Sketch of unknown woman, said to be Catherine Howard after Holbein
Sketch of unknown woman, said to be Catherine Howard after Holbein
On 10 February 1542, Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, was taken from Syon to the Tower of London by barge.

Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador at Henry VIII’s court, recorded Catherine’s journey:

“Some days after, that is to say on the afternoon of the 10th, the Queen after some difficulty and resistance was conducted to the Tower by the river. The Lord Privy Seal, with a number of privy councillors and a large retinue of servants, went first in a large oared barge; then came a small covered boat with the Queen and four ladies of her suite, besides four sailors to man the boat. Then followed the duke of Suffolk in a big and well-manned barge, with plenty of armed men inside. On their arrival at the Tower stairs the Lord Privy Seal and the duke of Suffolk landed first; then the Queen herself, dressed in black velvet, with the same honors and ceremonies as if she were still reigning.”

Catherine’s lady, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, had been taken to the Tower the previous day after being nursed back to health (from hysteria and madness) at Russell House on the Strand, the London residence of Sir John Russell, Lord Admiral, and his wife Anne, under the supervision of the King’s own doctors. Chapuys writes that Jane “had shewn symptoms of madness until the very moment when they announced to her that she must die.”

Notes and Sources

  • Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 6 Part 1, 1538-1542, 232.
  • Fox, Julia (2007) Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford, Phoenix, p302-303

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11 thoughts on “10 February 1542 – Catherine Howard is taken to the Tower of London”
  1. I’ve always wondered at how much Catherine knew the danger she was getting herself involved in by having a relationship with Thomas Culpepper, also writing the love letter she did to him. Obviously she was very attracted to him and believed herself in love with him too. However knowing what had befallen her cousin, knowing how unpredictable the king could be, knowing the dangers she lived through. Her heart ruled her head, or was she just too naive to realise how dangerous it could be to do what she did. I’m just always so intrigued by her behaviour while married to the King. Did she think that by being her, the girl the King saw as a rose without thorns she could just be reassured of her position and didn’t have to try so hard? But the danger she entered into by having a relationship with Culpepper is something she didn’t think twice about doing despite the dangers of such a liaison. Interesting!

  2. It will forever bother me that historians often forget that Jane did recover from whatever breakdown she suffered. We have two accounts that attest to her making a speech, and a speech that apparently impressed at least one man.
    I also see people treating Jane’s breakdown with disdain and trying to make it seem like she was cowardly. But Anne herself had breakdowns in the tower, as did Katherine. Facing execution is a terrifying thing, and it’s going to strain your mental health. This doesn’t make Jane or Katherine or Anne cowards. All three ladies met their ends bravely and we should admire them for that.

    1. Poor Jane is has the worst reputation of the 3 , certanly in fiction. She is one of the go to villians of Henry`s reign..

      Both Anne and Kathryn have had several biographies over the centuries be sympathic to them. Julia Fox tries to bring balance but still Jane remains as a shadowy cypher in her own life. and death.

  3. I’m sorry but apart from having a son Jane really didn’t do much ! She was only married for a yr so compared to Ann biography which I add was utterly incredible I don’t find Jane very interesting and I’m sorry I feel for Ann and Katherine, but Jane I call her the sly one !! Katherine’s story is very sad so young so innocent !! But both lady’s so very brave to the end !!!

    1. I believe you are mistaking Lady Jane Rochford of this article with Queen Jane, mother of Edward, Henry’s son. Queen Jane died 10 days after childbirth of complications, while Lady Jane Rochford was executed along with the young Queen Katherine.

  4. i think we have some confusion here in the replies!!
    Jane BOLEYN is the Jane who Claire is speaking about one of Catherine Howard’s ladies NOT JANE Seymour the 3rd wife of HENRYVIII, who gave birth to a son Edward and then died shortly after the birth.. 2 different Janes 2 different Queens!!

  5. Poor Catherine I suppose she met Culpepper once without anyone noticing and thought it was easy but that’s the trouble, you get over confident and then careless, a Queen has to be above reproach and there’s the issue of putting the succession at risk, her enemies were waiting to pounce and when gossip went around about her past it uncovered a whole can of worms, the poor girl was made to marry Henry by her ambitious family when she would much rather make her own choice, she was a victim of her times really her family a ambition and her own heart.

  6. Regarding Jane Boleyn:
    Ambition and bitterness regarding her husband’s fondness for his sister, her sister in law. I can understand that. I was in the same situation many years ago with my first husband. He had such rapport with his family and so little rapport and affection for me. I can understand the anger that that can create. Perhaps Jane didn’t believe that the king would be so intransigent. Maybe she thought her husband George would be sent into exile and she could live with him in exile far from his sister Ann and the Boleyn family. What a tragic figure she is. Ambition and desperation and a loveless life can lead people to do heartless things.

  7. Catherine was a child. She grew up with nothing and suddenly she was queen. She was not suited for such a roll and had no training. She was surrounded by predators, all with their own agenda. She had no idea of what she had gotten herself into. And not the intelligence or discipline to stay out of trouble. She was saddled with a fat, gross, old man who happened to be king. She behaved like a stupid, impulsive teenager, because that is what she was. Poor girl. Don’t believe she deserved to die for this. This marriage sprung from Henry’s mid life crisis and his need to feel young and lusty again. Instead, he ended up feeling old and stupid.

    1. Yes I agree but he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last middle aged man to make a fool of himself over a girl young enough to be his daughter.

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