Vokes, Susan Elisabeth
Doctoral Thesis, Department of History, The University of Hull, September (1988)
Why another thesis on the third duke of Norfolk, and why, in particular, a partial one? It is true that two competent studies of the duke have been made in relatively recent times; the first an M.A. thesis submitted in the University of Nottingham in 1961 by F.R. Grace, and the second, a Ph.D. in the University of Florida, submitted in 1978 by D. Head. Both of these suffer from one besetting problem. Because Norfolk lived to the age of eighty years, and from the age of thirty-eight occupied a very important position in the Tudor state, both were forced to deal almost exclusively with the massive bulk of material which survives concerning his actions in the public domain. The result is that we learned more about Norfolk the politician, but almost nothing new about Norfolk the man. Indeed, I would go further. The pressure to negotiate large quantities of material in the public records at speed forced both researchers to accept without question assumptions about the motivations of the duke which had been current for a very long time, and which a more detailed study of the early part of his life, and attention to private records might have modified.My approach to this task has been to focus attention on the least studied, early part of his life, in an effort to re-connect Norfolk with his family’s past, the ideals which underpinned his own upbringing and training, and his early experience, which together shaped his outlook and his goals in life. I have ignored the artificial and often unhelpful dividing line drawn by historians between the late medieval and early modern periods, and availed myself of the considerable body of excellent modern scholarship on the nobility in the fifteenth and first half of the sixteenth centuries to examine Norfolk. In his role as heir to a great landed estate, as well as in his other roles as courtier, warrior and councillor.