The Shadow of the White Rose: Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, 1526-1556

The Shadow of the White Rose: Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, 1526-1556

The Shadow of the White Rose: Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, 1526-1556

The Shadow of the White Rose: Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, 1526-1556

Excerpt

Edward Courtenay, the Earl of Devon, walked a fine line that separated treason and loyalty to the crown, just as several of his ancestors had done.

It became fairly clear to me, during this five-year project of reviewing the surviving correspondence to and from Courtenay and other documentation from the period, that what survives for the most part was allowed to survive. After Courtenay’s death, a report from the Council of Ten in Venice indicated that a large cache of his writings existed. The Council of Ten in Venice hired a carpenter to open the sealed box containing Courtenay’s literary remains and swore him to secrecy. After they reviewed the contents, they removed a certain quantity, replaced the remainder the way they were first discovered, and resealed the box. Many letters were never seen again.

It is safe to speculate that the letters the Council removed contained references to such important political or personal information that someone was willing to commit a crime to prevent their contents from ever being read. Certainly, the French would have had the greatest interest in those letters.

1. Mentioned in several letters from The Calendar of State Papers and Manuscripts relating to English Affairs, Venice Vol. VI 1556–1557 edited by Rawdon Brown.

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