What Was Northampton Up To?
Simon Adams is intrigued by a new life of the Stuart noble
Northampton: Patronage and Policy at the Court of James I by Linda Levy Peck
x + 277 pp. (George Allen and Unwin, 1982)
Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton was one of the more enigmatic Jacobean courtiers. A younger brother of the Elizabethan Duke of Norfolk, he had been a partisan of Mary, Queen of Scots in his youth and then had carefully cultivated her son. In 1603 he was rewarded with a peerage, membership of the Privy Counci( and, later, appointments as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Lord Privy Seal. Following the death of the Earl of Salisbury in 1612 he became First Lord of the Treasury and the senior member of the Privy Council until his own death in 1614. A high-flying aristocratic reactionary, a more or less open Catholic and a reputed homosexual, Northampton has always been portrayed in Whig accounts of the reign of James I as the evil genius behind the more unsavoury aspects of its first decade.