This carefully documented study by an English historian is the first, and certainly the definitive, biography of a mighty Elizabethan nobleman who was also a chief actor in the conspiracies involving Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I. The book might well be subtitled ""How Not To Be A Traitor."" Thomas Howard, Fourth Duke of Norfolk, grew up in the shadow of the block. Born in 1538 into one of England's richest families, beheaded for high treason in 1572, in his lifetime England's sole Duke, he was the son of the Earl of Surrey, also beheaded for treason, and grandson of the Third Duke, who escaped the axe by a hair. Inheriting the title at 16, owner of vast estates and living in near-regal splendor, Howard, ""doomed by the tragedy of his high birth,"" was not ""of the stuff of which conspirators are made,"" but let himself be trapped into treason. Blinded by ambition, incurring Elisabeth's displeasure by feuding with her favorite, Leicester, he was drawn into the complicated plots that swirled around the captive Queen of Scots. ""An unconscious traitor, but a traitor for all that,"" the Duke plotted with Mary, whom he never met, to marry her and make her Queen of England, with himself as Regent. The plot was discovered, in due time the conspirators were rounded up, and at the age of 34 Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, England's only Duke, died on Tower Hill; 15 years later Mary was herself beheaded for her share in the plot. Too specialized for most American readers, this excellent book will appeal to professional historians of Elizabethan England, and to students of the causes underlying treason.