28 July 1540 – One wedding and two executions

On this day in history, 28th July 1540, forty-nine-year-old King Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, who was about seventeen years old, at Oatlands Palace.

The groom’s fourth marriage, to Anne of Cleves, had only been annulled on 9th July, so Henry’s fifth wedding was a low-key, private affair and news of the nuptials was kept hush-hush for over a week. Catherine did not appear in public as queen until 8th August at Hampton Court Palace.

Henry VIII was happy, he had a pretty and hopefully fertile young bride, and there was certainly every reason to hope for another prince, a ‘spare’. Of course, we all know how this marriage turned out!

You can read more about Catherine and her fall in the following articles:

While Henry VIII and Catherine were busy getting married, Henry VIII’s former righthand man, Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, was being beheaded for corruption, heresy and treason by “a ragged and Boocherly miser, whiche very vngoodly perfourmed the Office” on Tower Hill. It was a sad end for a man who had served the king faithfully for many years, and it was an execution that Henry VIII came to regret. A friend of Cromwell was also executed on Tower Hill that day. Walter Hungerford, Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, was beheaded for treason, with the charges including buggery and having dealings with witches.

Click here to read more about Thomas Cromwell’s execution.

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