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Katherine Howard: What if question
November 29, 2010
9:15 am
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DuchessofBrittany
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I am rewatching Season 4 of the Tudors, and a though came to my head. What if Katherine Howard had conceived a child and the child was born before she her adulterous ways were revealed? What would have happened to the child since its father could be either Henry VIII or Culpepper? Would Katherine's life been spared, or the outcome the same?

Futhermore, would the child's sex matter? If the child were a son, would Henry be more willing to accept as his, since he needed a Duke of York?

I would like to hear all your opinions on this, since I am not sure if there was any precedent for such a circumstances, or how Tudor law would deal with questions of paternity.

Thanks!

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

November 29, 2010
9:31 pm
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Anyanka
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I'm not too sure that if Henry had found out afterwards, he would have accepted the child.

 

Given how the judical court reacted to George Boleyn's statement , even though Henry proclaimed his inability with Anne of Cleves, I believe he would have been far more vindictive towrds the Howards and thier mainly Catholic supporters for foisting an “illegitimate” child into the succession.

It's always bunnies.

November 29, 2010
9:55 pm
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MegC
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It's an interesting question, but she would have had to get pregnant rather quickly as, by accounts, she began her affair with Culpepper early in 1541 and KH and Henry were married in July 1540.  In which case, if she were pregnant, she wouldn't have been having an affair with Culpepper in early 1541 because sex during pregnancy was viewed as somewhat dangerous at the time.  

If she had gotten pregnant by Culpepper in early 1541 we know she would have been safe at least until the child was born.  No way would Henry have executed the woman who might have been carrying his child.  If the child had turned out to be a boy, I don't think that anything in the world could have swayed Henry's opinion of the boy's paternity.  Henry, though, viewed girls as more expendable and might have been more easily persuaded of another princess's illegitimacy.

I do think that by this point that Tudor law did make it an act of treason for a queen to commit adultery–probably for this very reason.  If a queen was found to be involved in adultery then this would automatically call the paternity of her children into question and, thus, the rightful succession of the throne.  So little was understood about pregnancy and reproduction, and doctors certainly lacked the knowledge to put two and two together and figure out paternity based on menstrual cycles.  If the child had looked enough like Henry, it would have been easy to convince Henry that the child was his.

Would any of this have mattered to Henry if he truly desired to get rid of KH?  I doubt it.  He probably would have just had someone create charges of witchcraft and gotten rid of her that way.  This would have allowed him to maintain the legitimacy of his bloodline and eliminate Katherine.

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

November 30, 2010
2:17 pm
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Boleynfan
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I think if Katherine had borne a son it would have improved her chances a lot; a girl, not really.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

December 27, 2010
5:57 am
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Impish_Impulse
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MegC said:

I do think that by this point that Tudor law did make it an act of treason for a queen to commit adultery


It had, in fact, been the law since the Treason Act of 1351. It decreed the man would be hanged, drawn and quartered. The woman was to be burned at the stake.

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December 28, 2010
1:07 pm
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bethany.x
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Loving the 'what if..?'

I think her posistion would be helped if she had a son. Henry would have his 'heir and a spare' and he'd be happy with Katherine for a while anyway. But she had enemies at Court and if word of the Culpepper affair got out I don't think Henry would pardon her… We know how outraged he was when he did find out. I doubt Katherine would be at all secure, I don't think anyone could be with Henry'ss wrath, especially as he aged. And we see how Henry murdered Anne on charges most knew to be false when Elizabeth was not yet three. I think at this point in his reign he wouldn't think twice… But wasn't Henry impotent at this point anyway? I think the paternity of the child would be doubted. This is reminding me of Henry IV of Castile and poor 'La Beltraneja'…

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

December 30, 2010
7:02 am
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Boleynfan
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As brutal as it sounds, Henry could have killed Kathryn and still kept the son as his heir.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

July 3, 2011
6:29 am
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E
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Hmmm…I think he would have killed her.. Would he have accepted the son as his own? If he didn’t it would scream to the world he had been cuckolded. I think as he already had a boy he would accept the child and put it instantly to the church. Or, if he was sure it was not his, “accidently” kill it.
When Edward died in his teens would a decendant of Culpepper sit on the throne?

