Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Lonely Duke of Surrey

There has only been on Duke of Surrey, and he came to such a sticky end that nobody seems to have wanted to follow him in the title. Thomas Holland was born son of the 2nd Earl of Kent in 1374. In 1397 he was summoned by King Richard II and given the task of arresting for treason his own uncle, a task he carried out with skill and efficiency. Richard rewarded Thomas by making him Duke of Surrey and bestowing him with rich lands and estates. However, Richard’s capricious arrests and executions were soon to prove too much for his subjects to put up with and he was overthrown by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV. The new king stripped Thomas of his title as Duke of Surrey and of his new estates, but allowed him to keep the lands inherited from his father. Thomas was outraged and began plotting a rebellion with similarly disgruntled men. The rebellion was called for 4 January 1400 at Kingston in Surrey. Henry was, however, too quick for the rebels and managed to send out messengers summoning an army while he defied the rebels from the walls of London. The rebellion broke up and the leaders scattered. Thomas Holland, one time Duke of Surrey, got as far as Cirencester before he was recognised by men loyal to Henry. He headed for the local abbey hoping to claim sanctuary, but was grabbed from behind, dragged to the town square and beheaded with an axe.


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