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Henry Howard the Poet Earl of SurreyA Life$
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W. A. Sessions

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198186250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186250.001.0001

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The Fathers: Two Battles

The Fathers: Two Battles

(p.10) (p.11) 1 The Fathers: Two Battles
Henry Howard the Poet Earl of Surrey

W. A. Sessions

Oxford University Press

Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, expressed bitterness and outburst around the spring of 1540 in the tense months before the fall of Thomas Cromwell. The father of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, had found an Exchequer clerk's pious suggestions insolent and snapped at him: ‘I have never read Scripture nor ever will read it’. An older culture had vanished before his eyes. The abstract religion of the Word, with its origins in a humanism and ‘new learning’ he would never understand, had replaced the origin of God in complex liturgy, devotions, the communal experiences of saints and festivals, and the social principles that came from these, including a Dantesque devotion to system and master. For him, these phenomena had formed ‘Merry England’. The irony was that in 1540 his son Henry, Earl of Surrey, was using the very instruments of the despised humanism to express the father's sense, however momentary, of total loss.

Keywords:   Henry Howard, Thomas Howard, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Surrey, Excheque, humanism, God, Merry England, religion

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