22 December – The Howards in trouble and an imprisoned bishop

Posted By on December 22, 2017

On this day in history, 22 December 1541, members of the Howard and Tilney family, plus their staff, were tried for misprision of treason for covering up the “unlawful, carnal, voluptuous, and licentious life”. of Queen Catherine Howard while she lived with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk at Lambeth.

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Also on this day in history, 22nd December 1534, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, wrote to Thomas Cromwell from the Tower of London beseeching him to provide him with a shirt and sheet, neither of which he had, some food, some books and a priest to hear his confession. He also asked Cromwell to intercede with the King and to “move” him to release Fisher from “this cold and painful imprisonment”. Fisher had been imprisoned for denying the King’s supremacy.

Click here to read his letter.

4 thoughts on “22 December – The Howards in trouble and an imprisoned bishop”

  1. Christine says:

    Just a few days before Christmas and all the Howard family, one of the most illustrious in the land were all rounded up like cattle and taken to that grim fortress the Tower of London, no turkey for them then! But Christmas must have been the last thing on their minds, and it certainly must have put a blight on the festive celebrations at court, feel really sorry for the duchess Catherines gran who must have felt somewhat responsible for her silly granddaughter, who after all had been placed in her care, she was old and didn’t need all the stress and worry and fear that her dangerous situation placed her in, Christmas must have been a dismal affair that year at court with the King glowering at everyone as he struggled to come to terms with his queens past history and supposed adultery, he was a man even though he was King and he must have suspected there was more to the meetings between his wife and Culpeper than she swore to be true, her very past showed her in an unflattering light, therefore why should he believe her now, as Christmas approaches with the merry cheerfulness of the season in our modern age we can spare a thought for those unfortunate souls who must have been going out of their mind with worry in that cold damp prison nearly half a century ago, and also for Bishop Fisher who like the Duchess of Norfolk was not a young person nor robust and who had to beg for comfort in those dark miserable days, only his faith sustained him, through the centuries we can reach out and touch them, we who are free and alive in a much more liberated age, we can spare a thought for their suffering.

  2. AB says:

    I don’t think other kings would have reacted in such a manner. The way he handled this whole episode reveals Henry VIII’s vindictiveness. Likewise with the Anne Boleyn debacle.

    1. Christine says:

      Anne Boleyn was framed we know but Henry was broken hearted over his wife’s infidelity or supposed infidelity, he had put her on a pedestal and had even been in church and gave thanks to God for his blessed jewel of womanhood, he had believed she was pure and perfect, instead he found she was spoiled goods and probably had laughed at him behind his back with Dereham and Culpeper, a young man he was very fond of and who he favoured, in his grief and hurt and rage he thought all the Howard’s had deliberately misled him, his behaviour is really quite normal in this although we all know he could be capable of acting in a very cruel and vindictive manner.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    This was a terrible state of affairs and shows just how hurt and angry Henry was, because when Anne had been arrested for alleged adultery and treason with her brother, the rest of the family were not rounded up and put in the Tower. This was different because the family had given him two Queens who had betrayed him from Henry’s point of view so perhaps they were all trouble. He was also looking for other evidence of what they knew and had hidden. The entire family were questioned and now pleaded guilty in order to gain mercy. It had been several long weeks of interrogation, searching their homes and imprisonment and fear and now they faced long years in prison. They were thankfully released some time the following Summer, but they had no idea how long this sentence would be. The only hope was that Henry had said that he would show mercy to the women and later did. Norfolk was the only one to escape the round up, having written to Henry and disowned his family and grovelled for mercy.

    The Tower was too full even for the entire Howard family imprisoned and it must have been a terrible experience. The Dowager Duchess was very old and very ill, so she was spared the hearing but had been interrogated. She was nursed but still questioned. I reckon Henry had totally lost it and this was extreme even for him. Yes, no doubt a good few knew that Katherine had a lover before marriage but did they intend treason? No, they probably expected it not to matter as it was over well before she became Queen and it was not treason in law for a woman to withhold her past, not until afterwards. However, what Henry construed as treason or misprison was so and that is proven in this over the top show trial. Henry wanted to destroy the Howards, he wanted revenge, his anger hit strong but in the end he would release most of them, partly because they were too strong, partly because he needed them, even as he had his young wife beheaded.

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