Setting: Winter 1540/1
Thomas Culpeper and Lady Rochford watch Queen Catherine Howard dance. Culpeper comments on how all the queen does is dance and rejoice. Lady Rochford explains that she has every reason to be happy because the King spoils her. Culpeper comments that the King is like a new man and that he is trying to keep fit. Culpeper says that Catherine is “appealing” and Lady Rochford says that she is just a “sweet little fool”.
The Duke of Suffolk meets with Henry VIII. The King shows him a medal he has had struck to celebrate his marriage. Brandon reads from the medal “my rose without a thorn”. The King asks after Anne of Cleves. She is grateful for the King’s kindness and is keeping up her relationship with the King’s daughters. Brandon tells Henry that the Duchess of Suffolk is still not sleeping with him.
Surrey dances with Lady Hertford. Culpeper dances with Catherine. Hertford watches. When Lady Hertford warns Surrey off because of her husband, Surrey comments how the Seymour family are “wolves” whereas his are “lions”. He asks her forgiveness for “aiming so low”!
The King calls for the Earl of Hertford. The King is angry that he has so many cares and has nobody, i.e. Cromwell, anymore to help him with them. He asks after Prince Edward, who is healthy. The King makes Hertford Lieutenant General to the North to keep an eye on the borders and deal with the King of the Scots and incursions over the border.
The King sleeps with Catherine. Joan Bulmer tells Lady Rochford about the happenings at Lambeth, about Francis Dereham and Edward Walgrave who would call on Joan and Catherine at night and join them in bed. Lady Rochford asks what the men would do to Joan and Catherine and Joan gestures over her shoulder to the door where sounds of Catherine and the King having sex are coming from. Joan explains that Catherine felt that she and Dereham were betrothed, “like on a promise”.
Surrey and his men cause trouble in the market and Wriothesley then reports to the King that Surrey has been jailed for public disorder. The King reads out how Surrey called London “a shameless whore”. Surrey has also been eating meat during Lent and is suspected of buying meat on the black market from heretics. Rich and Wriothesley want to torture Surrey but the King orders his release. The King says he wants to invite the Lady Mary and Anne of Cleves to court for New Year.
Catherine receives presents from the King. The King then shows Catherine two horses sent by Anne of Cleves and tells her that Anne is coming to court. Catherine asks “Will I like her?”
New Year – Lady Mary arrives at court. Mary is very cool towards Catherine. Anne of Cleves arrives. She tells Brandon of how his teaching her to play cards has led to her winning a fortune. Henry sighs as Anne enters the room and greets her warmly. Anne is very friendly towards Catherine.
Chapuys arrives at the celebrations and is greeted by Mary. He is suffering from gout. Mary tells him that he has always been her most faithful and truest friend. She tells Chapuys that Anne of Cleves was perfect for her father and that she hates Catherine. She is visibly upset.
Thomas Seymour asks his sister-in-law, Lady Hertford, for news on his brother. He is well. Lady Hertford comments on how she wishes Thomas could be more like his brother, “my husband always takes what he wants”.
The King leaves the celebrations, leaving Anne and Catherine to enjoy themselves. Catherine enjoys her wine. They discuss the Lady Elizabeth. It is clear that Anne loves Elizabeth, she describes how clever and beautiful she is. Anne thinks of her as a daughter.
The King is suffering with the ulcer on his leg. Culpeper cleans it and dresses it. Culpeper asks Henry why he invited Anne of Cleves, Henry replies “I like her after-all, she keeps her promises”.
Anne and Catherine dance together. Mary gets up and leaves.
The King listens to the merriment.
Culpeper asks Lady Rochford about what Joan Bulmer has said to her. The tipsy Lady Rochford spills the beans about Catherine’s relationship with Dereham, saying that Dereham would pull down his hose and the two of them would “hang by their bellies like two sparrows”. Culpeper and Lady Rochford kiss.
Thomas Seymour visits Lady Hertford to take what he wants. They sleep together.
Lady Mary is preying when the Queen arrives. A stroppy Catherine demands Mary’s respect. Mary accuses Catherine of desiring “only pleasure” and being “frivolous” and that the King only married her for her fertility, yet she is not yet pregnant. She warns that the King will tire of her. Catherine lashes back, accusing Mary of being jealous because she is older and not yet married. Catherine punishes Mary by removing two of her maids.
