28 July 1540 – Fifth time lucky?

Posted By on July 28, 2016

Portrait of an unknown woman, possibly Catherine Howard

Portrait of an unknown woman, possibly Catherine Howard

On 28th July 1540, at Oatlands Palace, in Surrey, King Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, daughter of Edmund Howard and Jocasta Culpeper, and niece of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. The groom was forty-nine years of age, and the bride may have been just sixteen1, and the wedding was a low-key affair, with Henry’s fourth marriage only just having been annulled. It was kept quiet for over a week, and Catherine did not appear in public as queen until 8th August.

The marriage appeared happy at first, with Henry doting on his young bride and having a new lease of life. Catherine’s biographer, Lacey Baldwin Smith, writes of how the King, who had previously felt “the weight of age close upon him”, was suddenly “filled with fresh vitality”, started getting up early (between 5 and 6am) to go hunting and that the French ambassador wrote of his “good spirits” and “good humour”.2 Henry VIII was happy, he had high hopes for the future, but, sadly, his hopes would be dashed just over 15 months later when he was made aware of Catherine’s sexual history and then her secret assignations with Thomas Culpeper, a groom of his privy chamber. Henry was devastated. Catherine Howard was executed for treason on 13th February 1542, after having been found guilty of treason by a bill of attainder.

Fifth time lucky? No!

You can read more about Catherine and her fall in the following articles:

Notes and Sources

  1. There is controversy over Catherine’s birthdate, with some historians dating her birth to around 1524 and others to around 1521.
  2. Baldwin Smith, Lacey (2009) Catherine Howard: The Queen Whose Adulteries Made a Fool of Henry VIII, Amberley, p. 134.

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28 July 1540 – The execution of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s most faithful servant

Posted By on July 28, 2016

Thomas_Cromwell,_portrait_miniature_with_fur_collar,_after_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerOn 28th July 1540, the same day that Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, the man who had negotiated the King’s fourth marriage, to Anne of Cleves, was executed on Tower Hill having been found guilty by a bill of attainder of the crimes of corruption, heresy and treason.

Chronicler Edward Hall recounts his execution:

“And the. xxviii. daie of luly was brought to the skaffold on the tower hill, where he saied these wordes folowyng.

I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should so do, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe condempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I haue had yeres of discrecion, I haue liued a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgeuenes. And it is not vnknowne to many of you, that I haue been a great traueler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came therunto, I haue offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgeuenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeue me. O father forgeue me. O sonne forgeue me, O holy Ghost forgeue me: O thre persons in one God forgeue me.

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