Day 6 of the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar

Dec6,2018 #advent calendar

Happy St Nicholas’s Day! If you celebrate it as a feast day in your country then I hope you have a lovely day. Here in Spain it’s a public holiday for Constitution Day.

It’s time for another Tudor treat from the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar. Today’s treat is from Niki Incorvia who has shared quite a few excellent guest articles with us over the years. Thank you Niki!

If you’ve only just heard about our Advent calendar, do not fear, treats 1 to 5 are still there for you to enjoy. All you have to do to enjoy our Advent calendar is to click on the number 6 in this post or click on the link in the cover image at the top of this page – easy!

Our sister site, The Tudor Society, has some Tudor treats for you too. Starting tomorrow and ending Sunday night is the Tudor Society Open Weekend, where you can enjoy magazines, expert talks, videos, articles, a live chat, quizzes and more. It’s completely free and you even get a downloadable Tudor puzzle book for registering – click here to register now.

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9 thoughts on “Day 6 of the Anne Boleyn Files Advent Calendar”
  1. I guess I see Kathryn Howard if not through a feminist’s eyes then through those of one who sees correlations between aspects if human nature across time. I see her simply as an average teenaged girl. I think growing pains are similar regardless of time or place. In Kathryn’s case I see ambition, carefree flirtatiin, impuksiveness, raging hormones, yearning for the approval of men, little understanding of dire consequences for seemingly innocent actions, self-discovery, and the romanticism of being loved by the greatest man in Christendom. Unlike other girls of noble birth she had little education and didn’t have female propriety ingrained in her since birth. Bottom line she behaved the way she did because she didn’t know any better (as is often said of feminists who buck against what siciety sees as proper ladylike behavior) and it got her killed. It wasn’t right and these ideas were obviously not considered in her case but ultimately I think her fate came about more as a result of the king’s broken heart rather than breaking the law. Yes, technically she had broken the law, but the sentence was extreme. But I guess killing the queen gets easier each time you do it! Poor little girl.

    1. I am sorry, I have to say this but Katherine Howard wasn’t a little girl and calling her one isn’t helpful and is very misleading. She was 17 or 18 when she married Henry and in her teens when she had her other relationships. She was old enough to marry and was over the age of sexual consent. Yes, she was a young and even vulnerable girl, but certainly not a child or a little girl.

  2. Catherine I believe was neither saint nor wh*re but just a very young woman who was led astray by her own desires, are not most women? No human being is perfect and the term immoral does not mean a person is wicked, we are all weak when it comes to attraction of the opposite sex, I agree with Jennifer that growing pains do not alter according to the age we live in, the difference was there was no transition from childhood to adulthood, one minute you were learning the classics with your tutor, the next being fitted for your wedding dress, the teenage years where hormonal changes occurred with all the erratic behaviour of the adolescent were not recognised, as soon as you reached the age of around 14 you could marry, of course to engage in sex was thought of as a bit young but in a year or two maybe, it just goes to show how quickly the Tudor child had to grow up, Catherines upbringing was unusual in that she was surrounded by men and women from an early age who were quite immoral, Dereham for one seems to have been something of an opportunist, if he suggested marriage to Catherine in the first place it implies he was interested in only the Howard name, others had noticed their attachment and maybe her uncle and grandmother had got to hear of it, hardly surprising if they were the ones to tell her to end it, Derham was not considered good enough for a Howard and that may explain his later behaviour towards her, she was eager to go to court as soon as soon as she was old enough as she later admitted, there she met two men who would later be her downfall, the King of England and the handsome but foolish Thomas Culpeper, courted by one and yet her eyes must have kept returning to the other, this very young girl was caught up in her whirlpool of emotions, suddenly everything seemed bright and more glorious, Henry asked for her hand in marriage and she became Queen it was a heady feeling, if she became a little arrogant it was merely her immaturity but we can understand what it must have been like for this girl who suddenly found herself the most powerful woman in the kingdom, Henry was dazzled by her winsome charms but he failed to look beyond his own raging desires and if he had, tragically he would have seen just a very young woman without the attributes that were needed in the queen consort of an ageing monarch, was she spoiled and petulant, was she rather like the empty headed bimbo she is so often portrayed to be in movies and some books? Caring only for dancing and fine dresses and jewels, or did she take her duties seriously was there another side of her we never see? She was kind hearted that we know, she was moved by the plight of Lady Pole languishing in the Tower, the Northern progress was a success and Henry was pleased with her, the only fly in the ointment was her unsavoury past the events of which a certain John Lassells was about to spill, from then on her fall was swift as like Anne Boleyn before her things moved at a terrifying speed, Catherine Howard really is a tragic figure from history tragic because her early upbringing was to blame for her own fall, tragic because of her age she was not accountable and she was quite possibly forced by her ambitious relatives into marrying an elderly sick King whom she knew she could never love, betrayed by her own emotions she was also betrayed by her alleged lover who under questioning showed his complete disrespect to the King by stating he and Catherine both wished to sleep with each other, if any man had a death wish it was he, I think he was extremely lucky to suffer death by decapitation instead of the full horror of hanging drawing and quartering, Henry as it says in the article felt a fool and that’s why he murdured his young child bride, quite possibly he did feel foolish, but as it was then treason for a queen to betray her husband death was the only sentance, he could however have pardoned her but his feelings were wounded and he acted like a wounded animal, on that grim day in February 1542 however, I believe hundreds wept for the wretched young Catherine Howard as she succumbed her head to the axe, a tragic end to the life of a vibrant young women whose only crime was that she had no moral guidance in her early years and had been led astray by her emotions afterwards, she had mixed with men of dubious reputation and in the end they all paid the price.

