6 November 1541 – Henry VIII abandons his queen

On this day in history, Sunday 6th November 1541, four days after allegations had been made regarding her sexual history, Queen Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was abandoned by her husband at Hampton Court Palace.

While the king and queen had been on their royal progress to the north of England, a man named John Lassells informed members of the king’s council that his sister had told him things about Catherine’s past that they needed to know. John’s sister, Mary Hall, had been a member of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s household with Catherine and she knew Catherine to be “light, both in living and conditions”. Mary explained that Catherine’s music teacher, Henry Manox, “knew a privy mark on her body” and that “one Fras. Derham had lain in bed[with her, in his doublet] and hose, between the sheets an hundr[ed nights]”. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer passed this information on to the king in a letter on 2nd November 1541, and the king ordered an investigation to be launched.

Lassells and Mary both confirmed their stories and Manox confessed to a romance with Catherine, although it did not go as far as the couple sleeping together. Francis Dereham, a man who was now in the queen’s service, confessed to knowing Catherine “carnally many times”, and Catherine also confessed to her and Dereham having carnal knowledge of each other. The queen had not been a virgin when she married the king, and worse, her ex-lover was in her household.

On 6th November, the king “dined at a little place in the fields” near Hampton Court, “on pretext of hunting”, and then left the palace, abandoning his wife in her chambers there, to meet with his council in London. The council meeting went on from midnight “until 4 or 5 a.m. on Monday”. There was much to discuss. The queen would never see her husband again.

Notes and Sources

  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16, 1540-1541, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1898), pp. 613-629, 1332 and 1334.
  • SP (State Papers, Henry VIII) 1/167, f. 136v.; Russell, Gareth (2017) Young and Damned and Fair, William Collins.

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26 thoughts on “6 November 1541 – Henry VIII abandons his queen”
  1. An excellent book on Catherine Howard is ‘Young & Damned & Fair’ by Gareth Russell.

    Something that surprises me when I read about this is by this time Henry had been on the throne for 31 years. His reputation for cruelty and brutality must of extended beyond the court out into the general populace so all must have known about what he was like. Why under these circumstances would anybody put themselves in such dire straits. Henry was going to find out and they had to know this! Catharine maybe can be excused by her age but I can’t figure out why Lady Rocheford would get involved as she had seen her own husband and sister-in-law executed on trumped-up charges. Maybe somebody else has an idea on this but I’m at a loss as to why these apparently smart people would poke the bear when it wa known the bear would eat you wth no qualms.

    1. Kathryn might have been young and I do think that was partly the problem here, but I don’t think she was dumb or daft as she is often shown because she was raised to lead a large noble household. Let us go with the traditional age of her marriage, supported by Gareth Russell, although others like Josephine Wilkinson and Joanne Denny go with a younger age of fifteen/sixteen and let’s go with seventeen/eighteen, which is a good age for marriage. In the sixteenth century and earlier centuries the legal age for marriage in its fullest sense was twelve for a girl and fourteen for a boy. O.K now throw that away because practices were different, depending on status.

      The average age for most people to marry was 22 for women and 24 for men, even among the gentry. This was because people had to serve an apprenticeship for seven years and couldn’t marry during that time or a woman would go into trade or services on a farm or household of a yeoman and she had to save up to provide a home and bring something to the marriage. In the families of the nobility and Royal families of Europe and even rich merchant families, the children married much younger. They usually married in their mid teens and it was not extraordinary to end up married to someone much older, thirty or forty years older. A girl might be considered old enough to marry at twelve but it was not considered right to have sex with her then. The Church said her husband should wait a couple of years and before consummation a couple of tender age lived apart in their in laws homes. Some very odd political matches took place with brides marrying as young children but then living apart for many years. Anne Mowbray, heiress to the Duchy of Norfolk was married to Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York when she was five and he wasn’t much older. One of the young Wydeville siblings barely in his twenties married the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who was in her late sixties. Some political matches were so ridiculous that they were annulled before they were consummated and people married elsewhere. However, as long as the couple agreed and understood what was going on and agreed to live as man and wife, they were considered married. Of course it was more than that with rich and powerful families like the Howards because they needed land and prestige and alliances, it was about building a Dynasty. They formed proper marriage contracts, with bridal prices and dowry and land and property. The woman was there to run the household and produce as many healthy male children as possible. (Of course her role was far more than that) For the King and Queen it was about an alliance with a powerful political and military important neighbour. The Queen again had to produce sons to secure the line.

      In this context Kathryn would certainly have been married sooner rather than later, with her Uncle and grandmother no doubt keen to find her a good match as the clan heads. She and her siblings and cousins would all have been given the skills and female education needed to be good wives and mothers. Kathryn was taught to dance and play music well, the ins and outs of household management, including ironically practically learning to clean a home, because she would need to give orders and check on servants doing domestic tasks correctly, she was literate and she was meant to be charming and know how to dress and behave. Imagine going to a posh finishing school and learning how to walk and talk correctly and carry yourself well or which knife and fork to use. Well, apart from the fork, people learned their manners, table behaviour, who to bow to first and so on and public demeanour. Kathryn did an apprenticeship of sorts by serving as Maid of Honour to Anne of Cleves and this gave her an example to follow as Queen. So, her age really can’t be entirely an excuse for her foolishness.

      Kathryn wasn’t entirely ignorant of how to behave and what would be expected from her as Queen. You are right, Michael, she would also have some idea about Henry and his reputation. However, she was also very much in awe of the King. She even imagined he would know what she said in confession, such was his Divine nature as Supreme Head of the Church in England. Henry was kind to her and she regarded him highly but she also knew he was the King and she was raised to give him homage. Indeed, she should have known better and not put herself in such jeopardy knowing that Henry had executed her cousin.

      While Kathryn can be slightly excused hiding her past as she broke no laws by doing so, she certainly risked her life and reputation having gentlemen in her rooms at night even if she didn’t sleep with them. I can only guess that she wasn’t thinking, thought she wouldn’t get caught or didn’t care. She made little plans and sent her ladies in advance to find places to meet her alleged lovers. Lady Jane Boleyn had witnessed her husband executed on false charges it is true, but there is always the point that she had little choice but to obey the Queen and acted out of loyalty and compassion. After all Jane would act as a chaperone and ensure nothing happened. She did fall asleep a few times and she was certain something happened when Culpeper and the Queen managed to be alone. Why Jane became involved is difficult to really know, but she was in a difficult situation. Do you help your young mistress or do you tell the King or someone what she wants to do? Kathryn was a young lively woman but she was very much someone who knew her own needs and her own mind. She could be kind and generous but she could also be spiteful and manipulative. She was not a young woman to take no with good grace. Henry spoiled her and she was lavished with gifts and everything money could buy and she loved it. I believe Jane tried to talk her out of these meetings but it was impossible. The other maids were drawn in but Lady Rochford was one of the most senior members of the Queens Household and as she did much of the devious work of helping Kathryn meet her lovers, she was the one singled out for blame.

