Haunted Galleries: Visiting the sites of Catherine Howard’s life by Gareth Russell
Posted By Claire on May 31, 2017
Thank you to my dear friend for writing this article for us today. This is the second of a two-part series and you can click here to catch up with the first part “Parthenope and Iphigenia: The Posthumous Reputations of Queen Catherine Howard”.
Gareth’s publishers are kindly offering a copy a copy of Gareth’s book on Catherine Howard, Young and Damned and Fair, as a giveaway prize. All you need to do is leave a comment below this post by midnight on 7th June 2017 saying what you think of Catherine Howard. The giveaway is open internationally. One comment will be picked at random and the winner contacted for their details.
Over to Gareth…
Of the historical Catherine Howard, there are now few tangible surviving places which bear any resemblance to what she saw during her lifetime. While researching Young and Damned and Fair, my biography of her, I visited as many of them as I could and, in most cases, I found them to be deeply moving. Although many have, as I said, changed almost beyond recognition, there is a sadness to be had in visiting some of the places where Catherine lived, prayed, and visited. Her guardian’s former home at Chesworth House, still privately owned, has been altered many times since Catherine passed her girlhood there. A hotel covers the site of Norfolk House, where her some of her early romances played out, but the pretty church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, which I argue in my biography of her was almost certainly where Catherine was christened and worshipped as a young woman, survives as a thriving horticultural museum.1 The Houses of Parliament are visible on the opposite side of the river, the archbishops’ of Canterbury official residence is still a few feet away at Lambeth Palace, and the Howard graves rest within, in darkness, unseen and unmarked thanks to countless renovations since the sixteenth century.2
The royal apartments at what remains of Pontefract Castle, where Catherine arrived on her tour in 1541, are now grass-covered ruins, covered in netting to preserve the stonework. Stone steps once in use to Catherine’s rooms are out of bounds for health and safety reasons. It is a peaceful, beautiful place and the stone benches, which were there in 1541, look out over the green, where bowls were once played.3
Grimsthorpe Castle and many of the places where Catherine stayed during her tour of the north of England in 1541 survive – at King’s Manor, a fine red-brick building now in use by the Archaeology and Medieval History departments of York University, one can still see some of the original fireplaces and timber-beams, visible in Catherine’s day, in the roof of the library.4 Hampton Court, the palace where Catherine spent most of her time as queen and where her the agony of her downfall began, is the last great survivor of Tudor palaces. Catherine’s apartments, and Henry’s, were demolished to make room for renovations on the orders of the seventeenth century’s William III, as part of his attempt to both defy and imitate the recently-completed Versailles. Initially, William’s aim had been to demolish all of the Tudor structure, but, fortunately for those studying Henry’s reign and family, the cost mounted to the point that plans were abandoned half-way through, producing a palace that was a fusion of Tudor and Baroque splendour. Today, the entrance to Hampton Court brings visitors into many of the rooms and courtyards which Catherine would have known and from where she was led as a prisoner in November 1541. Perhaps its most colourful legend, preserved in many tours, is of the “Haunted Gallery” that leads from what was once the Queen’s apartments to the Privy Council chamber. The story goes that it was here that Catherine made a mad, frantic dash to reach her husband and beg for mercy; before she could reach him, she was dragged away screaming.5 Ghost hunters and a few tour guides claim that the horror left a spectral imprint on the gallery, which is today often thronged with tourists rather than the ghost of an unlucky queen.
At Lincoln Cathedral, where Catherine knelt in prayer in August 1541, wearing her cloth of silver gown, there is a soldiers’ chapel, consecrated in 1912, which serves as the Lincolnshire Regimental Chapel and commemorates the sacrifice of local soldiers in national wars. Regimental flags hang within and, at the entrance, there are small carvings of some of the great warrior-royals in English history – in Lincoln’s mind, Alfred the Great, Edward the Black Prince, and Henry V. Despite his dreams of immortality won in the battlefield, Catherine’s husband is nowhere to be found.6
Of all the places associated with Catherine, inevitably it is the Chapel of Saint Peter-ad-vincula, where she is buried, that elicits the strongest emotional reaction. Victorian obsession with the tragic improbabilities of the Tudor dynasty reached the throne’s incumbent.7 With the result that when Sir Charles Yorke, Constable of the Tower, wrote to Queen Victoria in 1876 with a request to undertake a full restoration on the by-then neglected chapel, during which they would need to exhume the bodies buried beneath the chancel, including Catherine’s, he received a response from the Queen “expressing her great regret at learning that so little respect should have apparently been shown to the remains of the dead, gave her sanction to the plan, with the express condition that the greatest care and reverence should be exercised in this removal, and that a careful record should be kept of every sign of possible identification which might come to light.”8
Victoria’s stipulations were sufficiently intimidating that Yorke toyed with the idea of trying to conduct the restoration without disturbing the stones in the chancel, until one of the team, Algernon Freeman-Mitford, persuaded him that the chancel was one of the areas most in need of work. Freeman-Mitford, who had been brought up on childhood stories of hauntings at the Tower, admitted to feeling “a thrill of emotion” when on 9 November 1877 they unearthed the remains of Anne Boleyn, exactly where the Tower’s records indicated she had been buried. Skeletons presumed to be those of the Countess of Salisbury and Catherine’s confidante, Lady Rochford, lay close to one another; they showed Lady Salisbury to have been a tall woman and Lady Rochford of slender build.9 However, they could not find the remains of Lady Rochford’s husband, George Boleyn, and they eventually concluded that he rested beneath a monument added to the Blount family in the Elizabethan era, which had too great a structural and artistic value to move.
With one queen accounted for in the shape of Anne Boleyn, on 11 November 1876 a two-day hunt for Catherine began. But as with George Boleyn, no trace of Catherine could be found. There has recently been a suggestion that the bones identified in 1877 as belonging to Anne Boleyn may, in fact, have been Catherine’s.10 The science of pathology was in its infancy and it is therefore possible that mistakes were made. However, the bones’ location so close to the altar suggest it was an earlier burial and the fact that the Tower records indicate that Queen Anne would be found there adds credence to Dr Mouat’s belief that he examined the remains of Anne Boleyn, particularly since the Tower records proved so reliable in other Victorian examinations, including locating the body of Charles II’s son, the Duke of Monmouth. Freeman-Mitford had his own theory about what had happened to Catherine: “Of Katharine Howard not a trace, but she was so young that the greedy lime would make short work of eating her hardly developed bones.”11 Whether this was the reason, which seems unlikely at best, or if, like George Boleyn, Catherine lay in a spot that could not prudently be excavated by 1877, her remains were not exhumed. Those that were found were placed in lead coffins, engraved with their coats of arms and re-buried beneath the renovated chancel. Although she was not one of them, Catherine’s escutcheon was added to the floor of the chancel on Queen Victoria’s orders, thereby marking her grave for the first time.Catherine’s body lies there today with other victims and leaders of the Tudor state. Lady Jane Grey was buried there after her execution in 1554.12 Cardinal Fisher, Thomas More, and Catherine’s kinsman Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel, who died imprisoned for his Catholic faith in 1595, rest in Saint Peter’s, as does Thomas Cromwell, both of the Seymour brothers, John Dudley, Catherine’s brother-in-law Thomas Arundell, and two more of her kinsmen – the 4th Duke of Norfolk, executed for treason in 1572, and William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford, who was beheaded during the anti-Catholic hysteria of the Popish Plot in 1680. The little Howard queen is thus buried in a chapel that houses the remains of three saints, two beatified Catholic martyrs, three dukes, one marquess, four earls, and three queens. But since there have been no more excavations since Queen Victoria’s failed to locate her body, Catherine herself remains hidden.
