The execution of Francis Dereham, The Tudors series
The execution of Francis Dereham, The Tudors series
Today marks the anniversary of the executions of Thomas Culpeper, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, and Francis Dereham, secretary to Queen Catherine Howard, fifth wife of King Henry VIII.

If you watched “The Tudors” series, you may be forgiven for believing that these men got their come-uppances, after all, Thomas Culpeper was a rapist and murderer who slept with Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, before seducing the rather air-headed Queen, and Francis Dereham blackmailed his way into serving Catherine as her secretary and boasted of his past relationship with her.  Neither man is likeable and both are portrayed as using Catherine.

But is this true?

Well, we can’t know for sure.

Francis Dereham had been arrested after Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was made aware of Catherine Howard’s premarital sexual behaviour with her music tutor, Henry Manox, and Dereham. Under interrogation, Catherine had confessed to a past sexual relationship with Dereham, and he confessed that he “had known her carnally many times, both in his doublet and hose between the sheets and in naked bed”. Catherine also said that she and Dereham had referred to each other as husband and wife, although she denied that they were in any way pre-contracted. Both Dereham and Catherine affirmed that the relationship had taken place long before she was married to the King.

Agnes Tilney, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who had acted as Catherine’s guardian while the relationship had taken place, was questioned as to whether she had encouraged the Queen to appoint Dereham as her secretary, but we don’t know whether it was her idea. Of course, the fact that Catherine had appointed Dereham as her secretary was used by Audley, Wriothesley and the King’s Council to prove that the couple intended to reignite their relationship. I prefer to think of Catherine as a kindly young woman who wanted to help her past friends by giving them appointments at court, and there is no evidence whatsoever that she and Dereham were involved with each other after her marriage to the King.

As far as Culpeper was concerned, it was Dereham who first mentioned Thomas Culpeper. During an interrogation, he stated “that Culpeper had succeeded him in the Queen’s affections” and when Catherine was questioned about Culpeper she admitted to secret assignations on the back stairs, to calling him her “little sweet fool” and giving him a cap and a ring; however, she denied a sexual relationship. It was Culpeper who sealed his fate by admitting that “he intended and meant to do ill with the Queen and that in like wise the Queen so minded to do with him”. It is unclear what kind of man Thomas Culpeper was and we do not even know whether he committed the rape and murder he is often accused of. There were, in fact, two Thomas Culpepers active at court at this time and they were brothers – see my article “Thomas Culpeper” for more on this. While it is thought that it was Catherine’s Culpeper who committed the crimes, we cannot know for certain. We also don’t know whether Culpeper was in love with Catherine or whether he was using her, hoping to control her and have power by marrying her after Henry VIII’s death. It is hard for us to even speculate, and impossible for us to judge him.

Culpeper and Dereham were tried on 1st December 1541 at the Guildhall, and convicted of treason. Both were executed on 10th December 1541, but Culpeper was beheaded while Dereham had to face the brutal traitor’s death of being hanged, drawn and quartered. In his Chronicle, Charles Wriothesley writes:-

“Culpeper and Dereham were drawn from the Tower of London to Tyburn, and there Culpeper, after an exhortation made to the people to pray for him, he standing on the ground by the gallows, kneeled down and had his head stricken off; and then Dereham was hanged, membered, bowelled, headed, and quartered [and both] their heads set on London Bridge.”

Culpeper was buried at St Sepulchre Holborn.

Dereham was executed for deflowering Henry VIII’s “rose without a thorn”, for a relationship the couple had long before the King ever set eyes on Catherine, and Culpeper was executed for intending to sleep with the Queen. It was a sad and brutal end to two courtiers.

You can read more about Queen Catherine Howard’s fall and the men in the following articles:

Related Post

47 thoughts on “RIP Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper – 10 December 1541”
  1. I once read someplace, and I don’t remember where since I read so much about the Tudors, that if Catherine had admitted that she had a prior relationship with Derham, and they had addressed each other as husband and wife, and had had sex, she wouldn’t have been executed since she and Derham would have been “married”, and her marriage to Henry would have been invalid. And if it was invalid, what she did with Culpeper wouldn’t have counted because she never would have been married to Henry. By denying her sexual contact with him she sealed her fate. Although I don’t know if Henry would have let her off that easily…since he was very much in love with her and would have considered losing her a slap in the face to his manhood. Anyone know anything about this, and can perhaps refresh my memory as to where I might have read this?

