10 February 1542 – Queen Catherine Howard is escorted to the Tower

Posted By on February 10, 2017

On 10th February 1542, Queen Catherine Howard was taken from Syon House, where she’d been kept since November 1541, to the Tower of London in preparation for her execution.

Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn), who was accused of helping Catherine with her treachery, had been taken to the Tower the previous night, having been nursed back to health from “symptoms of madness”. She had been nursed 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.

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7 thoughts on “10 February 1542 – Queen Catherine Howard is escorted to the Tower”

  1. Karen Caraway says:

    Which portrait is considered that of Katherine Howard? On the Six Wives with Lucy Worsley she displayed a very unflattering portrait which I thought was Jane seymour’s sister wearing black being a widow at the time.

  2. AB says:

    With the benefit of hindsight, why oh why didn’t Katherine, or her family, inform the king before their marriage that she was not a virgin? Why did they not inform him that she had previously been pre-contracted to Francis Dereham? Perhaps it was because most of the Howards did not know – it has been suggested that only the dowager duchess of Norfolk, the countess of Bridgewater and Lord William Howard knew about Katherine’s misadventures at Horsham and Lambeth.

    There is some evidence that many women at court were not thought to be virgins. The Spanish ambassador doubted that Jane Seymour was a virgin when she married Henry VIII; he could not believe that a woman of twenty-six or twenty-seven was still a maid! Historians have always puzzled over whether Anne Boleyn retained her virginity until she married Henry VIII, some have speculated that she engaged in sexual play with Henry Percy or even at the court of France (although I am sceptical about that). Perhaps then, in other circumstances, Katherine Howard’s lack of virginity would not have been an issue.

    At this time, it was usual for the monarch to marry a princess from a European royal house. Henry, at first, followed this custom by marrying Katherine of Aragon. However, he shocked his contemporaries by marrying four of his subjects. Anne of Cleves was widely praised and seems to have been popular, especially in London. Why could Henry not have stayed married to her and just kept Katherine as a mistress, as Mary Boleyn and Bessie Blount had been his lovers while he was married to Katherine of Aragon? Why did Anne of Cleves have to be set aside for Katherine Howard?

    Other kings, such as Edward III, Edward IV and Charles II, had many mistresses but they stayed married to their wives, even if they were not especially close to them. Charles II, in particular, had no children with Catherine of Braganza, yet still he publicly honoured and respected his wife. For Henry VIII, no, this was not enough: he did not want a mistress, he wanted a wife. The respected, loved Cleves princess must be set aside after six months of marriage, her reputation tarnished, and replaced with one of her maids of honour.

    I find it hard to feel sorry for Henry given his treatment of Anne of Cleves. Yes, she was rewarded with properties and a rich income, but her virginity was questioned and she became a laughing stock in Europe. If Henry had stayed married to her and had an extramarital affair with Katherine, who could have been married off to a gentleman at court, then there might have been a very different outcome. Instead, the Howard marriage ended with four deaths and the disgrace of a noble family. Other kings did not marry their subjects. The exception to this is Edward IV.

    Even so, other kings did not execute their wives. Henry did not have to execute Katherine, nor did he have to execute Anne Boleyn. They could have been installed in convents, or they could have been exiled, whether abroad or somewhere else in the kingdom. He did not have to take their lives. There is no evidence that Anne Boleyn committed any of the crimes attributed to her. Even Katherine Howard could have been dismissed from court, her marriage annulled, and perhaps she could have married someone else. The bloodshed and scandal were completely unnecessary.

    1. Christine says:

      Anne had to die AB as in the early years of their marriage Katherine Of Aragon insisted on calling herself Queen and there was the issue of the legality of Henry and Annes marriage, this threatened the legitimate claim of Elizabeth or any other children they may have, as we know both Henry and Anne longed for a son, a prince of the realm his position could not be secure whilst Katherine was alive and her refusing to go quietly was a thorn in their long courtship and marriage, she had most of the country on her side as well as Spain, the emperor Charles who happened to be her nephew and the harassed Pope who was right in the middle of it, not daring to upset anyone, when at the end Henry was refused the dispensation he just went ahead and married Anne anyway leaving many people as well as his lawyers and ministers worried that he had committed bigamy, thus Elizabeth was never recognised as his heir in Europe and he could not allow all that to happen whilst Jane was alive, his marriage to her had to be legal and no question of his sons legitimacy called into account so horrible though it was, luckless Anne had to die, as for Catherine, I believe that was Henry just acting with murderous blood lust we must not forget he had put Catherine on a pedestal and had thought her so innocent and pure, he felt a fool throughout his kingdom and Europe and wanted justice, he wanted her punished and he wanted her to suffer, yes one wonders in the scheme of things why didn’t he just have her as his mistress instead of marrying her but he only had one son and if anything happened to Edward he would be left with two girls again, he had already lost his bastard son and only had Edward, he needed more to secure the succession, Catherine was young and healthy and came from a big family, good breeding stock there, the younger a wife was the more children she could have.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Hello Christine, AB, maybe that’s the big trouble with Henry, he went around marrying his subjects, very unusual for the time. You can’t just execute a foreign Princess, I guess as their relatives tend to have large armies, but one’s subjects that’s a different matter. Anne Boleyn posed a problem as Henry wanted no complications with living wives and illegitimate heirs. I can’t even imagine Anne Boleyn in a convent…but it had been used for adultery before. The Plantagenets seem to have been more touchy about executing noble women, but the Tudors set a pattern. With Catherine, yes, possibly he could have had the marriage set aside and put her into an establishment. The monasteries were gone, but he had enough houses to banish her to …he could have left her at Syon for a time. There were hospitals for insanity….not Bedlam, a few private places for genteel ladies existed. But then, Henry was so angry and erratic that it probably never even occurred to him. They had also been done for presumption of treason, which in Henry’s eyes had one penalty…death. Utterly ruthless, more like revenge than any type of justice.