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 3, 2011
9:46 am
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Sophie1536
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What a question! I've often thought something similar. Personally I think if Katherine had given birth to a son then definitely under any circumstances the Henry would have spared Katherine and accepted the son totally as his own even if the child's mother was under suspicion because a son to Henry was absolutely everything. We all know Henry bent the rules for himself so any charges against her he would make sure that they were bent to suit what he wanted to believe. Henry was without doubt a law unto himself.

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July 3, 2011
8:59 pm
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Bill1978
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I love What Ifs. I personally think if Katherine was fortunate enough to have fallen pregnant to Henry it all would have come down to the sex of the child. As others had said, the son would have saved her for a little while. A girl she would be heading there quicker than Henry's marriage to Anne Of Cleves.

I also imagine that if she still had her affair with Culpepper, the fact that she bore Henry a son might have been enough for Henry to turn a blind eye to the accusations and send the accusers to the chopping block instead for having the hind to taint the name of the mother of the Duke Of York.

Just have a look at how Henry treated Jane because she bore him a son. He chose to be buried next to her, I can only imagine how Catherine Parr felt about that. He was almost driven to madness with his quest to have sons popping out like popcorn chicken. It's like if only Mary was a boy, then Henry VIII would probably be just as well known as the previous Henrys before him.

July 4, 2011
12:03 pm
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Sharon
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Did Culpeper have red hair? Wink Otherwise there would be big trouble if that baby came out with dark hair.

I don't see a scenario where Henry would not have found out about Katherine and Culpeper. Someone would have known and he would have been told. So, I start from that point.

If Henry found out about the affair, and then found out she was pregnant, Katherine's execution would have been postponed until the baby was born. Katherine would not have been safe, whether she had a boy or a girl.  Culpeper would have been executed immediately.

IMO, if there was any doubt that the child was his, Henry would not claim it.  He was no longer desperate for a son.  I could be way off base here, but I cannot imagine Henry accepting another man's child as his own.  If this child were a boy, he would still be the spare.  Henry already had his heir. 

 It was whispered at court that Henry was the father of Mary Boleyn's child/children.  He never claimed them as his, IMO, because Mary was married, and there would always be doubts as to whether Carey was the father or not. I can't see Henry living with that kind of doubt about a child.

Either way, Katherine and Culpeper would lose their heads. 

July 5, 2011
10:39 am
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E
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A thought just occurs, if Katherine had a son, would the charges ever be brought against her? Who would dare move against the mother of the Duke of York?

"A fresh young damsel, who could trip and go"

July 16, 2011
3:54 pm
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Boleynfan
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That's an interesting thought, E. On one hand, Henry was of course desperate for another son. On the other hand, would he really take the chance that the child (and possible heir to England) was Thomas Culpeper's? I believe that Henry would ponder it and attempt to convince himself the charges could not be accurate; but with the Howards so hated, who wouldn't jump at the chance to prove the affair and get rid of both Katherine and her son? Plus, Henry had a strong sense of manly pride, and he would not want people to whisper that his 'son' the Duke of York was really Culpeper's (imagine the rumors: “He doesn't have the Tudor hair! And look, Thomas Culpeper's nose for sure…”). Unless Cranmer and Wriothesley, not wanting to risk the King's displeasure, buried everything under the rug…

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

July 16, 2011
7:57 pm
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Bella44
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Probably if any son of Katherines' looked enough like her both she and her son would've been safe.  If anyone dared to raise the question of paternity then Henry, to save face, would have had that person done away with.  Even if deep down he suspected otherwise.  He could delude and convince himself very well when required  Laugh

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