  3. If there is one name that is certain to divide historians and probably send you round the bend then it’s Kathryn Howard. She is either a blatant hussy or an abuse victim or very foolish young woman who didn’t care about anything but pretty clothing and parties. The real Kathryn is lost somewhere among both traditional stereotypes and modern attempts to put her into the boxes of a girl who was abused by every man she met. Neither is true and neither reveals anything about the real Kathryn Howard. We have to be very careful about putting people from the sixteenth century into modern paradigms on sexuality and the treatment of women but at the same time challenge stereotypes based on what we think we know, rather than what the contemporary evidence actually tells us.

    Kathryn from about the ages of 12 to 14 and 15 had two or possibly three relationships, one which we could class as potentially abusive but the other was sexually agreeable to both parties and the evidence of her roommates, fellow accused and even her own very controversial and contradictory confession all point to it being anything other than rape. Kathryn was complicit in her own doom if we use hindsight to analyse her behaviour but we can’t do this because she couldn’t possibly know that while she was letting Francis Dereham and his friends into the Maidens Chamber at Horesham and Lambeth that she would one day marry the most dangerous man in England, the King. We have to attempt to unravel what was going on in the moment in order to try to understand Kathryn.

    Kathryn was not an uneducated twit either. She wasn’t a bimbo and she certainly wasn’t unsupervised or left without any guidance. All of these myths have persisted and I hate to say it but a feminist take on her enjoyment of sex is not helpful either. There were certain moral standards expected of women in particular in the sixteenth century and they were rarely seen as anything but sexually dangerous. Every young female and every young man in the household of the Duchess of Norfolk was expected to behave themselves and knew it. The problem was nobody took hormonal changes into consideration because nobody knew about them. That said the normal desires and needs to express themselves and the need to be young were just as essential to growing youth then as now, the feelings and changes in body chemicals and the brain had the same effect, they wanted to have fun and adding the heady mix of strawberries and alcohol and sexual barriers soon came down. The young men were invited into the rooms of the young girls and stuff happened. Obviously some young women are bound to express themselves more freely than others and Kathryn was one who acted out sexually. She did so because she liked the young man who gained her attention and the sexual relationship which followed with Francis Dereham was consensual. The parties that took place may or may not have been typical but the Duchess did rebuke and chastise all parties when she caught them. She was quite elderly and had a lot of people to supervise, but she did have help and if Kathryn felt she was being abused by Dereham she could have complained. Silence would only have made her look as if she consented. She also as could the others have left the men locked outside. Letting them in to the chambers would not have exactly made them look innocent either.

