12 November 1541 – The Examination of Queen Catherine Howard

Lynne Frederick as Catherine Howard in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
Lynne Frederick as Catherine Howard in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)

On 12th November 1541, Queen Catherine Howard was examined by members of the King’s Council following Francis Dereham’s claim that Thomas Culpeper had replaced him in the Queen’s affections after her marriage to Henry VIII.

Here is the record of the examination. I have copied it as it is written in the records but if you read it out loud in “pirate speak” (or a Lark Rise to Candleford accent) then you should understand it!

“The Quene saith that my lady Rocheford hath sondry tymez made instans to her to speke with Culpeper declaryng hym to beare her good wyll and favour, wheruppon she did at the last graunte he shuld speke with her, my lady of Rocheford affyrmyng that he desiered nothyng elles but to speke with her and that she durst swere uppon a booke he ment nothyng but honestye. And so he spake with hir in a litle galery at the steyer hedd at Lyncoln when it was late in the nyght about x or xj of the clok an hower and more, a nother tyme in her bedde chamber at Pomfrett and a nother tyme in my lady Rocheford chamber at York.

Item she seith that she wold ever sey to my lady Rocheford when she moved her for hym ‘alas madam this wol be spyed oon day and then we be all ondone,’ wheronto my lady Rocheford wold sey ‘feare not madam lett me alone I warraunt yowe.’

Item she seith that when Culpeper was talkyng with hir my lady Rocheford wold many tymez, beyng ever by, sytt sumwhatt farre of or turn hyr bak and she wold sey to her ‘For Goddes sake madam even nere us.’

Item she saith syns the counsell cam she hath advysed hir sondry tymez in no wyse to disclose this matter sayeng ‘they wold speke feire to yowe and use all weyes with yowe but and if yowe confesse yowe undo both your selfe and others. And for my parte,’ seyd my lady Rocheford, ‘I woll never confesse it to be torne withe wylde horsez.’

Item she confesseth that she gaff hym oonez a cappe with aglettz and a chayne and my lady Rocheford toke a crampe ryng from her and sent hym and after had a nother of hyr to matche it and that my lady Rocheford prayed hir she myght bye sumwhat to send hym and of hir owne choyse bought a payer of brayselettz to send hym when he sent serten fesauntz.

Item this day she badd the quene hold her owm for Culpepir was yesterday mery a hawkyng and I seyd to her that I marveylled she was not examined seyeng ‘it wold out, what hold your own I warraunt yowe, be yowe afrayd.’

As for thacte she denyeth uppon hir othe, or towchyng eny bare of her but hir haunde.

Item she seyth that my lady Rocheford wold at eevery lodgyng serche the bak doores & tell hir of them if there were eny, onasked; and sithens the progresse she told her that when she came to Grenewiche she knewe an old kechyn wherin she myght well speke with hym.

Item she sayth that my lady Rocheford told her also that she thought Paston beare hir favour but he never spake with her.

Item she seyth that lately, but the tyme she remembreth not, my lady Rocheford spake of Culpeper wheronto the quene aunswred ‘alas madam woll this never have ende. I pray yowe, byd hym desier no more to treble me or send to me,’ wher uppon she told me after that she had don my message his aunswer was that he besought me to send hym no such word for he wold take no suche aunsw^er but styll sent to me as he myght have a messanger at whiche tyme she called hym lytle sweete foole.

Item hir grace seith that when she toke hir rightz last she gaff hir warnyng to troble hir no more with suche light matters wheronto she aunswered ‘yet must yow gyff men leave to looke for they woll looke uppon yowe.’

Signed : — T. Cantuariensis; T. Norfolk; W. Southampton; Robt. Sussex; E. Hertford; J. Russell; Ste. Winton; Antone
Browne; Antony Wyngfeld; Thomas Wriothesley; Rafe Sadleyr.
The document is in a court hand, including the queen s signature, but the signatures of the lords are all autograph.”

As you can see, Catherine did not confess to sleeping with Thomas Culpeper, all she confessed to was:

  • Meeting with him and speaking with him at Lincoln, Pontefract and York.
  • Giving Culpeper a cap, a chain and a cramp ring.
  • Calling Culpeper her “little sweet fool”.

She also seems to paint Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, as what Lacey Baldwin-Smith refers to as “the agent provocateur”, although David Starkey sees her as more of the “pandering nurse” to “the love-sick Juliet”.

