Arguably the Howard family is one of the oldest continually influential aristocratic families in England. They were around before the Tudors wrested control of England from Richard III, the last Plantagenet king at the Battle of Bosworth, 1485; indeed John Howard, the 1st Duke of Norfolk, died fighting against Henry Tudor in that battle.
The family was punished for this. The dukedom was attainted and it took decades of loyal service to the Tudors before that title was restored to the Howard family. His son, Thomas Howard proved to be invaluable first to Henry Tudor, who was by this time King Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) and later to his son, Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547). Thomas Howard restored the family’s name and was rewarded with the dukedom, becoming the 2nd Duke of Norfolk.
His son, another Thomas Howard, became the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and was the uncle of two of the six wives of Henry VIII: Anne Bolyen and Catherine Howard.
Both Thomas Howard and his son, Henry, faced the threat of execution. Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, was executed by orders of Henry VIII. Thomas Howard was spared execution by the death of Henry VIII. A common story was that Henry Howard was to be executed the next day and it was only the death of the monarch that prevented it. Thomas Howard remained in captivity throughout the reign of Henry VIII’s son, Edward VI but was released when Princess Mary became Queen in 1553.
To this day, the Howard family holds the title of Duke of Norfolk, as well as several other peerages. They also hold the hereditary position of Earl Marshall of England. When the next monarch is crowned, it will be a Howard who organizes the coronation.
Henry Fitzalan-Howard is one of the many modern Howards who are influential, although in his case, as a world-class race car driver.