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Duke of Norfolk

The Duke of Norfolk is the Premier Duke in the peerage of England, and also, as Earl of Arundel, the Premier Earl. The Duke of Norfolk is, moreover, the Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England. The seat of the Duke of Norfolk is Arundel Castle in Sussex, although the title refers to the county of Norfolk. The current Duke of Norfolk is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk. The dukes have historically been Roman Catholic, a state of affairs known as recusancy in England.

All past and present dukes have been descended from Edward I; see Dukes of Norfolk family tree.


Before the Dukes of Norfolk, there were the Bigod Earls of Norfolk, starting with Roger Bigod from Normandy (died 1107). Their male line ended with Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk, who died without an heir in 1307, so their titles and estates reverted to the crown. Edward II then created his brother Thomas of Brotherton earl in 1312. It passed to Thomas's daughter Margaret, and then to her grandson Thomas Mowbray.

When King Richard II created Thomas Mowbray duke in 1397, he conferred upon him the estates and titles (including Earl Marshal) that had belonged to the earls. His elderly grandmother Margaret was still alive, and so at the same time she was created Duchess of Norfolk for life.

Between 1401 and 1476, the Mowbray family held the title and estates of the Duke of Norfolk. John Mowbray, the 4th duke, died without male issue in 1476, his only surviving child being the 3-year-old Anne Mowbray. At the age 3, Anne was arranged to marry Richard, Duke of York, the 4-year-old son of King Edward IV of England. She remained Richard's wife until she died at the age of 8.

In accordance with the marriage arrangements, Richard inherited the lands and wealth of the Mowbray family. He was also made Duke of Norfolk. However, upon the death of Edward IV, controversy over the legitimacy arose, as evidence of an earlier marriage on the part of Edward IV emerged. Soon after their father's death Richard, and his brother Edward, were declared illegitimate. Richard was sent to the Tower of London by the new king, Richard III, in mid-1483, thus ending his claim to both York and Norfolk.

For his support of Richard III's claim to the throne, John Howard, the son of Thomas Mowbray's elder daughter Margaret, was created 1st Duke of Norfolk in 1483, in the title's third creation. From this point to the present, the title has remained in the hands of the descendants of John Howard.

The current Duke of Norfolk is Edward Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk, who succeeded his father, Miles Stapleton-Fitzalan-Howard, 17th Duke of Norfolk, in 2002.

Duties and other titles

In addition to the title of Duke of Norfolk, the Dukes of Norfolk also hold the hereditary position of Earl Marshal, which has the duty of organizing state occasions such as the state opening of parliament. For the last five centuries, save some periods when it was under attainder, both the Dukedom and the Earl-Marshalship have been in the hands of the Howard family. According to The House of Lords Act 1999, due to his duties as Earl Marshal, Norfolk is one of only two hereditary peers automatically admitted to the House of Lords, without being elected by the general body of hereditary peers (the other being the Lord Great Chamberlain).

Additionally, the Duke of Norfolk participates in the ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament. He is among the four individuals who precede the monarch, and one of the two of these who walks always facing the sovereign (thus backwards).

As the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk is head of the College of Arms, through which he regulates all matters connected with armorial bearings and standards, in addition to controlling the arrangements for state functions.

He is one of three claimants to the title Chief Butler of England.

The Duke of Norfolk currently holds the following subsidiary titles:

All titles are in the Peerage of England, save for the Barony of Howard of Glossop which is in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. All descend to heirs male except the Barony of Beaumont, which can pass in the female line. The style Earl of Arundel is used as a courtesy title by the Duke's eldest son, the present one of which is Henry Fitzalan-Howard, Earl of Arundel. The style Lord Maltravers is used as a courtesy title by the eldest son of the Duke's eldest son (the Duke's grandson).

Coat of arms

The coat of arms of the Duke of Norfolk consist of four different elements: the arms (or shield), the crest(s), the supporters, the motto, and the batons of the Earl Marshal. Each will be addressed in turn:

  • The Arms: Quarterly 1st Gules on a Bend between six Cross-crosslets fitchy Argent an Escutcheon Or charged with a Demi-lion rampant pierced through the mouth by an arrow within a Double Tressure flory counterflory of the first (Howard); 2nd Gules three Lions passant gardant in pale Or, Armed and Langued Azure, in chief a Label of three points Argent (Thomas of Brotherton); 3rd Checky Or and Azure (Warenne); 4th Gules a Lion rampant Or, Armed and Langued Azure (Fitzalan).
  • The Crests: 1st On a Chapeau Gules turned up Ermine a Lion statant gardant with tail extended Or gorged with a Ducal Coronet Argent (Thomas of Brotherton); 2nd Issuant from a Ducal Coronet Or a pair of Wings Gules each charged with a Bend between six Cross-crosslets fitchy Argent (Howard); 3rd On a Mount Vert a Horse passant Argent holding in the mouth a Slip of Oak fructed proper (Fitzalan).
  • The Supporters: Dexter a Lion sinister a Horse both Argent the latter holding in his mouth a Slip of Oak Vert fructed proper.
  • The Motto: Sola Virtus Invicta (Virtue alone is unconquered).
  • The Batons: Placed behind the shield two gold Batons in Saltire enamelled at the end Sable (black), which represent the Duke of Norfolk's office as Earl Marshal and Hereditary Marshal of England.