Anne of Cleves dines with Catherine and the King. The King gives Catherine jewellery and two spaniels, Catherine gives one to Anne.
Chapuys visits Mary. She is packing to leave court because she is furious with the queen. Chapuys advises her to try and conciliate with the queen. Mary breaks down and Chapuys comforts her, she sobs on his shoulder.
Culpeper visits Catherine with a book on midwifery which the author, Richard Jonas, wants to dedicate to her – “The Birth of Mankind”. They laugh together over the pictures.
Culpeper has sex with Lady Rochford but he talks about sleeping with Catherine. She asks him if he really wants to and then says that she can arrange it.
Brandon rushes to see the King. The King is in great pain as the ulcer on his leg has become clogged again. The physician advises draining it and Brandon gives the go ahead. The King screams as the ulcer is opened up with a scalpel. Henry overhears the doctor talking to Gardiner who asks “what happens if the king should die?”
The King meets with his council. He is furious. He tells them of how deceived he feels and that he thinks of them as liars and flatterers. He speaks of how he mourns Cromwell’s death, of how lies and accusations made him put to death the most faithful servant he ever had.
Culpeper visits the Queen. Catherine is concerned about how she has not seen the King for over ten days. She demands to know what is happening, she wonders if the King has taken a mistress and Culpeper says that he cannot answer her. He tells her that he would do anything in the world to bring her comfort and make her happy. Joan Bulmer tells Catherine that Culpeper is in love with her.
Hertford tells his wife that Surrey has written a poem about her, calling her the wolf-lady and saying that if she crosses his path he will feed on her like she intended to feed on him. He accuses the Seymours of rising high by murdering the innocent.
The King has a fever. Culpeper mops his brow. Catherine is tossing and turning. She thinks of Culpeper’s words “You know I would do anything in the world, anything to bring you comfort and make you happy. More than any woman, you deserve to be happy.”
Lady Rochford tells Catherine that Culpeper wants to visit her privately. She says that it can be a secret, just like Dereham visiting her at night in the past. Joan guides Culpeper to Catherine’s bedchamber. He enters.
An ill Henry VIII looks out of the window at the moon.
- Catherine Howard asks Henry if she’ll like Anne of Cleves, yet in reality she was one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting when Anne was queen so she already knew her.
- There is no evidence that Lady Rochford had a relationship with Thomas Culpeper.
- There is no evidence that Lady Hertford was unfaithful to her husband and no rumour that she slept with Thomas Seymour.
- The Earl of Surrey did get into trouble for breaking windows in London, with Thomas Wyatt the Younger, and also eating meat during Lent, but this was in February 1543 not 1541.
- There is no evidence that the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk were estranged.
- Catherine Howard was actually able to establish a cordial relationship with the Lady Mary.
- Lady Rochford calls Catherine a “sweet little fool” – Catherine Howard called Thomas Culpeper her “little sweet fool”.
- The words “hanging like sparrows” which are used by Joan Bulmer to describe Catherine and Francis Dereham’s sexual antics were actually words spoken by Catherine Howard when she confessed to her former relationship with Dereham.
- Henry VIII did have a medal struck to celebrate his marriage to Catherine Howard and he did call her his “rose without a thorn”.
- Anne of Cleves did have a friendly relationship with the King and was also close to his daughters. It was even rumoured that the King would remarry her after Catherine’s downfall.
- Henry VIII’s leg ulcer did close up and threaten the King’s life in February 1541.
- Henry VIII did speak of his regret regarding Thomas Cromwell’s downfall and execution, blaming those who had turned him against Cromwell.
- Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was a poet and was the first English poet to publish blank verse.
- The Earl of Surrey did say that he had caused trouble in London to make the citizens realise their wickedness.
- The Earl of Surrey did write a poem about a lady who refused to dance with him, “A Song”, and it was thought to be addressed to Anne Stanhope, Edward Seymour’s wife, AND it did mention wolves and lions!
- “The Birth of Mankind”, a book on midwifery, was translated by Richard Jonas and was also dedicated to Queen Catherine Howard in 1540.