Records in Letters and Papers tells us the other people who were interviewed at this time and the results of the interviews:

  • Katherine Tilney – “At Westm. 13 Nov. ao xxxiijo:—Kath. Tylney, examined whether the Queen went out of her chamber any night late at Lincoln, where she went, and who went with her, says that the Queen went two nights to lady Rochford’s chamber, which was up a little pair of stairs by the Queen’s chamber. Examinate and her fellow Marget went with her, but were sent back. Marget went up again eftsoons, and examinate went to bed with Friswyde. When Marget came to bed, about 2 o’clock, examinate said, “Jesus, is not the Queen abed yet?” She replied, “Yes, even now.” The second night the Queen sent the rest to bed and took examinate with her, but she was in a little place with Lady Rochford’s woman and could not tell who came into Lady Rochford’s chamber. Has been sent with such strange messages to Lady Rochford that she knew not “how to utter them.” At Hampton Court, lately, “she bade her go to the Lady Rochford and ask her when she should have the thing she promised her; and she answered that she sat up for it, and she would next day bring her word herself. A like message and answer was at my lord of Suff. outward.”
  • “List of names in Wriothesley’s hand as follows:—
    “Yong Bulmer’s wief, my l. of N. and Mr. Comptroller. Dorothe Dawby, sumtyne chamberer to th’old dutches of Norff. Katherin Tylney, my l. of Hertf. and Mr. Chauncelour. Edward Walgrave servaunt to my lord Prince, my lord of Hertford and Mr. Chauncelour. Mary Lasselles. Malyn Tylney, wydowe, my l. of H. and Mr. Chauncelour.  Alis Wylkes. Damport sumtyme bedfolowe to Deram, my l. of N. and Mr. Compt. (In margin in the duke of Norfolk’s hand: “my lord of Norff.”). Luce, sumtyme chamberer to th’old dutches of Norff. Anne Haward wief to Henry Howard, my l. of H. and Mr. Ch. John Walshman, porter. John Benet. Richard Favour. Margery sumtyme chamberer to my l. of Norff. Mrs. Barwyke doughter to Berwyke besides Horsham.” “
  • Margaret Morton – ““The confession of Margyt Morton to Sir Anthony Brown.”
    She never mistrusted the Queen until at Hatfeld she saw her look out of her chamber window on Mr. Culpeper after such sort that she thought there was love between them. There the Queen gave order that neither Mrs. Lofkyng “nor no nother” should come into her bedchamber unless called. At Lodyngton she carried a sealed letter, without superscription, to my lady of Rochford, to whom the Queen bade her say she was sorry that she could write no better. Lady Rochford promised an answer next morning, which deponent was sent for and brought, with a message “praying her Grace to keep it secret and not to lay it abroad.” After Kath. Tylnay came, the Queen could not abide Mrs. Loffken or deponent. Thinks “my lade off Rochfor the prynsy a casyoun off har ffoley.” At Pomfrat the Queen was angry with Mrs. Louffkyn and her and threatened to put them away. If they had gone she thinks the Queen would have taken others of Lady Rochford’s putting. She confesses all that she said to Mr. Comptroller, and also that at Pomfret, every night, the Queen, being alone with lady Rochford, locked and bolted her chamber door on the inside, and Mr. Dane, sent to the Queen from the King, one night found it bolted.”
  • “Abstracts of confessions of witnesses against the Queen, viz.:—
    Alice Restwold lately called Alice Welkes:—The Queen at her last being at Cheyneys, the lord Admiral’s house, sent for her, by Dereham and by Kath. Tilney, and at her coming, kissed and welcomed her and ordered her to lie with her chamberers; and afterwards sent her, by lady Rochford, upper and nether habiliments of goldsmith’s work for the French hood and a tablet of gold.
    Margaret lady Howard:—Deposes to much familiarity between Dereham and the Queen before marriage, and since the marriage has heard one Stafford say, “if I were as Deram I would never tell to die for it” and that “ther was a thyng that stakk apon his stomack.”
    Anne Howard, Margaret Benet, Malyn Tylney, widow, Edward Walgrave: —Many instances (detailed) of “familiarity” and “abominable fashions” used between Dereham and the Queen before her marriage.
    Francis Dereham:—Confesses his familiarity with the Queen before the marriage; and that since the marriage he has been in the Queen’s privy chamber and she has said to him, “Take heed what words you speak,” and given him 3l. and, at another time, 10l.
    Kath. Tilney and Alice Restwold:—Instances of the familiarity before the marriage.
    Thos. Culpeper:—Description of many stolen interviews with the Queen at Greenwich, Lincoln, Pomfret, York, &c., since Maundy Thursday last, when she sent for him and gave him a velvet cap. Lady Rochford contrived these interviews. The Queen would “in every house seek for the back doors and back stairs herself.” At Pomfret she feared the King had set watch at the back door, and lady Rochford made her servant watch in the court to see if that were so. Once the Queen said to him, “If I listed I could bring you into as good a trade as Bray hath my lord Parr in.” Answered that he thought her no such woman as Bray; and she said, “Well, if I had tarried still in the maidens’ chamber I would have tried you.” Once she said that “she doubted not that he knew that the King was supreme head of the Church, and therefore the Queen bade him beware that whensoever he went to confession he should never shrive him of any such things as should pass betwixt her and him; for, if he did, surely, the King being supreme head of the Church, should have knowledge of it.” Replied, “No, Madam, I warrant you.” Lady Rochford provoked him much to love the Queen and he intended to do ill with her.
    Jane lady Rochford:—Relative to the above interviews; of which she heard or saw nothing of what passed, for the Queen was at the other end of the room and Culpeper on the stairs, ready to slip down. One night at Lincoln she and the Queen were at the back door waiting for Culpeper, at 11 p.m., when one of the watch came with a light and locked the door. Shortly after Culpeper came in, saying he and his man had picked the lock. Since her trouble the Queen has daily asked for Culpeper, saying that if that matter came not out she feared not. At Lincoln, when the Queen was with Culpeper, she was asleep until the Queen called her to answer Lovekyn. She thinks Culpeper has known the Queen carnally.
    John Lassells:—Instances, told him by his sister Mary Hall, of the Queen’s familiarity with Dereham and Manoxe, before the marriage.
    Mary Morton:—Suspicious conduct of the Queen and Culpeper, which she first noticed at Hatfeld, and for which she blames lady Rochford.
    Joan Bulmer:—Familiarity with Dereham before marriage.
    Robt. Davenporte:—Dereham showed him since he came to Court that many despised him because the Queen favoured him. Mr. Johns, the Queen’s gentleman usher, fell out with Dereham for sitting at dinner or supper with the Queen’s Council after all other were risen, and sent to ask whether he were of the Council. Dereham replied, “Go to Mr. Johns, and tell him I was of the Queen’s Council before he knew her and shall be when she hath forgotten him.” Gives instances of the familiarity before marriage.
    Henry Manokes:—Dereham’s and his own familiarity with the Queen before her marriage.”
  • “Andrew Maunsay, late servant to the duchess dowager of Norfolk, examined 15 Nov. 33 Hen. VIII., says that when he was in household with the Duchess he thrice saw the Queen, then Mrs. Katharine Howard, lie in her bed and one Durand, a gentlemen then in the house, lie suspiciously on the bed in his doublet and hose. Kath. Tylney lay in the bed at the time and can tell more. A laundry woman named Besse can also speak of this. It was 12 months before the Queen came to Court.”