    1. She may well have saved herself from execution if she had admitted to their being a pre-contract or betrothal between her and Dereham. If a couple exchanged vows and consummated their relationship then this could be taken as marriage, in those times, and her marriage to Henry VIII could have been annulled on these grounds. Who knows whether she would have been saved, though.

  2. “…I prefer to think of Catherine as a kindly young woman who wanted to help her past friends by giving them appointments at court…”

    Quite often, Kathryn is depicted doing this as a result of blackmail, and Dereham either blackmailing her himself or harboring hopes of renewing the relationship. It’s certainly a viable scenario. But then, I’m not that big a fan of hers, nor do I hold a high opinion of her intelligence.

    1. i have always believed that once Katherine howard became henrys wife ,dereham and possibly others saw this as a way to rise up the ranks of court and Katherine had no choice ,i do think she was taken advantage of by dereham ,and i don’t think for one minute that if she had admitted to a precontract with dereham that she would have escaped execution ,henry was not to be fooled with ,also i firmly believe that the only wife that was able to conduct herself with the serenity to be a queen of England was queen Katherine of aragon ,the others did not come even close to her in terms of actually behavinglike a queen.

  3. Hi my name is mandi. I have a question i want to ask you guys and girls ok. Do any of you know if Culpeper and dereham’s head are still by that bridge you mentioned or did they already take them dpwn and baried them?

    1. no more traitors heads are up and about in Britain anymore, this hasn’t happened for a long time, we’re not third world. But It is a good question, what did eventually happen to the remains of the bodies hung up? I often want to know where they were put in the end.

      1. Yes no more remains of the people that were executed at the tower up above on poles they would have been taken down a long time ago and buried.

  4. As far as I know, if the body wasn’t quartered and distributed across the kingdom (yes, they did that in the Middle Ages), it was buried somewhere in the vicinity. Possibly a mass pit and certainly anonymously.

    The heads were left to rot unless someone was brave enough to steal one (Margaret More Roper) or there was an official order to take it down. So to answer the 1st question, their heads would have rotted away and the remains fallen into the river probably less than a decade after execution. Don’t know how fast though — I’m not forensically trained.

    1. Culpeper was buried at the church of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, in London, a few hundred yards from St Paul’s Cathedral. It had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666.

      Often severed heads were parboiled and tarred prior to being displayed on spikes.

  5. I agree with the first commentator that it is possible that Catherine and Dereham would have been spared had they confirmed a promise or agreement to marry. In canon law as above, if a couple entered into a free will agreement and agreed that they were wife and husband and had sexual relations then they were regarded as married. There seemed to be some confusion in Catherine’s version as to whether or not she regarded the calling of Dereham husband and he calling her wife and sexual relations as a contract. In her confession she does not see that there was any contract between them. Did she really understand what was being asked of her or was she afraid to admit to a contract? Dereham, although I think he was more of a rogue in this; may have still believed that they had been at least promised, but then he vanished off to Ireland and left her to her relatives and whatever her fate awaited her. He did nothing to make sure that anyone else knew they were contracted; or to assure her that he was coming back for her and would resume any relationship. He states that when he came back the Queen had already come to court and he believed the relationship to be over; then he blames Culpepper for being her lover.

    If Dereham did indeed hope to rekindle his relationship with the Queen on his coming to court and to her household; then he was being a fool. Catherine was also a fool in having him into her service in a capacity that would lead to temptation; even if she and he were not lovers. Certainly it would have saved everyone a lot of time and effort had they just stated they were indeed contracted to begin with. Although there is no evidence one way or the other as to what Dereham and Catherine were involeved in after her marriage; if he had any hopes then may-be he was playing with fire. The council and the King seemed to have been convinced but I think Dereham’s behaviour and his intentions towards Catherine are a mystery.

    Thomas Culpepper certainly said the wrong thing in that he admitted that he intended to go further; the intent alone was treason; presumption of treason; and was there not something in the charges to do with them hoping to have married had the King not been around; imagining the King’s death? Cannot recall all of the details of the affair; need to remind myself about all of the so called accusations and evidence. Personally, however, I do not buy that Culpepper or Catherine were innocent; I do believe they went further during their late night meetings than they admitted.

