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Catherine Howard-I think I'm beginning to understand her!
August 13, 2011
1:18 pm
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Claire-Louise
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I've been thinking about Catherine Howard a lot recently, and how I feel that not many historians have tried to understand her as a 'real person'.

I've always been interested in Catherine Howard (it started a long time ago when I was picked to be her in a school play) but I don't often come across other people who are interested in her and there isn't that many books or material about her. It seems that she is often dismissed as just the 'silly little tart' or something along those lines. I must confess that I myself had abandoned my research of her as I didn't feel I was finding anything new.

It was when I was watching my season 4 Tudors dvd that all of a sudden I felt a lot of empathy for her, as I realised that we all (well at least most of us) make mistakes when we are young. When her friend Joan comes to court and everything seems to start to spiral out of control, it reminded me of my old friends who were not the greatest influence on me. I realised just how much I have changed since I was that age, and how immature I was compared to now!

What really stood out to me though was the fact that I have been lucky enough to have a decent education and Catherine never had that-and it wasn't her fault. There is a difference between someone who is offered an education and chooses to be ignorant and someone who has never been given the opportunity. Therefore is it not unfair to call Catherine stupid? She never got the chance of a proper education, and furthermore never had the chance to grow up.

I also think that not enough is mentioned about other people's influences; there was no way that Catherine would have been prepared for the bear pit that she was thrown into…she almost would have jumped at the command of a courtier that she saw as more adult than herself or, admirable; like Culpeper.

I know I'm having a bit of a rant but I'd really like to spend more time researching Catherine and what made her act the way she did (other than the usual theory of a juvenile delinquent) I'm really interested to see if anyone on here feels the same, or can at least understand where I'm coming from?

August 13, 2011
1:24 pm
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Catalina
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I must admit, Catherine intrigues me. I can't quite fathom her out. Did she really not understand that she was playing with fire? I don't like the 'silly little tart' perception of her at all, but I can't understand why she thought she would get away with what she did. Was it utter naivety? Was she fully aware of the risks, but was so in love with Culpeper she did it anyway just hoping she wouldn't get caught?

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

August 13, 2011
1:33 pm
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Claire-Louise
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This is what I have always struggled to understand about her the most! I have the theory that she was simply convinced that they wouldn't get caught! I also think she was totally in love with Culpeper and Henry's adoration of her (I think he treated her like a little pet) put her into a false sense of security. Quite possibly Catherine was under instruction never to argue with the King and thought that if she were placid, willing and pleasing to his face, he would never question her.

August 13, 2011
1:40 pm
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Catalina
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Yeah, the fact that he petted and spoiled her may have made her believe he would forgive her anything. But I could understand that more if it wasn't for the fact he had her cousin beheaded for adultery (albeit on trumped up charges, but I don't know if Anne's innocence was widely believed at the time). If that had never happened, I could understand her taking the risk as she may have thought the worst that could happen would be him divorcing her and sending her off to a nunnery or something.  And who knows, maybe she would have preferred that than having to lie with an ageing, obese man with a putrid leg ulcer.  But the fact he had beheaded Anne for adultery would surely have made her realise that he was capable of anything.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

August 13, 2011
1:44 pm
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Elliemarianna
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If I were made to marry some smelly, obese, disgusting old man,  I wouldn't care if I risked my life either.

I'm sure an eternity of blissful peace in heaven was far more appealing than a lifetime of having him kiss her with his rotten toothed mouth and halitosis, not to mention the bedroom part, in comparison.

She loved Culpepper, she didn't care about the consequences. Young love is very blind and very powerful. It's like a badly written Romeo and Juliet, just more depressing.

"It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declre that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs..." Jane Austen.

August 13, 2011
1:51 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Yeah, that is true; you'd think she would know not to put a foot wrong. This however, could suggest that Anne's innocence of the charges of adultery were known at the time; maybe all Catherine had been told was that Queen Anne was beheaded for having opinions and answering back..who knows?

She may have even thought that Henry had become softer over time, and perhaps she even considered him as a fool….after all, Henry wouldn't have known if it wasn't for his courtiers.

I also think that perhaps everyone was aware that Henry could no longer/was very unlikely to father a child; and so Culpeper was a way of Catherine becoming pregnant; and possibly that child being a son-which would elevate her and her family…oh dear that is quite farfetched isn't it?

I think this is what intrigues me about her story; we see it all in plain black and white but there are numerous theories if we look at it from other angles

August 13, 2011
1:54 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Elliemarianna said:

If I were made to marry some smelly, obese, disgusting old man,  I wouldn't care if I risked my life either.

I'm sure an eternity of blissful peace in heaven was far more appealing than a lifetime of having him kiss her with his rotten toothed mouth and halitosis, not to mention the bedroom part, in comparison.