      1. I don’t believe Jane was a willing participant in the queens trysts with Culpeper, Catherine yes could be imperious and I think the fact that she was queen went to her head, I can see her bullying Jane (the term passive aggressive comes to mind), ‘I am queen and I order you to etc’, the conversation could have gone like that, whilst at the same time trying to impress upon her that the meetings would be entirely innocent, Jane was no fool she was older and experienced in the ways of the court, as mentioned she had witnessed the deaths of her husband and sister in law, she had somehow survived the downfall of the Boleyns and was soon back at court in the service of Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, why should she risk her comfortable life to sneak along the corridors with a candle at night keeping guard for her foolish mistress, knowing what the fatal consequences would be?, and by now she was in her forties no spring chicken, but not old either, I’m sure she would much rather be in her bed instead, no doubt she had tried to warn Catherine but she was young and no doubt bored, dare I say it possibly repulsed by her husband she craved the embraces of a handsome young man, Henry made the mistake of choosing for his wife a girl who was half his age, he could not have seen the real him when he looked in the mirror but the young god he had once been, he could not think or chose not to think that he was not attractive to his spoiled young wife, Catherine met with Culpeper once and found with the help of Lady Rochford that it was easy to do, however the dangerous blabbing of Mary Lassels sealed her fate, had Catherine just been the dairymaid on the farm it would not have mattered, but she was Queen of England and as Weir put it, Caesers wife has to be above reproach, even today the high moral standards still persist, Diana was thought of as a perfect bride for Prince Charles and as a suitable queen consort because she was of the aristocracy, was well connected and had no past, when Prince Andrew was courting Koo Stark it was disclosed she had starred in some p*rn movies, he then had to end the relationship as she was not considered suitable material, we all know he married the strange Sarah Ferguson after and we all know how that ended but it just goes to show that kings and princes can sow their wild oats, indeed it’s considered normal but not in the wives they have to be pure, another reason why adultery was so frowned upon is because it impugnes the royal succession, whose to say whose child the queen carried, was it her husband or her lovers? No wonder adultery in a queen was made treason, but poor Catherine was caught up in the heady excitement of it all, Dereham who was just a loud mouthed thug riled a lot of people and he was disrespectful to Catherine on a number of occasions, I think she was blackmailed into letting him into her household, since the affair had been over some time I think he just coerced his way into court possibly by making suggestive remarks to her about their relationship in the past, he could well have frightened her by his mouthy remarks and to keep the peace he was offered a post, the fact that he was often rude to her shows she resented his presence and he knew it, he and Culpeper seemed one of a kind, looking at Catherines behaviour in her youth it was no worse that what young people have always indulged in, boisterous young men and women in a household that was ruled over by a crotchety old grandma, of course they met up and it seemed fun to, restricted during the day with the chores they had to fulfill, long hours at needlework, walks in the garden and reading, no doubt from the bible as well as the classics, learning how to run a great household, dancing etc which I should imagine was more enjoyable, who could blame them if they had a chance to meet up with their lovers when possible, when dusk fell and the old duchess was tucked up in her bedchamber with her cordials, wheezing and snoring and the ladies adventure could begin, footsteps tip toeing softly the jangle of the key easily appropriated and then it must have seemed like a midnight revelry, apples and sweetmeats and wine, Catherine exposed to it when young could have seen no wrong in it and I can imagine it went on in many a household, because young people will always make an opportunity to meet when it’s possible, the sad thing was Catherine was a member of a great household – the Howard’s and she had been sent there to learn how to manage one when she came of age, she was to learn polish and was expected to go to court one day and make an advantageous marriage with someone as noble as herself, but her grandmother was an old woman and her household was lax, Catherine was in a sense let down and these hedonistic carefree days where she must have known great happiness were to blame for her tragic ending, they soon came back to haunt her, some say that which is in the past is dead and buried but for poor Catherine they were to be her undoing.

        1. Oh, Christine, you do paint a great picture. Fantastic description of the whole thing. Takes one into the heart of the matter. Cheers.

        2. Thanks Bq, it’s very tragic because those days in her grandmother’s house sound great a bit like Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers books, tales of midnight feasts etc, and it must have been very exciting for young Catherine caught up in it all, and yet when she became queen her behaviour in those far of days took a sinister turn, she was so very young it’s sad that she caught the eye really of Henry V111 because she was not to blame for her wild youth, Henry V111 expected his women to be pure maidens and in a queen yes that was acceptable, but it was said that most of the women in his court had indulged in love affairs, as Chapyus cynically put it on the so called virtue of Jane Seymour, ‘you would wonder if she is a maiden having been so long at court’, when Dereham boasted of his relationship with Catherine in the past that put the cat among the pigeons, as what to both he and Catherine had seemed like an adventure at the time calling themselves husband and wife, proved quite serious in the future bride of the King, where the Howard’s went wrong was to keep it hushed up, but maybe they thought it was for the best however, tongues do wag and Mary Lassells could have disliked Catherine as Miss. Plaidy inferred in her novel, when we look back we can see it was just teenage rompings which today is perfectly acceptable as everyone has a past, Sarah Ferguson herself was no virgin unlike Diana when they married Charles and Andrew, but to a lady like Catherine in the 16thc a member of the noble house of Howard such behaviour was considered shocking, Henry felt betrayed and his anger partly caused by hurt and grief was terrible, no wonder he clapped all the Howard’s old gran too in the Tower.

        3. Kathryn clearly wasn’t marked out to be Queen and for Henry she was an odd choice because she was much younger than his usual wives and sexual partners. Much speculation has been made about how young Bessie Blount was when she bore the King a son, with estimates ranging from 13/14 to 17 or so, but the former is highly unlikely. He went for mature women normally about 19 or 20 because he admired women for their company and conversation as well as their sexuality. I believe Norton puts Blount as around 17 or 18 and remember she wasn’t his wife. Kathryn Howard became his mistress and his wife. If we compare her to his wives she was very young, unexpectedly so. (KA 23, AB in her 30s, JS 29, AC 24, and KP, 34, KH, 17?). Of course, there is a good reason Henry might have fallen for a younger girl, childbirth. The younger his wife was, the more chance of her having children, even from a King who was potentially impotent occasionally. Irregular sex lessening her chances of conceiving, Kathryn nevertheless, at seventeen had a reasonable few years of childbirth ahead of her. Her age also fulfilled his original material ideas after Jane Seymour died because he had intended to marry sixteen year old widow, Christine of Milan. This of course was a Dynastic marriage, she was wealthy, had vast lands and was a member of the Imperial family. She appears to have had a wise and sophisticated head on her shoulders, was mature beyond her years and had the measure of her potential bridegroom, stating she would be delighted to marry Henry, had she but two heads, alas she had only one. She was also a great niece to Katherine of Aragon which was an impediment. Kathryn Howard was an alternative young, pretty and hopefully fertile bride, to replace his disappointment with Anne of Cleves.

