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John Dudley Northumberland, duke of

Northumberland, John Dudley, duke of, 1502?–1553, English statesman. The son of Edmund Dudley, minister of Henry VII, John was restored to his inheritance in 1512 after his father's attainder and execution (1510). Rising by means of his military ability, he became Viscount Lisle, warden of the Scottish Marches (1542), and lord high admiral (1543). Named as one of the executors of Henry VIII's will, he helped Edward Seymour, later duke of Somerset, become protector of the young Edward VI, while he himself was created earl of Warwick and lord high chamberlain. Cooperative and politic, he dissembled his plans for power while distinguishing himself in the field; he took part (1547) in the victory over the Scots at Pinkie and suppressed (1549) the rebellion of Robert Kett. By never actually committing himself and by playing on both Catholic and Protestant sympathies, he finally formed a coalition against Somerset, deposing him in 1549 and having him executed in 1552. Of little religious conviction himself, he then posed as a firm Protestant to increase his power over Edward VI and ruthlessly advanced the Reformation for political ends. He made himself duke of Northumberland in 1551. In a desperate plan to perpetuate his power, he convinced the dying Edward that the latter's sister Mary should be excluded from the succession as a Catholic, and he browbeat the council into proclaiming Lady Jane Grey, his daughter-in-law, as queen when the monarch died (1553). Unpopular with the people, he was deserted by his army and forced to surrender to Queen Mary I. He was condemned for high treason and was executed.

See biography by B. L. Beer (1974); J. D. Mackie, The Earlier Tudors (1952); W. K. Jordan, Edward VI: The Threshold of Power (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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