Katheryn Howard: Part Four

Along the way I’ve discovered that Katheryn Howard had a more interesting life than I had expected – very similar to what happened when I researched Jane Seymour. Once you go back and learn about Katheryn’s childhood, and understand her relationship with men, it gives you a better idea of how she got herself into hot water later on. She was too young to be queen – her lack of education and her immaturity were what made her reckless. I fear that even if she had only been a lady-in-waiting at court that she would have eventually created drama. As we’ve discovered so far it seemed to be in her nature.

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Quick Recap

In Part Three of this series we ended with some of those closest to Katheryn Howard being interrogated. Things were not looking good. We hadn’t even started with Katheryn’s confessions, yet.

The dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk had returned to court to take part in private meetings regarding the investigation. Nobody at court realized it was all about the queen.

Her Crime Comes to Light

At this point in time Katheryn had no idea what was happening. She was confined to her rooms and she no longer got word on the activity at court. There was no more music and dancing as there always had been. She also realized it had been forever since she saw her brother Charles, who had been a staple at court, and even a secret love interest for the King’s niece, Margaret Douglas. Little did Katheryn know but her brother had been banished from court – without reason.

On the very day that King Henry wept after hearing the evidence against his wife, Katheryn had begun to understand what was happening around her. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, informed Katheryn that she was to meet with a delegation of men to discuss a topic that had been brought to their attention – her possible pre-contract with Francis Dereham. You may wonder what Katheryn’s reaction to this would have been, well, she was defiant, denied everything and refused to talk about it. The men left but it was Archbishop Cranmer who came back several times in the next 24 hours to get a confession out of Queen Katheryn.

Image of unknown woman once believed to be Katheryn Howard

A Queen’s Confession

Cranmer appears to have been a rather likeable guy. People seemed to trust him, maybe it was his comforting brown eyes that pulled one in and made them relaxed enough to tell their deepest secrets. But Cranmer had his work cut out for him with Katheryn – her mood swings were out of control, to the point of hysteria and Cranmer needed the right approach.

A quote by Cranmer to the King, “At my repair unto the Queen’s Grace, I found her in such lamentation and heaviness, as I never saw no creature, so that it would have pitied any man’s heart in the world, to have looked upon her.

The King’s pleasure was for Katheryn to be treated mercifully…as long as she spoke the truth. Those words calmed the Queen and left her telling Cranmer that she didn’t deserve the King’s kindness. Katheryn’s guilt over the King’s kindness was evident when she said, “Alas, my Lord, that I am alive, the fear of death grieved me not so much before, as doth know the remembrance of the King’s goodness, for when I remember how gracious and loving a Prince I had, I can not but sorrow; but this sudden mercy, and more than I could have looked for, showed unto me, so unworthy, at this time, maketh mine offenses to appear before mine eyes much more heinous than they did before; and the more that I consider the greatness of his mercy, the more I do sorrow in my heart, that I should so misorder myself against His Majesty.

In her second confession she was much less dramatic in delivery but still denied a pre-contract with Dereham. She admitted that he talked about marrying her but that she didn’t believe she had ever agreed to it, and never spoke of it.

When she spoke of the carnal knowledge between herself and Derham she didn’t come right out and say, yes, we slept together, many times. She beat around the bush, so to speak, and said that many times he laid with her, sometimes with his doublet and hose and a few times naked, but not so naked that he was completely naked…he may have had his hose pulled down. That seems pretty naked to me, but I believe she was trying to minimize what had happened between them.

Most things in Katheryn’s confessions sound like she was desperate not to look guilty. She also wasn’t afraid to throw everyone under the bus to save herself. She even changed her story – she now stated that Dereham took her against her will and that she was not a willing participant.

In the next letter that Katheryn wrote to the King she admitted her faults and looked for forgiveness, or maybe leniency. In the letter she says, “Now the whole truth being declared unto Your Majesty, I most humbly beseech you to consider the subtle persuasions of young men and the ignorance and frailness of young women. I was so desirous to be taken unto your Grace’s favor , and so blinded by desire of worldly glory that I could not, nor had grace to consider how great a fault it was to conceal my former faults from your Majesty, considering that I intended ever during my life to be faithful and true unto your Majesty ever after.” From this letter we can see that Katheryn was merely talking about her time as a ward in the dowager duchess’ home, nothing to do with Culpeper…yet.

She left her fate in the King’s hands.

Image of unknown woman once believed to be Katheryn Howard

The Queen’s normally noisy apartments were noisy no more. While she still had her staff on hand to assist her she was still favoring Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, above all others…after all, she knew all her secrets about Culpeper. Rochford promised “to be torn with wild horses” rather than betray the Queen. Unfortunately, Katheryn was not so loyal. When the opportunity presented itself she threw Rochford under the bus to make herself look like the victim.