    The relationship with Henry Mannox is problematic because we don’t really know when it happened. Kathryn describes herself as a very young girl in her testimony but what does she mean? Does she mean that she was below the age of consent which although twelve years, fourteen was considered more the age when a girl should sleep with her husband, at the earliest. Does she mean a few years before her relationship with Dereham or does she mean she can’t recall the age it happened at? We can only assume that she was just becoming into womanhood and just about understanding of her body as she knew exactly what Mannox wanted. He was her tutor, but not her only tutor and during lessons it it unlikely that they were left alone. Mannox made inappropriate suggestions to Kathryn and for some reason she felt compelled to give him his desires, to allow him to fondle her and to meet him more than once in order to do so. She appears to have tried to get him to stop but he always wanted more. To me, Mannox was a predator and grooming Kathryn but it is hard to put it into terms of abuse as we might understand today.

    Kathryn certainly as Queen and as a young, sexually aware young woman, loved to dance and party and was spoilt, especially by Henry, but she was also raised with a sense of duty and knew how to run a great household. She knew what public behaviour was expected of her and certainly wouldn’t have been bathing in mud on the road as in the Tudors. She was certainly sophisticated enough to be chosen twice to serve Tudor Queens. We all know that Kathryn was chosen to serve Anne of Cleves but she was also selected to come and join the household of Jane Seymour, shortly before she died. Kathryn didn’t get to take up her first appointment but made the most of her second. She even made two gentlemen friends during this time, Richard Davenport and Thomas Culpeper, being related to the latter. Henry began his courtship of Kathryn early in the Queenship of Anne of C and Kathryn was willing enough to accept him. Her family knew about her earlier relationships and told her to say nothing, thus putting her in danger from the outset once she was married to Henry.

    Henry and Kathryn had a period of about eight or nine months when things were well between them but then in March 1541 everything changed. Kathryn was excluded without any explanation from the King’s bed and presence. He had a flare up of his leg and he became depressed. He also visited Anne of C and rumours said he was going to return to her because she had born him a son. Kathryn was very sensitive and this made her feel very insecure. Although Henry quashed the rumours and reassured her, nothing was the same again. Lent meant no sexual activity full stop so she was also frustrated. She received attention from Thomas Culpeper who came with gifts from the King and she gave gifts and love letters to him. During the progress to the North she was also left at times on her own and entertainment after hours involved Lady Rochford being ordered to find a place to meet and to bring Culpeper to Kathryn. What they actually did during these night time adventures is open to interpretation as both parties denied adultery and there is no direct evidence to say they had a sexual relationship. We think we know that they did, but do we? We assume Anne Boleyn to be innocent because she was set up, the dates make no sense and her character is better than that of KH. We assume KH is guilty because she looked guilty, acted foolishly and in a guilty manner and she did have a man in her room almost every night during the Northern Progress and because traditional historians say she was guilty. But was she? The truth is we don’t know.

    As historians this actually is a maddening result. We want answers. We want Lady Rochford to have seen them, but she didn’t. She said she believed that they must have because they spent so much time alone but she didn’t see them, only heard them and she fell asleep while acting as a chaperone, so even she, the only possible eye witness could not be certain of anything. The three protagonists were questioned again and again, without confessing to adultery, although Culpeper and Kathryn intended to go further. They were also accused of planning to marry if the King died or discussing his death so they were presuming treason. I do believe that Kathryn bruised Henry’s ego, but then again, with her family she conspired to cover up her past and put the succession in danger. If she had agreed that she was “married” to Francis Dereham who came to Court to claim her, making an utter nuisance of himself, then she would have embarrassed everyone but lived. Her silence, unfortunately, cost her her life.

