Signet Warrant of Henry VIII to the Commissioners of Warwickshire

The 1513 document stamped with the signature of Henry VIII at the top.
Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR2981/7/1/5/1

This warrant1 is addressed to Sir Robert Throgmorton, knight, Symon Digby, John Spenser, Robert Fulwood and John Erden requesting them to take steps to keep the peace, put down riots and take note of arms and serviceable men but without holding musters, and notify the queen, who is protectrix of the realm while the King is engaged in war. You can see a transcription by clicking on the attached document.

At the head of the warrant, the King’s signature is impressed by means of an inked stamp, or the Signet warrant. This was controlled by the King’s Secretary, the precursor to our modern day Secretary of State role.

The warrant is dated at Canterbury 22 June, and the year is almost certainly 1513. Certainly at this date, Sir Robert was still alive (his death occurred in 1518) and in that year, Henry did indeed leave England to wage war against France, and his consort Katherine of Aragon was left in charge of the realm.

Henry VIII’s relationship with Katherine of Aragon in 1513

During the period June-October 1513, Katherine was governor of the realm and captain-general. Her powers allowed her to raise troops and make appointments with the aid of a small council headed by Archbishop Warham.

This apparent act of faith by Henry in his Queen gains even greater significance in the light of her father Ferdinand of Aragon’s perceived trickery of Henry in the preceding year: instead of helping the English to reconquer Guyenne as arranged, he used the Spanish force to conquer Navarre for himself and failed to support the English. She is believed to have helped smooth over recriminations then (and in fact on later occasions), but even greater challenges awaited her in late summer of 1513 when James IV of Scotland invaded England.

At the battle of Flodden, the Scots were defeated by the English under the leadership of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, but before news of their victory reached the Queen and her councillors, she was already heading a reserve army northwards. Her courage and decisiveness seemed indubitable.

A period of absence

During this period of absence, Katherine both wrote to Henry and to Henry’s chief advisor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and in the letters to the latter, she expressed anxiety about the King’s safety and welfare. In turn, Henry appeared eager to be re-united with her on his return from his war campaigns.

As events were to show with seismic force, their happiness was not to last. It has been suggested that even in this period she suffered one of her many miscarriages.

1 Warwickshire County Record Office reference CR2981/7/1/5/1

This article was Document of the Month for the Warwickshire County Record Office in October 2010. Further articles can be found on their website.

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