  3. AB says:

    Of course, the religious houses and monasteries were dissolved by the 1540s, so perhaps Anne and Katherine could not have been placed in convents, but maybe they could have been put under house arrest, at the very worst? When the Yorkists seized the throne from Henry VI, they did not execute Margaret of Anjou, she was sent back to France.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    The Act of Attainer being passed on February 11th is a bit of Henry Viii giggery pokery, for it was passed after the women are in the Tower with a hopeless fait accompli. The Bill had been read and raised concerns a few weeks again, so the Council had gone to the King and asked that the Queen be allowed to present her case to Parliament. When this failed they asked if a delegation could visit the Queen to ask her to explain her side of things, the King agreed after thinking it over. However, it was only the morning of her journey to the Tower that the delegates came to Katherine, but not to ask her side, but to read her charges and condemnation. Henry clearly had other ideas than his Council, was determined that they should pass the Bill and obey his will. Henry was indeed determined to kill these women with a coldness and detachment that is horrendous.

    Henry adored Katherine, she was his perfect wife, made him feel young again, had been his flower of womanhood, his hope for the future and he loved her. Now he coldly changed. He was detatched at something that had pulled his world apart. He went from shock and anger to cold hearted hatred. Henry was deeply hurt and betrayed by Katherine, he believed she had slept with a man in his service whom he had treated as a son. His feelings were raw and now he wanted revenge for that betrayal. Henry lost all sense of reason in this case and his final treatment of Katherine and Jane Rochford reflects this.

    Once Dereham and Culpeper had been tried and executed the two ladies had no hope of reprieve. Henry could only go through the legal proceedings, as he had opted for a Parliamentary Bill he could only wait on them to meet. He was clearly angry that the members did not pass the Bill on the first hearing and he showed it. He may have begun this with care, but now Henry was frustrated and wanted this over. The focus was on him and his sore feelings…Henry wanted his wife dead as soon as possible. His attitude towards Jane Rochford is even more callous as she was still suffering mental distress. He put a Bill through Parliament just to kill her for encouraging her mistress in her romantic adventures. Yes Jane had acted foolishly, but she saw herself more as a chaperone, not a procurator. Henry saw something else…a woman who had led his young wife into evil by finding the places she could meet her paramour and encouraging their meetings. He justified his condemnation of Jane on this basis, sane or not.

    As I have said before I think Henry lost it. I seriously doubt his sanity during this period. His behaviour was very bizarre and became erratic as the process went on. Even his over the top arrest and transport of the Queen is erratic. Yes we know Katherine had a moment of hysteria and wept and cried and had to be carried into the barge, but where all those soldiers necessary? The Queen had guards and attendance in the barge, followed by Suffolk and a large body of armed men. Did Henry think she was going to leap out and run away lol? I know it’s not funny, but the entire thing really is over the top.

    Poor Katherine also saw the heads of her young men on the Tower bridge. This must have been really upsetting. I am not saying Katherine was guilty, as any evidence is believed to be circumstantial, but even as her friends and people she knew well, she had some feelings for them. It’s a wonder that she was able to compose herself in time for her execution at all.

    1. Christine says:

      I think considering she was so young her demeanour at her execution was admirable, and at her death Henry made his mark in England’s history as the Bluebeard of Legend, his second queen to lose her head, the world must have been in shock, the King of France wrote to him telling him he regretted the actions of his wife who had been ‘wondrous naughty’, what Henry thought as he read it one can only imagine, they had never been friends so he probably thought Francois was laughing at him, one imagines what Francois would have done with an unfaithful wife, he was such a womaniser yet Frenchman are thought to be more gallant towards their women and the French court was the most licentiousness in the world, he most likely would have understood the weakness of the fairer sex more than Henry and would have been satisfied with a divorce, he had so many women to console him I doubt if he would have been as devastated as Henry, who after all had married for love unlike Francois who had an arranged marriage, Henry after Catherine’s death was miserable and depressed for a year and then he started to be his old self a bit more, then he began to think of marriage again but not with another flighty piece but a much more mature worldy wise and sensible woman, a woman who would respect him as her Lord and master and who would be fit to be his consort and an admirable stepmother to his children.

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