19 November 1541 – Chapuys Reports on the Catherine Howard Investigation

Posted By on November 19, 2013

Eustace Chapuys

Eustace Chapuys

On 19th November 1541, Eustace Chapuys, the Imperial ambassador, wrote to Emperor Charles V. His letter included what he’d heard about Queen Catherine Howard’s imprisonment:

“The day before yesterday the admiral Fitz-William sent me word by one of my own secretaries, and yesterday the Lord Privy Seal confirmed the news, that this Queen had confessed having before her marriage to the King had connexion with Master Durem (Durham) [Dereham], who is now confined in the Tower, and that during three years of most intimate connexion there had been no question nor talk of a marriage between them. Besides that lately, upon investigation, it had been discovered that Master Colpeper [Culpeper], of the King’s bedchamber, who slept at the bottom of his bed, had received from her certain love-tokens, and met her twice privately within the last two months, each meeting lasting five to six hours, and that the intermediary agent for such love appointments was Lady Rochefort [Rochford], the widow of the earl of that name, and brother of Anne, the King’s concubine, who has likewise been sent to the Tower. And upon my asking the Lord Privy Seal how the King, his master, intended to treat the case, he answered that the King would bear the blow more patiently and compassionately than most people thought, nay, a good deal more tenderly than the Queen’s own relatives, if it be true, as reported, that the duke of Norfolk has declared—God knows why—that he wishes the Queen to be burnt alive. I am not aware yet of her having been sent to the Tower; there is a talk of shutting her up in what was once a nunnery near Richmond, under the guard of four women and of some soldiers.”

It appears that the gossip around court at this time was that the King would be merciful.

Chapuys also wrote of Anne of Cleves:

“I hear also that Mme. [Anne de] Clèves has greatly rejoiced at the event, and that in order to be nearer the King she is coming to, if she is not already at, Richmond. I would not, for many considerations, touch in the least on the subject of Mme. de Clèves to the Lord Privy Seal, waiting until there be a better opportunity, and I myself may go to Court.”

Of course, we don’t know Anne’s personal feelings on the matter, but Archbishop Cranmer did report to the King on 13th December 1542 that the Ambassador of Cleves had visited him “to commende unto me the cause of the Lady Anne of Cleve”, explaining that “the cause” was “the reconciliation of Your Majestie unto the Lady Anne of Cleve.” Of course, Henry VIII never did get back together with Anne, but the couple kept on good terms. Henry VIII’s next marriage was to Catherine Parr in 1543.

Notes and Sources

  • Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 6 Part 1: 1538-1542, note 207
  • State Papers: King Henry VIII; Parts I and II, Volume I (1831), p716