Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey


Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey is buried in a superb alabaster tomb inside St Michael's Church, Framlingham, Suffolk, England.

Tomb of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey by Simon Knott

Earl of Surrey by Hans Holbein

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was the eldest son of Thomas Howard the Duke of Norfolk. He grew up at Windsor where he was the childhood companion of Henry VIII's illegitimate son the Duke of Richmond.

Surrey visited France in 1532 with Henry VIII and his cousin Anne Boleyn and spent a year in the French court. In the same year he married Lady Frances de Vere (Daughter of the Earl of Oxford) with whom he would have two sons. He fought in France between 1544-6 where he was wounded in battle. He was a brave and able soldier and was appointed commander of Boulogne.

Like Sir Thomas Wyatt, Surrey was influenced by Italian writers and especially Petrarch. Wyatt and he popularised the use of the sonnet in English but it was Surrey who was credited with inventing the English version of the sonnet which had three quatrains and a final rhyming couplet - as opposed to the Italian sonnet which had 2 quatrains and a sestet. It was this new type of sonnet which was used by Shakespeare in his renowned sonnet sequence. The term 'sonnet' derives from the Italian for 'little song'. Surrey also invented blank verse with his translation of books 2 and 4 of Virgil's Aeneid.

By 1547, Henry VIII suspected Surrey of trying to acquire the throne for his son Thomas and he was arrested and imprisoned in the tower. He was finally beheaded in January 1547 on a charge of  treasonably quartering the royal arms.

Forty of Surrey's poems appeared after his death in Tottel's Miscellany (1557) -  alongside work by his friend Wyatt.

Alas, so all things now do hold their peace!
   Heaven and earth disturbèd in no thing;
The beasts, the air, the birds their song do cease,
   The nightès car the stars about doth bring;
Calm is the sea; the waves work less and less:
   So am not I, whom love, alas! doth wring,
Bringing before my face the great increase
   Of my desires, whereat I weep and sing,
In joy and woe, as in a doubtful case.
   For my sweet thoughts sometime do pleasure bring:
But by and by, the cause of my disease
   Gives me a pang that inwardly doth sting,
When that I think what grief it is again
To live and lack the thing should rid my pain.





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