He was the son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. He was called Earl of Surrey before his succession to his father's dukedom in 1514. His eldest son was the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Norfolk first married Anne, daughter of King Edward IV of England. Following her death in 1512, he married a daughter of the Duke of Buckingham. Appointed Lord High Admiral in 1513, Howard was one of the most powerful nobles in the kingdom, especially after his niece, Anne Boleyn, became queen. Putting his own security before family loyalties, he presided over her trial in 1536, but the experience did not teach him a lesson, and another of his nieces, Catherine Howard, went the same way in 1542. This was the point at which he fell out of favor with King Henry VIII. Following the accession of Henry's son, Edward VI of England, Howard was imprisoned on suspicion of treason, but released by Mary I, the Howards being an important Catholic family. The Duke showed his gratitude by leading the forces sent to put down the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt.
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