    1. I feel sorry for Lady Rochford here who must have been longing for her warm cosy bed and instead was left waiting on a presumably not very comfortable chair whilst her mistress entertained her alleged lover, no wonder she fell asleep, I can just see her yawning her head off thinking ‘how much longer’, whilst her candle slowly burnt down, I cannot believe Lady Rochford was happy about this state of affairs at all, and I think Catherine must have as iv said before ordered her into it, maybe she tried tears and Lady Rochford was moved to pity, and unhappily gave in, who would rather keep watch for a young mistress who was married and to the King of all people, which she knew was highly dangerous instead of sleeping blissfully in her bed? These two women made a dangerous choice here and although I do sympathise with Catherine she was in the wrong, no matter how innocent these meetings were it did not look so, she put her maids in a very difficult situation and it was to be Jane Rochford who paid with her life, many historians have a field day with Catherine and Weir describes her as a young ignorant girl, one historian says she could have been the victim of child abuse and Lacey Baldwin Smith has no sympathy for her at all, in today’s age her behaviour seems perfectly normal for a teenager and yes her silence over Dereham did cost her her life, she refused to acknowledge they had pledged their troth to each other which was binding if they were sleeping together, and several women of grans household said their huffing and puffing left her awake, she had to move bed, i suppose anyone who has thin walls and has particurlaly noisy neighbour’s can sympathise, Catherine seeing all the women in her grans household indulging freely with the male servants thought there was nothing wrong with it, these women were her role models and she was guillible and naive, there is Manox who I believe abused his position, but he was just a young man and it’s a bit like teachers today who have affairs with their pupils some half their age, these people are in a position of trust bout it does go on, he may have indulged in other affairs in other households he seems a bit of a ladies man, the fact Catherine was his pupil added piquancy to the situation and she was attracted to him most likely, kisses and cuddles went on and possibly Catherine did not learn much music but she probably didn’t care about that, Henry must have believed she was a virgin when she came to him and she managed to fool him pretty well, when Cranmer questioned her about Dereham she denied they had ever called each other man and wife, not realising that would have let her of the hook, yes she would still have been guilty of deceiving the King about her past but the affair would have meant her marriage to the King could be dissolved and yes her blood would be spared, and that of the unfortunate Lady Rochford, why did she not confess and save her blood and that of Janes, did she not realise her life was at stake or was she so arrogant as to think she could make the King believe Dereham never meant anything to her, was she trying to save her marriage? I think she just panicked and like a hare caught in the net had to make a split decision then and there and denied they had been close, she was alone with Cranmer who quite possibly was frightening enough with his grave voice and unsmiling face, she had no one to advise her on what to say, Dereham who when being questioned out of envy I think mentioned Culpeper and then a note was found which confirmed his story, you can interpret this note either way but it does sound like a young woman longing to meet with her lover, ‘I heard you were unwell and makes my heart to die to think I cannot always be in your company’, it does not sound like a normal friendly note written from a queen to a young man in her husband’s household, inquiring about his health and besides, why send him a note at all, she could have asked Henry about him if she was that concerned, the discovery of that note did not look good it inferred she had committed adultery and she was not fit to be queen, she had endangered the succession, no wonder she became hysterical, she was absolutely terrified, Catherine is a very tragic figure in history she loved the wrong men, she had had no moral guidance, she caught the eye of the King and yet was most likely in love with Culpeper as she had known him before, she could not resist meeting with him, in the end she was a victim of her own desires, she does not appear hard or ambitious like her equally tragic cousin Henrys second queen, I cannot help but feel deeply sorry for her, I can imagine the terror she felt and I wish Henry V111 had let her live, Lady Rochford to who was herself coming to the end of her turbulent life, these two women were to have their blood shed on the same day on a grey wintry February day, Christmas that year must have been cheerless and grim.

      1. If you are on the Tudor Society for the free weekend this week do grab Gareth Russell’s talk on the character of Kathryn Howard based on the research for his book about her Young and Damed and Fair, as it shreds quite a bit of light on how she related to others and might have persuaded or bullied even a lady to help her. It is quite enlightening.

        He is in the chat room at 11 p.m and answering questions about Kathryn Howard. Do come along and join in.

        I have some sympathy for Katherine but I really do feel sorry for Jane Rochford, having to sneak around and find places to hide and meet Thomas Culpeper and then risking capture and detection as she led him through the secret passageways to her rooms and then sat guard all night as nobody could go to bed without the Queen having retired. The other ladies noticed how much time Lady Rochford spent alone with the Queen and others were not permitted into her chambers and were becoming very suspicious. Even if her past had not come to light and led to the discovery of Kathryn ‘s meetings with Culpeper, it is very likely she would have been discovered, most likely by someone walking in uninvited.

        1. Yes, Christine, I agree with BQ, Gareth’s talk is very enlightening. Just to clarify, though, the live chat is tomorrow at 11pm UK time.

        2. Hi Claire, sorry yes I got the date wrong, but the video is well worth watching. I saw it earlier and it’s great.

          Take care.

          See you tomorrow.

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