Title page for ETD etd-11072013-100517

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Armbruster, Caroline Elizabeth
URN etd-11072013-100517
Title "A Woman For Many Imperfections Intolerable": Anne Stanhope, the Seymour Family, and the Tudor Court
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stater, Victor L. Committee Chair
Kooi, Christine J. Committee Member
Marchand, Suzanne L. Committee Member
  • patronage
  • politics
  • England
  • English Reformation
  • marriage
Date of Defense 2013-10-11
Availability unrestricted
This study analyzes the life and historical image of Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset. Anne lived throughout most of the Tudor period (1510-1587). Throughout her long life, she rose from a mere lady in waiting to a duchess and wife of the Lord Protector. When her first husband, Edward Seymour, fell from power and met his end on the executioner’s block in 1552, it was Anne’s actions that saved the Seymour family from disgrace. While England endured centuries of religious transformation and political turmoil, Anne not only survived but ensured that her family remained influential and close to the throne. Her long court career, beneficial marriages, personal relationships, and devotion to religious reform made Anne an important noblewoman in Tudor England. This study looks at her role as a lady in waiting at court, her relationships with her husbands and children, and her activities as a patroness of reformist literature.

The majority of historical scholarship has perpetuated a negative image of Anne Stanhope. Historians throughout the centuries have blamed Anne for her husband’s faults, particularly his decision to execute his brother, Thomas Seymour. This study will look closely at contemporary sources to show that this image is problematic. Once her image is restored, a more accurate account of Anne’s life and her role in Tudor politics, society, and religion can be made. Anne’s experience was unique in many respects, yet her life can be used to determine many universal characteristics among Tudor noblewomen. This work will use Anne as a framework for understanding the changing political and religious landscape of Tudor England.

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