          Henry Viii obviously found her very lively, very lovely, could easily flatter her but I doubt he thought anything about how suitable she was. Henry was himself flattered by her acceptance of his attentions and Kathryn was dazzled by the magnificent clothing, the height of Henry, his power and presence and he could still put on a good public show. Yes, the reality behind the scenes was quite different, sore legs, obesity, so on, but he was still the King and he could offer Kathryn security, power, wealth, everything she could dream of, but she grew bored as she was left to her own devices when Henry withdrew with ill health for a time. He didn’t keep her very well informed then, either. I can’t condone her foolishness, but I understand it. I lose sympathy for her because it went on long after she was left alone, on the Royal Progress to the North. On the Progress she chose to find her own distractions, using others to help her, because now the danger was exciting.

          I also believe Francis Dereham was a cad and used his knowledge of Kathryn as well as his position with her step grandmother to find or bribe his way into her service at Court. Kathryn was a kind person at times and she took people into her service to help them as well as having them appointed because of their noble connections around her family. Isabella Branton was a relative for example. A few of her maids knew about her in the former household and Dereham had another reason to cause trouble. Dereham considered Kathryn to be his property because if she had agreed to be his wife, as he saw it, in law that is what she was. He could well be intending to claim her but Henry as King married to her, made that impossible. Even Francis was not dumb enough to challenge the King over legal entitlement to his wife through the Courts. No, he had other ideas. Perhaps he could win or even force Kathryn into his bed. The man’s charms clearly didn’t work as she wasn’t interested. Francis D was impatient and he tried to coax and then get fresh with Kathryn in ways she was uncomfortable with. He became a nuisance, he was in the chambers at meals making rude remarks and boasting about his time in the household of the old Duchess. He insulted and upset the young Queen and was impertinent. She put up with him, probably to keep him quiet but he wasn’t her lover. He couldn’t be, another, as he put it, had already taken his place, one Thomas Culpeper. It was Culpeper to whom Kathryn gave gifts, it was Culpeper she wrote to and it was he who was in her room most nights during the Royal Progress. Dereham had backed off but he still boasted and that caused trouble and was dangerous.

          Kathryn was being very foolish in her behaviour, but maybe Henry was also a fool to have married her in the first place, but he saw the advantage and the heart wants what the hear wants, regardless of the consequences. I believe he loved Kathryn and she saw how a marriage for her family could favour the traditional cause and her duty as a Howard. She could bring about the restoration of Catholic traditional religion if she bore sons and Henry was enchanted by her and he certainly did like Kathryn. He went out of his way to spoil his enchanting and beautiful young bride, he would do anything for her, give her anything, he felt young again and he was deluded probably about her finding him attractive. Yet he was good to her and she enjoyed that aspect of him, she loved to dance for him and enjoyed his company, but she wanted young company and she loved another. Kathryn loved the idea of Queenship and as Queen she was compassionate. She played her role as mediator well and also as benefactor. However, she fell out badly with Princess Mary who disapproved of her because she had replaced Anne of Cleves and she didn’t agree with the annulment, but this time it was her father’s business. Mary may have said the wrong thing because Kathryn acted to remove one of her maids as a punishment and as far as we know Henry took no action. This was her business as Queen. It shows a spiteful side of Kathryn and a side that says she is acting as a Queen should. She was emphasising her authority. She was demanding respect. However, Kathryn was also very insecure and this may be partly behind her turning to Culpeper.

          Henry visited Anne of Cleves as a friend and rumours began to spread that he would return to her and abandon Kathryn. Anne of C was also said to have had the King’s son. Kathryn needed to be reassured by Henry and the rumours dealt with. Kathryn didn’t have the inner resources to sit and wait for her husband to come to her every time there was something wrong with him. Either she desired sex so much that she took a lover as Karen Lindsey, a feminist historian has suggested or she sought out company and ended up falling for a lover instead in Culpeper. Now, yes, there is no evidence that these pair were lovers and they denied everything, although Kathryn changed several elements of her story within just 24 hours when questioned, but they also wanted to go further. That last statement is what condemned them.

          I completely agree with regards to Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, I doubt she wanted to spend her evenings wandering around dark corridors and old homes and castles with a candle at her age when she could sit comfortable in her own rooms or with the Queen by a fire and take it easy with wine and food and entertainment. She wanted to go to bed, not wait up her young mistress to stop talking all night. No wonder she fell asleep. Margaret, another maid exclaimed shock one night that the Queen wasn’t asleep and they almost got caught when the Chamberlain of the King came to say Henry would be coming to sleep with his wife that night and found the door bolted and unanswered. Kathryn had to have Culpeper removed and then fain sleep. What a carry on!

