Tower of London and ravenOn this day in 1541, A “very sickly” Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the fall of her granddaughter, Queen Catherine Howard, begged Henry VIII for forgiveness. She also confessed to having another £800 hidden at Norfolk House.

The poor woman must have been terrified, as she surely must have heard that Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper had been executed.

You can read all about the Howard family’s horrible Christmas in Marilyn Roberts’ article “Terror for the Howards at Christmas”.

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8 thoughts on “The Howards’ Miserable Christmas”
  1. Yes, we sometimes forget about the innocent people who would get caught up in Henry VIII’s ‘concerns’. They usually get sidelined or completely forgotten about. David Starkey gives the Howards’ imprisonment a mention in The Six Wives of Henry VIII. It was reported that so many Howards were arrested that there were not enough rooms in the Tower to house them. It must have been terrifying. The suspicion of treason would hang over the entire family! Not only would they face loss of reputation but also loss of properties. Scary times.

  2. Not only is she having a miserable Christmas, but the price of a pardon seems mighty steep. Why else would there be so much fuss over how much money she had, if not for extortion purposes?

    1. She had in her possession the sum of £800 that is a lot of money especially for them times. Once her nieces behaviour came to light everything came to light and was out in the open even to the point of how much money she had which is rather quite private as well as personal!

  3. Once somebody fell from favour it would automatically make the rest fall out of favour! Sadly and unfortunately with the King and the rest of the court!

  4. Like ALL the wives of Henry the VIII, except Anne of Cleves, I am a descendant of the 1st Earl of Pembroke and Regent to Henry the III, one William Marshall, the greatest knight whoever lived . According to his French friends, the Flower of Chivalry. He lived from 1146 to 1219.

    He was married to the daughter of the Earl of Pembroke, Richard “Strongbow” de Clare, Isabelle de Clare, also a Norman but also a descendant of Irish Royalty through her mother Maud of Ireland.

    The Earl was loyal to King Henry the II, Richard the Lionheart , to King John and Henry III. He even witnessed the signing of the Magna Charta. On several occasions this loyal Knight and Liege man, was forgiven for perceived slights to the Royals he served and was even ransomed by royals on at least one occasion.

    When Henry the VIII, divorced Catherine of Aragon and killed 2 of his wives, killed his Howard and the Norfolk victims, he was in fact, attacking the good and loyal family of William Marshall. For all of them were his relatives.

    Henry the VIII was a vain man. He was less than a NORMAL man when it came to his treatment of ladies. He was an unforgiving tyrant to his subjects in general .

    Fortunately, Queen Elizabeth I was a GOOD woman, although quite vain. But SMART enough to provide her nation with a solid leader and Queen worthy of honors.

    TRAITS, I believe she inherited from her MOTHER and ancestor , William Marshall.

    Traits she certainly did NOT inherit from her Tudor sire.

  5. This was indeed a terrible ordeal for the Howard family and very frightening, especially for the women who were interrogated over and over because of what the Government believed they knew about her relationship with the men she knew before he marriage to the King. It wasn’t a tyrannical attack on the Howards but the interrogation team believed there was a conspiracy to cover up this knowledge and keep it from the King. There was a deep concern that the family, especially the old Duchess of Norfolk had concealed the fact that Katherine had a sexual relationship with Francis Dereham, later appointed to her Queenly household, and that this relationship may have made Henry’s marriage with her unlawful. Any children he and Katherine had may also have been affected by this former relationship. The prosecution contended that the family had conspired to put Katherine into the King’s bed and for her to commit adultery. The prosecution believed the family knew more than they actually did and had concealed information about alleged affairs even after her marriage with former lovers. The women certainly knew about her relationship with Francis Dereham and had kept quiet as had Katherine herself. Although the relationship was before Katherine and Henry were married Dereham had come to Court to reclaim his common law wife as he saw her, but he was too late and Katherine had moved on to Henry and to Thomas Culpeper. This made any knowledge of his relationship with Kathryn as misprison and the family pleaded guilty at as mass trial.

    The houses of every member of the Howard family were searched for money, letters and jewellery and their chests were locked and searched. There was much suspicion that the Howards even had other letters which proved adultery but none were found. The women were questioned about who Katherine received in the Maidens Chamber and about her sexual activities. They were questioned several times and it was a terrible ordeal which badly frightened them and made the old Duchess ill. Henry felt he had been duped twice by Howard women, even though one, Anne Boleyn was innocent. He wasn’t going to let them off again.

    There is no evidence that Katherine actually committed adultery with Thomas Culpeper but her nightly meetings with him were dangerous, suspicious and foolish. She was very persuasive and Jane, Lady Rochford was drawn in to help her find places to meet Culpeper and escorted him to the Queen. Both denied adultery but said they wanted to go further, putting the succession in danger and imagining the King’s death by planning to marry if Henry died. Francis Dereham, it was assumed that had come to Court intending to carry on his affair with the Queen, although he denied this. The Howards were all rounded up, tried and now sentenced to perpetual imprisonment at the mercy of the King who let it be known he intended to be lenient with the women. Now they began their punishments in the Tower, at a time of year they should have been enjoying feasts with their families and tenants. Eventually they were pardoned after the unhappy Queen had met her fate and died with dignity on the block on 13th February 1542 and it was May before the last members were released from the Tower.

    The only member to get off was the Duke himself because he wrote a letter which said that he had disowned his terrible nieces and his family and had helped brought to light the misdeeds of the Queen and that he was very humble for his repentance and threw himself on the King’s mercy. The truth was the Duke was needed as an essential part of the King’s henchmen team. He was out of favour for a short time but there was always some task which the Duke as a military man was needed for.

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