John Dudley duke of Northumberland

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Northumberland, John Dudley, 1st duke of (c.1505–53). Dudley had a brilliant but brief career at the very top of Tudor politics. His father, Henry VII's financier Edmund Dudley, was executed in 1510 when John Dudley was a small boy. His mother Elizabeth Grey, daughter of Viscount Lisle, remarried in 1511. Her second husband, Arthur Plantagenet, was an illegitimate son of Edward IV and therefore an uncle of Henry VIII. Dudley's early career was made under the protection of his stepfather, who was in high favour, created Viscount Lisle in 1523, given the Garter in 1524, and made governor of Calais in 1533. John Dudley began as a soldier, made a reputation for jousting, was knighted in 1523, helped to put down the Pilgrimage of Grace, and became deputy governor of Calais in 1538. His stepfather's disgrace and death did not affect Dudley's upward progress: in 1542 he was made warden of the Scottish marches, served as lord admiral, was created Viscount Lisle in turn, and in 1544 captured Boulogne from the French. After the death of Henry VIII, he worked closely with Somerset, Edward VI's uncle, and was advanced to the earldom of Warwick. He fought alongside Somerset at the battle of Pinkie Cleugh against the Scots and crushed the Norfolk rebels in 1549 at Dussindale. From October 1549 he supplanted Somerset and for the rest of Edward's short reign held power as lord president of the council. In 1551 he was created duke of Northumberland, the title vacant as a consequence of Sir Thomas Percy's involvement in the Pilgrimage of Grace. But Northumberland's position was rendered precarious by the growing ill-health of the young king and in 1553 he turned to desperate measures to retain power. Edward issued letters patent setting aside the claims to succession of his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth and nominating Lady Jane Grey. Northumberland then arranged a marriage between his son Lord Guildford Dudley and Lady Jane and on Edward's death declared her queen. The coup failed miserably and Northumberland surrendered at Cambridge to Mary's supporters. He was executed in the Tower, where his father had been. But his support for the reformed religion was of critical importance in moving England from the caesaro-papism of Henry VIII's last days to a protestant settlement.

J. A. Cannon

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John Dudley Northumberland, duke of, 1502?–1553, English statesman. The son of Edmund Dudley, minister of Henry VII, John was restored to his inheritance in 1512 after his father's attainder and execution (1510). Rising by means of his military ability, he became Viscount Lisle, warden of the Scottish Marches (1542), and lord high admiral (1543). Named as one of the executors of Henry VIII's will, he helped Edward Seymour, later duke of Somerset, become protector of the young Edward VI, while he himself was created earl of Warwick and lord high chamberlain. Cooperative and politic, he dissembled his plans for power while distinguishing himself in the field; he took part (1547) in the victory over the Scots at Pinkie and suppressed (1549) the rebellion of Robert Kett. By never actually committing himself and by playing on both Catholic and Protestant sympathies, he finally formed a coalition against Somerset, deposing him in 1549 and having him executed in 1552. Of little religious conviction himself, he then posed as a firm Protestant to increase his power over Edward VI and ruthlessly advanced the Reformation for political ends. He made himself duke of Northumberland in 1551. In a desperate plan to perpetuate his power, he convinced the dying Edward that the latter's sister Mary should be excluded from the succession as a Catholic, and he browbeat the council into proclaiming Lady Jane Grey, his daughter-in-law, as queen when the monarch died (1553). Unpopular with the people, he was deserted by his army and forced to surrender to Queen Mary I. He was condemned for high treason and was executed.

See biography by B. L. Beer (1974); J. D. Mackie, The Earlier Tudors (1952); W. K. Jordan, Edward VI: The Threshold of Power (1970).

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Northumberland, John Dudley, Duke of (1502–53) Effectively ruler of England (1549–53). He was one of the councillors named by Henry VIII to govern during the minority of Edward VI. In 1553, he attempted to usurp the succession through his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, but was thwarted by popular support for the rightful queen, Mary I. He was subsequently executed for treason.