She loved Culpepper, she didn't care about the consequences. Young love is very blind and very powerful. It's like a badly written Romeo and Juliet, just more depressing.


Yes, I think it is; I think that is why I feel the poor girl is so misunderstood, she was after all only human.

August 13, 2011
1:54 pm
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Catalina
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I can quite imagine the good old Duke of Norfolk telling her to do just that in order to fall pregnant. The thing is though, if Henry was impotent by that point, surely if she had been doing it to fall pregnant, Henry would have realised he couldn't be the father!

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

August 13, 2011
1:58 pm
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Catalina
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Another thing that intrigues me about Catherine – and this is rather shallow so I apologise – is the questions she raises for me about the ideals of beauty at the time. She was considered to have been the most beautiful of his wives, but when I look at the portrait of her (if it is indeed her), I find her to be the most unattractive of his wives. 

Anne raises the same questions for me ; I first fell in love with Tudor history when I was 10 and I got a book out of the library about Kings and Queens and her portrait utterly captivated me.  And she was not considered to be the ideal of beauty.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

August 13, 2011
2:07 pm
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Bella44
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I have to admit Katherine isn't my favourite wife but I too find the tag of 'juvenile delinquent' inaccurate.  I think Norfolk and Gardiner should take some of the blame, putting a young girl who was no match intellectually for the king in front of Henry like that.  You'd think Norfolk especially would've learnt his lesson from Anne.  Aside from lust (I'm pretty sure all on Henry's part!) what did they have in common?  As you say Claire-Louise, she wasn't well educated but I don't think she was stupid either.  I think she found herself in a situation that was beyond her and took comfort where she could.  And i don't blame her for that!

I like what you said about making mistakes when young – unfortunately Katherine never got the chance to mature and grow up.  I sometimes wonder what she would have been like as an older woman.  Would she have come to value education Catherine Parr did? Would she have developed strong religious/political beliefs or stayed right out?  Would she have developed good relationships with Henrys' children? I hope whatever she turned into she would have retained her sense of fun – I think I always liked that part of her character the most! 

August 13, 2011
2:13 pm
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Catalina
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I don't think she would have cultivated good relationships with Henry's children, but it wouldn't have been for the lack of trying on her part.  I just think she was too young for them to have taken her seriously or respected her.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

August 13, 2011
2:14 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Catalina said:

Another thing that intrigues me about Catherine – and this is rather shallow so I apologise – is the questions she raises for me about the ideals of beauty at the time. She was considered to have been the most beautiful of his wives, but when I look at the portrait of her (if it is indeed her), I find her to be the most unattractive of his wives. 

Anne raises the same questions for me ; I first fell in love with Tudor history when I was 10 and I got a book out of the library about Kings and Queens and her portrait utterly captivated me.  And she was not considered to be the ideal of beauty.


I know, I've always thought Anne was by far the most beautiful wife judging by the portraits. With the portrait of Catherine.. I don't know, it's not really how I imagine her to be honest. Though it does kind of look like a naive but bubbly young girl almost 'playing' at being Queen

August 13, 2011
2:14 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Catalina said:

Another thing that intrigues me about Catherine – and this is rather shallow so I apologise – is the questions she raises for me about the ideals of beauty at the time. She was considered to have been the most beautiful of his wives, but when I look at the portrait of her (if it is indeed her), I find her to be the most unattractive of his wives. 

Anne raises the same questions for me ; I first fell in love with Tudor history when I was 10 and I got a book out of the library about Kings and Queens and her portrait utterly captivated me.  And she was not considered to be the ideal of beauty.


I know, I've always thought Anne was by far the most beautiful wife judging by the portraits. With the portrait of Catherine.. I don't know, it's not really how I imagine her to be honest. Though it does kind of look like a naive but bubbly young girl almost 'playing' at being Queen

August 13, 2011
2:17 pm
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Catalina
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Some people say that in that portrait she has a sort of 'come hither', flirtatious look about her, but I just don't see it. The portrait doesn't capture the 'Rose without a thorn' image for me.

'If honour were profitable, everybody would be honourable'  Thomas More

August 13, 2011
2:23 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Bella44 said:

I have to admit Katherine isn't my favourite wife but I too find the tag of 'juvenile delinquent' inaccurate.  I think Norfolk and Gardiner should take some of the blame, putting a young girl who was no match intellectually for the king in front of Henry like that.  You'd think Norfolk especially would've learnt his lesson from Anne.  Aside from lust (I'm pretty sure all on Henry's part!) what did they have in common?  As you say Claire-Louise, she wasn't well educated but I don't think she was stupid either.  I think she found herself in a situation that was beyond her and took comfort where she could.  And i don't blame her for that!

I like what you said about making mistakes when young – unfortunately Katherine never got the chance to mature and grow up.  I sometimes wonder what she would have been like as an older woman.  Would she have come to value education Catherine Parr did? Would she have developed strong religious/political beliefs or stayed right out?  Would she have developed good relationships with Henrys' children? I hope whatever she turned into she would have retained her sense of fun – I think I always liked that part of her character the most! 


