Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger was a rebel leader during the reign of Mary I of England; his rising is traditionally called "Wyatt's Rebellion". He was born in 1521 and died on 11 April 1554. He was also the son of the British poet and Ambassador Sir Thomas Wyatt. Thomas Wyatt the Younger was raised Catholic. At the young age of sixteen, Thomas Wyatt the Younger was married. Wyatt the Younger had a child named Francis Wyatt.
In 1554, stemming from experiences with the Spanish Inquisition while accompanying his father, Wyatt developed an aversion to the Spanish government. This aversion greatly affected Wyatt when he learned of Queen Mary’s decision to marry Philip of Spain. Thomas Wyatt viewed this decision as an injustice to the nation. According to Wyatt he never planned on protesting the Queen’s marriage until he was approached by the Earl of Devonshire, who wished to prevent the Queen’s plan. The plan was to have a series of uprisings in the South, South-West, Welsh Marches and Midlands, and then a march on London to overthrow the government, block the Spanish marriage, dethrone Mary and replace her with Elizabeth, who would marry The Duke of Devonshire.
Unfortunately for Wyatt, other rebel leaders like the Duke of Suffolk (Lady Jane Grey’s father) and the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, the whole plan went pear-shaped and failed. Courtenay blabbed everything.
When the rebels learned that Mary knew of their plans, they did not give up, instead they decided to spring into action. Wyatt did manage to raise a considerable “army” in Kent and Starkey says that “if Wyatt had pressed forward immediately resistance in London would probably have collapsed. But he delayed, giving Mary a chance to regain the initiative.” Mary took her opportunity and rallied her troops. On the 1st February 1554, Mary gave a speech to the City government in the Guildhall, reminding them that she was England’s queen, that she was “wedded to the realm and the laws”, that she was the true heir to the throne, her father’s daughter, and that she loved her people. This rousing speech and half lies worked their magic and won over the people.
When Wyatt arrived at Southwark on the 3rd of February, he found it barricaded and guarded. Next, a few days later, he tried entering the City from Kingston and was successful. As they entered the City, the rebels split and although they were now at a disadvantage, having split into groups, a group of them still managed to scare off the Queen’s guards near the Holbein Gate. However, by the time Wyatt and his troops reached Ludgate, Mary’s force had gathered their wits and closed the gates. Mary’s troops far outnumbered the rebels and, with his men surrendering around him and no hope of winning, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger surrendered and was captured. Wyatt was taken to the Tower of London.
The End (1)
Not only did Wyatt’s Rebellion lead to his execution, it sealed the fate of Lady Jane Grey who had been kept in the Tower since Mary had seized the throne from her in July 1553. On the 12th February 1554, Lady Jane Grey and her husband Guildford Dudley were executed, a tragic end to Lady Jane’s short life and a frightening event for Elizabeth who knew she would be implicated in Wyatt’s Rebellion and who had a very shaky relationship with her half-sister, Mary. Sir Thomas Wyatt was tried at Westminster Hall on the 15th March. He denied plotting the Queen’s death and would only admit to sending Elizabeth a letter to which she replied “that she did thank him much for his good will, and she would do as she should see cause.” He did not implicate her in any other way.
The End (2)
Wyatt was found guilty and sentenced to death but his execution was delayed for a time – it is thought that the Queen’s advisers hoped that Wyatt would still implicate Elizabeth in an attempt to escape execution. On the 16th March, Mary’s advisers went to see Elizabeth to charge her with involvement in Wyatt’s Rebellion and to tell her that she would be taken to the Tower the next day. On the 11th April 1554, Sir Thomas Wyatt was led out to the scaffold. Just over a month later, on the 19th May (the anniversary of her mother’s execution), Elizabeth was released from the Tower.