoned a Parliament for June. There he oversaw the passing of statutes declaring the legitimacy of Mary I of England as Queen of the Kingdom of Ireland, thereby reviving the laws for the suppression of heresy and forbidding the immigration of Scots. Having carried this legislation, Sussex endeavoured to give forcible effect to it, first by taking the field against Donough O'Conor, whom he failed to capture, and afterwards against Shane O'Neill, whose lands in Tyrone he ravaged in 'scorched earth' fashion, and in place restoring nominal rights to the Earl of Tyrone and his reputed son Matthew O'Neill, Baron of Dungannon.
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In June of the following year Sussex turned his attention West, where the head of the O'Brien clan had ousted his nephew Conor O'Brien, Earl of Thomond, from his possessions, and refused to pay allegiance to the Crown. Sussex forced Limerick to open its gates, restored Thomond, and proclaimed O'Brien a traitor.
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In Autumn 1558, Scottish incursions in the Antrim Glens called for further suppression tactics by Sussex. He razed farms, houses and Saddell Castle, the seat of James MacDonnell of Dunyvaig and Glynnes, and then marched south to burn Dunaverty and Machrimore, and on to the islands of Arran, Bute, and Cumbrae. Landing at Carrickfergus, he fired and plundered the settlements of the Scots on the Antrim coast before returning to Dublin for Christmas. No wonder contemporaries such as Archbishop George Dowdall lamented: "it was possible to ride 30 miles across much of central and southern Ulster without seeing any sign of life. Famine stalked the province". Dowdall's strictures on Sussex naturally irritated the Lord Deputy, and he complained about the Archbishop to the Queen. Mary commanded Dowdall "to be ordered as appertaineth for slandering unjustly of a minister in so great a charge".
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With the death of Queen Mary, Sussex returned to England for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth I in January 1559 and would have the privilege of personaly serving and removing the Queen's meals at the Coronation banquet, all the while on his knees! Quite the change of fortunes after Sussex's own father had had the unenviable duty of escorting the Queen to the Tower of London during her predecessor's reign! Reappointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by the new Queen, Sussex continued his campaigns against the O'Neills and MacDonells. However the lack of diplomatic trust between the sides ultimately rendered Sussex's attempts to bring the submission of either party to the new Queen a total failure.
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Returning to English court life having been replaced by the 11th Earl of Kildare, Sussex opposed the proposed marriage of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester to the Queen, having already betrayed the trust of Dudley and his first wife Lettice who had infamously married in secret. In spite of this, his expertise would be once again employed by the Sovereign as she sought out the potential marriage of Archduke Charles of Austria in 1566/67. Failing again, he was returned to England and subsequently appointed Lord President of the Council in the North in July 1568. Evidently a personal favourite, the Queen would further gift Sussex the magnificent Royal seat at Beaulieu.
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The following year, his forces were engaged with suppressing the insurrection of Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, and Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland and the seven hundred rebel soldiers who had assembled at Brancepeth Castle (Durham). Throughout November 1569, the 'Rising of the North' under Westmorland and Northumberland occupied Durham. On 14 November their priest Thomas Plumtree desecrated the English Bible and celebrated Mass at the Cathedral. Neville and Percy then marched south to Bramham Moor, whilst the Queen struggled to raise forces sufficient to confront them. The Earl of Sussex, through documents such as this highly important surviving document, confirm why the rebels ultimately abandoned plans to besiege York and capture Barnard Castle instead. They proceeded to Clifford Moor, but found little popular support. Sussex would march out from York on 13 December 1569 with 10,000 men against the rebels' 6,000, and was followed by 12,000 men under Baron Clinton. Despite suspicions of his own allegiance to the Crown, Sussex successfully countered the threat in Scotland after the rebel Earls dispersed their forces and fled. In 1572, he was promoted to Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, and was privy to the greatest confidence of Queen Elizabeth I until his death in June 1583. One of his lasting legacies came through his reformation of the Queen's Revels Office between 1573 and 1579 that enabled the foundation of nine new commercial theatre venues in London that garnered the histrionic talents before performing to the Queen, and in return receiving the favour of her Royal patronage. Given his fame for being escorted by a band of actors dubbed 'Sussex's Men' who would give performances to the Queen as early as March 1569, it is unsurprising to see his championing of the dramatic arts to result in the highest quality entertainment being created for lowest cost to the Royal Court and indeed the development of a self-sufficient industry that would ultimately cultivate the careers of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.
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A contemporary chronicler recorded:
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'In the arts of a courtier, which he despised, he was incomparably inferior to Leicester. Sussex was however, endowed with a penetration sufficient to detect, beneath the garb of hypocrisy and artifice in which they were involved, the vices of Leicester's disposition, and he could not without anger and shame behold a princess whose blood he shared, whose character he honoured, and whose service he had himself embraced with pure devotion, the unconscious dupe of an adventurer so despicable in the estimation of all honourable and true men. The sarcasms of Sussex roused in Leicester an animosity which he made no effort to disguise. Scarcely could the Queen herself restrain these 'angry opposites' from breaking out into acts of violence. Her Highness forced them to a reconciliation [for Leicester], to revenge himself by the ruin and disgrace of Sussex was yet however beyond his strength. The well-founded confidence of Elizabeth in the abilities and attachment of Lord Sussex, Leicester found to be invincible."
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For further reading, see: "The Earl of Sussex, the Revels Office, and London Commercial Theatre, 1572-1583", W R Streitberger, Oxford University Press, February 2007, pp. 34-63
Estimate: £600 - £1000
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