Thomas Wyatt (poet)

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Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503[1] – 24 September 1542[2]) was a 16th-century English lyrical poet credited with introducing the sonnet into English.[3] He was born at Allington Castle, near Maidstone in Kent – though his family was originally from Yorkshire. His mother was Anne Skinner and his father, Henry Wyatt, had been one of Henry VII's Privy Councillors, and remained a trusted adviser when Henry VIII came to the throne in 1509. In his turn, Thomas Wyatt followed his father to court after his education at St John's College, Cambridge. None of Wyatt's poems were published during his lifetime—the first book to feature his verse was printed a full fifteen years after his death.

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Education and diplomatic career

Wyatt was over six feet tall, reportedly both handsome and physically strong. Wyatt was not only a poet, but also an ambassador in the service of Henry VIII. He first entered Henry's service in 1516 as 'Sewer Extraordinary', and the same year he began studying at St John's College of the University of Cambridge.[4] He married Elizabeth Brooke (1503–1560), the sister of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, in 1521, and a year later she gave birth to a son, Thomas Wyatt, the younger, who led Wyatt's rebellion many years after his father's death. In 1524 Henry VIII assigned Wyatt to be an Ambassador at home and abroad, and some time soon after he separated from his wife on the grounds of adultery.

He accompanied Sir John Russell to Rome to help petition Pope Clement VII to annul the marriage of Henry VIII to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, an embassy whose goal was to make Henry free to marry Anne Boleyn. According to some, Wyatt was captured by the armies of Emperor Charles V when they captured Rome and imprisoned the Pope in 1527 but managed to escape and then made it back to England. In 1535 Wyatt was knighted.

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