    Elizabeth Wheeler has written a book in which she believes the entire thing was a set up and that Catherine was victim to the rising Protestant and Hereford factions at court.
    On the other hand, she also said that she got some of her information while acting as a medium, so may-be her research is flawed? But it is possible that the anti-Howard factions were working toether or at least saw an opportunity to bring down the Howards. The Howards represented the past; the old nobles and old order; the Seymours and others were new men; the men of the future and after all, was not a similar tactic used against Anne Boleyn?

    I also read some time ago, but cannot recall the source; that someone called Davenport was also arrested and turned King’s evidence, was put in prison on a misprison of treason charge to do with this mess. Who was this Davenport and what is his role in this?

    The manner of the two deaths also interesting: the difference I mean; Francis Dereham; is regarded as not a nice person in drama like the Tudors, perhaps he was a bit of an arrogant and cocky type; but that does not merrit this terrible death; it seems all of the King’s anger, revenge and distress is played out by allowing Dereham to suffer the full force of the law; the full sentence for treason; hanging, drawing and quartering. As the article points out Henry seems to be angry about the fact that he deflowered Catherine long ago and puts all of the blame onto Dereham. With Thomas Culpeper; he seems more inclined to mercy of a quick death. First of all, he has known Culpepper for some time and he was a personal attendent on the King, sleeping in his chambers and tending to his sore leg. Some authors believe that Henry saw Culpepepr as something of the grown up son that he never had, that he was genuinely fond of him and had trusted him.

    Henry was also particularly upset to know that Culpepper was the one named as having betrayed him: in the Private Life of Henry VIII, another drama, he is shown screaming Culpepper’s name in anguish and despair. Culpepper because of his association with the King was spared the full horrors of the law. It is only that Henry had some affection for him that could have been behind the difference in deaths. Still, does it also show a macarbe reasoning in the King’s mind: choosing one to die with so much terror and violence and one to die a quick death? Who knows?

    Authors are also divided on how they view the situation with Catherien and her alleged lovers; some claiming she was guilty and that Henry was shown proof he could not deny. Actually he was shown very little other than confessions, a letter to Culpepper and the evidence from the interrogations, some of which may have been under torture. Wheeler also says that at varied stages Henry was not told the whole truth but that some facts were withhold in order to force through the Queen being guilty and that in the case of the Queen, that she refused to come to Parliament to defend herself and so was denied a trial. Whether this is true or not; Catherine was never tried; she was condemned by Act of Attainer in Parliament and after her so called lovers had been found guilty and executed. Some authors are now asking for the evidence to be looked at again. It would be interesting to see if there is anything that shows guilt or innocence either way, as at present it could even just be an open question.

    Whatever the reality; these men both died horrible deaths, and should still be remembered in peace.

    1. Excellent post. But the business of Thomas Culpepper being sexually or romantically invovled with Jane Boleyn,,Lady Rochford i have never heard of before.Where or what are the sources for this?

    2. Davenport, or Damport (this is just from memory from previous research) was a good friend of Dereham and the lover of one of Katherine’s roommates at Lambeth. He testified, and was tortured by having all his teeth pulled out. I think it is naive to think all these non-nobles were not tortured by this time in Henry’s reign by Richard Rich. Most likely Culpepper was tortured, too, despite his noble birth. This is why I question Katherine’s guilt. The infamous letter was not dated. Also, Smeaton admitted guilt with Anne Boleyn, but no one believes it, because he was most likely tortured and threatened with the full traitor’s death. This could be why Culpepper admitted not guilt, but intent – to get an easy death. I doubt that admitting pre-contract with Dereham would have saved Katherine. Once Henry-a complete narcissistic sociopath-got his pride hurt and turned against you, his revenge demanded death. His marriage with Katherine (and Anne) was annulled, but it did not save anyone from the death penalty, despite the legal logic that if you had never married the KIng you could not commit adultery. Hurting the feelings of the King was treason. Cromwell created the Bill of Attainder, and by this time it was the preferred method for condemnation, requiring only a simple majority of Parliament and not a unanimous jury of your peers. Certainly politics played a HUGE role in changing Henry’s wives. It always did. It seems obvious, since the entire Howard clan were removed from the circle of influence. Each wife represented a swing and a rebound politically. Katherine seems so sweet nd kind, trying to save the Countess of Salisbury and others, getting warm clothes for prisoners. Even Cramner, her political enemy, was moved to tears by her pleas, and he is the one who brought her pre-marital dalliances to the King’s attention. Culpepper may have been a cad, but that doesn’t mean that Katherine did not sincerely love him. I feel sure that everything she said in her confession was exactly what Norfolk thought would serve HIM best and save him. I think Lady Rochford loved Katherine like a daughter, and that is why she did what she did. I am not adverse to the theory that she may have tried to get pregnant with Culpepper, but if Henry was incapable, you would think he would have noticed, and would have known the child was not his. So I dismiss this, becuse he loved Katherine so much that she really didn’t need to take that risk. It was just very sad all around.