Thomas Culpeper, unfortunately, confessed that “he intended and meant to do ill with the Queen and that in like wise the Queen so minded to do with him.” This was treason and, as Lacey Baldwin-Smith points out, “Henry’s mercy, on which Catherine had so abjectly called, could not now be expected to save her.”

Notes and Sources

  • Taken from Calendar of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Bath preserved at Longleat, Wiltshire, Volume II, p9-10. This can be read online at https://archive.org/stream/calendarofmanusc02grea#page/8/mode/2up
  • Catherine Howard, Lacey Baldwin Smith (2009), p173
  • Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, David Starkey (2003), p674
  • LP xvi. 1337, 1338, 1339, 1348

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29 thoughts on “12 November 1541 – The Examination of Queen Catherine Howard”
  1. A number of your correspondants have pointed out that Catherine never admitted to having committed adultry with Culpeppar, and that his confession was only made under duress, which hardly validates the accusation. However not many men would see innocence in a relationship which takes place in their wives bedroom late at night in at least three different places. When furher seen in the light of the letter Catherine had written Culpeppar, it is hardly surprising that she was believed to be guilty of adultry. The one mitigating fact in her favour is that she was just 17 years of age and one could therefore suggest she was just an immature teenager. However the behaviour of Culpeppar cannot be excused on the grounds of his youth. He was about 27 years of age, a close confidant of the King and therefore whatever his feelings should have known better.

    1. Hi Trevor,
      “A number of your correspondants have pointed out that Catherine never admitted to having committed adultry with Culpeppar”, that’s exactly what I have said in this article and previous ones, and I am not accusing Catherine of anything here, so I don’t understand what you mean. As I say in this article:

      “As you can see, Catherine did not confess to sleeping with Thomas Culpeper, all she confessed to was:

      Meeting with him and speaking with him at Lincoln, Pontefract and York.
      Giving Culpeper a cap, a chain and a cramp ring.
      Calling Culpeper her “little sweet fool”.”

      I also say:
      “Thomas Culpeper, unfortunately, confessed that “he intended and meant to do ill with the Queen and that in like wise the Queen so minded to do with him.” ”

      Obviously, we don’t know what pressure was put on Culpeper, but he never confessed to sleeping with Catherine, only intending to. However, unfortunately, intention was enough for the couple to be found guilty of treason.

