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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Henry VIII, King of England (1491-1547)

The Suffolk Garter Book 1547?

RCIN 1047357

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The Order of the Garter, founded by King Edward III (1312-77) in 1348, is the senior British Order of chivalry. It was established as a fellowship of the leading men in the realm, who swore to uphold chivalric ideals. The Knights of the Garter were the ‘band of brothers’ who stood by the king, both on the battlefield and in more domestic affairs.

This copy of the Statutes, or rules, of the Order of the Garter (one of several in the Royal Library) belonged to Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk (1517-54), who was closely connected with Henry VIII’s court. His wife was the King's niece, Frances Brandon, and their daughter was Lady Jane Grey. Grey was was often at court during Henry VIII's reign and acted as chief mourner at Henry's funeral in 1547. His allegiance was rewarded when he received the Garter several months after Henry's death, under Edward VI. This manuscript would have been produced shortly after. Illustrated on this page is the shield of St George impaling the royal arms within the Garter, with the arms of Grey beneath.

In the swiftly changing Tudor court of the 1550s, friends of one monarch could soon be enemies of another. Grey was stripped of his Garter and executed for treason in 1554, after taking part in Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion against Mary I.