16 September 1541 – Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Howard Enter York

Henry VIIIOn this day in 1541, King Henry VIII entered the city of York through Walmgate Bar, and was met by the city’s officials at Fulford Cross. The mayor and the aldermen of the city then begged forgiveness from the King for the North’s rebellion during the Pilgrimage of Grace, and gave the King and his wife, Queen Catherine Howard, a gold cup each full of gold coins.

This visit to York was part of Henry and Catherine’s royal progress to the North, a progress which Tim Thornton describes as the “most extravagant progress to occur in Henry’s reign.”1 Lacey Baldwin Smith writes, “Never before had the court migrated with such splendour or in such numbers,”2 and Nadine Lewycky writes that Henry and his Queen were accompanied by “an entourage of 4-5,000 horsemen.”3 The couple had set off from London on 30th June 1541, but bad weather caused delays and they didn’t reach Lincoln until 9th August, moving on to Pontefract on 23rd August, then Cawood (the palace of the Archbishop of York), Wressle, Leconfield, Hull and finally York on 16th September. Chronicler Edward Hall records the offerings made to the King on the progress:

“This Sommer the Kyng kepte his progresse to Yorke, and passed through Lyncolne Shire, where was made to hym an humble submission by the temporaltie, confessyng their offence, and thankyngthe kyng for his pardon: and the Toune of Staunforde gaue the Kyng twentie pounde, and Lyncolne presented fourtie pounde, & Boston fiftie pound that parte whiche is called Lynsey gaue three hundred pounde, and Kestren and the Churche of Lyncolne gaue fiftie pounde. And when he entred into Yorke Shire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coates of Veluet, and foure thousande tall yornen, and seruyng men, well horsed: whiche on their knees made a submission, by the mouthe of sir Robert Bowes, and gaue to the Kyng nyne hundred pounde. And on Barnesdale met the kyng, the Archebishoppe of Yorke, with three hundred Priestes and more, and made a like submission, and gaue the kyng sixe hundred pounde. Like submission was made by the Maior of Yorke, Newe Castle and Hull, and eche of theim gaue to the Kyng an hundred pounde. When the Kyng had been at Yorke twelue daies, he came to Hull, and deuised there certain fortificacions, and passed ouer the water of Homber, and so through Lyncolne Shire, and at Halontidee came to Hampton Court.”4

Historians are divided over the main purpose of the progress, with some believing that it was to do with diplomacy towards Scotland and France, and others believing that it was more to do with the domestic situation after the Pilgrimage of Grace and the renewed threats of trouble in the North, such as the recent Wakefield Plot. Henry had arranged to meet his nephew James V of Scotland at York but the Scottish King stood him up. In his essay5 on the progress, Thornton points out the record of Marillac, the French ambassador who went on the progress and who says:

“Those who in the rebellion remained faithful were ranked apart, and graciously welcomed by the King and praised for their fidelity. The others who were of the conspiracy, among whom appeared the abp. of York, were a little further off on their knees; and one of them, speaking for all, made a long harangue confessing their treason in marching against their Sovereign and his Council, thanking him for pardoning so great an offence and begging that if any relics of indignation remained he would dismiss them.”6

So, those who had been faithful to the King were rewarded and those who had been involved in the troubles were expected to submit and beg forgiveness. The North’s submission must have pleased the King but there was trouble brewing. His wife had been having secret liaisons with Thomas Culpeper, one of the King’s Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, meeting him at Lincoln, Hatfield, Pontefract and York. No-one knows exactly how far things went between the couple, but their alleged affair came to light shortly after the court’s return from the Progress. Ironically, Henry VIII had just attended mass and given “his Maker… most hearty thanks for the good life he led and trusted to lead with his wife” when his world came crashing down and he was advised of his wife’s sordid past. Things, of course, would get worse…

You can find out more about Henry VIII’s 1541 progress in Tim Thornton’s excellent essay “Henry VIII’s Progress Through Yorkshire in 1541 and its Implications for Northern Identities”. It is available for purchase (download) at IngentaConnect. You can read more about Catherine Howard in the following articles:-

Notes and Sources

  1. Thornton, Tim (2009) Henry VIII’s Progress Through Yorkshire in 1541 and its Implications for Northern Identities, Northern History, Volume 46, Number 2, September 2009, p231
  2. Baldwin Smith, Lacey (2009) Catherine Howard, Amberley Publishing, p160
  3. Nadine Lewycky, The City of York in the time of Henry VIII, read at http://www.york.ac.uk/ipup/projects/york/bigcityread/city.html
  4. Hall, Edward. Hall’s Chronicle, p842
  5. Thornton, p238
  6. LP xvi. 1130, Marillac to Francis I
  7. Quoted in “Henry VIII and His Court”, Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1911), p18

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