Thomas FitzAlan, 12th Earl of Arundel; 10th Earl of Surrey

Born: October 13, 1381

Died: October 13, 1415

Harfleur, Normandy, France (Age 34)

Surrey in History

Thomas Fitzalan was the heir of Richard Fitzalan, one of the senior member of the Lords Appellant that had humiliated King Richard II and executed or exiled a number of his favorites at court. In 1397, when Thomas was still only sixteen, the king decided to take his revenge on his enemies, and the elder Fitzalan was executed. His possessions were dispersed amongst the king's favorites, and Thomas was put under the care of John Holland, Duke of Exeter, who treated him very poorly. For this reason, Thomas escaped and fled to France to join his uncle Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been exiled by King Richard. In Paris, they joined forces with Henry Bolingbroke, another man who had been unjustly exiled by the king, and the men soon embarked to England at a time they knew Richard would be away in Ireland. Bolingbroke was furious at the fact that the king had seized the inheritance of his recently deceased father, John of Gaunt, and returned to retrieve what was rightfully his. It soon became apparent though, that Bolingbroke meant to take more than just the Dukedom of Lancaster (his father's principle title) and soon deposed Richard II and had himself crowned as Henry IV.

Under Henry IV, the Fitzalan family returned to a place of power and influence. Thomas's uncle was restored as Archbishop of Canterbury and was one of the new king's most trusted advisers, while Thomas himself was restored to his father's inheritance (he was created Earl of Arundel and Surrey as his father had been) and became a Knight of the Garter soon after he played a part in subduing the Earls Rebellion of 1400 (an attempt to murder Henry IV and his sons and put Richard back on the throne). Throughout Henry IV's reign the new earl was employed primarily in Wales, where he formed a close relationship with Prince Hal (Henry IV's eldest son and heir to the throne). The Welsh rebellion, under the leadership of Owen Glendower, personally affected Surrey, as many of his lands on the Welsh border were ravaged by the rebels. In 1405, he played a part in the execution sentencing of Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, who had rebelled against the king, greatly damaging his relationship with his uncle, a fellow Archbishop.

Surrey remained close with Prince Hal even as the Welsh rebellion was winding down, and it was no surprise that, when the prince and king were at odds during the king's last sickly years, Surrey temporarily fell out of favor. In 1410, the feud between king and prince became so intense that Hal's entire faction was dismissed from court. By the time of Henry IV's death in 1413, however, he and the prince had reconciled their differences, and Hal was crowned as King Henry V. Surrey was quickly returned to royal favor and assigned several important positions. Although Surrey engaged in a heated quarrel with John Talbot, in which the king had to interfere, he remained a loyal subject for the duration of his life. He was an advocate for King Henry's renewal of the Hundred Years War in France and accompanied the king on his first journey there in 1415. At the siege of Harfleur, Surrey, like many others, contracted dysentery and became violently ill. He returned to England and died on his birthday that year at the age of thirty-four. His titles descended to his cousin John.

Surrey in Shakespeare

Appears in: Henry IV, Part 2

Surrey is only a minor character within 2 Henry IV and is shown as a loyal subject in the party of King Henry IV.


Harriss, G. L. ‘Fitzalan, Thomas, fifth earl of Arundel and tenth earl of Surrey (1381–1415)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 9 Nov 2009]

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