  2. This was the beginning of the end for Queen Catherine Howard, for several years she had been at the centre of the court, the much loved child bride of King Henry V111 and he being much besotted with her had indulged her every whim, she had shone like the sun but now was approaching her twilight, it came in the form of a woman who had been in her grandmother’s household by name of Mary Lasells, it’s is not known why she decided to repeat tales to her brother but maybe it had been said in all innocence over too much wine, Jean Plaidy in her historical novel ‘Murder Most Royal’ suggests Mary was a priggish woman jealous of Catherine and resenting her station in life, that of a servant, heartily she resented her who was born a great lady but acted nothing better than a trollop, that was just Miss Plaidy using her authors licence, it cannot be taken as fact, but we know Mary whatever reason there was, at some time did divulge what had happened in her former employers house and her brother was rather shocked and took his knowledge to the Kings council, from that moment Catherine was doomed, accusations against the queen were not to be taken lightly and Cranmer wrote the King a note, Henry must have been somewhat bemused after all, had he not just given thanks to God for giving him this perfect Jewel of womanhood? Maybe at first he thought it was a joke but to slander the queen was very serious and he had to order an investigation, it shows how awkward Cranmer must have felt to have to write it down for the King to read instead of explaining to him, the council could well have urged him to do that unpleasant task knowing how much loved he was by Henry and he was diplomatic, Catherine left alone at Hampton Court confined to her quarters must have been puzzled and according to several sources, the musicians were sent away and she was told it was not the time for music, she had been secretly meeting with Thomas Culpeper a young man in her husband’s household and must have known that was not the correct way for a queen to behave, with the guilty mind of an erring wife she must have been terrified thinking who could have divulged her secret, had someone seen or heard something in the dimly lit corridors as she rushed to her assignations with Culpeper? Firstly it was her old love Dereham whose name came up and it looked black indeed that he happened to be in the queens household, did they intend to carry on with their love affair? and he maybe out of envy spoke of Culpeper as he later said he had been supplanted in her affections by him, there has been theories as to why Catherine was so stupid as to meet with this young man and one of them has been that he was blackmailing her, I find this hard to believe and I think she was just infatuated with him and found it exciting meeting with him at the dead of night, the element of danger always makes a secret love affair more thrilling and although they both were to deny being lovers in the biblical sense I think that they were, moreover Culpepers rash remark that he meant to do ill with the queen and she with him were just as bad as admitting they had slept together, he seems a thoroughly dislikeable stupid arrogant person and there was a story that he had raped a gamekeepers wife, although he could have been confused with a relation of his, he had a good career at court he was in the enviable position of groom of the stool and Catherine was queen, but recklessly they both threw it all away, there was also the anti catholic faction at court who were intent on destroying the queen and all unknowing she gave them the ammunition they needed, but she was still Hemrys wife and protected by him, her powerful uncle was to distance himself from her over the coming months and desperate to save his own neck spoke grovellingly to the King how he abhorred his neices loose living of which he swore he knew nothing about, what happened to the queen was a mark on her family and soon they were all interrogated and rounded up and escorted to the Tower, the King dined alone we are told in the grounds of the palace and really I do feel sympathy for him at this moment, the food and wine must have appeared tasteless, what thoughts must have been going through his mind he had been so happy with his young wife, he had always treated her with the utmost respect and if these allegations were true then he must have felt his world had come to an end, the council met late at night and the fact that it went on till nearly five in the morning shows how serious and in what a quandary Hemry found himself in, I find the fact that he confined Catherine to her quarters very telling, he was a man of the world was he already sure of her guilt? Though he must have been praying that it would all turn out to be nonsense and merely the result of gossip mongering in the London taverns, a drunk inn keeper maybe finding it amusing to make up ribald stories of the queen, a bit like when a ballad had been circulating around the city about himself and Jane Seymour when his second queen was in the Tower, Henry had sworn he would teach the ruffian a lesson if he ever caught him but he never did, and somehow he must have been hoping that this was all that was, a piece of salacious gossip, however his worse fears were soon to become reality and King and queen were both tormented by the uneasy thoughts that were in their minds, Catherine alone except for her attendants in her luxurious apartments must have had a sleepless night, the first of many, and Henry V111 also must have found sleep quite difficult that night, as the council went home to their chambers it was still dark for the dawn would not arise for another hour and there was to be more meetings arrests and interrogations over the next few weeks, Catherine Howard is known to history as the queen who played Henry V111 at his own game, the gay high spirited girl who deceived him with her lovers, the sad thing about this marriage is that I believe Henry would have been faithful to his fifth wife after all, he was older now and was content to be the adoring husband who indulged his young merry wife, he had showered her with gifts and the northern progress had been a great success, he was very satisfied with her and one observer said he cuddled and kissed her more than his other wives, I think somehow Catherine may have seen Henry as a father figure instead of a lover, there were times when he was ill and had not seen her for several weeks, her Howard relations had advised her on her behaviour when she had been courted by the King and later when she became his wife, but the blood is hot when young and there was Henry a bloated red faced figure a pale shadow of what he had been in his glorious youth, he was not always with her being often called away on important matters, and there were plenty of men at court her own age handsome and trim, she was tempted like Eve and thus sowed the seeds of her own destruction, whatever heartache she caused her husband she did atone for with her own blood and history must not judge her too harshly.

  3. I have this totally ridiculous image of Henry Viii with a huge table, all laid out with dishes, a fire, all of his servants, then with the hunting tents around and the meat cut and cooked after butchering and Henry at the table eating as if he is in his hall but here he is in a field with a table, nothing else. It probably wasn’t quite like that, he probably had a tent set up with table and so on and a hunting lodge close by, but the entire thing seems so ridiculous. Is this Henry running from reality yet again? Is this Henry unable to take the news of his jewel of womanhood being less than a pure jewel? Henry thought the letter that Thomas Cranmer presented him with was a forgery, that the accusations of Kathryn’s past are false, but he ordered a full investigation. Now he abandoned his wife. Was he afraid of what might come out about her? Henry certainly knew how to bury his head in the sand and in the meantime Kathryn doesn’t know what is going on.

    Kathryn has been left in her set of rooms but does not have the freedom as Queen of the palace. She began to lose her status, she was deprived of most of her jewellery and she had a reduced household but did have her ladies with her. She wasn’t locked in one room but she was restricted to her apartments. Kathryn as yet had no idea what was happening, but it is a good guess that she might have feared her alleged past had been brought to light. It was indeed the beginning of the fall of Kathryn Howard.

    1. She must have suspected something was very wrong the minute her jewellery was taken away and she was told on the kings orders that she must stay in her apartments, she must have pleaded with the guards to let her see the King, I can well imagine her stricken face as the request was denied and the heavy old doors shut in her face, she must have stared after them with a thumping heart, this was the tragedy that had befallen Anne Boleyn, neither she nor Catherine were allowed to see the King after he had left them, with Anne at Greenwich and Catherine at Hampton Court, they could not plead their cause and so were left wandering in the wilderness, with Anne the thing that troubled her the most was the foolish remark she had made to Norris previously about the kings imaginary death, she knew that she had spoken treason and maybe just thought the worse that could happen would be banishment from court and seperation from her daughter, maybe she would be divorced, she had not the same terrifying example in her mind that Catherine must have had, and Catherine could only infer that the King had got wind of her and Culpeper and the ghost then of Henrys second queen must have haunted her, in despair she must have realised how reckless she had been and she was in very grave danger, she had also written Culpeper a note in which she told him it makes her heart to die to think she cannot always be in his company, it sounds like a love note written by an infatuated girl and in this we can see Catherines true relationship with her alleged lover, whatever explanations she would give later cross examined by Cranmer, this letter sounds very damning, it sounds so today so what it looked like to the King and his council when it was discovered all those years ago we can only imagine, she had insisted that Culpeper destroy it but out of vanity most likely he kept it, Henry wept in front of these learned and wise men and it must have been very uncomfortable for them to see their King reduced to that of a blubbering schoolboy, Henrys heart was hardened after that meanwhile Catherine was left in her quarters with her women, maybe Lady Rochford who someone later was to refer to as that bawd was among them, there must have been terror amongst them all as each had been complicit in their mistresse’s folly but it was to be just Catherine and Lady Rochford who was to pay the ultimate price.