      We don’t actually know Catherine’s age. Lacey Baldwin Smith devotes the appendix of his book, “Catherine Howard”, to this question. In it, he cites the various clues we have:-

      • The will of Dame Isabel Legh, Catherine’s maternal grandmother – Catherine is mentioned in this will from 1527 so she was definitely born before 1527.
      • The will of John Legh, Isabel’s husband and Catherine’s step-grandfather – This will from 1524 does not mention Catherine and although some historians use this as proof that Catherine was not born until after 1524 Baldwin Smith points out that it also does not mention any of the Howard girls so he feels that it “may have been a reflection of the masculine standards of the age” and that “infant girls did not warrant mention as beneficiaries in a will.”
      • That if Catherine’s parents, Jocasta Culpeper and Edmund Howard, married around 1514-1515, as has been suggested, and Catherine had three elder brothers, then Catherine could not have been born before 1517/1518.
      • The French Ambassador reported that Catherine was 18 years of age when she slept with Francis Dereham and that Catherine’s confession dated their affair to 1538-1539. However, the ambassador also said that Dereham had “violated her at the age of 13 until 18″. If Catherine was 18 in 1539 then her year of birth would be 1521.
      • The Spanish Chronicle (The Chronicle of Henry VIII) has Catherine meeting the King at the age of 15, making her date of birth 1524.
      • The Toledo Museum of Catherine Howard – Lacey Baldwin Smith writes of how this portrait gives Catherine’s age as 21 and was painted c1540/1541 – However, some historians do not believe that this portrait is of Catherine.

      Lacey Baldwin Smith does say that all of this is speculation and many things, including her parents’ marriage date, are “conjectural” and all we really know for sure about Catherine’s family is that “Edward Howard was claiming ten children in 1527″. We are left none-the-wiser, with Catherine being anything from 11 to 15 when Manox had a relationship with her, and 17 to 21 when she died. If she was 17, then her behaviour is far easier to understand, although she was still a woman by Tudor standards.

      It does appear that Culpeper was quite a few years older and I do wonder if he actually manipulated her. Perhaps he thought that Henry was not long for this world and that he could gain power by marrying the Queen Dowager. We just don’t know.

      I’m not sure why you think I’m validating the accusation.

      1. i don’t understand why her being 17 would maker her behavior far easier to understand than her being 21. in the us, states ages of consent w/an adult is between 16 and 18. also, 16 year old who has sex with a13 year old is considered to be a pedophile

        1. Well at seventeen you are immature just a teenager but at twenty one you are considered by that age an adult! Wether she was seventeen or twenty one she was still young very young although!

      2. i don’t understand why a 17 year old’s mentality is a lot more irrational than a 21 year old’s. the age of consent in the states varies between 16& 18. also a 16 year old who has sex w/a 13 year old is considered a pedophile.

        1. I know I for one was a lot more mature at 21 than I was at 17 but who know what it was like in Tudor times when females were seen as women from the beginning of puberty. Interestingly, here in Spain, the age of consent for sexual intercourse is under discussion but appears to still be 13, although, I might say, the actual age that teenagers do the act is supposedly a lot later than many countries.

    2. I agree with as well as understand what you are saying Master Lynes 🙂 . They both “Katheryn” and “Culppeper” had approximately been of the same age as one another so it is understanderble to me. Totally as well as fully!. 😀

      1. I think maturity is a hard thing to define then and now to be honest. You can get ‘old heads on young shoulders’ and visa versa. And different upbringings/education and class level can effect how quickly you mature too.

        Childhood in these times was short lived, and young children were groomed for adulthood early, so its reasonable to assume ‘maturity’ came earlier then in most, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

        Catherine is always talked about as not always guided in the right way when at home, and left to the teachings and devices of the girls she ‘bunked up’ with. She apparently was wise in the ways of men, but not academic, though I can not get my head around her being daft enough to think she could get away with such a thing as cuckolding the King whether in mind or body.
        More so Culpeper, he was as close to Henry as anyone, knew him, his ways and what he was capable of, he had a privileged job with a very good standard of living. So why would a good looking young man, who seemed to enjoy life, who I imagine wouldn’t struggled to have his pick of pretty ladies, throw this all away. He would have known it would cost him his life when found out, because there was nothing as sure as that, in that all seeing and all hearing court. It doesn’t weigh up…in logical thinking away.

        What happened here is anyone’s guess I suppose, from conspiracies of others to a fleeting madness of these two who are presumed to be having an affair, brought on by what, lust, a challenge, excitement? which ever it was, it ended up with the death of yet another Queen and her supposed lovers.
        Innocent or not…I pity them, whether they be victims of others or through their own doing of being utterly stupid beyond all belief. Cruel times.

  2. I think Catherine may have been in love with Culpeper and he was just using her until the time was right to attack, and in that way I feel bad for Catherine. Culpeper was no better than Thomas Seymour. I’m starting to believe they did not sleep together but they probably intended to when the king was dead. I want to believe that Catherine had some sense, even though I’ll never know what she was really like! Tragic story indeed but one I’ve always loved when I was a child when my grandmother told me I came from the Howard family. Although, don’t ask me to prove it I still have no idea! I believed her as a child not so sure now.

    1. I agree to a degree! But not entirely! I think like you said I also think that she was too in love with him as you only have too look at as well as read the live letter that she had written him but as for him using her I think not or I at least hope not as to be in love with someone and then find out that you are being used is or would be not very nice!. When you say use for what purpose as there is all different kinds of use and if that of been the case she could of easily of gone back to Dereham!