Gareth Russell is the author of Young and Damned and Fair, a new biography of Queen Catherine Howard, published in 2017. He is also the author of several history books and the Popular series of novels. He is currently working on a book about the Titanic and the Edwardian class system.
Do remember to leave a comment below this post by midnight on 7th June 2017 saying what you think of Catherine Howard to enter the giveaway.
In the five centuries since her death, Catherine Howard has been dismissed as ‘a wanton’, ‘inconsequential’ or a naïve victim of her ambitious family, but the story of her rise and fall offers not only a terrifying and compelling story of an attractive, vivacious young woman thrown onto the shores of history thanks to a king’s infatuation, but an intense portrait of Tudor monarchy in microcosm: how royal favour was won, granted, exercised, displayed, celebrated and, at last, betrayed and lost. The story of Catherine Howard is both a very dark fairy tale and a gripping political scandal.
Born into the nobility and married into the royal family, during her short life Catherine was almost never alone. Attended every waking hour by servants or companions, secrets were impossible to keep. With his research focus on Catherine’s household, Gareth Russell has written a narrative that unfurls as if in real-time to explain how the queen’s career ended with one of the great scandals of Henry VIII’s reign.
More than a traditional biography, this is a very human tale of some terrible decisions made by a young woman, and of complex individuals attempting to survive in a dangerous hothouse where the odds were stacked against nearly all of them. By illuminating Catherine’s entwined upstairs/downstairs worlds, and bringing the reader into her daily milieu, the author re-tells her story in an exciting and engaging way that has surprisingly modern resonances and offers a fresh perspective on Henry’s fifth wife.
Young and Damned and Fair is a riveting account of Catherine Howard’s tragic marriage to one of history’s most powerful rulers. It is a grand tale of the Henrician court in its twilight, a glittering but pernicious sunset during which the king’s unstable behaviour and his courtiers’ labyrinthine deceptions proved fatal to many, not just to Catherine Howard.
The book is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and other bookshops.
Notes and Sources
- For the argument that Catherine was christened in St Mary-at-Lambeth, see Gareth Russell, Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017), pp. 16-19.
- At the time of writing, the Garden Museum is closed for renovations and several exciting discoveries have already been made, including the remains of a former Archbishop of Canterbury.
- Author’s visit, 2 July 2015.
- Author’s visit, 1 July 2015.
- For a fuller discussion of the legend of Hampton Court’s “Haunted Gallery”, see Russell, Young and Damned and Fair, p. 271.
- Author’s visit, 30 June 2015.
- I discuss nineteenth-century attitudes to the Tudors and the impact of these views in my article “Parthenope and Iphigenia: The Posthumous Reputations of Queen Catherine Howard” , published on this website.
- Doyne C. Bell, Notices of the Historic Persons Buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, in the Tower of London: With an Account of the Discovery of the Supposed Remains of Queen Anne Boleyn (London: J. Murray, 1877), p. 16.
- Bell, pp. 24-7.
- For the best argument in favour of the remains being Catherine’s, rather than Anne’s, see Alison Weir, The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn (London: Jonathan Cape, 2009), pp. 324-327.
- Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale, A Tragedy in Stone: and Other Papers (London: John Lane, 1912), pp. 32-3.
- Like the Tudors’ English-born queens consort, Jane Grey seems destined to be remembered by her maiden name.
124 thoughts on “Haunted Galleries: Visiting the sites of Catherine Howard’s life by Gareth Russell”
I like it very much .. thank you for sharing these information.. very educational
A very interesting and informative read.
I believe she was young and naive and she never stood a chance up against Henry VIII and all of the factions at court. I think she was a pawn in the Howard family game to gather fame and fortune and power.
I believe this also
How sweet of Queen Victoria! Bless Catherine Howard. It was not her fault at all. She was so young and beautiful, yet married to a fat, obese and stinky man! Who can blame her for her affair with Thomas Culpepper, that is if it did indeed happen, though we have some letters to suggest she did.
I would love to visit the Haunted Gallery in Hampton Court Palace, I would have to drag my boyfriend too of course. (He hates my Tudor obsession).
I think that Catherine Howard was mightily wronged, how any man can order the beheading of practically a child makes me sick! I would love to learn more about her.
l just love this fascinating era of English history. It amazes me so much with the intrigue of it all. But King Henry was nothing more than a murderer, unfortunately consumed by lust and power. He was influenced by Cromwell his lawyer, who also eventually got the chop. But that is the way things were back then.
Isn’t it amazing. My partner always asks what I find so interesting about the Tudors, and why I ‘can’t leave dead people alone’. I’m not much a history buff when it comes to other time periods because none can interest me like the Tudors do. I think there is something deeply romantic about the Tudor Era, all the passion and the scandals. Love it !
I agree it was good that Queen Victoria placed these memorial stones over the graves in the Chaple but Katherine wasn’t a child and there is not very much evidence for actual adultery, although personally I believe she was intimate with Culpepper. I don’t believe, however, that having an older husband with ailments which contributed to his obesity is ever an excuse for adultery. Henry wasn’t the world’s best groom, but all of the evidence shows he did nothing to mistreat Katherine, treated her with honour and thought she was perfect until all of the accusations about her alleged sexual past and her possible lovers came to light. Henry could maybe have given her a trial or divorced her by sending her to a nunnery, but we have to remember we are looking at this through the eyes of the 21st century. Being married to the King was a great honour, it gave Katherine power, wealth and prestige. If the law demanded death for treason, which it did, not for adultery alone, then Henry acted lawfully. The problem is, of course, is Katherine’s age, which makes us uncomfortable. She was young, between 17 and 19 at the time of her death, which the Tudors considered adult, which again is very uncomfortable for us. She was beheaded without a trial. She was also beheaded without anything but circumstantial evidence. It is believed Culpepper and Katherine were held liable for what they might have done, not actual evidence of treason. These were very terrible times.