    2. Hi Bq, it is strange why Henry chose to marry Catherine, one historian remarked why was he not content to make her his mistress but he possibly wanted another son for teassurance, tragically as his mistress she could well have kept her head, it was Henrys status as his queen that was dangerous for his wives, always I believe the memory of his elder brother and his early death haunted Henry V111, death was never far away and if Edward were to die suddenly then Mary would inherit his kingdom, you are right to about her youth, Henry was aware of his own bedroom problems and must have decided this time he would seek a young wife from a fertile family, that I believe was part of Jane Seymours attraction for him, she came from a large family as did young Catherine, so no woman over thirty was allowed! Catherine came to court and as she was later to say everyone knew how much she had wanted to, she craved excitement what young woman doesn’t? The court represented to her an endless round of balls masquerades and feasting, she must have been in her element she had fine clothes to wear and maybe some of the Howard jewels as they must have possessed some costly items, she was having the time of her life then fate stepped in and she caught the Kings roving eye, here was his ideal queen young and of noble blood, a descendant of Edward 111 and therefore a distant cousin to himself, she was also a first cousin to Anne Boleyn and maybe in her gaiety and vivaciousness he was reminded of his second queen in the early days of their courtship, before it all went so wrong, she was from a large family and maybe a good breeder, of course he was taken in with her pretty face and dimpling smile as well, what he failed to consider was her very suitability to be his queen, also she could well have found him repugnant but she daren’t show it, he was the King he came a courting and from then on Catherine was trapped, what could she do, she daren’t rebuff his advances and there was her uncle and gran maybe in her ear all the time saying ‘ do this and don’t do that’ etc, she had several sisters but nothing much is said of them and did she have a brother or two? Sadly Catherine once thought of as the glittering star of the ambitious Howard family was to be their ruin, Catherine quite possibly was excited when Henry proposed to her, she was to be Queen of England I think that overruled her true feelings and desires initially, but later on their wedding night when Henry climbed into bed next to her puffing and wheezing away and she saw him for the first time divested of his glittering garments which beheld his Royal status, and which added mostly to his attraction her heart must have sank, for in reality he was just a very overweight red faced man with thinning hair and a leg that stunk to high heaven, I wouldn’t be surprised if she feigned a headache and it lasted for a good few months!

  4. In Claire’s synopsis, the fall of Catherine Howard begins with a man called John Lassells and his sister, Mary. For us, reading this, that name is one we recognise as a protestant martyr, remembering also that Queen Catherine remained a Catholic during her short lifetime. What Mary tells John, John tells to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, another name we recognise as a protestant martyr. Cranmer it is who tells Henry (by letter) what he has been told by John via Mary. Am I the only one who wondered about this?
    Actually, following advice from, I seem to recall, BQ,I got a second-hand copy of Julia Fox’s “Jane Boleyn, the Infamous Lady Rochford”, and I happen to be reading it now. And on page 281, Ch 30, Fox writes about this moment in time and she says, “When Mary’s brother ,John had come to visit her in Sussex, he had suggested that she should ask Catherine for employment since Mary had known the queen at Horsham. His sister’s response put John in a terrible position.” Of course Mary had amplified in detail, as Claire explained. So poor old Lassells had unwittingly walked himself into a minefield. He was “in trouble” as Fox puts it, because if he concealed this information and it came out, or if he passed it on and it proved false, he would answer to the king himself. He told Archbishop Cranmer, it was a confession.
    Cranmer, alarmed, told Audley and Hertford (Catherine’s brother). Even then, Cranmer quailed at the very thought of informing the king. No-one, it seems, exactly relished this bombshell being put into their keeping. It is a sad old business.

    1. Yes Globerose I think the term is called misprision of treason, to know of an awful deed committed by or about to be and to not inform the powers to be of this is in a sense to be as guilty as they, as we know John Lassells was later to suffer death by burning in the reign of Queen Mary, I wonder how he and his sister both felt when the queen was executed and Dereham and Culpeper to, Dereham with the awful traitors fate not by the axe, did they regret speaking out although of course they had no choice, but the queens hysteria in the weeks that followed and Lady Rochfords mental instability, the blood that was shed did they have any sympathy towards them? It was a cruel age the sixteenth century those who lived in it faced death a lot more than we do today.

      1. Oh dear Christine, not sure I’ve got my head around the psychology of this century to guess how John and Mary may have felt about their joint disclosure: I know how you and I would feel; we’d be mortified, it’s all so harrowing…. but how did John feel, Mary..? Perhaps they would feel justified. They did the right thing. Corruption had been exposed.
        The guilty had paid the price.
        Julia Fox gave me another insight into Jane Boleyn and her predicament when Queen Catherine first involved her in the Culpepper affair: she, it appears, had to make a split-second decision and on this decision depended her entire future. Should she accept her mistress’s command to take a letter to Culpepper, or should she demure, refuse the task, and lose forever her place in Catherine’s court. As with John Lassels, there seems to be here an overwhelming dilemma, with a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” core to it, and I’m guessing you and I both think “here, but for the grace of god, go I”. It’s tough, at court.

        1. Hi Globerose you could be correct regarding Janes decision to support Catherine in her secret meetings with Culpeper, she did not wish to lose her valued position at court, after all it was all she had ever known, banishment would be awful where would she go, back to her father’s house and he would want to know why she was banished, where she would spend her days in the country working on needlework and missing the dancing and feasting at court, I know I would be feeling in a right pickle knowing what a dangerous situation I’d have found myself in, who was to fear more Queen Catherine or King Henry? I would have tried to make Catherine see sense but maybe Jane did that, she knew how risky Catherine’s actions were, and she also knew that she would be held partly responsible if it were ever disclosed, she must have hated it unlike in films and novels where is shows her actually egging Catherine on, I feel they do Lady Rochford an injustice, no wonder when Catherine was exposed she had a mental breakdown, it was caused by the very real fear and dread that had been building up in her for months, she knew the court was a hot bed of spies and that the queen had her enemies and it would only be a matter of time before they were discovered, walls have ears but as we know it was the Lassells siblings that uncovered the whole can of worms that caused the queens undoing.

        2. Hi Globerose, what a decision, hanging on the horns of a dilemma as it were. I personally want to slap Mary Hall for this gossip and the trouble it caused. I understand it put her husband in a terrible situation, but it was her revelations which started the whole thing. Nobody probably would have found anything out if Hall and Lassels had minded their own business and said nothing, misprison or not. All he knew for certain was his wife’s gossip. Gossiping against the Queen was treason under the 1534 Act so her repeating this was dangerous. Her brother could just as easily have told her to shut up and keep quiet. However, he probably panicked given this knowledge and it’s new importance. John Lassels did what he felt was right and he contacted the one man who could handle this knowledge with care and discretion, the Archbishop of Canterbury. If this was misprison of treason, and I am not sure it was because it is about the Queens past, not her present indiscretions, which didn’t equate as yet to treason. It was dangerous to gossip, it was certainly knowledge that they felt should be revealed, but it may not be misprison of treason. If they knew that Kathryn had introduced Francis Dereham into her present household in order to carry on a relationship for example or that she was contracted to him, that would be misprison because that means an intention to commit treason and because it affects the succession. Hiding such a relationship would not merely have been dishonest it would have meant that the marriage of the Queen and Henry was unlawful and and any children may have been illegitimate and if Katherine and Dereham had a child, that child might be passed off as the King’s. This of course was treason and that meant that the hidden knowledge about any previous relationship now entered into the category of misprison. I can see why Lassels made the decision he did, because unless it was very clear as to what Kathryn and Dereham had been up to, its significance and if it was likely to be still going on. Cranmer had to decide what to do, because he certainly was obliged to find out the truth and to inform the King.

