28 July 1540 – Henry VIII marries for the fifth time

Portrait of an unknown woman, possibly Catherine Howard
Portrait of an unknown woman, possibly Catherine Howard
On 28th July 1540, Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, at Oatlands Palace. His marriage to Anne of Cleves had only been annulled on 9th July, so this wedding was a low key affair.

The first mention chronicler Edward Hall makes of the new queen is an entry for 8th August:

“The eight day of August was the Lady Katheryn Howard, nece to the duke of Norfolk, and daughter to the lord Edmond Howard, shewed openly as Quene at Hampton Court, whiche dignitie she enjoyed not long as after ye shall here.”

Chronicler and Windsor Herald Charles Wriothesley actually dates the marriage to 8th August and at Hampton Court:

“This yeare, the eight daie of Awgust, being Sondaie, the King was maried to Katherin Hawarde, daughter of the late Edmond Haward deceased, and brother to the Duke of Norfolke, at his mannor of Hampton Court, and that daie she dined in her great chamber under the cloath of estate, and was there proclaymed Queene of Englande.”

So, the marriage was obviously kept quiet for a few days, until the open celebrations at Hampton Court Palace.

While Henry VIII and Catherine Howard were getting married at Oatlands, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex and Henry VIII’s former right-hand man, was being beheaded on Tower Hill. You can read more about Cromwell’s execution in the following articles:

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward. Hall’s Chronicle, p. 840.
  • Wriothesley, Charles. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, p.121-122.

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7 thoughts on “28 July 1540 – Henry VIII marries for the fifth time”
  1. I like the portrait of Catherine used with this article. If it is not Catherine it nonetheless is how I’ve always imagined her, a mix of sensuality, naievety and vulnerability.

    1. I agree, it’s a great fit. Conor Byrne makes an excellent case for this painting as an authentic representation of Catherine Howard.

      1. I’ve just read Conor Byrne’s compelling article on the appearance of Catherine Howard. There is one bit information in said article, that I would like to question. Included in his estimation of Catherine’s height, he states the following “the corpse of Anne Boleyn measured 5’3”.

        Where does this information originate?

  2. I recall reading somewhere that Katherine of Aragon reportedly said that her marriage was cursed because it was made in blood (a condition for her coming to England to marry Arthur was the beheading of Edward, Earl of Warwick). I don’t recall if Katherine was referring to her first marriage, to her second one, or to both, but her comment about bloodshed cursing the marriage strikes me as true.

    After all, Anne Boleyn’s marriage was also made in the blood of those who defended Henry’s first marriage; Jane Seymour’s was made in the blood of Anne Boleyn and five innocent men; and Katherine Howard’s was made in the blood of Thomas Cromwell — who was also innocent of the crimes charged (and he, at least, gave his victims, such as Thomas More and Anne Boleyn a trial, which is more than he got). OTOH, I don’t recall anyone being executed to hasten Henry’s marriages to Anne of Cleves or to Katherine Parr — the two who outlived Henry.

  3. Given that consent and agreement of the couple to marry equals a marriage then there can be no doubt that Henry and Katherine were actually married and not living over the broom, but did anyone actually witness the private ceremony of Henry and Katherine. We have plenty of sources, two quoted above about her being presented at court within a few days as Queen and we have a record of a wedding at Oatlands palace on the same day as the execution of Cromwell, but is there any source please that tells us who was present at the wedding? I don’t doubt Henry and Katherine had at least half a dozen or more, Henry would want to make sure he was well and truly consented and married this time; but why do all the sources give us details of her public appearance and not of who was at the wedding?

  4. Interesting that Hall calls her Lady: being the daughter of a man of lesser rank than an earl she would have been Mistress Katherine, although was known as Lady Katherine after her downfall.

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