  3. well I agree with Claire about katherines age at 17 she would have been considered mature by tudor standards,unfortunetly Katherine was not mature at all she was playing a very dangerous game and probably thought she could get away with it,as she did in the duchesses house .but she as I said before was tired of dereham and was in mad love with culpepper ,but culpepper not so much in love with her ,I couldn’t even hazard a guess what went on with anyone of them ,but dereham and culpepper just got extremely arrorgant in court ,cant do that in henrys court ,no one is allowed that behaviour except henry

    1. So you think that their love had been or was one sided? As far as I was aware they had been and were the “Equilivent” of each other!

  4. I just don’t think (and maybe im wrong here) that culpepper was as interested in Katherine as she was with him ,and dereham was like a scorned lover coming back to pick up where he left off thinking and stupidly that Katherine was still interested ,which she was not obviously as she had culpepper very foolish men

  5. I mean what were they all thinking about ,it beats me for them to assume that they could get the better of henry ,im actually feeling sorry for henry at this point and never thought I would say that but he was made a fool of and he did trust them ,and all of them I mean Katherine ,dereham culpepper and jane parker ,she really was the worst of the lot and should have known better

  6. Katheryn may not have confessed to sex with Culpepper but that does not mean that she did not have sex with him or desire it. She was playing a stupid and dangerous game by having Thomas Culpepper or any other man in her intimate rooms late at night unless they were here on a matter of state. If on a matter of state; then you do not smuggle them up the backstairs. The backstairs was used by people whom the King or Queen wished to see in private or secret and no-one to know or where their lovers were taken without being seen. The backstairs at Hampton Court in the reign of Charles II were used by his mistresses on several occasions.

    These two must have been very big talkers if all they were doing was talking till late into the night and the early hours of the morning. I cannot accept that just because she did not confess to adultery that she did not sleep with Culpepper nor does her being 17-19 excuse her behaviour. There was another incident that was believed to have taken place: on one of the visits on the progress the King sent his Chamberlain ahead to her rooms to have it announced that the King would visit his wife that night. He found the door was bolted by her servants and he was refused entrance. Later the King arrived and also found the door would not open to him. It is widely rumoured that this was because the Queen was in bed with her lover, finishing off and was getting him out via the backstairs. This cannot be verified of course but the story is often repeated by historians and fiction alike. The story then goes that Katherine took a moment to compose herself and ordered the door opened to the King. When Henry demanded what had been the delay the Queen claimed that she had been tired and had fallen asleep and needed time to prepare to receive the King. He must have accepted this, but the stroy is still a curious one. What is the truth? Well we may not know really.

    The other thing to recall here is that adultery was still not a criminal offence it was a sin. Even if guilty of adultery Catherine could not be executed unless she had done something also to commit treason. Her conversations with Culpepper could have been interpreted as being treasonous. Dereham also indicated that he intended to have relations with the Queen and that he would have gone further had she not been the King’s wife or if Henry was dead. In other words the accusations and confessions by him indicate that he had imagined the King’s death. This was treason and punishable by death. The attainer that was passed in Parliament to condemn the accused was brought in to make adultery treason and it was formally made a crime in 1542 after the fact.

    Also made treason was not revealling your sexual past if you are going to marry the King. There may be some logic to this given Katheryn’s past but to make adultery treason after the fact seems a little odd to our modern minds but it was not that unusual as examples exist from many sources and reigns of attainers either before treason was committed or in case it was or after it was. It was a way that the state could protect its own interests and act in the future or could take the goods of the families of condemned traitors. An act of attainer was used to condemn the Queen, two months after her alleged lovers were dead. Culpepper and Dereham were almost caught in their own trap. Just as the above confession is very detailed and complex so where the final acts that found Dereham and Culpepper guilty.

    The most strange thing about this entire mess was the restraint in which the King acted when the investigation was going on. Henry was unduely calm and perhaps he had hoped that Katheryn would be found not guilty or that it was just vicious rumours started by jealous servants. Even when her past came to light he still remained calm. But that was to change at the council meeting where her dangerous liaisons were revealled, when the King first of all broke down in tears and then at some stage later called for a sword to kill her with himself. The article makes the final comment that Henry’s mercy would now be ended. I think that from this point on it was destroyed by the sense of humiliation and total betrayal by people that he had taken into his confidence and had served him intimately. Henry saw Thomas Culpepper almost as the son that he did not have and wad fond of him. Culpepper was more than a gentleman of the bedchamber; in effect he was something of a male nurse to the King; when he washed and changed his leg dressings every day. Katheryn had been his perfect woman; his rose without a thorn and they had been happy. Now it was all undone and he must have felt terrible. His reaction was of course over the top, but in those days people showed emotions much more freely than today; just not in public. Henry broke down in front of his council. That shows that he was indeed devastated and not just angry or fed up with his wife. in fact, in deep contrast to how he was dealing with Anne; his dealings with Katheryn show the King as a human being; with all the frail qualities of a middle aged man in love with a young woman, whose dream of happiness with her has been destroyed. With Anne he merely wanted her out of the way.

