September 16 – Henry VIII enters York with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard

On this day in Tudor history, 16th September 1541, as part of their progress to the North, King Henry VIII and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, entered the city of York.

This progress had been planned to show the king’s authority to the North, and to give the people an opportunity to show their loyalty to their king and his consort, and to make up for rebelling against him.

How could they do that?

Well, money always works!

Find out more about this progress and how the king ended up being humiliated too…


On this day in Tudor history, 16th September 1541, King Henry VIII entered the city of York through Walmgate Bar, and was met by the city’s officials at Fulford Cross. The mayor and the aldermen of the city then begged forgiveness from the King for the North’s rebellion during the Pilgrimage of Grace, and gave the King and his wife, Queen Catherine Howard, a gold cup each full of gold coins.

This visit to York was part of Henry and Catherine’s royal progress to the North, a progress which Tim Thornton describes as the “most extravagant progress to occur in Henry’s reign.” Lacey Baldwin Smith writes, “Never before had the court migrated with such splendour or in such numbers,” and Nadine Lewycky writes that Henry and his Queen were accompanied by “an entourage of 4-5,000 horsemen.”

The couple had set off from London on 30th June 1541, but bad weather caused delays and they didn’t reach Lincoln until 9th August, moving on to Pontefract on 23rd August, then Caywood (the palace of the Archbishop of York), Wressle, Leconfield, Hull and finally York on 16th September. Chronicler Edward Hall records the offerings made to the King on the progress, saying that Stamford gave the king twenty pounds, Lincoln 40 pounds, Boston 50 pound, Lindsey 300 pounds, and Kestren and the Church of Lincoln gave 50 pounds. Hall goes on to say:
“And when he entered into Yorkshire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coats of Velvet, and four thousand tall yeomen, and serving men, well horsed: which on their knees made a submission, by the mouth of sir Robert Bowes, and gave to the King nine hundred pounds. And on Barnesdale met the king, the Archbishop of York, with three hundred Priests and more, and made a like submission, and gave the king six hundred pounds. Like submission was made by the Mayor of York, Newcastle and Hull, and each of them gave to the King a hundred pounds.”

Historians are divided over the main purpose of the progress, with some believing that it was to do with diplomacy towards Scotland and France, and others believing that it was more to do with the domestic situation after the Pilgrimage of Grace and the renewed threats of trouble in the North, such as the recent Wakefield Plot. Henry had arranged to meet his nephew James V of Scotland at York, but the Scottish King stood him up. St Mary’s Abbey, York, had been refurbished for the King’s meeting with James V and arrangements had been made for safe passage for James and his party. However, James never turned up. The French ambassador, Marillac, who went on the progress, reported this to Francis I on 12th October, writing that “The English were not pleased, considering the bruit of it and their preparations, and could not refrain from now and then showing their indignation, blaming the prelates of Scotland, whom they call the King’s tutors.” Chapuys reported to the Queen of Hungary on 9th October that Henry VIII “waited some time for the king of Scotland, but the cardinal of Scotland and others were averse to the interview”. The royal party stayed at York until 27th September.

Marillac also wrote of how the king met the people of the North::
“Those who in the rebellion remained faithful were ranked apart, and graciously welcomed by the King and praised for their fidelity. The others who were of the conspiracy, among whom appeared the archbishop of York, were a little further off on their knees; and one of them, speaking for all, made a long harangue confessing their treason in marching against their Sovereign and his Council, thanking him for pardoning so great an offence and begging that if any relics of indignation remained he would dismiss them.”

Henry VIII had humiliated the northern people, but he himself had been humiliated by the Scottish king.

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