10 December 1541 – The Executions of Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham

Posted By on December 10, 2014

A still of Culpeper's execution from The Tudors series.

A still of Culpeper’s execution from The Tudors series.

Following their conviction for treason at a trial at London’s Guildhall on 1st December, Thomas Culpeper, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and Francis Dereham, secretary to Queen Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII, were executed at Tyburn on 10th December 1541. Culpeper was beheaded but Dereham had to face the brutal traitor’s death of being hanged, drawn and quartered.

You can read more about Culpeper and Dereham in my article from last year – click here.

Rest in Peace Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham.

3 thoughts on “10 December 1541 – The Executions of Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham”

  1. Susan says:

    No matter how different there beliefs was to us we are all human beings with the same needs ! Katherine knew the consequences for her actions and yet that didn’t stop her perhaps she thought she could win Henry over as he was suppose to love her so much let’s face it we all think we are invincible when we are young and never listen to our elders so what makes her any different , Culpepper and Derhum where typical men of the day male shovernist well that’s my opinion any way .What I can’t understand us why Henry was more merciful to Culpepper than Katherine after all Ann did get the sword was that out of compassion or guilt ? Questions we can never answer unless there are documents yet to be discovered ! Never the less it’s a tragic story to us but the right thing to do back then we’ll in Henry’s eyes of course but when your heart is broken like Henry’s was I don’t think he really cared who he hurt he say he wanted to kill Katherine himself out of anger ! I I wonder how Henry would have felt if he had ever witnessed an execution he got the easy bit !! R.I.P. All !!!

  2. BanditQueen says:

    Henry clearly marked the guilt of Culpepper and Dereham differently; seeing the latter as the worst of the offenders. Because Henry decides that Dereham has spoilt his wife for him, a wife that for some reason he believed to have been pure and innocent. On top of that he sees Dereham coming to court and taking a place in the Queens household had been intending to have a relationship with his wife behind his back; Dereham in his eyes had planned and presummed treason with his wife; he deserved the full penalty of the law.
    Culpepper, however had been something of a companion to the King, tending his leg and waiting on him; Henry may have seen him as a kind of son; he was fond of Culpepper. He saw the offences that he was accused of as being the less serious as he was not intending treason, had not premeditated it and had been led on by the Queen. He allowed Culpepper to have the mercy of commuting the full penalty to mere beheading. He was still taken to tyburn but he was beheaded while the unfortunate Dereham was hung, drawn and brutally disembowelled. It must have been a terrible death, and even if he was guilty of adultery and treason; not one that was deserved.

    There is some debate about the guilt of the parties but the council and the King were convinced and that in Tudor times was all that counted. Henry felt that his wife had put the future of the dynasty in danger and that she had betrayed him with two much younger men. By the law they had to die; it was not open to question; and it could be argued that if Katherine and her alleged lovers were guilty, that they knew what they were doing and were foolish to betray the King. Henry had married Katherine believing she was pure and a good match; the age difference was not unusual and he hoped she could provide him with another son. He was deeply shocked when he was presented with proof of her adultery; it is not surprising that his anger got the better of him. The savagery of Derehams execution however seems somewhat personal.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes I agree with you there, he hated Dereham because he believed he had ruined the Queen but Culpeper was no less guilty they should have both been given the traitors death or both been beheaded, Henry probably did believe that Catherine had tempted Culpeper, after all she was the woman and therefore a tart, that’s a view that hasn’t changed throughout history, but the reality could well have been different, it could have been Culpeper who began chasing Catherine, either way who chased who makes no difference as they both knew the consequences, that fact probably gave their meetings an added thrill, after all there’s nothing more exciting than forbidden fruit.

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