  6. This is timely and rather sad, I’ve just finished reading Jean Plaidy’s “Rose Without a Thorn”, so these two men are very much in my thoughts. Catherine is my favorite of the six wives, actually. I’ve often wondered if she did regard Culpepper as her true love, as Ms. Plaidy seemed to believe. Catherine was definitely foolhardy, but she gave the king happiness, and she wasn’t full of plots and intrigues. When I think of her, it will be with pity, and the wish that she had gotten to be what she was – a simple girl with no longing for riches and fame. At least, that’s what I think she was.

    1. I have heard of this book. This was the kings reference to her but little did he know that every Rose has it’s thorns. :/ . Like you my heart goes out to them it was so unfair and so unjust. Katheryn was obviously not happy that is why she did what she did! Maybe had she of been none of this would of happened!

  7. @Bandit Queen, I don’t think Dereham wanted to renew his relationship with Katherine at all. A common misconception which is really troubling is that these two were actually lovers who loved and cared about each other. Both the research of myself and Professor Retha Warnicke has suggested that Dereham was an aggressive, relentless individual who sexually abused the young Katherine and then manipulated her into granting him offices at court. He blackmailed her, in a sense.

    I really do wish Katherine’s relationships with these men would stop being interpreted in a modern way. I don’t think she and Culpeper committed adultery; as Warnicke states, and I agree with her, it is clear from their confessions that there was no lovemaking. If the two were so blatantly having sex with one another during the progress, then why on earth did none of her ladies come and speak out at the time? The exact same thing happened with Anne Boleyn – when she fell from power in 1536, her ladies rallied and gave confessions against her regarding Mark Smeaton and the other men. The same happened with Katherine.

    I think it’s really unfair that we continue to regard Anne Boleyn as innocent when she swore on the Bible that she had committed none of the crimes alleged against her; and yet, when Katherine did the exact same thing, we ignore it and continue to believe she was guilty. It smacks of bias and prejudice.

    You can feel sorry for Dereham because of his horrific death sentence but at the same time he courted disaster by bragging openly of his abuse of the queen. She was forced to employ him in her household as a means of keeping him quiet – that failed spectacularly. It’s also worth remembering that the Dowager Duchess, conforming to contemporary sexual and gender prejudices, blamed and punished Katherine for her youthful misdemeanours, physically beating her, rather than the men who abused her.

    1. Yes, I think that Francis Dereham was aggressive and a boaster; I think he was a rogue; I do not feel sorry for either him or Culpeper; they both, if you will excuse the saying; ” made their own beds and can lie in them” but they were also guilty by the standards of the time as they both indicated, albeit under pressure or torture, although there is little evidence that either was tortured; that they wanted to go further. Dereham should have stayed away; that certainly would have been wiser, but I think like a lot of people he saw the court as the place to make an opportunity and took advantage of having Katherine as Queen. That is my view anyway. I do not believe that Katherine was abused by Dereham; the evidence points to them having consentual sex and that they both knew what they were doing, prior to her marriage. It is true that Dereham as the man, probably got off lighter than Katherine, but as you state; that was the way things were back in Tudor times; until recent decades as well. Women were the property of a father, brother, husband, any male guardian or if not a male, then the senior female guardian in whose household they lived; in this case the Dowager Duchess. When Katherine married; she became the property of the King as her husband. We may gasp in shock at such a notion but that is how it was. Until the married woman’s property laws and a law of 1862 which gave limited rights in marriage and the former rights to their own property; it was the case that the man ruled the woman and that her property became that of her husband. This was the norm and it would have been understood by Katherine that she was expected to be faithful to Henry or to anyone else he married. If she was foolish enough to do otherwise; she put any future heirs that she may have conceived at risk. It may have been with this in mind that she did refrain from sex with other men during her marriage, but given her early relations, personally, although there is no clear evidence, I doubt it.