I think Catherine Howard has been wrongly portray over the years that there are so much more to her story to tell. I think just like Anne Boleyn people believe what they see on television or movies to be the true story, people forget to ask the question is this really what happen? can this really be the true story? we also have to ask that question about Catherine Howard. We also have to remember Catherine was so young when she was executed. I am happy that her story are beginning to come forward and I really want to read Gareth Russell´s book it looks like a wonderful book about Catherine Howard.
The first time I visited the haunted gallery was on my own. Actually, I would recommend doing it that way. Then you can absorb it all on your own without somebody disturbing your thoughts and the thinking you will do. You can do it at your own pace without worrying that your partner is bored etc…….
Thank you that was a good read. I need to read more. Catherine, is my second favorite queen. Number one queen will always be Anne Boylen.
She was Henry’s Rose without thorns. I do believe she was betrayed as a bad person, but in all she was just so young, and used for no other purpose than to have babies. I don’t like that she was beheaded, she didn’t deserve it, he could of easily put her in a nuneray.
I feel bad for poor catherine , she was so young and naive and a pawn used by her family who were driven by greediness for power.
I dont think anyone cared how she felt and the poor thing found solace with culpepper and sadly fell in love and paid the price with her head.
Very sad and tragic story of a young and beautiful queen full of life , which was unfortunately cut short.
Catherine Howard is my favourite of Henry’s queens, I’d love to read this.
Beautifully written article, it’s so sad that Catherine has been maligned in this way over the years when it seems clear that she was a product of her upbringing and a still nearly a child. The book looks wonderful, and I’ve been looking forward to it’s release since it was announced!
I can only imagine Catherine’s upbringing and what it must have been like to be suddenly cast into the world of Henry VIII. Plucked like a flower and immersed in waters of power and deceit, it must have been overwhelming on a daily basis for such a young girl. I have no doubt that she was maneuvered around like a chess piece by those seeking favor from the king. And I wonder if she was at liberty o have conversations with Henry about her daily life as his wife, who she was interacting with etc. or was Henry so removed that they were only man and wife when it pleased him.
I enjoyed the article. I think that Catherine Howard was placed in a bad situation. She was such a young age to be queen to a man who could have been her grandfather. Going from being part of a gaggle of young girls to queen must have been very overwhelmling.
What I’ve read so far about Catherine Howard has always been interesting to me. She was so young compared to her husband, and I wonder how life would have turned out for her without the King in the picture!
CATHERINE Howard is a pituful figure , i think that perhaps she coludidos have found herself elated at first, by her good fortune , and then horrified to think she has to be in bed with the King- fat probably impotent by the time he married her. Who can blame her for having fallen in love to Thomas Culpepper? She must have been sure she was going to be beheaded when she was discovered remembering what had happened to Anne Boleyn- a real tragic figure –
I came to love Catherine Howard because of my obsession with her cousin Anne Boleyn. I think the real Catherine wasn’t a sinner or a saint but somewhere in between. Was part of her allure for Henry that she was related to Anne? I think part of it was her youth. Henry detested getting older and he hoped to recapture his lost youth. I would love to learn more about her and about her relationship to Lady Rochford and the truth behind the Culpepper affair. Can’t wait to read this book.
She was a young girl who wanted to be loved and have fun, Unfortunately it led to her downfall. In Tudor times bad decisions led to the chopping block.
This is why Tudor history never puts you to sleep!
I think that she was a young girl who used what little power she had (her beauty) to get attention. When the king began to show interest in her, her family used her to re-gain power. I don’t think fully understood what being Henry’s wife meant. It was a way for her to get almost everything that she ever wanted but it also meant that she would have to cater to the whims of an aging man who was unable to face the fact that he was no longer the youth that he once was. It was inevitable that she would fall in love with another man.
I think, she was only a teenager who wants to laugh, love and live like every teenie wants. Unfortunately she was naiv and have had a really bad luck that Henry VIII has seen her and that she live in such a greedy family. That we do not know much about women like Catherine shows that they was only means to the purpose.
Sorry for my bad english, it’s not my mother tongue… 😉
Please do not apologize.
We understood the point you were getting across 🙂
I too would love to read Gareth’s book I have always felt very sorry for Henrys fifth queen, her only crime really was naivety and ignorance she was not a bad girl, women were in those days pawns of their family and I believe her powerful Norfolk relatives pressured her into marrying Henry, she was in her teens when she married the King who by then was about twenty two years her senior, he was prematurely aged and with hindsight I think the Howard’s should have realised it was not a suitable match and doomed to failure, Henry was a very difficult man to live with and for a young girl having to bear his capricious demands and outbursts of temper was too much I feel to expect, however he was happy and in love and it’s said could not leave his young bride alone, Catherine basking in the glow of being queen and having presents showered upon her was enjoying the moment, she never became pregnant and wether or not this bothered her is unknown, one writer commented on his reasons for marrying Catherine, he could have just made her his mistress, the Howard’s would have been satisfied with this considering it a great honour, he had his heir apparent so why did he marry Catherine? Maybe he was just so in love he wanted her with him all the time and maybe he wanted another son, understandable as many children in that age succumbed to disease so easily, he must have slept with her quite a lot as it was noted he was very amorous towards her, yet it had taken his third wife about a year to get pregnant and we can safely assume he did his duty by her also, Catherine is known to have practiced birth control and if she slept with Culpeper she would have used it, but with Henry she would have no need to as she knew he would be overjoyed if she bore him a son or two, in that early honeymoon period there was just the contended King and his merry bride yet after a year of married life she still wasn’t with child therefore as mentioned with Jane Seymore his fertility level was very low, he himself must have thought the chances of siring another son were not high and yet he still after Catherine death went onto marry again, maybe it was just the companionship he craved which is understandable and he wanted a stepmother for his children, I think it’s lovely of Queen Victoria to have a plaque dedicated to Catherine with the arms of her family, the illustrious House Of Howard, it was a grand and noble house and through their viens ran the blood of the Barons Mowbray, one of whom had been a convicted traitor himself and had died at Pontefract Castle, because she was not more than twenty when she died (as has been thought), it is said her young bones would have dissolved in the quicklime thus the reason her remains have never been found, it has been suggested by Weir and Lofts too that the bones believed to be those of Anne Boleyn could well have belonged to Catherine, Catherine like her other tragic cousin had also been loved by the King, and had been caught up in the dangerous court politics of the age, the anti catholic faction sought to destroy her and all unwittingly through her very ignorance they succeeded, after her execution the King fell into a deep depression and misery made him even older, he grew even fatter and a sketch of him made around the time he married his sixth and last wife shows a giant of a man with heavy jowls and eyes lost around the folds of flesh, his beard and thinning hair is white and the man he once was has vanished completely.