          Once Thomas Cramner comes into the knowledge and into this plot, and one author, Elizabeth Wheeler believes this was a conspiracy against Kathryn Howard, he is obliged to take the next step. He can protect his original informer but he must find a way to tell the King and the Council. He would surely have to tell Henry who told him at some point, he may have no choice. How to present it as more than gossip without saying it is dangerous knowledge or hidden knowledge? Where does he begin with an investigation? How does he tell a happy bunny, loved up King that his perfect “jewel of womanhood” is nothing of the sort?

          I can just imagine him on his knees in prayer, praying for guidance as to what to do. I can imagine him trying to reassure a petrified John and Mary and then taking responsibility himself. Cranmer simply cannot hide this, it is obviously very well known in the Queen’s former household and the first thing to do is to find out how much people knew and how much is true. The Archbishop is in a tough spot but he is in a place of uniqueness as he was a member of the King’s Council and his inner circle as well as his trusted friend. Here is a man who would be protected by Henry Viii from charges of heresy and conspiracy himself and be there at his master’s end. This was a terrible thing for him to reveal to Henry, but it was also his duty and nobody else really could have done it, but how to give the King such terrible news?

          The letter. The poor Archbishop had to write it all down and give the King the letter, just as he is giving thanks for the deliverance of his son from a life threatening fever and for finding the perfect wife. Henry was extraordinarily calm. There was no meltdown, now arresting people, nothing. The King didn’t believe the allegations. It will all turn out to be nonsense. However, he cannot have his wife slandered either. Hall and Lassels would be in deep trouble for making false accusations against the Queen, but Henry needed to know the truth. He ordered a full investigation and in the meantime Kathryn will be confined to her apartments and the truth will Henry hoped clear her. His next movements are a bit unusual and controversial but it shows him being discreet and cautious. For a couple of days Henry goes around his own routine and allowed Kathryn and her ladies to do so, to sew and dance and he then struck after the enquiry was completed. He intended to hit those who spread the lies and punishment would be severe, but unfortunately the enquiry showed that his lovely wife had indeed a saucy past.

          The witnesses from the household of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk and many from the Queen’s who had known her there were questioned and evidence backed the accusations made by Hall and Lassels brought before a late night Council meeting on Saturday 5th November. Henry was closeted away until noon the next day, according to Julua Fox and he sent for Lord Chancellor Audley and the Duke of Norfolk. It is clear that Henry was giving them instructions for a much more detailed investigation. Kathryn and Jane and the ladies knew nothing. They slept peacefully for one last night, until everything exploded on Sunday 6th November. Henry took himself away from the Court, pretending to go hunting and abandoned his young wife. According to Fox here Henry planned his next move and the investigation turned to the star witnesses and then focused on the Queen. Henry moved to Westminster that night. Another late night Council meeting and discussion of the evidence. Monday 7th November saw Kathryn alone at Hampton Court, her apartments now to be restricted and she didn’t know where the King was or what was going on. Confined to a suite of rooms with her ladies, the young Queen could only guess what was happening and worry if her more serious secrets had been discovered. Hours after Henry left and she was confined Archbishop Cranmer was sent to question her and “there was no more time for dancing” .

  5. Thanks Both for your comments and thanks BQ for introducing me to Julia Fox. Dorset seems to have gone hell for leather celebrating later November events … we have had a week of fireworks, every night, the minute the sun goes down bangs start up. Very alarming and frightening for my noise-phobic Border Collie and similarly amongst my dog walking friends and those with horses. We could all cope with one night, November 5th, as the official Big Bang Night; but folk take advantage and it is very trying. Claire, you may be quite lucky to be missing this nowadays?

    1. Same here Globerose fireworks last upto two weeks sometimes, at one time it was only Guy Fawkes night and the sat before the town park would hold a firework display, now we have explosions going off it seems all through November, my cat hates it, as soon as one goes off she darts into the cupboard under the stairs, it’s so out of order I read in the paper the other day one dog died of fright, they even go off on Remebrance Sunday which I find totally disrespectful.

      1. I don’t mind the sparkling ones but the loud bangs which seem to be louder now despite crack downs on them being too loud, so yes I agree completely. It doesn’t seem to have been too bad here this year, but it is hell for babies and animals. We lost our pussy a few years ago, but she didn’t like firework week. There are some great articles and videos on the Tudor Society site. I think Claire misses the fireworks. I certainly wouldn’t like to live in Lewes although people have a good time, but each to their own.

        Can I just add that John Lassels wasn’t burnt in the reign of Mary I, he was actually executed in 1546 with Anne Aske the poor woman burnt and tortured terribly under Henry Viii. You are probably right as a good Puritan family they probably couldn’t hide such secrets and it would have been very difficult to justify silence especially if it leaked some other way. Let’s face it, there were ladies from the Maidens Chamber in Queen Kathryn’s household and they were questioned as well. Margaret Morton remember well her bedfellows love making. Jane Bulmer knew and so did many more as it turned out. I suspect Kathryn’s past would have emerged eventually. What might have made people less likely to confirm it would have been if she by now had given Henry a son. Impugning the Queen’s reputation was one thing, endangering the succession was high treason. A young Queen with a healthy bawling son was secure. I doubt Mary Hall or her brother would have dared said anything then. They might well have been warned to keep silent or face some nasty consequences if they came forward about the mother of a Royal heir. Thomas Cramner we often think of as the gentle Archbishop who lost his place and life under Mary but like everyone else he was about the King’s business and he could be abrasive and as threatening as every member of the Council when the King needed results. I doubt his initial reaction to this news was quite as gentle as we assume. He wasn’t the Queen’s enemy and had a good relationship with both her and Henry. This was an unwelcome piece of gossip as far as he knew until he investigated further and then he certainly didn’t relish passing it on to the King.