      I am currently reading a book that challenges the view that Katherine was guilty so watch this space: I may change my mind. I do not see Katherine as either an idiot or a silly girl: she was a woman, a foolish woman who made foolish errors of judgement and she was old enough by the standards of the day to know what she was doing. She was sexually active from about 15 or so, consenting to sex then, that is and the entire thing was hussed up. I do not think Dereham wanted a full man wife relationship with her either; his abandoning her to me shows that; but I do think he was hoping something may have happened; that she would respond to his coming to court. I also think he was mifted when he saw she had moved on to Culpepper. I believe Katherine fell in love with Culpepper; but that is no excuse for intending to have relations with him. Back stairs meetings, even in a palace or private home are not discreet in a world where the walls have ears.

      The women saw what was going on, I think that they were worried that something more than talk would happen if it continued. But what could they do? You asked a very good question as to why if they saw her having sex with Culpepper or Dereham or anyone else or suspected if, why did they not come forward. I believe two reasons: one; they had a good living at the court; why spoil things; they were having fun as well as having to work hard and were living a good life, a better opportunity than they would get otherwise; if no-one knew then may-be they could hide the truth; two: what if they were wrong? It was a crime. in the case of something that led to the death penalty, they could also die, to spread rumours about the Queen or the King to make false accusations. If the Queen was successful in denying it all and no evidence was found and the King accepted her innocence; the women could be punished. The punishment normally for false accusations or perjury was to suffer the same punishment that would be given to those guilty of the crime. In the case of treason; that was death; why risk death? Yes, in some cases were perjury was found; sometimes a lighter punishment happened; but not often. (The Windsor heretics is a good case; after 6 people had been arrested and three burnt for heresy it was found that the accusers had given false evidence and they were sentenced to suffer for perjury. The sentence was reduced and they did not die; but were either imprisoned, fined and beaten and had to do penance in public)

      The women did give some evidence that was used in the condemnation of the two men and Katherine after the fact; but only when they were questioned. and again they would have been afraid not to speak up. It was a world in which you seem to have been condemned if you did speak up and condemned if you did not. I would not have liked to have been in the royal service in such a capacity that it would be assumed that I would know everything that went on in private. The court was alive with rumour, accusation, jealousy, plots: it may have been the place to make a living, and for many it was successful, but you would have to be very careful indeed. I think I would rather be miles away; living as best I could, but with at least not having to keep an eye on either the King or the Queen.

      1. She just wanted to be nice and kind by appointing him not to mention the fact that they may have still been friends. I have often pondered this probability many a time. It is possible not improbable.

        1. Also I think that the relationship between Katheryn and Culpepper was that of a platonic one. One of words and wishful thinking! 🙂

    2. Yes. I agree. The Duchess did send Manox away (but he came to Lambeth) and boxed Dereham’s ears..I think.

  8. Henry was a stupid, vindictive old man. Even in medieval times an ugly, fat, smelly, puss-y old man such as he had become could not realistically seriously imagine that he could hold the affection of a beautiful, vibrant, passionate young woman, regardless of her intellect, or lack of it. He was vain and stupid about who and what he had become and I doubt that once she had caught his eye she would have had any real freedom to deny him what he wanted.

  9. He stole her life at least twice over; firstly by command of lust, not love (I doubt he ever knew what love was; he was a spoiled brat with a crown and absolute power. Real love doesn’t turn to hate so easily). Secondly, when she turned out to be who she was; a lovely young thing compelled to love someone who had become unlovable; he crushed her like a bug. He was a thief.