    Katheryn Howard’s own emotional rollercoaster seems to have settled down after a few days at Syon as her situation became clearer and she was no longer hysterical or trying to hide her affairs. She seems to have become calmer and more accepting that there is little she can expect now from the King or Council but must be humble and sorry and may-be she may find some mercy. Of course she was still anxious and afraid; that is only natural as she did not know what was to become of her; but she was more in control of her wild emotions; more demure and more composed to visitors at least. What she went through in private or at night we can only guess. She must have had nightmares unless she found a way to detatch herself from the reality of her impending doom. Clearly she could not have been questioned or given a confession in such detail had she still been very upset and crying all the time. She needed to be able to take her time and that meant composure and deportment. That would change again of course when she was taken to the Tower in February 1542.

  7. It seems to me that some people just can’t fathom the societal differences.
    Is it possible that Katherine was as much a victim of the machinations of powerful men as her cousin Anne? It is absolutely possible, plausible not so much. Katherine was a child who did without, a poor relation so to speak, and as such she was lured by the pomp of the court. Whether fifteen, seventeen, or twenty one she was attracting attention because of her seeming innocence. The very proof of that is that the King referred to her as a rose without a thorn, IE- lovely to look at and without guile.
    My theory is that no one took the time to teach her, to set an example, and therefore her inhibitions were stunted, or perhaps she was just simple, and couldn’t predict what her actions could lead to. Young girls fall in love rather easily, and it is possible as well that Katherine very simply became involved with Culpepper before being pushed into the King’s sphere.
    If someone had asked me at fifteen if I wanted to exchange being shackled an old. fat,sick, and powerful man for getting almost every desire fulfilled, I ‘d have gone right for it- So honestly I don’t really blame her for her dishonesty, and am really quite sad for her. Just another soul lost to time, and we will never know the real truth.

    1. Yes. I agree with you. She was very young as well as very naive she was nice to people and they took advantage and as the saying goes “Appearances can be deceptive” and it just goes to show!

  8. Katherine could not have been regarded as a poor innocent girl of 17,she learned more in the duchesses house and knew more than all henrys wives put together,she was just not up to the ways of behaving as henrys wife and queen,you cant seriously have as bandit queen said ,men coming up backstairs late at night ,locked doors and countless other daft behaviour ,im surprised she didn’t get caught a lot sooner,ok if given a choice of henry banging at your door looking for his conjugal rights or culpepper waiting on the back stairs ,im afraid to say it would be the backstairs for me!

    1. They were all playing a dangerous game and lost and like you said I am surprised they all did not get caught sooner knowing full well how big the interior as well as the exterior of the places they stayed in were not to mention all of the people around! In as well as outside!

    2. I agree, Katherine was no innocent child; she knew what she was about and had a sexual past. She may not have been taught correctly and left with other girls to run a little wild, but the Duchess did try to curb her behaviour when she and a friend stole the key and let the young men into the so called Maidens Chamber. This was a place were young women of the family were sent to live in a dorm type room and were they were meant to be kept away from roaming males. They were meant to learn to be young ladies and to prepare for marriage. They were also taught to dance, play and sing and practical management of a household. They were not meant to be having romps with either the household servants or the young male relatives that came to visit the household from time to time. Dereham, Culpepper, Katherine and Jane Rochford all knew the risks they were taking and they all they what would happen if they got caught.

      Even if she did not have much say in her marriage to Henry and was told to keep her past secret; she knew what she was about when she broke her marriage vows and she knew who she was married to. She was old enough to accept the crown and old enough to have sexual relations with her husband. She was old enough to know that she was married to the most dangerous man in Christendom; or did she not realise she was married to Henry VIII. There is a story that she warned Culpepper to not repeat anything they had said together or to tell anyone; not even his priest in confession least the King as Supreme Head of the Church should hear about it. I am not one of the poor little Katherine party; I admit there were circumstances that may have led to her mistakes; but once she was married; she knew the score and should have been more careful.

  9. Katherine displayed many of the personality traits commonly found in child sexual abuse victims. It’s almost uncanny: the combination of abysmally poor judgment and uncontrolled risk-taking with sexual precocity and naïveté in other matters is textbook.

    As for Culpepper, I find it interesting that he was one of the few men at court who knew how sick Henry really was. You have to ask yourself if he was angling for higher office (as the Queen’s second husband) in the case of Henry’s death.

