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Title: The career of Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton (c.1490-1542) : a thematic study
Author: Helps, Ian Geoffrey
ISNI:       0000 0001 3552 4216
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2006
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Sir William Fitzwilliam has had little attention from historians. A senior councillor and Household officer from the mid-1520s, he served as soldier, naval commander and Lord Admiral, diplomat, de facto Secretary for Calais and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, regional magnate and as Henry's 'enforcer'. He was always active in several fields at once, so each is examined separately. Vital to his career were links of kinship, land dealings and friendship with his step-brother Sir Anthony Browne, and with Sir John Gage, Sir Henry Guildford and Sir William Kingston. Less closely linked were Sir William Paulet, Lord Sandys and Sir Thomas Cheney. They had a firm grip on senior Household offices and ex officio seats on the Council from the early 1520s until the end of the reign. Studying them gives an insight into the way Council and Household officers operated. Fitzwilliam was an able naval commander: his career as Vice-Admiral from 1513 to 1525 qualified him for his term as Lord Admiral from 1536 to 1540. His time as ambassador at the French court in 1521/2 attracted favourable notice from Wolsey and showed his suitability for higher office. Later missions failed; Henry's obsession with the Divorce gave ambassadors little scope for initiative. Fitzwilliam was responsible for the Calais Act in 1536 and played a vital role in resolving religious unrest in Calais in the later 1530s. A capable Lord Privy Seal from 1540 to his death in 1542, he failed to address serious structural faults at the Duchy and the Admiralty. As regional magnate he eliminated factional strife in Surrey but failed in Yorkshire as he only visited it during the Pilgrimage of Grace. He was Henry's 'enforcer' in the fall of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the Pilgrimage of Grace and the Exeter Conspiracy. The thesis is based on documents of the period, using Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII and local archives as a starting point.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available