  10. I agree with everyone saying Katherine was used.Henry seemed to forget at times he was king and these women he picked for wives had to go along with it if they wanted to keep their positions, status and heads.I suppose he actually believed these women were just as in love with him as he was with them.
    I also find it interesting Culpepper had slept with Lady Rochford before he moved on to Kathrine.He really got around apparently.

  11. On the burying of culpepper and derem do you think theyre remains are in the grounds of st peter ad vinucla or elsewhere as I heard some of the men exicuted with Anne bolyn are in the grounds

    1. The men executed with Anne are within the grounds but as for the men executed with Katheryn they are someplace else. You make an interesting point! I would of thought the same but they are not!

  12. Mrs Fiennes, there is no evidence that Culpeper slept with Lady Rochford. That is a dramatic storyline in “The Tudors”.

    1. Well,we can never know for sure whether he slept with Lady Rochford or not.It would explain why she went on covering for Katherine after their affair had started.Maybe she wished to please Culpepper and win him away from the queen.

      1. Yes there is no evidence for this that this is what happened or what had went on. It was made up for the view of the audience and the television! To get people to watch it!

        1. Alot of what went on in tudor times is conjecture and there is no evidence for it.We can never know the whole truth because we weren’t there.Taking into account the possibilities of what COULD have have happened is a good thing in history discussions.Simply dismissing something because there is no evidence does not make interesting discussions.

        2. I think while we can discuss all the possibilities, we can only give credence to those things that evidence can back up, otherwise we could say anything we like and things would get rather out of hand.

    2. I was wondering where that came from! I’d never seen that, neither in the actual histories I’ve read or any of the historical fiction (she’s often portrayed as Kathryn’s pimp rather than rival lover) It does seem rather unlikely, all the more since it came from a TV show.

  13. Accepting that Katherine and Dereham had consensual sex means accepting the charges at face value. It is likely that witnesses lied, invented details, or struggled to remember events which had, after all, taken place between 3 and 5 years earlier. I don’t think we can for one minute think that these confessions provide an accurate window into what happened between 1536 and 1538.

    I also think Dereham’s behaviour while Katherine was queen suggests an aggressive suitor who wanted to manipulate the queen. He bragged openly of his hold over her. You can only feel sorry for Katherine. She wanted to get away from him, as she herself stated when she was appointed a maid of honour in 1539, but he kept following her and pressing her to appoint him her secretary.

    We need to remember that ALL of the four men involved with Katherine (except, perhaps, Manox) were noted womanisers. They were experienced and knew how to seduce women. As Warnicke states, Katherine’s behaviour was passive. She was not promiscuous and she did not seduce these men. They guided her into doing what they wanted. Even if women refused male advances, because of negative views about female sexuality it was believed that they were really consenting. Thus a woman could be raped because it was believed that she had really wanted it.

    So when Dereham, Manox and Culpeper claim Katherine “consented” to what happened, they were imposing their own understandings of female sexuality onto what had happened. No one bothered to ask Katherine herself if she had consented. Yet, when she claimed Dereham raped her, no one listened and every historian so far has said that she was lying. In view of what men believed about consent and female sexuality, I am inclined to agree with her.

    1. Just to add a little about attitudes: if a raped woman conceived, she was thought to have given ‘internal consent’ even though she had put up a fight against her abuser! Apparently, in order to conceive, the woman had to have enjoyed the sex act. How convenient for a violent abuser’s defence s that?

      Prof Retha Warnicke makes some very good observations. I don’t agree 100%, but she certainly makes you think.

    2. I agree with you Conor to a degree most wholeheartedly but I think that they had been suitors beforehand pretence her and Dereham and that nothing had been going on between them afterwards when she became Queen and he entered into her service but I can imagine when the past affair came to light the look that must of been on some of their faces making them wonder wether something was still going on or not but more than likely it was most probably because they had once been lovers and after all that she thought that she would be nice and kind by giving him a position at court! There is evidence that she was as with her asking of Wyatt’s release and not to mention the clothes that she wanted sending to the tower for Margaret pole just shows that she was nice and kind.

  14. IMO, Katherine Howard committed the same crime as Anne Boleyn: both women made Henry VIII look foolish. After all, with Catherine, Henry had just arranged for special prayers in her honor when he found out that she was not what he thought she was; IMO, even if Catherine did claim she was married to Dereham, both would have been executed. Anne also made Henry look foolish — he tears the country in two because he thought G-d would give him a son, and Anne just had a girl and a few miscarriages.