A couple of days later there were discussions on when to remove the Queen’s staff from her service. Katheryn was ordered to be sent to Syon Abbey where she would’ve been given the respect and service required of a queen.

The Privy Council noted that “she shall have four gentlewomen and two chamberers at her choice, save that my lady Baynton shall be one, whose husband shall have the government of the whole house and be associated with the Almoner.” Katheryn’s half-sister, Isabel Leigh was Lady Bayton, and  would be there until the end. Some have suggested that Isabel and her husband may have sent reports of the Queen’s behavior back to the Privy Council, because Isabel was later granted land by Henry VIII, for unknown reasons. The gift is deemed suspicious because it was unusual for a family member of one under suspicion to receive gifts – Katheryn’s brother was merely sent away and banished from court – he received no land. The question remains, why would Isabel receive a gift when all others in her family were disgraced?

It wasn’t long before Francis Dereham was desperate to make himself look more innocent – in order to clear his name or receive a more lenient punishment, he told the men that Thomas Culpeper had succeeded him in the Queen’s affections. This statement opened a can of worms that I don’t believe any of the Council members expected. At this point, the Privy Council was only aware of her past aggressions, now they would learn what she had done since becoming queen.

A few days later the Queen was visited by Cranmer, Norfolk, Southampton, Sussex, Hertford, Lord Russell and five other men of the Privy Council who quizzed her on three late night meeting she allegedly had with Thomas Culpeper during the summer progress. Katheryn responded by placing all the blame on her loyal servant, Lady Rochford. She claimed that Rochford had instigated the entire thing and wouldn’t let it be.

Image of unknown woman once believed to be Katheryn Howard

Eventually the Queen did admit to late night meetings with Culpeper at Lincoln, Pontefract and York. That didn’t stop her from saying that she wished Rochford to more closely chaperone the meetings with Culpeper, at one point telling Rochford, “For God’s sake madam, even nearer us.

The walls were beginning to close in around Katheryn and her naughty doings…Jane Boleyn, Katherine Tilney and Margaret Morton were some of the most important women yet to be questioned.

What Happened at Lincoln

On the 13th of November Katherine Tilney was questioned whether the Queen went out of her chamber, late at night while at Lincoln, where she went, and who went with her. Tilney said that the Queen went two nights to Lady Rochford’s chamber, which was up a little pair of stairs by the Queen’s chamber. She explained that she and Margaret Morton went with the Queen to Rochford’s chamber, but were sent back. Margaret went up again soon afterward while Tilney went to bed. When Margaret came to bed, about 2 o’clock, Tilney said, “Jesus, is not the Queen abed yet?” She replied, “Yes, even now.

The second night the Queen sent the rest to bed and took Tilney with her to Rochford’s chamber. Tilney was not allowed inside the room but sat in a little place with Lady Rochford’s woman and stated she could not tell who came into Lady Rochford’s chamber.

Tilney also explained how she had been sent with strange messages to Lady Rochford that she knew not “how to utter them.” She also said that at recently at Hampton Court  “she bade her go to the Lady Rochford and ask her when she should have the thing she promised her;” and she answered that she would bring word herself the following day.

The story was beginning to unfold for those involved in the investigation. They were beginning to get a glimpse into what was happening when nobody was paying attention.

On the same day that Tilney was questioned, so was Margaret Morton. Morton said that she never mistrusted Katheryn until she saw the glance the Queen gave Culpeper while at Hatfield. She claimed that the look was one that she believed there was love between the two of them.

While on the summer progress, the Queen’s behavior had become more and more suspicious to the ladies that served her. It wasn’t just notes without seals and glances at young men and cryptic messages, but also the fact that she had begun to lock her bedchamber to everyone but Rochford.

Lady Rochford, when examined said she had not heard or seen anything from the other end of the room when she chaperoned the Queen and Culpeper.  She did, however, mention that night at Lincoln that she and the Queen were at the back door waiting for Culpeper, at 11 p.m., when one of the watchmen came with a light and locked the door. Shortly after Culpeper came in, saying he and his man had picked the lock. Rochford eventually said that she thought Culpeper had known the Queen carnally during the progress.

Thomas Culpeper

When Thomas Culpeper was eventually interviewed he recalled both the Queen and Lady Rochford as equal partners in the crime. He claimed that he understood the late night meetings they had would not appear with the purest intent, but that he had not committed treason – he had not slept with the Queen, however, he did say that he intended and meant to do ill with her and that likewise the Queen was so minded with him.

