Christian Hesketh, 21 July 1983
Although Dr Peck’s absorbing book centres on the career of an individual, Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, it is not intended as a straightforward biography. As its title indicates, the author’s aim is to study, in relation to one outstanding individual, what Dr Peck sees as the crucial fields of patronage and administrative reform. Northampton was born in 1540 as Henry Howard, but in tracing his descent Dr Peck confuses the second Duke, who destroyed the Scottish army at Flodden, with the third, who succeeded in marrying off two of his nieces, one after the other, to Henry VIII. Henry Howard’s own father was the resplendent Earl of Surrey, who was a poet as well as one of the ornaments of the Tudor Court. Into this privileged world Henry was born but by the time he was seven the Howards were no longer a family whom anyone in England had cause to envy. Surrey had lost his head. So had the two queens whose cause his father had promoted so assiduously.