    Certainly, I think this illustrates the great weight that the Tudors put on class. Culpepper committed a greater crime than Dereham because Catherine was married when she met with Culpepper, but the king wasn’t interested in her at the time of the earlier dealings. Yet, he got the easier death because he was of higher birth. This puts a new light on the men accused with Anne Boleyn. Mark Smeaton (the lowest born of the five) had a very strong incentive to lie to secure for himself a less painful mode of death that the other four (more nobly born) didn’t have.

    1. I agree Katheryn like her pre desessor before her Anne Boleyn went through the same thing as well as went the same way how could she of known that the same thing would happen twice happen again just like Anne herself how could she of really of known but after Anne that should of told Katheryn something!

  15. I feel sorry for what these poor men had to go through if only we could turn back time! My prayers and thoughts are with them!

  16. I don’t think it is likely that such a confession would have saved her, as to have withheld this information from the king and gone through with a marriage whilst already knowingly married could have been construed as treason. So it would not have mattered if she was not legally married to Henry, because either way she was doomed. In any event, Catherine’s so called infidelity was most likely brought to the attention of the king by courtiers who had an interest in getting rid of her and replacing her their own candidate, so her days were already numbered and she like Anne Boleyn, did not have any powerful foreign family allies to call upon for help ton achieve justice. . I think her fate was sealed the day she married henry and as we know the only survivors were Anne of Cleaves, who accepted the opportunity to divorce Henry and Catherine Parr, who outlived him.

  17. what every one seems to be forgetting is that Katherine was just a little girl who had been brought up to accept men coming into her bed so didn’t see that she was doing any wrong, she was naïve and far too young to take the responsibility of being a queen. Yes I know in those days girls married earlier but to a man old enough to be grandfather and a big fat ugly brute at that – its little wonder she sought comfort in the arms of someone closer to her own age. Of all the queens, apart from Catherine of Aragon, she is the one I feel most sorry for simply because she knew no better.

  18. I think the girls Henry went after, prob. didnt have any choice to say no. And Henry liked the young girls. Anne’s family put her in there to get with him for advancement while her sister was giving birth to Henrys child. So hopefully, Henry would notice Anne before another girl got his attention.

  19. Hi, I’m reading this page because I recently found out Francis Dereham was the brother of an ancestor of mine. Something like an 11th great uncle. What strikes me here is that Catherine was obviously abused and sexualised by the music teacher. This often leads to early conceptual sexual relationships, as young people look for someone to turn to. Whatever else happened, either Catherine was preyed upon by Dereham (Uncle Francis) or they were merely young lovers in a house where Catherine was not protected, we can never know. The real life characters all seem to have become caught up in playing court politics, Uncle Frank, Lady Rockford, Agnes, her son the Duke of Norfolk – even Culpeper. And the rewards of winning could be great. Land, wealth, status was bestowed on you, if you played the game just right. The fight for the throne was brutal, and it was easy to lose your life. Henry emerged as cruel and ruthless. Getting close to him, or in his way, seems to a very dangerous thing, He was a narcissist with the power to destroy you.

    1. “What strikes me here is that Catherine was obviously abused and sexualised by the music teacher.” I don’t agree. There is no evidence at all that Manox abused Catherine. As Gareth Russell points out in his excellent biography of Catherine, Manox wasn’t an older man preying on a pupil, he would have been a similar age (5 years older at most) and during her music lessons Catherine was chaperoned AND there was another music teacher present at the lessons. The couple had secret assignations outside of their lessons, exchanged messages and gifts, and were caught kissing by the Dowager Duchess. Their relationship was common knowledge in the household and not one person reported Manox abusing Catherine.

      I don’t agree with the theory that Dereham also preyed on Catherine. Their sex-life was witnessed by others in the dormitory, one girl, who shared a bed with Catherine, got so sick of them having sex and disturbing her that she swapped beds with another girl. Again, nobody in the household saw anything worrying in Dereham’s treatment of Catherine.

      I think it’s good that we challenge the myths about Catherine and seek to rehabilitate her, but not at the expense of the men.

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