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Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk
Agnes Howard nee Tilney, Duchess of Norfolk as played by Barbara Brennan (Season 3)
| born c. 1477 - died 1545 |
Character's backstory: Agnes was born into the English gentry. Her mother was from the powerful Lincolnshire family - the Talboys. Her brother, Philip, was part of the household of Thomas Howard, then Earl of Surrey (later 2nd Duke of Norfolk) who was then married to her cousin, Elizabeth Tilney. After the death of her cousin, Agnes and Thomas were wed in 1497. Through this marriage Agnes became Anne Boleyn's and Katherine Howard's step-grandmother. She would also become step great-grandmother to Princess Elizabeth Tudor. She was one of the highest ranking and richest women outside the Royal family.
Agnes was part of court life while her husband tended to his affairs as a member of the Privy Council. Agnes became a leading lady in the household of Queen Katherine of Aragon after the King's sister, Princess Mary [Princess Margaret Tudor].
In 1527, the King began to look for ways to get an annulment of his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon, on the grounds of his failure to produce a male heir. Although initially disapproving of the plan, Agnes, now three years widowed, found strength in the fact that the new queen Anne Boleyn was a family relative. In 1529, she emerged to give evidence that Katherine of Aragon had been Prince Arthur’s wife. Agnes bore the train wearing a robe of scarlet with a coronet of gold on her cap at Anne's coronation, and Sir Thomas, Lord Borough, the Queen's Chamberlain, supported the train in the middle. The Dowager Duchess also held Anne's infant daughter with the king, Princess Elizabeth, at her baptism.
Her main residences were at Horsham in Sussex and Lambeth where she kept a great household. There were many unmarried women of noble birth in her household and they acted as her waiting women, they were also, supposedly, to complete their education- with a music master and clerks and secretaries to teach reading and writing. Katherine Howard found herself in this rather lax household- lax because Agnes was often at court and when not was a rather ineffectual disciplinarian.
Agnes actually caught Katherine and music teacher Mannox in a somewhat compromising situation and "gave Katherine two or three blows"and declared that Katherine and Mannox should never be alone together. Keys to the dormitories were stolen and midnight feasting was being shared in the ladies dormitory with the gentlemen of the household. It was a jealous Mannox who informed Agnes of these shenanigans by letter but it would seem that none of these goings-on were taken very seriously. Once Katherine caught the King's eye, it was Agnes who gave her new, fashionable clothes and advised her how to handle Henry. It was she who convinced Katherine to take Dereham into her household some say to possibly keep him quiet about his affair with her.
Agnes was arrested and taken to the Tower of London, along with many other Howard family members, as well as the queen's household. The Tower of London was said to be full with prisoners, and that some had to be lodged in the royal apartments. On 22nd December she was tried for "misprision of treason", for concealing and abetting Katherine Howard's offences. She was sentenced to imprisonment at the King's pleasure and forfeiture of goods.Eventually, the Dowager Duchess was released in 1543, but her stepson Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk was never returned to favour.
Gentility: Descended from Tailboys and Tilney families, married into the ducal Howard family
Position: Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, member of Katherine of Aragon's household
Endearing trait(s): Continued to care for her large family of children and stepchildren after her husband died during the Battle of Flodden Field. She was also guardian of the younger children of her stepson, Edmund Howard, after he died in debt.
Annoying trait(s): tight-fisted with money and lax with regards to the discipline of the girls in her care.
Scandals: Historically she's been blamed for the corruption and ultimately the execution of Katherine Howard, her step-granddaughter, due to her lack of attentiveness to Katherine's flirtations with men of her household. Despite knowledge of Katherine's scandalous past, Agnes and her stepson, the Duke of Norfolk, lobbied King Henry VIII to take Katherine as his fifth wife. Some historians claim Agnes tried to destroy any evidence of Katherine's past and even promoted a former lover, Francis Dereham, as the queen's secretary in an effort to cover up the scandal.
Life was too short and too complex for her to be burdened with the morals of her household, and all she asked was that lusty youth conform to outward appearances. ~ Lacey Baldwin Smith
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Father: Hugh Tilney Esq of Lincolnshire
Mother: Eleanor Talboys
Brother: Sir Philip Tilney
Step-father: Thomas Strangeways
Cousin: Elizabeth Tilney, Duchess of Norfolk (Grandmother of Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard & grand-aunt of Jane Seymour)
Husband: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1499 - 1513) (who was previously married to Agnes' cousin Elizabeth Tilney)
Lady Katherine, Countess of Bridgewater; Lady Elizabeth Howard, Countess of Sussex; Lady Anne Howard, Countess of Oxford; Sir William Howard, 1st Baron Effingham; Lord Thomas Howard, Viscount Binden; Lady Dorothy Howard, Countess of Derby; Agnes Howard; George Howard.
Stepson: Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
Stepson: Lord Edmund Howard (Father of Katherine Howard)
Stepdaughter: Lady Elizabeth Howard (mother of Anne, Mary, and George Boleyn)
Step-granddaughters: Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard
Step-great-granddaughter: Lady Elizabeth Tudor (later Queen Elizabeth I)
Queen Katherine of Aragon (Agnes was first lady of the household after Princess Mary, Queen of France [Princess Margaret Tudor])
Princess Mary, Queen of France [Princess Margaret Tudor]
Princess Mary Tudor (was godmother to her)
King Henry VIII
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
Princess Elizabeth Tudor (held Elizabeth at her baptizm)
Sir Francis Bryan
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
Lord Edmund Howard
Lady Elizabeth Howard
King Henry VIII
UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES
DEFINING EPISODES | MEMORABLE SCENES
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(not Barbara Brennan - actress unknown)
Agnes Tilney, Duchess of Norfolk an engraving done long after her death
Latest page update: made by MsSquirrly
, Mar 4 2011, 4:17 AM EST
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Edited by MsSquirrly
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Keyword tags: anne boleyn charles brandon gabrielle anwar henry viii jeremy northam jonathan rhys meyers margaret tudor natalie dormer sam neill showtime the tudors the tudors tudors characters
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