        Jane Boleyn had certainly been in service to Queens for many years, she served Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves and now Kathryn Howard. She was the most experienced of her ladies. She was a high ranking member of the Court and probably had a comfortable living. She had little choice about obeying her mistress unless she was going to speak out as her first duty was to the King. However, her oath of allegiance to the Queen promised to keep her secrets. She couldn’t hide treason, but she may not have thought any treason was being committed. She warned Kathryn who didn’t listen and yes, Jane probably didn’t want to lose her comfortable living. Because of the depth of her involvement, however, Jane became the scapegoat and unfortunately lost her life in the process. I just want to add that I believe her breakdown to have been absolutely genuine because of fear and the weight of her actions and that she was deeply affected to the point of manic depression. In this light, what Henry did, passing a law to make it legal to execute a mad person just so as Jane could be killed with Kathryn is absolutely despicable. She was nursed with great care, only to face a death sentence. The two women were condemned by an Act of Parliament without any recourse to justice or trial. I wonder who was the more insane, poor Jane or the King?

        This law was repealed by Mary I.

        1. Ah thanks Bq so it was who Henry V111 condemned Lassells to death, as for passing a law to execute insane people well honestly, no wonder Henrys reputation as a tyrant was growing, the poor woman was just frightened out of her mind is that insanity? No the mind can only take so much stress, when it had too much stress a breakdown can follow, deserters during the war were shot just because they were scared to death thank god now more is known abt post traumatic stress disorder, thing is with Jane Henry was so furious I doubt there was much reasoning with him, hence the dreadful ending of Dereham whose only fault was he had known Catherine intimately before and thus had ‘spoiled her’ for him, it sounds petty and yes despicable, Henry should have known that Jane was merely acting on her mistresse’s orders that does not mean she was being disloyal to the King but was it according to the 16th c mind? As we have discussed the misprision of treason meant that Jane in fact was guilty of keeping the queens misdoings from him and she was should have told the King or another of his council, Cranmer maybe if she was too scared, the spectre of Anne Boleyn and her dead husband must have been in her mind constantly, poor Jane and Catherine under questioning started blaming the other which is what happens today, thus two different stories emerge, the fact is Henry knew that it was upto his wife if she chose to meet with another and as you say, Jane was merely a scapegoat for Henrys fury, her other women got of, maybe he was advised not to shed too much womens blood as it would look bad throughout Europe, Lady Margaret Pole had suffered a barbaric execution and Catherine knew he was not likely to show her mercy, as for Jane I think Henry maybe disliked her for some time as she had been a member of that devious family the Boleyns who had caused such havoc in his life, who can say, but his mood must have been terrible and he must have been constantly barking at everyone, I’m glad I wasn’t at court then.

        2. Henry Viii is certainly unique in English history, at least, for spilling the blood of gentle, noble and Royal women, wives and all, although ordinary women would have been executed the same as men, which was considered not chivalrous by Medieval society. By this time of his life he had become far more violent, impatient and capricious than we find in his first two decades or so. I don’t propose to debate how and why he changed or if it was bumps on head or power or what, but his subjects and friends certainly saw two different Henry’s. Unfortunately, his friends were often on the receiving end as were his relatives and wives. This man was a champion of the chivalric tradition so one would expect him to treat women, at least those from old noble families with much more gentleness and mercy than he did. He may very well have been made to see sense in this case, given the number of women and female relations of Kathryn rounded up and interrogated and put in the Tower and elsewhere for months and months. Misprison of treason could carry a life sentence or a death sentence.

          Jane was singled out and was probably the one to be made an example of and Claire in her recent talk on the Tudor Society believes that a deal was done with the interrogators for mercy in exchange for information, a bit like a modern immunity deal, so we don’t know if more would have suffered if they didn’t cooperate. The men sent were a scary bunch, Rich and Writhsoley (excuse my spelling of name) were the ones who racked Anne Askew, so this was possibly a factor in their survival and some received special pardons. Kathryn ‘s relatives were rounded up, however, questioning went on for days, even weeks, with the poor old Duchess saying she was ill to get better treatment and she probably was ill with fear. The ex Duchess was again nursed and then interrogated, her homes searched, her chests sealed and so on, her daughter and daughters in law arrested and imprisoned and interrogated. The Tower was full of the Howards and their relatives. They were all put on trial and charged with misprison, they were all sentenced to perpetual imprisonment and only slowly released and pardoned when it was all over. The old Duchess was held until May the following year. It could have been far worse, with mass executions or everyone locked up for life. The only one to get away with it: His Grace, Thomas, third Duke of Norfolk. As we know he wrote a very humble letter and was spared and pardoned. The Howard’s were not the family to be connected to in 1541/2. Richard Lee, a very distant relation was even disgraced. It was a terrible time for everyone.

          A very good point about poor Margaret Pole. This old and eminent lady with Royal blood, real Royal Blood, had been the governess to Princess Mary, had been a loyal and good friend to Henry and Katherine of Aragon and her family accepted his new policies but one didn’t. Due to his position within the Catholic Church as a recent Cardinal, her middle son, Reginald had gone abroad to study and in 1536 wrote a treatise condemning the divorce. He also tried to encourage the rebellions in the North. Henry was outraged and sent assassins after Cardinal Pole. In 1539 the entire family were arrested by Cromwell for an imaginary plot and the leading males executed. The younger brother turned states evidence, tried to commit suicide and was spared and a grandson vanished in the Tower, possibly poisoned, although we don’t know what happened to him. Margaret was imprisoned and almost forgotten about. Kathryn Howard had provided her with clothing and food and then before the progress north she was suddenly brutally executed in a nasty way. Her age and sex should have protected her, but Henry was a paranoid man and he ordered her execution in a very shocking move. Earlier Kings had spared such high born ladies who could and did plot even more than the men. Henry iv spared Constance of York who plotted consistently to get rid of him, although he took her children from her and put her under close house arrest, but he didn’t execute her. Your favourite King John as you remind us hung his wife’s alleged lovers but didn’t harm her. I am guessing that was terrifying enough. Anne of York saw her husband executed for treason, but was herself not harmed. (Her DNA identified her brother, Richard iii). Margaret Beaufort was involved in more than one plot to put her son on the throne, before Henry Tudor succeeded and was put under house arrest and her property and wine put under the control of her husband, Thomas Lord Stanley, as Richard thought it in poor taste to behead a woman and a pious one at that, although it’s a pity he didn’t execute her husband in light of later events. Yes, there have been plenty of manipulative plotting ladies, none of which were executed. Henry at least showed some restraint I guess with the execution of just two women and two men, one of them most probably out of her mind. It must have been a totally terrible and frightening experience for everyone, the Court paralysed with fear.

