Northumberland, John Dudley, 1st duke of

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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

Northumberland, John Dudley, Duke of

views updated May 29 2018

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.

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John Dudley duke of Northumberland

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