The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune

The Life of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk

Title Details

Pages: 408

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 10/01/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3491-2

List Price: $32.95

The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune

The Life of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Thomas Howard became the third duke of Norfolk during the reign of Henry VIII and was involved in many of the most controversial episodes of that era. By some accounts Norfolk became known as the greatest soldier and aristocrat alive under Henry VIII's rule, in Britain a period of transition from medieval to modern and spanning the Renaissance and Reformation.

In this first comprehensive biography of Norfolk David M. Head confronts the central paradox of Norfolk's career. Here was a man of enormous ambition and family pride whose talents never matched that ambition-a man whose military and political victories brought him only short-term rewards, often followed by personal disaster. A social and religious conservative, Norfolk was uncomfortable with reformation ideology and the "low-born" men of the court. The duke sought a primary position within the court like that earned by Cromwell and Wolsey but was unwilling to perform the sustained hard work required to achieve that stature. By the 1540s Norfolk was probably the richest man in England, but nonetheless, at the hands of Cromwell and Wolsey, he was repeatedly exiled from the court for emotional excesses as factional struggles swirled and political rivalries turned personal and bloody. Even when exiled from court, his military and diplomatic service repeatedly earned him a return to Henry's inner circle, a place he proved unable to hold, as family disasters undermined his position and the shifts of faction turned against him.

To understand Thomas Howard is to grasp the intimate scale of Tudor England and its measurement of power as one's proximity to the crown. He serves as a symbol for this age of transition-a nobleman, a figure from the feudal past, adjusting to a changing age that he did not always understand and to which he could never completely accommodate himself.

As meticulous and finely grained a narrative as one would hope to have of such a figure, based on patient and thorough mining especially of the printed primary sources.

Sixteenth Century Journal

Head offers a detailed narrative that will be of interest to specialists but also accessible to undergraduates. He concludes with an invaluable analytical chapter that encapsulates the attributes of an English duke.

American Historical Review

The tumult of sixteenth-century England and Henry's court will always an important area for historians. This well-researched, straightforward work fills a gap about one of the major characters of that arena.

Library Journal

[A] sprightly, engaging biography.


About the Author/Editor

DAVID M. HEAD is an associate professor of history at John Tyler Community College in Midlothian, Virginia. He is the recipient of numerous research and advanced study grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.