Henry VIII,the Reign
7 – 14 August 1535
The stay at Berkeley Castle was the longest so far, but for entertainment Henry was without his fool, the court jester, Will Sommers.
Sommers had been banished from court for calling Anne de Boulogne ‘Ribaude’ and Princess Elizabeth a ‘bastard’. Sommers fled, in fear of his life, and was taken into the household of Sir Nicholas Carew. Perhaps Carew had put him up to charging mother and daughter with such an insult.
The following spring, the fool Will, had cause to jest when Henry ignored Anne’s counsel, snubbed Anne’s brother and granted membership of the Order of the Garter to Sir Nicholas Carew and not George de Boulogne.
Carew was no evangelist, he sympathised with Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary, he was one of those who recognised Anne de Boulogne’s haughtiness in asserting her right to the monarchy through her claim of descent from King Stephen. Notwithstanding his own religious upbringing Carew was prepared to push the Roman creed to one side and throw his lot in with the rising Seymour faction, and oust the present queen. The eagle-eyed Will Sommer, a royal confidante, with his ear firmly to the ground, helped him in his cause.
A picture paints a thousand words and thus the pen will rest, envious of this linked description.
Berkeley Castle had been a crown property since 1492, when William de Berkeley, 1st Marquess of Berkeley disinherited his brother Maurice.
Maurice had married Isabel Meade, who William considered to be below the Berkeley’s social status.
William the Waste-All, as he became known, settled the castle, lands and lordships including the Barony of Berkeley, on King Henry VII and his male heirs, the last of which was Edward VI who died in 1553.
At the time of the 1535 royal progress Thomas Cromwell was joint constable of the castle with his Welsh born nephew (his sister Katherine’s son) Richard Williams. Williams was Oliver Cromwell’s great grandfather and for several generations the family signed legal documents as 'Williams alias Cromwell.'
The Berkeleys of Berkeley Castle were not the original Berkeleys. The first Berkeleys were Lords of Dursley, and as we have seen, also of Leonard Stanley.
During the anarchy, this line of Berkeley took the side of King Stephen and his son Eustace de Boulogne. Henry II took exception to that and so dispossessed them of their lands and granted the estates to his own supporters in the conflict, the wealthy Fitzharding family of Bristol.
The Berkeleys, however defied the move and held on to the properties by force.
In a compromise, the Berkeleys of Dursley were permitted to keep Dursley, Dodington and Leonard Stanley on condition that they gave up the wealthiest barony, Berkeley, to the Fitzhardings, which they did, and two intermarriages of the families were negotiated, probably by Henry.
Over the following years the Fitzharding de Berkeley line dropped the use of the Fitzharding name, but it is that line of descent that survives there today.
The Berkeley Dursley line continued down ‘from father to son in regular succession until the year 1382, when the last son of the line died without children.’
In 1535 the former holdings of the Berkeleys of Dursley had come down by marriage to the Wykes family, and it is strange coincidence, as we have seen at Leonard Stanley, that was the maiden name of Thomas Cromwell’s wife Elizabeth.