Catherine Howard is one of history’s tragic figures. Instead of looking out for her best interests, she was used as a pawn in her families bid for power.
These places are fantastic!! Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were, always, my favorite queens of the tudor times. Simply because their lives were both tragic and similar, their fates were under control from the king and both died with an almost unsolved mistery. Did they actually commit the crimes that they were accused for? If they not why they had to push them off the trone? Lady Rochford was also guilty in the case of Katherine? Also I want to know who Katherine Howard really is. She is really that moron and sinful girl that they represent her? Or she was an innocent poor victim? I hope that this book it’s gonna answer some of the questions that all the world have.
She was far too young for her position and the game of thrones. The poor girl never really stood a chance, did she?
When I think of Catherine Howard, it crosses my mind how she wasn’t very different from teenage girls today. Sweet-natured and pretty, but naive and hungry for attention, admiration and love. I’m sure her raging, teenage hormones played a part in her actions. Poor girl.
I cannot help but feel extremely sorry for both Henry and Catherine.
I applaud you and thank you for giving Catherine Howard a voice in the black void that history sadly gave her! She was so young and befell from life in such a tragic no one especially a child should ever go through. Though young she was smart and just wanted what we all desired and that was love. I recall stepping into the chapel of St Peter ad Vinciula last year and feeling a sense of sadness over come me for all who are sadly buried there especially Catherine. Since that visit I have learned Catherine is a cousin of mine and I hold a precious place for her in my heart even more so now. Gone but not ever forgotten.
I believe that at the time Catherine married Henry he was at his most dangerous – ageing, in pain and aware of his mortality whilst trying to show his people and the rest of Europe he was still a force to be reckoned with. I see Henry’s court as packs of wolves; they believed that Henry could be influenced by his queen of the moment and if the wrong woman was by his side they watched for any weakness to bring her down. Katherine Parr was a mature, intelligent woman and she still nearly lost her head despite all her wisdom. What chance did Catherine Howard have as a young and trusting girl in the middle of the politics of the time?
I think her life is full of what ifs. What if she had been protected from the advances of her music teacher Mannox? What if she’d been found with Francis Dereham and married off to him? What if she hadn’t met Henry and attracted his attentions? What if she’d had a keen protector and married the King as a pure maid? It’s interesting to speculate what sort of Queen she’d have grown into. RIP Catherine, another Howard woman who fascinated Henry VIII.
There is such a lack of books about Catherine Howard, would love to read this.
Gareth! Greetings from the 2012 Anne Boleyn Tour group! I am so excited about your new book! Shannon
Shannon! Hi! So good to hear from you. I hope you enjoy it!
No other monarch has treated Queen Catherine with such respect as Queen Victoria did. Also this book sounds so in depth and exciting! I hope to be able to afford it one day!
The more one reads of Catherine the more a tragic story it is.
Great read! I believe that Cstherine was just a teenager that was flattered over the affection the king showed upon her.. and didnt realize how serious it was to be queen of England. She probably acceptef out of duty and all the royalties gifts she got .. which would amaze any young woman. I think she just made some mistakes and lost her life for it. Rip Catherine.
Katherine could be described as the young and the restless. Certainly young being no more than 19 at most when she was executed, restless in that she certainly couldn’t just sit around and become an ornamental Queen and if some of the stories are true, restless in the sense that she is still running down the Long Gallery at Hampton Court. She was young and adventurous as in having parties at her grandmother’s home and found she couldn’t sit still five minutes without dancing at court. In that sense it’s a pity she wasn’t Henry’s first wife as he too at this age was full of fun and energy. Henry at her age also loved to dance and at the start of his marriage to her he regained a spark of life. However, she must have worn him out as now he was a gentleman of size and his leg slowed him down. He was away from Katherine for a time, but he didn’t let her know he was ill and she became restless and needed the company of young men. There is no evidence of sexual activity, but it did look suspicious. Katherine was not a foolish bimbo or trophy wife, she took her role as Queen seriously. However, in meeting Thomas Culpepper in odd places in the middle of the night when he had no right to be there, she was reckless. Perhaps she mistook the royal progress for a holiday, forgetting she was being watched more closely than she had been in her grandmother’s home. Katherine was as many young women are, especially the spoilt ones, fiesty, cheeky, generous, fun loving, but also spiteful and bossy. She was also caring, sensitive and vulnerable. Henry had to constantly reassure her that he wasn’t going to abandon her and return to Anne of Cleves. Katherine seems to have constantly needed company. Henry was not able to constantly pander to that need and she lacked the inner maturity to find ways to fill her long hours alone. Her ladies obviously didn’t fill that need. Sowing clothing didn’t fill that need. The company of a man who flattered her did. Why? Friendship, love or sex? The truth is we don’t actually know. Nobody admitted to seeing them together. Neither Katherine or Culpepper admitted to anything but hand holding, a little kissing and talking all night. A letter to Culpepper has been analysed until the cows came home but there is little agreement over it’s meaning as either the sloppy love letter of a love sick doe eyed young woman or the concerned letter of a Queen to a sick friend. Despite all this both were condemned as lovers and traitors. Well they did also say that they intended to go further. Yeap. Not sensible, but how can anyone be sensible with two brutish men bullying them into a confession or Cranmer teasing the truth out of you for days. Katherine was in a right old state, so how much of her confession can we make real conclusions from? I am not at all surprised that every book written has a different conclusion over Katherine being guilty or innocent. There is not enough evidence for full sexual criminal adultery and just enough, i.e. late night meetings in private places to leave us wondering if she did or not. These meetings and this last admission were enough to condemn her. Was she a sex addict as Karen Lindsay suggests, was she just lonely and her needs overtook her desire for friendships or didn’t she care? Or was she a misunderstood young woman who liked male company but nothing more and was faithful to her marriage vows?