Now, you may ask, why it was considered treason to sleep with the Queen – well, the easiest answer is that it would throw a wrench in the Act of Succession. If she became pregnant there would be no way to know if the child was the King’s, or her lovers. What Culpeper admitted to was misprision of treason – he intended to commit the act but had yet to follow through. After hearing Culpeper speak, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford said, “That is already too much” and Thomas was sent to the Tower and his house was inventoried – a good sign that he would not be leaving the Tower other than his execution.

Lady Rochford

Now, back to Lady Rochford – Rochford’s story had changed too many times for the men to know the entire truth, but when compared with the testimonies of the Queen and Culpeper they felt they had enough evidence to arrest and later convict of treason.

After being placed in the Tower of London, Lady Rochford had a mental breakdown. No wonder, this was the place that those closest to her went to die. Her husband, her sister-in-law and many others she knew from court. After her mental break, Rochford was removed from her cell and placed in the care of Anne, Lady Russell at Russell house – a beautiful mansion located on the Strand. This was done because executing the insane was illegal at the time.

A Secret to Be Kept

This time at court, and in England for that matter, was a very delicate time. The council members had to keep as much secret as possible as to not embarrass England in the eyes of the governments abroad. If one of the ambassadors heard whispers of the Queen’s infidelity it would reflect poorly on King Henry as a man.

Loss of Her Title

Eventually, on the 22nd (some say the 23rd) of November a proclamation was made from Hampton Court that declared Katheryn stripped of her royal title as Queen – henceforth she would only be referred to as Katheryn Howard.

Culpeper and Dereham

Her counterparts, Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham entered their trial at the great Hall of Guildhall on the 1st of December 1541. Both men pleaded not guilty.

During the trial Katheryn’s deposition was read aloud. The confession that was chosen was the one where she stated she was coerced by Dereham and that she did not have a physical relationship with Culpeper.

Culpeper claimed that he did not have a physical relationship with Katheryn but that he intended and meant to do ill with her. Those words were enough to condemn him.

After the jury deliberation they returned and stated that there was “sufficient and probable” evidence against the pair to warrant death. They were sentenced of treason and would be hanged, drawn and quartered because of their low status. In the end, Culpeper was guilty of planning to sleep with the Queen while Dereham was guilty of joining the Queen’s household in hope of knowing her carnally once again, and for withholding the Queen’s treasonous conduct from the authorities prior to her marriage to the King.

In the meantime, while Katheryn awaited her trial, fourteen people she knew were charged with misprision of treason and sent to the Tower. They were: Agnes Tilney, dowager duchess of Norfolk, Countess of Bridgewater, Lord William Howard (and his wife), Katherine Tilney, Alice Restwold, Joan Bulmer, William Ashby, Anne Howard, Margaret Benet, Lady Malyn Tilney, Edward Waldegrave and Mary Hall, formerly Lascelles – the person who opened pandora’s box.

For Culpeper, the sentence of being hanged, drawn and quartered had been commuted to beheading, whereas Dereham was not so lucky. Both men’s executions were carried out at the Tyburn gallows on the 10th of December.

Portrait most likely to be Katheryn Howard, but unlabeled.

Wriothesley writes in his chronicle that, “Culpeper and Dereham were drawn from the Tower of London to Tyburn, and there Culpeper, after 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. Culpeper’s body was buried at St. Pulchers Church by Newgate, their heads set on London Bridge.”

The End of Katheryn’s Days

At some point after Christmas…after the King’s divorce from Katheryn was finalized, word came down from the Commons that Katheryn Howard and Jane Boleyn would be sent to the Tower.

When Katheryn was informed that she would have a trial she politely declined the offer. She confessed that she was sinful and deserved death.

On the 10th of February, a barge arrived at Syon Abbey to bring Katheryn to the Tower, as was expected. Also in the Tower was her partner in crime, Lady Rochford, who appeared to have regained her sanity.

The night before her execution, Katheryn Howard made her final confession to a clergyman by the name of John White. She “took God and His angels to be her witnesses, upon salvation of her soul, that she was guiltless of that act of defiling the sovereign’s bed”. Afterward she requested the block be brought to her room – you see, Katheryn had heard the stories of Cromwell’s botched execution as well as Lady Salisbury’s – she wished to make sure she did everything right so her execution was swift. That night she practiced over and over again.

On the chilly morning of the 13th of February 1542, Katheryn was escorted to a scaffold that was on the same site as her cousin, Anne Boleyn’s in May 1536. She did not receive the private execution she had requested, but it was held within the Tower walls to reduce the number of spectators.