    1. If you refer to Mannox her music teacher; this could be interpreted by modern standards as mild child abuse as the girl was only young at this time and did not appear to want his attentions. But she could not be said to have been abused by Dereham and her relationship with him was that of man and wife,consenting and having sexual relations as equals and exchanging gifts and promises. A trait of child sexual abuse or rape is also to shy completely away from intimate touching by men; even rejecting the love making by a husband. A victim may clam up as it where; refuse to be touched or have sex and become inward looking. They may use protective measures against the world and against having a relationship. I do not see this in Katherine. She may have moved on from Mannox and may-be her later sexual regularity with others was a cry for help as she seems to have found it hard to make trusting and deep friendships. There are all sorts of eleemnts of lack of normal upbringing that have impacted on her choices in early adulthood, but that does not excuse the dangerous risk taking within her marriage.

      By the time of her relationship with Dereham Katherine was at least 15 and may have been older and over the age of consent for the time. They were a couple and this should have been recongnised as a marriage as in canon law it was. But Katherine was a Howard and the ambitions of the Howards would not be content with her marriage to either Culpepper or Dereham, although her mother was a Culpepper. Was Tom her cousin? Sorry, it is early morning and brain has departed. In any event Culpepper had a bad reputation about the court and had been involved in an alleged rape and murder. I do not think the proud Howards would have him for a son-in-law. Katherine may have been the only lady of the household available for their promotion of a Catholic Queen towards the KIng; but Katherine and Henry enjoyed normal sexual relations, which suggests that they had a mutural bond at least and she was complient to the match. Her desire for Culpepper was clearly her choice and not abuse, and her taking up again with Dereham may have been attempting to have the best of both worlds.

      Was she eying up husband no2 and did they talk about the King dying soon and being free to marry? Where they overheard? Did the women of the chamber fear Katherine having a child that was not the Kings, although she boasted she could meddle with a man and not get pregnant. Did Katherine dream of being free and rich when Henry died? Did she not understand that royal widows cannot remarry without the consent of the council? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then both Katherine and her partners committed treason as it was so to imagine the King’s death, a vague term that could mean a variety of things. Adultery was not yet treason until the acts of attainer that made it so and the act of Parliament that followed in 1542. A public divorce would have been even more humiliating and sad for the King and country as well as for Katherine. She could have been publically treated as a wh*re and made to do penance. But a trial and execution was cleaner. It was more clinical. That is why the men who seduced Katherine, a crime in itself for them, and she had to die; guilty of adultery; the other crimes had to be added or admitted to in order to make it treason. And yes, I do believe she was guilty and I do not think poor little Katherine. She knew the risks of sleeping with the Kings grooms and servants. Even if they only talked; that talk could be seen as treason and that was a risk that Katherine chose to take.

    2. You are spot on Charlene. Having sex at an early age does not make you wise or mature – it makes you a person who had sex at an early age. Too young to learn about meaningful and respectful relationships. Too young to learn about who to trust and not trust. It means you have been taken advantage of, a victim of abuse without realising it is abuse. You learn that to be noticed, to be liked, to feel like you are valued, you behave in a flirtatious manner, that sex is a payment for your sense of being valued. Not all victims of abuse shy away from intimacy, particularly when they grow up believing it is normal behaviour.

  10. 17 in our time and 17 in the 16th Century are two different things. People grew up a lot faster,
    life was shorter. Marriages were often consummated when girls were 14. Margaret Beaufort had her son at 13.

    Catherine was a much neglected girl, raised in atmosphere of extramarital sex, unprotected by her family. She seems to have been immature by the standards of the age, and easily manipulated by men, Henry included. She must have enjoyed the attention he showered on her, as well as the worldly goods he poured into her hands.

    Nobody looked after her, protected her, taught her. Her birth family was noble but poor.

    The reality of sex with Henry must have been a real shocker. What’s worse, she may have feared that if she couldn’t give him more sons, she would lose everything, including her life. It would have been easy for Culpeper to convince her she could secure her position by letting him get her pregnant.

    There are many possibilities. She is the saddest case among Henry’s wives. She may have been a featherbrain, or simply a lost child who failed to understand she was living among wolves.

    1. I also think she is the saddest case. By the time they married, Henry’s paranoia was full blown, something that would have made him difficult to predict. Since she had already been with Derehem with virtually no negative repercussions before marriage to the king, she may have believed she could do the same with Culpepper. If I recall correctly, Culpepper was also somewhat favored by Henry, and may have thought he could manipulate his way out of any suspicion. Nobody counted on Derehem being a loose cannon, willing to risk the lives of Catherine and Culpepper (and himself). While she was no innocent as far as sexual relations, I think she was childlike in her belief that Henry would never suspect, accuse and kill her.

