Edmund Dudley - Encyclopedia

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EDMUND DUDLEY (c. 1462-1510), minister of Henry VII. of England, was a son of John Dudley of Atherington, Sussex, and a member of the great baronial family of Sutton or Dudley. After studying at Oxford and at Gray's Inn, Dudley came under the notice of Henry VII., and is said to have been made a privy councillor at the early age of twenty-three. In 1492 he helped to negotiate the treaty of Etaples with France, and soon became prominent in assisting the king to check the lawlessness of the barons, and at the same time to replenish his own exchequer. He and his colleague Sir Richard Empson are called fiscales judices by Polydore Vergil, and owing to their extortions they became very unpopular. Dudley, who was speaker of the House of Commons in 1504, in addition to aiding Henry, amassed a great amount of wealth for himself, and possessed large estates in Sussex, Dorset and Lincolnshire. When Henry VII. died in April 1509, he was thrown into prison by order of Henry VIII. and charged with the crime of constructive treason, being found guilty and attainted. After having made a futile attempt to escape from prison, he was executed on the 17th or 18th of August 15ro. Dudley's nominal crime was that during the last illness of Henry VII. he had ordered his friends to assemble in arms in case the king died, but the real reason for his death was doubtless the unpopularity caused by his avarice. During his imprisonment he sought to gain the favour of Henry VIII. by writing a treatise in support of absolute monarchy called The Tree of Commonwealth. This never reached the king's hands, and was not published until 1859, when it was printed privately in Manchester. Dudley's first wife was Anne, widow of Roger Corbet of Morton, Shropshire, by whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married William, 6th Lord Stourton. By his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Grey, Viscount Lisle, he had three sons: John, afterwards duke of Northumberland; Andrew (d. 1559), who was made a knight and held various important posts during the reign of Edward VI.; and Jasper.

See Francis Bacon, History of Henry VII., edited by J. R. Lumby (Cambridge, 1881); and J. S. Brewer, The Reign of Henry edited by J. Gairdner (London, 1884).

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