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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16 thoughts on “16 September 1541 – Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Howard Enter York”
  1. The purpose of the northern progress was probably varied. Henry of course had made a promise to come north to Robert Aske and although he saw no reason to keep his word to a proclaimed rebel and traitor, there was something about this promise that made Henry seem duty bound to keep it. He may have seen something in Aske at their first meeting that told him that he was more than a mere rebel; he was a man of honour and integrity. Even though Henry had Aske as his fall guy when he executed him for sins committed since the December 1536 pardon; he had also been impressed by him. And Henry often boasted that he always kept his word; a promise made in public was harder to get out of than one made in private and this may have had something to do with his decision to keep it.

    In addition to this when there is trouble in the country it was traditional for the sovereign or his representatives and followed by the King at a time of peace; to come to that area to pacify it and receive its submission in person. The north and the midlands had been pacified for a few years, although there had recently been some small signs of risings and Henry wanted to make sure the area knew who was in charge: him and not the local gentry. He came north to show off his majestic self and to ensure that the region really was back under royal control. He also wanted to make a great show of being a gracious sovereign lord; a forgiving King and to receive signs of submission and a return to obediance. Henry also wanted to inspect the places himself and make sure that now his laws were finally being followed in all parts of the country. It is said that on the journey north he saw some signs that the country was slipping back into the traditional worship and customs of the Catholic Church and that he put methods in place to correct this.

    Henry also had a personal need to show himself to his subjects and this was a part of the country that had never seen him. Not only was it about time that a Tudor monarch come this far north but that he was seen to be just and fair. He rewarded those who had resisted Aske and his cronies during the risings and accepted compensation from those who had rebelled. The cities were not simply buying pardons, they were in a way recompensing the King for his state losses due to the damage they had caused. But of course you are going to get a gracious pardon if you pay with gold; sorry to sound cynical. Henry made a great show and all was ceremonial just as reconciliation ceremonies of the old middle ages had been when a wayward city or subject made his or her or its peace with the crown. Henry also had someone else that he wanted to show off: his beautiful and charming young wife: Katherine.

    Henry had hoped to bring Jane Seymour north to have her crowned in York Minster just as Richard III had crowned Anne Neville here as well as in London. But Jane had been taken from him and that opportunity had passed him by. A few years later and with the kingdom settled and at peace Henry finally felt that he could leave London and the places familiar to him and come well beyond the houses in the Mildands that he was used to visiting on progress. He brought instead his new wife; the 18 year old Katherine Howard but he did not plan to crown her as she was not with child or the mother of his son. He also wanted to bring with him someone who was very popular in the north: Princess Mary, his daughter, who they saw as his legitimate heir. It could be that by showing them Mary that they would receive him move fully and more favourably; they would cheer Mary and extend that praise to him and his wife. This was what happened on the visit; Mary being even more welcomed than the King and Queen; and Katherine is said to have had her nose put out of joint. In any event they were all received well; the gold was paid, the speeches made, the pardons granted and all was well with the world; or so Henry believed.

    With the business end of the progress of course came the fun parts; the balls, the hunts, the long nights of dancing and feasting and the more relaxed athmosphere than that at court. And for Katherine it was a great opportunity, not just to be seen and to shine as Henry’s wife, which she did, but to let her hair and have her own type of fun. Long nights of dance and hunting during the day took their toil on the ageing heavier Henry and he was tired at night time. So Katherine many nights on the progress was left alone to her own devices and took all the advantage of them by having love affairs in her apartments. The King did want to see his wife and to sleep with her on a couple of nights and he sent for her but found that she had locked out the messanger. He came to her rooms on one occassion and found the door bolted and locked to him and he had to wait while Katherine slipped her lover down the backstairs and told the King she had been asleep.

    For Katherine the progress was nothing more than an opportunity to have fun and sleep with her lovers; nothing else. She may have played her expected role in public but she was not as discreet as she thought on the progress and had been seen letting men into her rooms and then them leaving late into the night or early morning. She had foolishly on progress given in to blackmail and allowed an old flame Francis Dereham into her service and into her bed. She took full advantage of the long extended stay at Pontefract Castle to have at least three affairs and it was almost as if she really did not care.