I often wonder this also; I imagine she would have been calmer as she learnt the ways of court and what was expected of a Queen, and I think her sense of fun would have been an attribute if she had the chance to mature. I think she may have had a good relationship with Elizabeth, who I'm sure knew how to have fun also, but not Mary; I don't think she and Catherine could ever quite understand one another.

August 13, 2011
4:14 pm
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Anyanka
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Catalina said:

I don't think she would have cultivated good relationships with Henry's children, but it wouldn't have been for the lack of trying on her part.  I just think she was too young for them to have taken her seriously or respected her.


Especially as she was a few years younger than Mary. That must have caused a lot of strife and jealousy on mary's part.

 

To go from one of the most marriagable princesses in Europe to a bastard in a few years, forced to give up everything she held dear and 2 sympathic stepmothers to see a slip of a girl flaunt round her father's court…..must have hurt as much as any of Anne's actions.

 

Elizabeth and Edward would havae been more isolated in thier nursery palace.

It's always bunnies.

August 13, 2011
4:30 pm
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Anyanka
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Claire-Louise said:

Bella44 said:

snipped

I like what you said about making mistakes when young – unfortunately Katherine never got the chance to mature and grow up.  I sometimes wonder what she would have been like as an older woman.  Would she have come to value education Catherine Parr did? Would she have developed strong religious/political beliefs or stayed right out?  Would she have developed good relationships with Henrys' children? I hope whatever she turned into she would have retained her sense of fun – I think I always liked that part of her character the most! 


I often wonder this also; I imagine she would have been calmer as she learnt the ways of court and what was expected of a Queen, and I think her sense of fun would have been an attribute if she had the chance to mature. I think she may have had a good relationship with Elizabeth, who I'm sure knew how to have fun also, but not Mary; I don't think she and Catherine could ever quite understand one another.
 


Ohhh.. the mistakes I made between 16-21….

 

I think KH would have remained a perpetual teenager. she seemed to lack intellectual curiosity to better herself . Unlike any of Henry's other wives she had never been to court before being part of Anne of Cleves's household and had very little idea of how to behave round a king.Let alone Henry.

It's always bunnies.

August 14, 2011
11:53 am
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DuchessofBrittany
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It seems from reading about CH's life that she was unfortunate. Her father dying, her faimily broke, coming from a lesser (ie. less important line) of the Howard family, and being passed off on the dowager duchess was not much of an upbringing. As compared to Henry's other queens, CH was never exposed the strength of family, the power of an education, or the protection of a royal bloodline. She was just another abandoned child, and left to her own devices. She seemed to be easy pickings for men. From the time she was young, Catherine was a pretty, pert, girl whose naitivity, and love of a good time made her easily manipulated by more powerful men.

Lacey Baldiwin-Smith book on CH was excellent. I admit he was a little too judgemental about CH and her affair with Culpepper. Otherwise, he did an brillant job of bringing Catherine to life, and I learned a great deal about her life, the world she came from, and her position in English history.

I've always felt a great deal of empathy for CH. I know I see her life differently than Tudor cultural values would, but I cannot help but feel for this girl. She should have been protected by her family. But, no one was going to protect her from the preying males of the Tudor court. They used and abused her, sent her to the slaughter, and washed the blood from their hands when it was over.

I know she consented to an affair with Culpepper. But I imagine myself in her position. What would I do? I would probably seek some love and affection (regardless of false it was) just to feel something: something other than an disgusting old, decrepit husband.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

August 14, 2011
12:26 pm
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Mya Elise
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Yes but back then the girls were expected to turn into women at the ages of 12 at least. They weren't aloud to enjoy a proper childhood like we do today.  It was kind of the same with boys also back then.

When their families thought the girls were ready for marriage and child bearing then thats what they would do. They had no choice.

I agree that Kathryn should of had an education, some sort of education… it didn't need to be the best but still. You should also understand that there were very many young ladies (and gentlemen) where Kathryn was brought up and perhaps the Duchess did not care whether all the kids she looked after had an education. She probably did not know half of their names! I also agree that Kathryn was young and and immature and for us now, it's okay and is expected but for them back then it was not to be tolerated. Then woman were only good for a few things, or so men thought. And i am so very glad Anne Boleyn went against that and i'm glad that our world is no longer like that. I'd go crazy if i had to listen and obey to everything a man said.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

August 14, 2011
1:22 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Mademoiselle Mya said:

Then woman were only good for a few things, or so men thought. And i am so very glad Anne Boleyn went against that and i'm glad that our world is no longer like that. I'd go crazy if i had to listen and obey to everything a man said.


70% of men where I live think we are still in the Tudor times Laugh

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