Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Anne Howard and Two English Martyrs

Anne Dacre, one of three daughters born to Thomas Dacre, 4th Baron Dacre and his second wife, Elizabeth Leyburne, was born on March 21, 1557, while Mary I was Queen of England. When Baron Dacre died in 1566, his wife married Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Howard arranged marriages between Dacres' daughters and his sons by his first two wives, Mary FitzAlan (Philip Howard) and Margaret Audley (Thomas and William).

Anne was married to Philip Howard, who inherited his grandfather's FitaAlan title as Earl of Arundel in 1580, his father having been attainted and executed in 1572. Philip and Anne were married in 1571 when they were both about 14 years old; he graduated from St. John's at Cambridge in 1574 and went to Elizabeth I's Court a couple of years later. He neglected Anne and she converted or reverted to Catholicism in 1582/83 and was soon in trouble for recusancy, held under house arrest by Sir Thomas Shirley and bore her first child, a daughter named Elizabeth, in 1583.

She was questioned by Sir Francis Walsingham's agents on April 9, 1584 and denied that she had been converted to Catholicism by any Jesuit or other priest, affirmed that she had not attended Church of England services for two and a half years, and protested that she had never said or supported any statement against Elizabeth or her government. She was released from house arrest, but then Father William Weston received her husband Philip into the Catholic Church in September of 1584. By April of 1585, they had seen each other for the last time. As she was pregnant, Philip prepared to leave England and await her on the Continent, after she was safely delivered on their second child. Since he was captured before leaving port, Philip was imprisoned in the Tower of London and held there at Elizabeth I's pleasure.

In the meantime, Anne delivered of a son (Thomas) in 1586, while Philip languished in the Tower, finally charged with treason during the Spanish Armada crisis, and condemned to death--not knowing when the sentence would be carried out at Elizabeth's orders. He finally died in the Tower on October 19, 1595. He was buried in St. Peter ad Vincula, but Anne and Thomas were finally able to obtain his body to bury it in the FitzAlan Chapel in Arundel Castle during the reign of James I.

Also while her husband was in the Tower, Anne Howard began to help Father Robert Southwell, SJ, especially with the printing of his prose and some of his poetry. He wrote An Epistle of Comfort for Philip Howard, urging him to remain true to the Catholic faith. The Poetry Foundation website on St. Robert Southwell offers this summary of the epistle:

Southwell begins modestly and generally, pointing out that suffering is a sign that his readers are out of the devil’s power, loved by God, and imitators of Christ. Suffering, he argues, is inseparable from human life and in most cases is no more than the sufferer deserves. Then, at midpoint, he turns to the peculiar situation of the recusants, beginning with the argument that there is comfort in suffering for the Catholic faith. He then presents a series of all-too-real possibilities, starting with general persecution and ascending through imprisonment and violent death to martyrdom itself. The concluding chapters deal with the unhappiness of the lapsed, the impossibility of martyrdom for the heretic, the glory that awaits the martyr, and, lastly, a warning to the persecutors. The content and the style are much influenced by the patristic authors whom Southwell quotes so deftly; the tone is measured, unyielding, even triumphant. In Southwell’s mind, the Catholics’ suffering is a direct consequence of the Protestant heresy, and that in turn is a manifestation of the perennial evil of earthly life. To bear its effects is an honor: “Let our adversaries therefore load us with the infamous titles of traitors, and rebels,” he writes,
as the Arians did in the persecution of the Vandals, and as the Ethnics were wont to call Christians sarmentitios, and semasios, because they were tied to halfpenny stakes, and burnt with shrubs: so let them draw us upon hurdles, hang us, unbowel us alive, mangle us, boil us, and set our quarters upon their gates, to be meat for the birds of the air, as they use to handle rebels: we will answer them as the Christians of former persecutions have done. Hic est habitus victoriae nostrae, hec palmata vestis, tali curru triumphamus, merito itaque victis non placemus. Such is the manner of our victory, such our conquerous garment, in such chariots do we triumph. What marvel therefore if our vanquished enemies mislike us?
Southwell also wrote Triumphs Over Death to console Philip Howard and his family when his half-sister Margaret Howard died in 1591 and  A Short Rule of Good Life for Anne Howard printed in 1587. He would suffer imprisonment and torture, executed on February 21, 1595.

After her husband's death, Anne Howard determined not to marry again. Her financial situation improved when Elizabeth I died and James I succeeded because he restored her jointure lands, those she received as her own when she married. She went to Court and met Anne of Denmark. Anne Howard died on April 19, 1630 when she was 83 years old.

Nancy Pollard Brown, who edited and wrote about the works of St. Robert Southwell, wrote the basic biography we have of Anne Howard.

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