    Henry’s final reason for coming north was to meet his nephew James V of Scotland who had been making threats against England. Henry had insisted that he was the King of Scots overlord and James had reacted with anger. But some recent efforts had been made to come to an agreement and it was believed that James was more than willing to meet Henry and for them to be reconciled and put their differences behind him. He had planned several banquets and hunts and four days stay at York and had made a beautiful gift for the Scottish King; a fantastic jewelled egg, with many rich stones and gold all over it. James had indicated that he would come and that he would make sure that he was able to find a way forward over their differences which included Henry seeing himself as an overlord and he not accepting that position. But it was not to be and James refused to appear at the meeting in York Minster, leaving Henry around all day and then sending a message to tell him he was not coming. In fact to Henry’s shock James had sent men over the border and done some raids and killings and burnings. Henry had no choice but to react in like manner. He could not pursue James too far however as he had to cut his progress short and return home in haste as he had also heard that Prince Edward had a serous fever and his life may be in danger. Henry came home to find his son recovered but his marriage on the rocks; Katheine’s adultery was revealled to him the day after his return.

    1. Can you elaborate on your source for:

      ‘…..Mary being even more welcomed than the King and Queen; and Katherine is said to have had her nose put out of joint.’

      Also, how do we know for sure Dereham blackmailed her; where does it tell us she slept with him after she was married; had she been seen letting men (plural) into her rooms; and with whom were the ‘at least three affairs’ committed at Pontefract?


      1. Yes we are told in several accounts that Mary was greeted with cheering crowds and here popularity here in the north is well documented. I do not have time now to get you the sources but I will post them later this month in a response. I have also read an account of her affair at Pontefract with Dereham and Culpepper in the so called evidence that was given against her . Historians agree that it was here that she had the most opportunity and the affair took place. We do not know for sure that Katherie was blackmailed by Dereham but that he did use his further knowledge of how she had behaved with him in her grandmother’s house as a way to persuade her to appoint him to her household. And he was not the only one who knew Katherine from the household and ended up at court. It may not have been a good idea to have given anyone an appointment from her former life; but she was also said to be soft hearted and felt sorry for them; but with Dereham blackmail was a more formidable weapon. He was no charming person that is for sure. There is some debate as to whether Katherine and Dereham continued a sexual relationship after he came to her household while on progress but that they met several times and had the intention of being in a relationship had the King died. This he himself states in his confession and testimony. This was treason as the implication was that Dereham and Katherine wanted the King out of the way and imagined the King’s death; a crime in itself punishable by death. Dereham claimed also that the only reason he had not gone all the way with Katherine was that she had supplanted him with Culpepper. There is source evidence that she met with him C on several occassions and she wrote a letter to him which sounds like a love sick deer than a woman of noble blood in love; but he was escorted to her room on a number of occassions and there is also source evidence about the door to the Queen’s room being locked when the King said he was going to call on her later that night. She was also meant to have had affairs at other places, Chennies and York also being mentioned.

        As the above article also mentions a visit to York I was wondering if the palace that Henry and Katherine stayed in; the Archbishop palace or King’s Manor still exists as we are going to York for a few days next month?

      1. I don’t think the King went North to meet with the then-deceased Aske, only that he’d publicly made a promise to Aske to go north, which the King did. Right?

        1. Yes, Henry VIII did make promises to the rebels, including consenting to the rebels’ demand for a free Parliament to be held at York, and he did talk about having Jane Seymour crowned at York.

        2. Henry might have got a certain amount of satisfaction out of keeping his word re. the progress even after executing Aske and the others. “Unlike you, I am a man of my word.”

  2. There is no evidence to say anywhere that Dereham slept or was still sleeping with Kateryn but there is evidence to point out that she had welcomed him back to England and into her service but as to wether there was anything more I do not know we do not know nobody does for certain. We know that she had been in a love triangle but if she was seeing Dereham as well as Culpepper and the King…leaves much to be speculated and I thought that Culpepper had succeeded Dereham in the Queen’s affections…?!?