  6. I also find it very hard to understand why Mary chose to inform both her husband and the King,( I was forgetting she had married) but if the only reason she told her husband was because of her reluctance to join the queens household then in a way I can see where she was coming from, maybe in the past Catherine and her had not got on and she had been spiteful to Mary, maybe laughing at her because she found her a bit prudish, this is mere conjecture but after all, we do not know Catherines character before she was queen, she could have been careless in her treatment of Mary and threw a few caustic barbs her way, now safely married she no doubt felt secure in her present situation but when asked why she did not ask for a place ar court she remembered the bed hopping that had occurred and thought she wanted no part of that, I thought maybe she was just being spiteful as I said earlier, there could have been some envy there but maybe it was just moral wariness, her brother was the one it seems who was more horrified so it could have been more him than his sister, but as Bq mentions why could he not have stayed silent it was all in the past, but Lassells was a strict Puritan and as we know we are looking at this through our eyes, not through the eyes of a 16th c Puritan man, as mentioned also there was the misprision of treason, he could well have been a dull prudish man who fasted regurlaly and kept the religious observances in his household most strictly, maybe he wasn’t interested in women either and found it shocking for men to have a mistress, so to a man of his nature he would find the queens behaviour heinous, maybe also Mary had found out about Dereham joining her household and thought ‘here we go again’, she herself possibly did not mean to cause any trouble but her brother maybe smitten by his conscience decided to inform the authorities and as the saying goes, more probing leads to a whole can of worms being opened, the more digging Cranmer did the more he discovered and Derehams presence in the queens household looked highly suspicious, Dereham was a man of dubious character like Culpeper, he had also been a pirate and was loud mouthed and arrogant, he boasted of his past connections to the queen and when held for questioning he brought Culpeper into the equation, but how had he known of the queens fancy for the latter more importantly had he known of the meetings between them? surely the queen and the few women who were in her confidence, Lady Rochford amongst them had made sure it was a closely guarded secret, it just goes to show how word gets around, knowing the queen as he did he must have noticed the marked preference she had shown this handsome young groom of the stool, if he did not know of the meetings he obviously knew of her fancy for him, maybe he had heard gossip and put two and two together, Catherine was doomed this was totally unacceptable behaviour for the wife of the King, and what was far far worse was that Henry genuinely loved his young wife and had thought she was so pure and innocent, those weeks that followed must have been dreadful for him and I cannot help but feel sorry for Henry V111 even though he had treated his first and second wives so badly.

  7. It really seems and I don’t think I’m stretching the truth too far to say that at this late stage in Henry’s life the definitions of treason increased as he became more tyrannical and paranoid. It’s almost as he woke up every day with a new definition to ad to the list. I agree with Christine- I would not want to have been at court at this time. What was acceptable at court last week may cost you your head this week.

  8. The Treason Act 1534 widened and increased the number of things that constituted treason in order to end all opposition and criticism of the King’s new marriage to Anne Boleyn. Before this it was more or less plotting to kill or acting to kill the King or Queen or to conspire against them. Rebellion as well as a direct attack on Royal authority was also something that constituted treason. In the new Act it was treason to say, write, think as well as do anything against Henry and Anne or their children and there was a very wide interpretation about what this meant. Cromwell gathered reports on ordinary people who made comments which some people thought to be dangerous talk and treason but he looked into every report with care, actually dismissing many as harmless. It is definitely true I think that after this the definition of treason became ever narrowed and much innocent talk was twisted into treason. Henry became more and more paranoid and the term imagining the death of the King could mean just about anything. It wasn’t treason to discuss death around the King or to have a funeral or to inform him that he was dying, that is a myth. Denny when he told Henry he was dying did so on the authority of his doctors and it wasn’t treason. It could be interpreted as treason to say to someone else that the King might die which is what Henry Courtney wrote to his brother on the continent that his leg may kill him and it would be merry in England. Cromwell obviously saw that as treason even if Courtney was being sarcastic at the time, saw a conspiracy which definitely didn’t exist and an entire family fell as well as others such as Edward Neville and Sir Nicholas Carew were also caught up in the imagination of Cromwell and Henry. We know how much innocent flirtation was used as evidence for treason and adultery against Anne Boleyn who was innocent and she was accused of conspiracy with all of the men and also each of them separately, using the same law meant to protect her. By now, 1541, treason does indeed seem to be what the crown decided and yes, Michael, you are right it’s definition was linked to an increasingly paranoid King. Kathryn and her alleged lovers were not executed for high treason. They were executed because they said they intended to to commit adultery, so the future of the succession would have been endangered as the children could belong to a lover. They were also charged with some very bizarre things such as leading a deviant and immoral life, which refer surely to the Queen’s previous life, not her present one. However, her appointment of men from that life into her marriage was seen as evidence that she intended to carry on with that life. That was presumed treason. Jane Boleyn as the senior lady involved in the Queen’s midnight meetings and the main person involved in her assumed adultery who assisted her to meet with Culpeper and who knew about it more than anyone else was the person charged with misprison because she was most guilty. The others had a lesser role and were open about everything when questioned. Henry obviously decided that she had failed in her duty and supported his wife’s activities. Treason would soon be extended again to make it treason for his future wife to hide her sexual past if she had one. Adultery wasn’t as yet treason, but that would change eventually as well. It was treason to seduce and to violate the Queen of course, but voluntary sexual relations were not treason. Accusing the lovers of conspiring or imagining the death of the King as they made love enabled a charge of treason to be brought. This was the case with Henry’s wives. The Duke of Norfolk and his son at the end of this reign were charged with treason based on the use of their coat of arms with the Royal arms, something they were entitled to do since the time of Edward I. The Howard arms were quartered in the second quarter, not the first and the Council and jury had difficulty in coming to a verdict and said so. Henry Howard Earl of Surrey was found guilty and executed and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk escaped because Henry died on the morning he was due to be executed. Treason was just about anything which could be used to get rid of people the King was led to disapprove of or to distrust.

    1. Well said. I’m glad you brought up Denny. I’ve always been impressed with how he stepped up to do that honorable deed. Tyrant or not Henry had the right to know so that he could prepare himself.

      Delusional paranoia in an average person can be dangerous but in a medieval monarch with the forceful personality of Henry VIII it was deadly.

  9. I did not read the pevious comments. So this is my vieuw,
    Imagine a 17 year old girl who may be of loose moral due to a negligent upbringing. Can we relate? Even in modern day standard a man nearing 50 that is after one so young is deemed an old bastard. but because that mran was King they all rejoice.
    Imagine that man, nearing his 50ties in an age were this was already old age, obesed grossly and stank the hell out of his castle.
    Can you imagine the horror of that young girl?

    Poor lightheaded Catherine, pushed forward by her powerhungry family ( who regarded her a lowlife due to the primogeniture of the day) as a pawn to gain wealth. And who said no the king without bearing severe consequences? No one!

    So she became Queen and is it a miracle that this unfortunate girl sought company of a handsome young man as Culpeper? Perhaps Culpeper is more to blame. Well, history took it’s course. Henry was devastated when he found out that his girlbride had been unfaithful. What was the mindset of Henry VIII? Aside from the obvious theachery it impllies, did he really thought that he, an elderly, grossly obsed and incapacitated man could stand against time and youth?

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