Posted By Claire on July 28, 2016
On 28th July 1540, at Oatlands Palace, in Surrey, King Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, daughter of Edmund Howard and Jocasta Culpeper, and niece of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. The groom was forty-nine years of age, and the bride may have been just sixteen1, and the wedding was a low-key affair, with Henry’s fourth marriage only just having been annulled. It was kept quiet for over a week, and Catherine did not appear in public as queen until 8th August.
The marriage appeared happy at first, with Henry doting on his young bride and having a new lease of life. Catherine’s biographer, Lacey Baldwin Smith, writes of how the King, who had previously felt “the weight of age close upon him”, was suddenly “filled with fresh vitality”, started getting up early (between 5 and 6am) to go hunting and that the French ambassador wrote of his “good spirits” and “good humour”.2 Henry VIII was happy, he had high hopes for the future, but, sadly, his hopes would be dashed just over 15 months later when he was made aware of Catherine’s sexual history and then her secret assignations with Thomas Culpeper, a groom of his privy chamber. Henry was devastated. Catherine Howard was executed for treason on 13th February 1542, after having been found guilty of treason by a bill of attainder.
Fifth time lucky? No!
You can read more about Catherine and her fall in the following articles:
- Catherine Howard: The Material Girl?
- 2 November 1541 – A bad All Souls’ Day for Henry VIII
- 7 November 1541 – Queen Catherine Howard is in trouble
- 8 November 1541 – Catherine Howard is interrogated
- 1 December 1541 – The Trial of Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper
- 10 December 1541 – Culpeper and Dereham are executed at Tyburn
- 21 January 1542 – Catherine Howard and Lady Rochford’s Attainder
- 10 February 1542 – Queen Catherine Howard is moved from Syon to the Tower
- 13 February 1542 – Catherine Howard and Lady Rochford make the most godly and Christian’s end
Notes and Sources
- There is controversy over Catherine’s birthdate, with some historians dating her birth to around 1524 and others to around 1521.
- Baldwin Smith, Lacey (2009) Catherine Howard: The Queen Whose Adulteries Made a Fool of Henry VIII, Amberley, p. 134.