  3. Pontefract, Chennies and York are amongst the places listed from the inquest into the affairs that came to light on the progress. Dereham was also implicated in wanting the King out of the way as he stated he would have carried on an affair had Henry not been around and gave an intention to sleep with Katherine. This was interpreted as imagining the King’s death and an intention to commit treason. Thought crime actually seems to have existed as it can translate into actions. For example: the legislation around the marriage of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII and his Supremacy make it a crime not to fully support these acts with your whole being and your heart. In other words if you express in words thoughts and beliefs then you are not sincere when you are taking the oath. These were taken to undermine the right of the King and so regarded as treason. Having Culpepper and Dereham even pop into her chambers Katherine was acting daft and as one was a former lover; she was certainly acting dangerously. If these men where being escorted into her rooms at night via the back stairs; they were not coming for a cup of tea!

    1. Dear BanditQueen

      Thank you for your replies.

      I have been working on Katherine Howard and her relationships with her co-accused, especially her step grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, for several years and so naturally will be interested in the sources you have used.

      I am aware that Mary is mentioned in accounts of the Progress and that she was popular, it is your claim that Katherine was jealous, which seems to imply her displeasure was obvious to witnesses, that interests me, bearing in mind that relations between the two women had been gradually improving after what had, not surprisingly, been a shaky start. Henry had been pleased with his daughter for making an effort with her step-mother (who was younger than she) and I wondered if there is any record of his reactions if Katherine and Mary looked like having a falling out. I don’t immediately recall any contemporary account that Katherine felt sidelined by Mary at this time.

      There is no hard evidence for Dereham having used blackmail and it is not known why the Dowager Duchess asked Katherine to employ him (if she did), with speculation that she did so in order to jump the gun in case he decided to cause trouble later. Some modern historians state the old lady had a soft spot for him – an assumption, I suppose, because she did not sack him when she found out what he was up to with Katherine in Lambeth, but there is no evidence she favoured him.

      As you say, the fact that Dereham had mentioned that Katherine would have married him if Henry was dead was in breach of the Treasons Act of 1534, but in its context it can be interpreted as Dereham meaning that if Henry had not ever existed she would have chosen him, Dereham. The fact he had made such a statement to a friend, whatever the context, was a real gift to his accusers.

      Again, Katherine Howard’s letter is open to different interpretations and has been seen as she being so anxious to see Culpeper because she was afraid he was talking about her outside court, or that he had implied he was going to make trouble for her. Personally I don’t think so, as making trouble for her would surely have been risking his own neck as well. I wonder if she actually wrote it at all – it was very conveniently found when his house was searched.

      In my part of the world, Lincolnshire, the Grand Jury of local worthies, who would hardly have heard of the girl, let alone have witnessed her actions, accused her of all manner of misbehaviour based on gossip and hearsay, and for good measure accused her of meeting secretly with Culpeper at Gainsborough Old Hall. I was invited by historian Alison Weir to give a lecture there on Katherine’s connections with the Hall earlier this year (see Alison Weir Tours: The Six Wives of Henry VIII) and standing there talking about this girl where she and Henry stayed, certainly brought home to me how quickly her young life was to unravel.

      King’s Manor in York, formerly the house of the Abbot of St Mary’s, belongs to the University of York and I don’t think is open to the public every day. Hope you have a wonderful time in York, and do have a look at Barley Hall, its lovely.

      1. Dear Marilyn,

        Many thanks for your suplementary information; good luck with any further research or writing that you are doing on Katherine; and thank you for the information on the King’s Manor.



    2. I rather suspect Culpeper had more than a dalliance on his mind. After all, Henry was old and sick (and as Henry’s most trusted body servant Culpeper knew better than anyone just how sick he was); i have to wonder if he wasn’t trying a Tom Seymour six years too early.

  4. It would make sense that Princess Mary was welcomed in so heart-felt a manner when she traveled north. That was the seat of a lot of her power, wasn’t it?

  5. I think the reasons for this progress certainly have a political agenda to accept the submission of former rebels, reward faithful followers and to make royal authority felt in the north. There was obviously the usual entertainments, hunting, dancing, showing off, but Henry also took the opportunity for local business. A charter for example in York’s large merchants hall reveals that Henry received complaints from the merchants concerning attacks on North Sea trade and that he arranged ordinances, authorized merchant defences, and intervened to sort the problem out, even paying compensation to those effected. He made several provisions for relief and protection in the future. For Katherine Howard the visit may have been one long holiday, although she had a ceremonial role of course. The home that they stayed in King’s Manor was one of the places Katherine was reported to have had her late night liaisons. If Henry also led council meetings then she was probably by this time a little bored.

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