Yes the meetings alone were enough to condemn her it was not the proper behaviour of a queen consort, the letter where she says ‘ It makes my heart to die to think I cannot always be in your company’ can be taken two ways, but it sounds more like a love letter than just a concerned one written from a friend, here was a young woman who had become sexually active at quite a young age and as evidence shows she did love male company, I find to believe that two young people met at night just to chat, she had people to chat to during the day, judging by the time they were alone I think it’s a strong possibility they were intimate together, she was bound to an old bad tempered King with whom she had nothing in common, these meetings added excitement to the dreary days where she had to conduct herself as Henrys queen, and the hours sat patiently stitching and reading, it must have been a stifling existence for a young energetic woman, the banquets no doubt she loved as she could dance all night, she loved the gaiety and the court entertainers, when she arrived at court she dazzled the King with her effervescent personality, for two years she danced like a butterfly on the world stage then she was caught in a jar, tragically and with no trial and no mercy she was put to death and the blood of another queen stained the grass on Tower Hill, it was a sad end to a existence that had loved life all too well and ended in a bloody butchering, Catherine has been described as a very little girl so she must have been quite short, and her portraits show a soft feminine face with hazel eyes and auburn hair, her complexion is fair and in one painting she looks somewhat cheeky, there is vitality in her eyes as if she’s about to break into a smile, she paid a terrible price for her indiscretions and her family all suffered likewise, Henry had everyone of them clapped in the Tower even her step grandmother, the old dowager Duchess of Norfolk, they were later released but they were all in disgrace like the Boleyns six years before, the Duke of Norfolk must have quaked in his boots for he had been his second queens relative also, this time Henrys distress was genuine which made it all the worse as he had loved Catherine and had called her his Jewel of womanhood, he wept bitterly and railed against her and her Howard relatives, the court was a sombre place for months afterwards and I don’t think Henry ever really recovered from her death.
I agree, Christine, the letter probably was a love letter. It sounds like a love sick teenager, but its fair to point out that there are scholars who pull their hair out over this because they think it’s from a young lady who feels compassion for Culpepper as she has heard he was sick. I also don’t believe her meetings with him were innocent. However, there isn’t any actual evidence of an intimate relationship, but they well, they looked guilty to everyone around them. What was unfair of course was that Katherine didn’t have a trial. I believe Henry thought that Katherine was perfect and his dreams were crushed. He wasn’t the same after the death of his jewel of womanhood and his vindictive nature returned.
I honestly believe that out of all Henrys wives she was the most tragic, because of her extreme youth and her naivety, her story is very very sad.
I’ve always been drawn to Queen Anne Boleyn the most but my heart also holds a place for Catherine Howard. I find her so fascinating and her story so tragic. She certainly deserved better and I can only hope that she has now found some much deserved peace.
If Catherine was only 16 and HVIII was almost 50, I can
understand her interest in younger men. It was a
marriage that should never have taken place.
Barnettbuff in Kentucky
I’ve been interested in Katherine Howard ever since I read how she sent warm clothes to Margaret Pole when the Countess was in the Tower … must have taken guts! Look forward to reading your book.
These days Catherine Howard would be considered a victim of child exploitation. she was exploited by many men and had no one to protect her. So of course she took the opportunity to be with the king, maybe she thought that would guaranty safety. One thing for sure, I would not have wanted to be a woman born during those times, they had really difficult lives.
This young queen, always intrigues me. Enjoyed reading this post. Thank you.
I love this post!!! Until I can save up to see everything in real life, please keep posting. I am just now finishing Allison Weir’s new Anne Boleyn book and it is great.
I read Gareth’s book earlier this year. It was absolutely fantastic and the research was out-standing. Whoever wins the copy, I’ll guarantee you won’t be able to put it down. Best book on Catherine Howard I’ve ever read – actually, in my top 5 Tudor books of all time.
How interesting to see there is *actually* another place within the Chapel where her remains could conceivably be resting. The idea of lime dissolving her bones always sounded like a fallback position to me.
A dark fairy tale indeed. I see her as a naive child, and certainly one of the more sympathetic of Henry’s wives. Poor thing.
A wonderfully moving read. I feel that Russell displays just how real and personal a historical figure must become when brought to life through research, which perfectly complements his first essay.
Poor Catherine, I think she was very misused throughout her life and she is one of the more tragic historical figures in The Tudor era. She may not have been the brightest bulb in the pack but everything I have read about her showed her to be a kind hearted, generous and thoughtful young lady who was caught up in something so much bigger than herself. She was ill used in her youth (whether we argue if that was sexual abuse or taking advantage of a naive young girl) and was thrown to the wolves at the Tudor court in an effort for various factions to point score against each other. The poor child never stood a chance.
Catherine Howard – I’ve always felt sorry for this one. She was way too young to be married to such a man.
I think Catherine was caught between too many powerful people and no one to advisor her. She also did not seem to have the maturity or maybe personality to make good decisions about her behavior and the people she surrounded herself with in order to survive at Henry’s court.
She was so young to be caught up in the intrigue of the King. I only know of her by what has been written in the past but try to remember that the victors are the ones who write, or rewrite, history.
The whole story is fascinating! Henry VIII was a monster. Thanks for sharing the other side of the story.
My opinion of her continues to evolve. Thanks!
She was but a pawn in the political games of ruthless, powerful, ambitious men.
I am looking forward to more insight about Catherine Howard. She was too gentle a person to survive the court of Henry VIII.
Fantastic and well thought-out information! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these articles! I have a question that I would like to ask: How willing was Catherine Howard to marry Henry VIII? I’m curious as to how she would have felt marrying a man who was much older than she with a number of physical ailments.
She was too young in an elderly court… Poor woman!
Thanks for the chance to win this interesting book!
I have always felt sorry for Katherine, another victim of Henry VIII.
Looking forward to read this ( I haven’t read much about Catherine Howard and this was from just one point of view….)
I think Catherine Howard was politically uninteresting but I would like to read the book to learn if I might be mistaken.
I have read this book. I would not mind winning a copy for my friend, who also loves the Tudors. I do recommend it, however it does present Catherine as a sixteenth century Kardashian. The only question is, Kim or Kylie Jenner?
This is a book that I shall be looking for. I would certainly like to read Gareth’s account of Catherine’s life and of course her rise and fall. She was so very young.
I bought the book a month or two ago, and it is a wonderful work. If you don’t win it, buy it. It’s well worth the cost.
I know very little about her and how she came to be chosen by Henry. I would enjoy reading the book to learn more.
As early as my teens I have loved reading about King Henry VIII & his wives. At first it was just reading pleasure but now that I am in the SCA I love to learn as much as I can about that time period. I have several gowns that I made that are based on the gowns that the ladies would have worn then.
I think she is a really interesting woman. There’s so much that we’ll never fully know or understand about any of Henry’s women. I do wonder what she truly thought of marriage to Henry. There’s a line in her famous letter to Culpeper which always strikes me as sweet and sad – yours as long as life endures. I think she was flattered by a lot of male attention throughout her life. Perhaps her beauty, vanity and naivety were too much of a deadly combination.
I think of what my mindset was at the age of 16, and all I can do is shake my head. Boys and clothes and the current cute celebrity (does saying Davy Jones of the Monkees date me just a little?)