    2. Have read the new biography by Proffessor Josephine Wilkinson who gives some wonderful insights into the household of the Duchrss of Norfolk which was large and wealthy, if thrifty, plus the type of education and skills to run a large household that Katharine received. She would receive guidance and knew that being chaste was required of her, she was chaperoned and corrected, but as only one of the ladies and girls who were in her care, the elderly Agnus could not take personal interest in her supervision, so she was not as closely guided as she should have been. Mistress Emet was obviously not as sharp bas she should have been and although the keys to the separate dorms were returned to Agnus every night, they were stolen. The girls then did what teens do, they had late night psrties, which in some cases led to other things. Although Francis Dereham had a brief relationship with Katharine, after she left for court to be a lady in waiting, she seems to have moved on, with the hope of an advantageous marriage. Katharine was prepared for such a station, but not necessarily to be Queen. Had Anne of Cleves aroused the Kings interest and succeeded as Queen, Katharine could have expected to have an arranged marriage with royal approval, even in royal service. She would need Anne’s leave, but no doubt a suitable marriage would emerge. From the age of 14 Katharine could have been married to a Howard cousin. The annulment of Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves changed everything.

      Henry and Katharine had been introduced on her court debut. After several weeks or a few months, somehow Henry noticed Katharine and must have spent time with her, although the actual circumstances are speculation. Her uncle of Norfolk would come to see any opportunity to promote his neice as a prospective Catholic queen, even if we have no information about this. Henry was seen courting her day and night and his desire to get rid of poor Anne meant that he probably saw Katharine with whom he was in love as the new Queen. Anne had impressed Katharine, plus she was courting other than the King and she was also impressed by Henry. Henry showered Katharine with gifts and cared for her, treated her very well. Henry did not know anything about her previous relationships and Katharine was content to make a clean break. Unfortunately for Katharine, Dereham who as you say was a hot head was a pest. After he followed Katharine, he pestered her, he wanted money to go away, documentary evidence shows this, plus he caused other trouble. Katharine, showing lack of maturity and fear, instead of having him removed paid him and begged for his silence. Dereham was the one to blame Culpeper, with whom Katharine had mow had a more satisfying relationship. We can’t prove that her relationship with Thomas Culpeper, a gentleman of the Kings privy chamber and a favourite of his, was sexual, but they had meetings late at night, dangerous liaisons, which could be misunderstood.

      Katharine was never the uneducated ninny of legend, she carried out her duties as Queen well, she was compassionate and gave Henry a new lease of life. She successfully interceded for a number of criminals and also Thomas Wyatt, getting him a pardon for treason. However, there were times times Henry was ill and Katharine did not know how to distract herself during these periods. She was the youngest of the Queens, but other young women married aged 14. Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk had married Charles Brandon when he was 49 and she 14. She had some more advantages to KH, for her mother was alive for one thing and she had a mother figure in her life. She was also treated more like a daughter in the Suffolk household, was betrothed to his son, very well educated and raised close to and around the court. She was obviously more closely chaperoned than Katharine and no doubt her tutors were as well. Katherine seems to have been in a vulnerable position, which undermined her confidence to act as Queen. There were plenty of things to distract a Queen in her duties, charity and visiting places and entertainment, but it was later on the progress North that she began to fill a void. Katherine it is believed loved Culpeper before her marriage and he took a more personal interest in her welfare as Queen. He came as a messenger from the King, seems to have developed a rapport and she felt that she could trust him. Perhaps with more time and space on her hands she wanted to know him better. With the ladies on duty it is possible that Katherine believed she was safe and had not been seen with her meetings with Culpeper, but then she did not know that her old servants and companion Mary Hall had reported her early life to her brother, who brought it to Cranmer. It was pure coincidence that a jealous and possibly fearful Dereham talked about Culpeper. It did not take long for her ladies and Culpeper to talk or Katherine about how and when they met. But note, neither admitted adultery, only a desire to go further, the intention bringing the guilt and charges. Both Culpeper and Katherine were foolish to think that late night/early morning intimate meetings would not be interpreted as treason, for although there is no proof of sexual and criminal adultery, there is evidence that they imagined the Kings death and it was presumed that they had committed treason and adultery. What else were they doing must have gone through several minds. Immature or folish? Maturity is hard to define and varies from person to person, can depend on character shaping events, education, imagination, strength of mind, attitude and social status. It is definitely determined by sex. A 17 years old girl is more mature mentally than a 17 years old boy, who is normally physically immature until they are 25. Now of course this will also vary with upbringing, experience, expectations, so if someone was raised to be a leader, they would learn to act in a more mature way, or having to marry at 15 and produce an heir would probably force you to grow up sooner. Even in those days when people were expected to be mature sooner, at least in noble families, there must have been wide variations. Poorer people would have to find work for survival, so here too maturity was expected early. I am talking about physical maturity. Mental and emotional maturity would not always follow and could be more down to attitude and example than anything else. I feel that Katharine does show some evidence of being a little immature, but her actions are more foolish than down to her youth. Her ladies are somewhat to blame as Lady Rochford should have taken her in hand, not aided and abbetted her midnight love affairs. Yes she had to obey the Queen, but she has to obey the King first and her oath should have made her warn Katherine of this dangerous behaviour. At the very least she had a duty to inform Katherine’s Chamberlain and Controller of her household and nipped it in the bud.

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