7 November 1541 – Queen Catherine Howard’s Jewels are Seized

Posted By on November 7, 2013

Tamzin Merchant as Catherine Howard in The Tudors

Tamzin Merchant as Catherine Howard in The Tudors

On this day in 1541, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the Duke of Norfolk went to Hampton Court Palace to interrogate Queen Catherine Howard, and to arrange that she should be confined to her chambers there.

They did not confiscate Catherine’s keys to her apartments, so she could move between her chambers, but her jewels were seized so that they could be inventoried.1 It was clear that he was in terrible trouble, and Catherine burst into tears and became hysterical. Cranmer recorded Catherine’s state in a letter to the King:

“I found her in such lamentation and heaviness, as I never saw no creature; so that it would have pitied any man’s heart in the world to have looked upon her: and in that vehement rage she continued, as they informed me which be about her, from my departure from her unto my return again…”2

It was impossible to interrogate her while she was in such a state, so Cranmer decided to come back the following day. It appears that Catherine had a very restless and upsetting night.

Notes and Sources

  1. LP xvi. 1331, 1333
  2. The Remains of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Volume 1, p307-308

10 thoughts on “7 November 1541 – Queen Catherine Howard’s Jewels are Seized”

  1. Kathy says:

    I can’t imagine the distress poor Catherine Howard must have been feeling during this time. To find yourself in this position would be terrifying beyond imagining.
    Rest in peace Catherine and thank you Claire for these wonderful posts giving us such insight into the happenings of so long ago. There doesn’t appear to be as much information available on Catherine Howard as some of Henry’s other queens and your site has become my go to place for studying her life. I have throughly enjoyed the information that you have shared about her.

    1. Daniela says:

      Yes I agree Kathy, it seems impossible to imagine the stress and strains she must have felt. I would imagine she must have felt extremely alone too, not knowing who to trust. She was also very young.

      1. Kathy says:

        Hi Daniela,
        The not knowing whom to trust to me is probably the most frightening part and that is an excellent point you have made. Young, frightened, alone and unable to really trust anyone while wondering what is going to be used against you next. She likely would have been afraid to confide in anyone which would have contributed to the awful burden she was already carrying. My heart goes out to her I think more than any of the other queens.

  2. margaret says:

    personally it scares the living daylights out of me just thinking about any one of henrys wives and what they went through,i know it was a different time ,but could not each of them have seen the huge danger they put themselves in with this man.

    1. Dawn 1st says:

      He did turn out to be the Tudor version of ‘Bluebeard’ didn’t he..

      As for seeing the danger, I reckon some of them would have, but would it have made any difference if they did, I doubt it. If you look at them separately most of them didn’t have much option.
      His dangerous side was not apparent with Katherine of Aragon, or Anne really until they married.
      As for Jane and Katherine Howard, the King wanted them, and their menfolk no doubt would have actively encouraged and promoted this too, the power and prestige that it would bring, it was a no brainer…
      Anne of Cleves was an arranged marriage and had no say
      Katherine Parr wasn’t governed by men as such being a widow, but the question of Do I marry a dangerous tyrant?, or Do I refuse a dangerous tyrant?, is not a good place to be at. Being in the ‘know’ might not have been a prevention, but it may have given them caution enough to tread carefully in some cases.

      As you say it’s terrifying enough reading/thinking about it, image what it was like to have to do it….stuff of nightmares.

      1. margaret says:

        yes you are right dawn1st and also henry was probably at his “most charming” with his ladies before he married them and of course the ladies ie menfolk (anyman related to them that could be bumped up the ladder of success)would have been actively pursueing these marriages and pushing them into it ,thank god I live in the here and now and not then.

  3. margaret says:

    the jewels being taken off Katherine ,how awful ,no doubt to be recycled for the next unlucky queen,i think poor Katherine would have known by this happening that her time was up,poor,poor girl,very sad.

  4. BanditQueen says:

    While it is still possible to feel sorry for Catherine who possibly had not yet been told what she was being held for or what was happening so she must have been terrified; in the end she did bring it on herself. Hysterical or not, terrified or not, she must have wondered had she been found out and with whom. Uncle Norfolk would not have had any sympathy; he was not known for his mild manners or being gentle with women; thankfully Cranmer had more sense. It was clear that she could not be questioned in such a state and she could not be offered anything either; she would not be capable of taking in even an offer of mercy. Taking her jewels at this stage also seems over the top as no evidence of her being an unfit wife had come out and she surely must have still held her status as Queen. Trus the King had given much of the stuff as gifts to her and the state jewels are normally passed from one royal to another, but as she had not yet lost her rights as Queen; there seems to be jumping the gun here with taking them even to count and list them.

    Anne at least at the time of her arrest was given some indication that she was under arrest and why. Catherine it seems was not, not for several days or weeks at least. The first indication that something is being investigated about her past is 8th November when she is asked about the contact with Dereham. The day before she is abandoned by Henry at Hampton Court, and she is not told anything more. She now has her jewels and her ladies removed and is under chamber arrest. Today; would she have been electronically tagged?

    I can understand her fear and have some sympathy but given what she was getting up to; surely she could not have expected to get away with it forever?

  5. Christine says:

    Poor Catherine she was only a young girl, I read that she gave way to hysteria several times no wonder as she had the terrifying example of Anne Boleyn, she didn’t deserve to die Henry should have taken into account her youth and ignorance, other Queens had committed adultery and not died because of it, I know she didn’t confess to adultery but I think she must have arranging to meet Thomas Culpeper in her bedroom, what conclusions could the council come to? And the damning letter of course, That proved that she was attracted to him but Henry should just have divorced her he would have been thought better of than just having her executed, imagine what the people thought, and the rest of Europe, here we go again ! She would have suffered enough for being banished from the court and all the people sniggering, she probably wouldn’t have found any man who would have wanted to marry her after that, her punishment would have been in the shame that came afterwards there was no need to kill her, it was Henrys pride no doubt along with his tyrannical nature that condemned her, when alls said and done what was he thinking of anyway, marrying a girl who was young enough to be his daughter.

  6. Lorna barker says:

    Actually Katharine Howard was young enough to be Henry’s granddaughter! She was 15yrs & he 49 yrs old!

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