To be married young, and to manage a household is what young girls were groomed to do. Being married to a man you didn’t love, didn’t know, and may have been decades older, is what was expected. So, in this respect, saying the marriage should never have happened is placing today’s moral thinking into 16th century practices.
In some ways, I want to blame Catherine’s folly on her youth and immaturity. But many young girls her age had successful marriages. So can we blame her immaturity on a lack of supervision and training? Probably. But, to what do we attribute her blatant disregard for her position as Queen of England? Married to a man who had already put aside one wife and beheaded another, her own cousin?? Was it immaturity that drove her to such dangerous behavior? Was it immaturity, or was she just extremely short on intelligence?
The more I think about Catherine Howard, the more questions I have about her and how much her “home environment” in her early years had ill prepared her for a grown woman’s life.
Longing to know more about her, can’t wait for the book!
Just another missing part of Tudor history. I found it extremely interesting about Queen Victoria’s having the excavators look for her.
I feel like Katherine Howard must have been smart, how else could she have had an affair first with Henry and then Thomas Culpepper? She was always surrounded by attendants as queen and still felt lonely. Her fall from favor was quick and hard to see coming. I look forward to learning more about her and her short life.
I feel horrifically bad for her, she was a child in a difficult (to say the least) time and she was abused and manipulated by her family and friends.
Desperate to read this book seen so much about it , also Katherine is the only wife I’ve yet to focus on in my Tudor/history obsession
Katherine Howard was young, naive and improperly educated. She was also surrounded by self-serving people including her own family and past abusers wanting to take advantage of her during her short life, both prior to Henry and after. Re. Henry, I hope that she enjoyed the adoration, the attention and the jewels while it lasted, because he too was a self-serving, vain individual. Katherine’s needs were sadly of little importance, so I hope she had a wonderful affair with Culpepper while it lasted, and am only sad they didn’t get away from the lot of them to live their lives in peace.
Poor Catherine Howard. Such a young girl, full of the beautiful ideas of love and romance. Far too young to be thrown into a marriage with such an ancient tyrant. What a let down for one so young and inexperienced in life to be stuck with Henry. I pity her.
It sounds like a wonderful book to read. I have always felt sad for Catherine Howard due to her young age, haphazard upbringing (what we know of) and tragic demise. She seemed to be a kind soul.
How good it is to read about Catherine being released from the shackles of the tarnished character she had been given, which l will admit l believed in the past…did you visit Gainsborough Old Hall Gavin? Not too far from Lincoln either. What a Tudor gem that is, and THE best of all the places left where she stayed, even compared to Hampton in my opinion. But l am perhaps a wee bit bias as l was born and bred only 12 mile’s away… 🙂
I feel that Catherine as young and swept away by the glamour of it all, being Royal and the Queen at that.. she wasnt entirely old enough to know what she wanted.. nor new what love was.. she was doing it all for the excitement and attention as well as being popular.. however in the end, because she was not mature enough to fully understand action and consequences, she made terrible choices that sadly led to her death.. I felt King Henry VIII chose Catherine due to her being so very young because he as getting old and when around her he felt young again.. as well as getting a taste of being in a child carefree manner.. however he was split because he still had a Kingdom to run .. so when it came all down to it.. the world didnt see young Catherine as a true aged Queen, so when she was caught with her affair.. it was over for her in a blink of an eye.. My heart goes out to her.. because she was a child.. and never ever should have suffered the wrath of being held accountable as an adult..
My thoughts about Catherine Howard are that she was just a normal teenager. She was thrown into an unpleasant situation and did what many normal teenagers do, she acted without thought to consequences. Hers is such a sad tale. So young and had no one to protect her.
Young and fair without a clue, love to discover the real you , a girl that had a tragic life , to be a King and Tyrant’s wife .
I try to look for the good but Henry disgusts me.
Catherine is probably the queen that young women today can most connect with. I dont think she was sufficiently prepared for what being Hery VIII wife would require. It’s not all wine and roses at the top. Henry wanted what he wanted and no one at that point was fearless enough to warn him off. Duke of Norfolk was lucky he escaped with his life!
This sounds like a great book. I have read several historical fiction books on Catherine and most portray in a negative way…either as a “air-head” or trampish. I think the more accurate accounts show her a typical young woman of that age susceptible to the lure and material trappings of being queen but enjoying her friends, past times like fashion and dancing and most of all the company of other young attractive men. She fell in love being too inexperienced to realize how dangerous that was a nd what tragic ramifications it could have.
I have always found Catherine Howard extremely intriguing and her treatment terribly unfair. I would very much enjoy this book.
With a thirty year (or more) difference in their ages, this was not a match made in Heaven. Catherine was basically pimped out by the male Howards desirous of more power and wealth. How repulsive must have the obese Henry seemed to her. For that I sympathize with her.
However, she really knew better than to engage in extra marital sex with the young, hot guy. She KNEW what had happened to her cousin Anne. Alas, passion has destroyed many older and wiser than she. I look forward to reading the book.
So young….and used ill by men in her life. Rest in peace Catherine.
I believe that Catherine Howard was a young and vivacious woman that possibly made a few bad decisions like everyone else does.
I wonder if she hadn’t allowed Frances Dereham to be her Secretary or gentleman usher if would have survived.
If only she had said what her life had been like before she came to court she probably would have lived an ordinary life and maybe would have been just a passing footnote in history
I always felt bad for Catherine. I think she was an insecure girl who looked for love and attention anywhere she could find it. Unfortunately this became he downfall.
I admit, I walked through Hampton Court hoping to see her ghost!!
She was very young and wasn’t prepared for being queen.
Katherine Howard in my opinion is the most unfortunate among the six wives of Henry VIII. The rest of his wives (I think) knew what they were getting into when they married one of the most unpredictable men in history, but poor Katherine was too young and naive to understand the risks that one miscalculated step could lead to in Henry VIII’s court.
I know people may argue that any bored teenager in today’s world would probably react the same way if they were isolated from the outside world and were constantly kept in close supervision. But I feel that Katherine should have been more careful in her dealings, she should have taken a lesson from her predecessors; I am probably being very harsh on her but it was very ignorant on her behalf to think she would have gotten away with adultery. In King Henry’s court there were no secrets, if you so much as breathed without the King’s consent he would find out about it and send you off to the Tower on charges of high treason, in times like that Katherine just did not stand a chance. If she was as silly as some of the historians claim her to be then she was bound to slip at one point.
I haven’t read a lot about her and thus I feel that I am being too condemnatory but I can’t help feeling anger towards Katherine for her actions. The other wives of Henry VIII evoke respect in me but I just feel anger at Katherine’s stupidity. Maybe that’s why I have to read this book, to know her better and to learn to judge her case with kindness…
Catherine Howard in my opinion is the most unfortunate among the six wives of Henry VIII. The rest of his wives (I think) knew what they were getting into when they married one of the most unpredictable men in history, but poor Catherine was too young and naive to understand the risks that one miscalculated step could lead to in Henry VIII’s court.
