Portsmouth. On 26 Aug. Wolsey, writing to Foxe, bishop of Winchester, gave the account of the action as the news of the day, adding: 'Sir Edward hath made his vow to God that he will never see the king in the face till he hath revenged the death of the noble and valiant knight, Sir Thomas Knyvet' (Fiddes, Life of Wolsey, Collections, p.10).
On 15 Aug. 1512 Howard, before the news of the victory reached home, received the reversion of the office of admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine, held at the time by John, earl of Oxford. The patent confirming him in the office of admiral of England is dated 19 March 1513 (Patent Roll, 4 Hen. VIII, pt. ii.) By Easter of 1513 (27 March) the fleet was again collected at Portsmouth (Ellis, Original Letters, 2nd ser. i. 213), and, crossing over to Brest, anchored in Bertheaume Bay, in sight of the French, who lay in the roadstead within. Howard resolved to attack them there, but one of his ships, commanded by Arthur Plantagenet, in endeavouring to pass the Goulet, struck on a sunken rock and was totally lost. On this the fleet returned to its former anchorage, and contented itself with closely blockading the port; while the French, on their side, anticipating a renewal of the attempt, moved their ships close in under the guns of the castle, mounted other batteries on the flanks, and placed a row of fireships in front. It is said that Howard took this occasion of writing to the king, suggesting that he might win great glory by coming over and taking the command himself, in the destruction of the French navy; that the king referred it to his council, who considered the undertaking too dangerous, and wrote to Howard sharply reprimanding him for his dilatory conduct, and ordering him to lose no more time (Holinshed, p.575). No such correspondence is now extant, and the story appears improbable. It seems, too, incompatible with the fact that he was at this time nominated a knight of the Garter, though he did not live to receive the honour.
Meanwhile he learned that a squadron of galleys had come round from the Mediterranean, under the command of the Chevalier Prégent de Bidoux, a knight of St. John, and had anchored in Whitsand Bay (les Blancs Sablons), waiting, presumably, for an opportunity to pass into Brest. A council of war determined that they might be attacked, and as it was found that the galleys were drawn up close to the shore, in very shoal water, Howard resolved to cut them out with his boats and some small row-barges attached to the fleet (25 April 1513). He himself in person took the command of one of these, and, rowing in through a storm of shot, grappled Prégent's own galley, and, sword in hand, sprang on board, followed by about seventeen men. By some mishap the grappling was cut adrift, the boat was swept away by the tide, and Howard and his companions, left unsupported, were thrust overboard at the pike's point. The other boats, unable to get in through the enemy's fire, had retired, ignorant of the loss they had sustained. It was some little time before they understood that the admiral was missing. When they sent a flag of truce to inquire as to what had become of him, they were answered by Prégent that he had only one prisoner, who had told him that one of those driven overboard was the admiral of England. The English drew back in dismay to their own ports, and Prégent, called by English chroniclers 'Prior John,' crossed over from Brest, and ravaged the coast of Sussex.
Howard's death was felt as a national disaster. In a letter to the king of England, James IV of Scotland wrote: 'Surely, dearest brother, we think more loss is to you of your late admiral, who deceased to his great honour and laud, than the advantage might have been of the winning of all the French galleys and their equipage (Ellis, Orig. Letters, 1st ser. i. 77). It is stated by Paulus Jovius (Historia sui Temporis, 1553, i. 99) that Howard's body was thrown upon the beach, and was recognised by the small golden horn (corniculum) which he wore suspended from his neck as the mark of his rank and office. No English writer mentions the recovery of the body; the ensign of his office was a whistle or 'pipe,' not a horn; and it is recorded that before he was forced overboard he took off the whistle and hurled it into the sea, to prevent its falling into the enemy's hands (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, i. No. 4005).
Howard married Alice, daughter of William Lovel, lord Morley, widow of Sir William Parker, and mother, by her first marriage, of Henry, lord Morley, but had no issue. He was succeeded in his office by his elder brother, Sir Thomas, afterwards earl of Surrey, and third duke of Norfolk [q.v.]
[Collins's Peerage (1768), i. 77; Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, i.279; Southey's Lives of the British Admirals, ii. 169-83; Howard's Memorials of the Howard Family; Lord Herbert's Life and Reign of Henry VIII in Kennett's Hist. of England, vol. ii.; Holinshed's Chronicles (edit. 1808), iii. 565-75; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII (Rolls Ser.), vol. i.; Jal, in Annales Maritimes et Coloniales (1844), lxxxvi. 993, and (1845), xc. 717; Troude's Batailles Navales de la France, i.66.]