Often, the coat of arms of the Duke of Norfolk appears with the garter of the Order of the Garter surrounding the shield, as seen in the arms of Miles Stapleton-Fitzalan-Howard, 17th Duke of Norfolk. However, this is by no means hereditary. His Grace, the 17th Duke of Norfolk did not become a Knight of the Garter until 22 April 1983. The current Duke of Norfolk, His Grace Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, 18th Duke of Norfolk, has not (yet) been awarded the Order of the Garter. Thus, the Order of the Garter, or any order of knighthood for that matter, is not necessarily a component of the coat of arms of the Duke of Norfolk.

The shield on the bend in the first quarter of the arms (shown to the right) was granted as an Augmentation of Honour by Henry VIII to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Flodden Field. It is a modification of the Royal coat of arms of Scotland. Instead of its normal rampant position, the lion is shown with an arrow through its mouth.


The main residences commonly associated with the Dukes of Norfolk are: Framlingham Castle, Bungay Castle, as well as Clun Castle in Shropshire, which are now largely ruins; Carlton Towers and most notably Arundel Castle.

Framlingham Castle was originally a part of the properties of the Earls of Norfolk, but when the title fell from use, the castle was administered by the crown. In 1397, it was given to Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, by King Richard II. And when the Mowbray line became extinct, it passed eventually to the Howard family. Major repairs to this castle were carried out in 1485 by John Howard. The castle would remain in the Howard family, and thus the Dukes of Norfolk, for a while, but would eventually pass from their possession. In 1553, for example, Framlingham was given to Mary Tudor, sister of King Edward VI.

Bungay Castle was also originally apart of the properties of the Earls of Norfolk. In 1483, it passed into the possession of the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk, and the family continued to own it, apart from brief periods, until the late 20th century. However, the castle has been in a state of decay for quite some time. And for this reason, the 17th Duke of Norfolk, in 1987 presented the castle to the town, which had already begun restoration attempts on their own, with an endowment towards its preservation. It is now owned and administered by the Castle Trust.

Carlton Towers is in Carlton (near Goole), Yorkshire, England. It is a Victorian gothic country house designed by Edward Welby Pugin. It is the Yorkshire home of the Duke of Norfolk. Though the Duke of Norfolk's family still live in part of the house, it is now largely used for wedding receptions and similar events.

The principal seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for over 850 years is Arundel Castle. Built in the 11th Century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, the castle was seized by the crown in 1102. King Henry II, who added on to the castle, in 1155 confirmed William d'Aubigny as Earl of Arundel, with the honour and the castle of Arundel. Arundel Castle is still to this day the home of The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their children. Its Fitzalan Chapel, founded in 1390 by the 4th Earl of Arundel, is still the burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk.

Glossop as an occasional residence is situated in the High Peak District of Derbyshire. As the family became closely connected with Sheffield, The Farm in Glossop became increasingly used, particularly when Henry Howard lived there in the 1760's; when the fourteenth Duke, enlarged The Farm as an occasional residence; and during the time of the fifteenth Duke, Henry Granville Fitzalan-Howard, who had interest in the activities of the City.

List of the Dukes of Norfolk

The Duchy of Norfolk has gone through three creations: in 1397, when it was the possession of the Mowbray family; in 1477 when it was a duchy of the Duke of York; and in 1483, when it came into possession of the Howard family. The following are the men who have held the title of Duke of Norfolk:

Dukes of Norfolk, first Creation (1397)

Dukes of Norfolk, second Creation (1481)

Dukes of Norfolk, third Creation (1483)

*Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel (1557–1595)
*Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel (1585–1646)
*Henry Howard, 22nd Earl of Arundel (1608–1652)

Knights of the Garter

Many of the Dukes of Norfolk have also been knights of the Order of the Garter. The following list is of those Dukes of Norfolk, along with their year of investiture, that were also Knights of the Order of the Garter across all creations of the title.

See also

Further reading

  • Robinson, John Martin. The Dukes of Norfolk: A Quincentennial History. Oxford University Press, 1982.

External links


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