I know people may argue that any bored teenager in today’s world would probably react the same way if they were isolated from the outside world and were constantly kept in close supervision. But I feel that Catherine should have been more careful in her dealings, she should have taken a lesson from her predecessors; I am probably being very harsh on her but it was very ignorant on her behalf to think she would have gotten away with adultery. In King Henry’s court there were no secrets, if you so much as breathed without the King’s consent he would find out about it and send you off to the Tower on charges of high treason, in times like that Catherine just did not stand a chance. If she was as silly as some of the historians claim her to be then she was bound to slip at one point.
I haven’t read a lot about her and thus I feel that I am being too condemnatory but I can’t help feeling anger towards Catherine for her actions. The other wives of Henry VIII evoke respect in me but I just feel anger at Catherine’s stupidity. Maybe that’s why I have to read this book, to know her better and to learn to judge her case with kindness…
People have used people for as long as it’s been possible to manipulate others for selfish reasons. Catherine fell into the hands of greedy, grasping people, including her own family, and when it all fell apart, it was easy to point fingers and blame her for what had been done to her. Yes, she was naive, and she made mistakes. She had no way of knowing that she was being used to further the ambitions of those who gladly placed her in the King’s path, knowing his history, knowing he would be swayed by her youth, vivacity, and joy of life. She believed, however wrongly, that her family and friends loved her and were interested in what was best for her. Turns out, she was merely a pawn in a deadly game that she ultimately lost, and didn’t know she lost until it was too late. Despite her immaturity and misguided trust, she faced death bravely, presenting herself at the executioner’s block with a dignity that belied her youth. She died a queen. RIP Queen Catherine.
Thank you, Gareth Russell, for your comments about Catherine Howard; I’ve seen several portrayals of Catherine. She was used by her family, particularly her uncle The Duke of Norfolk who also used Anne Boleyn. I am anxious to read Gareth’s book.
Of all the wives oh Henry VIII, she is the one I feel the most compassion for. She was so young and married to a very unattractive old man, how could she not fall for a handsome young man? But I woupd like to know if she became queen becauwe she was ambitious or if she was simply a puppet in the hands of her family.
I Love Catherine, I think she was just too young and too naive to be Queen, but I find her a very fascinating character!
I believe she was too young to be with a know to be tyrant. She was thrown to the wolves. She was set up to fail. It wouldn’t have mattered what she did or done Henry would of found another excus to get rid of her for his next victim.
I enjoy your blog, and look forward very much to reading your book on
I love these articles, very informative! I personally believe that Catherine was young and naive & it wouldn’t have mattered what she did or didn’t do. I think she was manipulated and used for other people’s gains. I would love to win this book, it looks amazing!
I fell in love with Tudor history when I was seven years old, and the only access I had to historic information was the Encyclopedia Britannica. I was far too young to understand issues of religion or infidelity (although my obsession took me into an understanding of both rather younger than might have otherwise occurred), but maybe my youth explains my fascination with Kathryn Howard. As I read about her over the years, as a child of the 70s but with a strict religious upbringing in the American “Bible Belt,” my views fell naturally somewhere between approving of her promiscuity and indignation that she could perish for it whilst the King could have mistresses any time he fancied.
After these posts, I am excited to read your book and what promises to be a more balanced treatment of Kathryn, for whom my daughter is named. 🙂
I absolutely loved reading these articles! I feel like Catherine Howard is very underappreciated, so seeing there are new books and articles about her life makes me very happy. The fact that she was just a young girl caught up in very extraordinary things is what makes her so interesting to me. I really would love to read this book, to see who the real Catherine was, and what the things written about her made her out to be!
I think that Catherine was young and somewhat naive, but not completely. While I think her family used her for their own ambition, I wouldn’t be too surprised if she was only too happy to comply. I think she enjoyed her ascension to the throne but didn’t take her position or Henry VIII seriously enough and that led to her downfall. She probably assumed she had Henry wrapped around her finger and would never get caught.
Catherine Howard is one of the most tragic figures in Tudor history. Young and beautiful in Henry’s old, aged eyes, she was pushed by her family and the King into a situation she was not equipped to handle. With her sketchy education and her past…a past that I feel she was more taken advantage than being a promiscuous little tart…she was ill-equipped to navigate the court and its many factions. She was horribly used by her family; a family that had some knowledge of her background but deliberately chose to overlook it,so poor Catherine was pushed into the sight of an aging, grossly obese man, who also had an ulcer on his leg that was certainly unattractive. After Anne Boleyn, Catherine is my next favorite queen due to her youth and untimely, unhappy end. I think of her, young and fair, being led to a marriage and bed with a horror of a man. My blood runs cold to think of how she must have felt and what she must have faced.
Catherine Howard was young and dammed…by her family who tossed her in front of an aging, gross King – a man with an uncertain temper who was overweight and diseased. I feel so sorry for her, so young, and trapped in a situation she couldn’t escape from.
Somehow or other, David and Abishag come to mind … wasn’t the Hebrew thing of putting a young girl into an old man’s bed to revitalise him, called Shunamitism? And one begins to wonder, if Henry, who was unable/unwilling to consummate his marriage with Cleves, was actually physically revitalsed by … forgetting, with difficulty, The Tudors take on events –
the nubile young Catherine? I have doubts, but then, I am an old skeptic!
I feel great sorrow for Catherine, with her youth and that she might have been used to help others get what they wanted. Did the Duke of Norfolk have any feelings at all?
I would like to read Gareth’s book about Catherine Howard because I know so little about her – of all of Henry’s wives, she is the most elusive.
I have always felt a deep sense of sympathy for Catherine Howard. She is often made out to be the bimbo of the Tudor times, but I believe there is more to her than that. When I was younger, and closer to her age, I shuddered to think what it would have been like to be married to an ill-tempered hulk like Henry VIII. I can see why she was tempted to carry on an affair with a handsome courtier. I think I would have done the same! I am looking forward to reading Gareth’s book on Catherine Howard before I journey to the UK late this year.
No proper guidance from the start, never knowing true unconditional love and most likely felt used, and abandoned. She was given the world in the last years of her short life, and was not fully equipped to handle all of the vice that came with it. Henry knew her back story, and married a girl young enough to be his granddaughter. Either he had impaired judgement or just didn’t care. Sad and tragic. All of it.
