Catherine Howard’s execution – What happened?

A big thank you to Naomi for her question regarding the executions of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, and Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford.

In Showtime’s “The Tudors” series, it shows Jane Boleyn being executed first, but was that really the case?

I look at what really happened on 13th February 1542 and also look at whether Catherine really saw the heads of Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper on her way into the Tower, whether she practised with the block the night before her execution, and what the two women said as they addressed the crowd from the scaffold.

Book recommendation: Young and Damned and Fair by Gareth Russell, an excellent book on Catherine Howard.

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4 thoughts on “Catherine Howard’s execution – What happened?”
  1. I am so upset, I posted a long comment about Catherine’s execution and it just disappeared, I cannot write it all again, I may attempt it tomorrow.

  2. Hello grown-ups, I’m a 12 year old that listens to “Six the Musical”, it’s a musical about the six wives of King Henry VIII of England, and I’m curious if any of you guys have listened to it. Have any of you listened to it?

    1. Hello, no, unfortunately, I was to go and see Six but it was cancelled, although it had been on for a few weeks. It was the final week but we went into lockdown last March and everything closed. I believe its fabulous. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope you enjoy the site.

  3. Yes, Kathryn and Jane made good ends and the Queen went first. I would definitely question much of the mythology of this execution quite rightly. There is another point, though, the block was cleared and Jane wasn’t on the scaffold. Kathryn was escorted out first, made her speech, made her end, the block was cleaned as well as the scaffold. Then Jane was escorted out and she too made a good death. There are some very sensitive things which make the death scene moving, the fear of the women, which was probably genuine, the confusion Jane felt as she was mentally ill, the romance of Kathryn and her youth and her last words. Sometimes the myth is better than reality.

    It would have been entirely outrageous, however, for Kathryn to say that she would rather die the wife of Culpepper. Her words would have been really remarkable and you can imagine Chapuys giving us the juicy details. We have a very good independent eye witness who gave an excellent and beautiful true report of the execution of these two unfortunate ladies. He tells us that they were very conventional and made a good end. We can trust his words I believe.

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