Why do you think that Jane Rochford would assist Catherine Howard in committing adultery? She knew Henry’s wrath and that she might be implicated.

Tough one! We just don't know what Jane's motives were for acting as a go between for Catherine and Culpeper. Some historians (e.g. Lacey Baldwin Smith) have seen Jane as an agent provocateur and perhaps she enjoyed the role of go-between, living her life through Catherine and Culpeper, but it could be that she was simply following Catherine's orders. Jane was, after all, simply a lady in waiting there to do the bidding of her royal mistress.

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6 thoughts on “Why do you think that Jane Rochford would assist Catherine Howard in committing adultery? She knew Henry’s wrath and that she might be implicated.”

  1. Kerry says:

    I think that perhaps it was “payback”.
    Jane’s involvement might have been her way of seeking revenge for the loss of her husband George by Henry.
    I can picture her taking delight knowing that the King was being cheated on.
    She didn’t count on being caught.

  2. Leandra says:

    I think that there had to be some personal gain for Lady Rochford in helping Katherine cheat. She had to have known the risks involved but she did it it any way. There were so many people and envious courtiers lurking about the Queen and her apartments. Someone was bound to find out sooner or later. Also it is known Katherine H. was not the brightest person in the world and in my opinion did not really know how be what was considered a proper queen. All of that made her an easy target for more seasoned courtiers like Rochford to manipulate her for their own advantage. If Rochford was simply doing her duty as lady in waiting then I believe she would have at least tried to talk Katherine out ( like she should have) of it or put a stop to it in some other way.

  3. PoliticalAnimal says:

    This is a very interesting question that makes an assumption that there was an adulterous relationship between the Queen and Thomas Culpeper. Culpeper at first denied this (as he might be expected to do) and finally admitted to the crime under torture (as he was certainly be expected to do). The Queen, although admitting to some indiscretions with Culpeper, adamantly denied having committed adultery with him.

    On the other hand, once the investigation began, several members of the Queens household gave evidence that they knew of the affair. What is interesting about this is that Lady Rochford was executed for misprision of treason (failure to report treason) because of her knowledge of the alleged affair and yet these other members of the Queens household were not executed for the same crime even though, by their testimony, they must have been guilty of it. Perhaps they were encouraged to testify in return for their safety.

    While Catherine Howard has been described as not particularly intelligent – certainly no Anne Boleyn – it seems inconceivable that even she would not know the terrible risks she was taking. Culpeper also would have been in no doubt as to the result of his being found to have committed adultery with the Queen. It is incredible to me that either of them would have deemed to risk in any way worth it. The Tudor court was, by some standards, fairly promiscuous and there would have been many ladies toward whom Culpeper could direct his amorous attentions that, should the affair come to the attention of he King, would result only in some chuckling and back-slapping for Culpeper.

    In any event, if we accept the generally held belief that there was an adulterous affair between the Queen and Thomas Culpeper, this raises some interesting questions about the part played by Lady Rochford who, like the Queen and Culpeper, must surely have know the terrible consequences of any affair becoming known to the King – her own husband and sister-in-law were executed for the same crime.

    On the face of it there can be no advantage to Lady Rochford in being complicit in something that, should it become known, would certainly result in her being implicated. In addition, although Lady Rochford was a member of the Queens household, she is also the Kings subject and bound in loyalty to him. Further, given the degree to which royal personages were attended at all times, it seem improbable that any indiscretion on the part of the Queen could be kept secret from other members of her household, and this appears to be the case when members of her household gave testimony about the affair.

    Culpeper was the Kings equerry and considered to be his friend, so there was no option of removing him without the King wishing to know why. He couldn’t be conveniently ‘got rid of’, reassigned somewhere that he could do no harm.

    It appears that anyone who knew about the alleged affair – and I think it had to be more than just Lady Rochford – didn’t have a lot of options. They either blew the whistle and threw the Queen under a bus or kept quiet and hoped that the affair didn’t become common knowledge, or that if it did they would not be implicated.

    So, the answer to the question of why Lady Rochford acted to encourage the affair? I don’t know, it makes no sense to me and I am frankly skeptical that she did or that there ever was and adulterous affair.

    As to the question of Lady Rochfords decent into insanity after her arrest? Well, there was law in effect at the time that prohibited the execution of anyone deemed to be insane. Could this have been an act by the lady to save her life? If so it availed her little – the King had the law changed and Lady Rochford was executed.

  4. Rini says:

    Why did Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford help Catherine Howard meet Thomas Culpepper in secret? I have many theories…
    1) People make foolish decisions all the time and take risks. Jane took a gamble and lost.
    2) Perhaps Lady Rochford, after several mind-numbing years of entertaining and serving several queens, was simply bored and wanted a little excitement?
    3) People sometimes experience mental and emotional illness. Maybe she was very depressed since losing her husband George? Jane had been through so much trauma, perhaps she did not emerge unscathed?
    4) Since none of Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting were convicted, maybe Jane thought she was safe?
    5) Jane helped Catherine meet Culpepper in the game of Courtly Love. Before Jane knew it, it went too far and Jane was trapped with no forseeable way out. Should she tell the King and risk her life if he disbelieved her?

  5. Markus says:

    Perhaps Lady Rochford saw the young queen as annoying and childish. She may have wanted to see her gone from the court and the act of adultery would certainly get rid of her.

    1. Claire says:

      Then she would have been best reporting it rather than helping her to keep it secret.

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