I really like your indept two parts article! I see Catherine as a somewhat mysterious woman, who maybe had learnt in the wrong way how to secure favours or gifts or social standing by being manipulated with great promises by men since her childhood years. But on the other hand she could have been a woman with strong sexual feelings from an early age on, following her heart and body, while also wishing to do good and being a dutiful queen and wife. I’ve heard that she was pious and nice and likedby most of the courtiers. I have no set opinion on her because there is so littke evidence. But I love her just the same
Without evidence, she was beheaded. We know little of true self, other than she was a pawn in political games. She had groomed, just as Queen Anne had been groomed, to be the wife of Henry VIII and to produce a son. Desperation may have led her to her fated doom, again just Queen Anne. Yet, with her knowing Queen Anne’s history, why would she attempt adultery? That has always my question and one that will go unanswered.
Tudor history has always fascinated me so of course I would love to read another book about it! Katherine Howard was, I believe, naive and perhaps made some poor decisions, but did not deserve the death penalty she received. I can only imagine the disgusting situation she was in being married to such an old sickly man.
Gareth is an eloquent and intelligent historian and I look forward to reading his book on Catherine Howard. Its interesting how recent historians argue that Catherine was a victim of what we would now consider grooming and look forward to reading Gareth’s views on this. Unlike Anne Boleyn, who refused to surrender to the king, I think Catherine was manipulated by both the king and her family at such a tender age, that she could not possibly have imagined how her fate would beckon her just a few years later.
This has been so interesting. I really can’t wait to read the book and see what new things come out of it. I was really surprised to read that Catherine’s body had not been found during the excavation of the chapel. I was always under the impression it had been. I wonder if they’ll ever excavate again in the future. I live only 3 miles from Pontefract and I’ve spent many a happy time wondering around the remains of the Castle. I can only imagine how it must have looked when Catherine arrived there. I know there has been some speculation of the years in other biographies regarding Catherine’s real age at both the time of her marriage and her execution so I’m looking forward to seeing what conclusions Gareth draws.
I think that Catherine was a young, foolish, and promiscuous girl. It was not her fault that she was taken without her consent, probably, by a man old enough to be her grandfather. He was enormously fat, old, and stank horribly. Who can blame her with falling in love with Culpepper? The whole thing is a tragedy. Henry was a monster by the time he got to her.
What evidence do you have for Catherine being “taken against her will” by Henry Viii? Uh, none as there isn’t any. On the contrary he treated her with respect and regard and was probably better for her than anyone else she had met. Katherine Howard would have married someone closer to her station anyway or above it. Culpepper was related to her through her mother, but the Howards would have thought of wealth and land before anything else in a marriage deal. Henry was very conscious of his leg and tried to conceal the smell. He was obese and his tyranny had begun to surface but there is no evidence that he mistreated Catherine. It was not unusual to marry a man much older than you. It may sound romantic to fall for someone else, but that doesn’t excuse adultery or should everyone whose partner gets a life threatening illness or disease or puts on weight have an affair in your book? Your attitude is childish and typical of the modern age, so yes you definitely need to read this book.
He may have been fat and old and stank, but he was a very fastidious man for the age he lived in and would have made sure he had regular baths to combat the problem, also he was chivalric and treated women with respect, when Anne Boleyn refused to be his mistress he could well have raped her and not brought to account for it, but he was above such behaviour, he respected her virtue though it drove him crazy, there is every evidence that he was gracious to Catherine, she was his queen and delighted in taking her on progress with him, she was afforded every honour of a queen consort, there is also no evidence that she was promiscuous either, and to say Henry was a monster by the time he got to her is way of the mark, Henrys psyche is difficult to read but two head injuries could well have been responsible for his outbursts of temper and depression, there is no evidence he was ever cruel or offish to Catherine, he was ill with his leg a lot but when possible would carry out his duties as King and would reside over court banquets and parliament, he was very happy with his young wife and she lifted his ill mood, he felt young again with her and was known to lose weight, I believe she was fond of him, like any young woman of a noble family. she had known that any match she made would be not for love, but for the honour and the interest of her family, she also had been brought up to respect her sovereign Lord the King, the problem with Catherine was not selfishness but extreme youth and whilst I agree it was a tragedy, and she couldn’t help being attracted to Culpeper she should not have met alone with him, that was her big mistake, her few transgressions in her past Henry could have turned a blind eye to, it was in her past then let it lie, but things have a habit of coming out in the open and it was not long after some probing that her indiscreet behaviour while queen was discovered, to meet alone with another man and at night in secret shows a dreadful lack of respect for the King, and as Bandit queen mentions, there was no evidence of adultery but it implied wrongdoing, and if she had committed adultery then she impugned the succession, which was treason that most heinous of crimes, she had shown she was not fit to be queen, Kings may do as they will but queens have to be like the Virgin Mary, untouchable discreet gracious, wise regal and bear heirs for her King, it was a role sadly the teenage flighty Catherine was totally unsuitable for, to call Henry a monster is not fair in this his fifth marriage, we all know how he treated his first two wives but with Catherine he was the injured party.
It is so wonderful to see Catherine’s reputation rehabilitated after so many centuries of slander and “lazy writing” (I mean, when historians/writers follow the old stereotypes because they’re too lazy to research facts for themselves and continue spreading false stories like the “I’d rather die as Culpepper’s wife” thing). It is amazing ti see published not 1 but 3 bios on this forgotten Queen in so little time.
I personally think Catherine was a victim of both her past and the toxic relationships with those people she knew before arriving to Henry’s court. I can’t help thinking of Mannox, Dereham, Joan Bulmer, Norfolk or even the Dowager Duchess as parasitical beings who took advantage of the young Queen. So many members of the Duchess’ household rushing to ask for a job at court and knowing too much about Catherine’s “indiscrections”… The prologue of a tragedy it was. I think Mannox abused her when she was a child, and she could have developed some self-esteem issues which led her to be insecure and eager to please everyone (well, this is just my opinion, not a fact!).
She was a young woman trying to be a good Queen, let’s not forget her kind treatment of poor Margaret Pole… And her kindness towards young Elizabeth, whom she recognized not only as a stepdaughter, but also as a kinswoman for being Anne Boleyn’s daughter… Her brief time together is one of the cutest moments of the whole Tudor dynasty.
After reading his 2 articles on Catherine and the other one about the 6 wives’ stereotypes (in his blog), I’d love to read Gareth Russell’s new book to learn more about this slandered Queen, specially her relationship with Jane Parker-Boleyn, the mysterious lady Rochford
I think Catherine was treated so unfairly. In many ways shes no different than some teens today. From the start she had been through many things that definitely shaped her in certain ways. I feel she is judged as just this silly girl that cheated on the king. She was so much more. I believe she had a good heart she was just put in situations that not even we can understand.