Katheryn’s final words were not fully recorded, however, a London merchant by the name of Ottwell Johnson, reported aftewards that she died well. What IS known is that she spoke of Christ’s redemption to all who believed and urged the onlookers to learn from her mistakes. There was no talk of love, nor did she admit to being an adulterer. Her death was swift – one swing of the axe and it was all over.

Unknown woman, formerly believed to be Katheryn Howard

Author Gareth Russell debunks Katheryn’s final words, “I die a Queen, but I would rather die the wife of Culpeper” by pointing out that it came from a fictitious account that also claimed she was interrogated by the dead Thomas Cromwell.

Chapuys wrote in a letter that “the King has wonderfully felt the case of the Queen, his wife, and that he has shown greater sorrow and regret at her loss than at the faults, loss, or divorce of his preceding wives. In fact, I should say that this King’s case resembles very much that of the woman who cried more bitterly at the loss of her tenth husband than she had cried at the death of the other nine put together, though all of them had been equally worthy people and good husbands to her: the reason being that she had never buried one of them without being sure of the next, but that after the tenth husband she had no other one in view, hence her sorrow and her lamentations. Such is the case with the King, who, however, up to the is day does not seem to have any plan or female friend to fall back upon.”

From very humble beginnings as the daughter of the not so successful Edmund Howard to her end as Queen of England. Katheryn’s life is told like a children’s story – teaching the reader to learn from the mistakes of others. As I’ve said before, Katheryn Howard was too young and too immature to be thrust into a life she was ill-prepared for.

Thank you so much for joining me in this four-part series on Katheryn Howard. I’m hoping this helped to open your eyes to who Katheryn was as a person and help you understand her a little better. Throughout this series I’ve referenced Gareth Russell, several times – this is because I have only recently read his book from 2016 called “Young and Damned and Fair” about the life of Katheryn Howard. This book was a real eye opener for me. His research on her was so thorough that I was able to come to my own conclusion on who I believe she was. Other books out there tend to push their viewpoint on Katheryn, while I’d rather decide for myself. Wouldn’t you?


Hall, Edward; Hall’s Chronicle

Wriothesley’s Chronicle: A chronicle of England during the reigns of Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume 1; page 132

Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair (2016)

Further Reading:

Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair (2016)

Loades, David; Catherine Howard – The adulterous wife of Henry VIII (2012)

Byrne, Conor; Katherine Howard – A New History

Want to read up on Katheryn Howard? Here are some options at your disposal:


Katheryn Howard: Part Two

In Part One of this series, we ended with Katheryn Howard…married, and Thomas Cromwell…executed. If you missed it, I’d recommend going back and reading or listening to it – this series is the life story of Katheryn, to grasp her as a person you’ll need to hear her whole story.

Read Part One – Click Here

After weeks of reading and researching Katheryn Howard I’ve come to my own conclusion on who she was as a person. Often we hear her called naive, or abused, but I’ve come to my own conclusion – Katheryn was merely immature and reckless. She made many mistakes in her life, ones, that if she had the maturity to think through would not have been committed.

As a queen of England Katheryn is mostly remembered as the fifth wife of Henry VIII who was his second to be executed. If it wasn’t for her scandalous downfall, and said execution, we would not have as much interest in Katheryn as we do today.

In an alternative history setting one can imagine Katheryn as the last wife of Henry VIII – she had inevitably given birth to a prince or princess, because let’s be serious…if she didn’t, then her ending would be the same. It’s also possible that she, like Jane Seymour could have died of childbed fever. All these options are possibilities.

But we know Katheryn’s sad ending. For me she will forever be, the young Howard girl who was reckless and immature and loved too quickly.

The Recap

King Henry VIII and Katheryn Howard married at Oatlands Palace on the 28th of July 1540. Oatlands Palance was one of the King’s favorite hunting spots.

Leading up to the royal affair, Katheryn did not see much of her future husband. Henry remained in London for most of July 1540 on business matters which also included ending his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.

The guest list for the ceremony was small, even smaller than that of the King’s previous wedding to the Lady of Cleves. Because of the setting of these nuptials as well as the smaller guest list, there were rumors that the Queen was already with child on their wedding day. This appears to have been only a rumor.

If her wedding night with Henry was the first time the couple slept together, Katheryn would have been greeted by a giant of a man who was thicker in the waist than he had been when he married her cousin, Anne Boleyn. The ulcer on his leg emitted an awful odor, which only became worse over time. Katheryn would have to overlook all the King’s imperfections and perform her wifely duty. Her number one job at that time was to consummate the marriage and birth a prince.

The couple couldn’t have looked more ridiculous standing next to one another. Katheryn has been described as petite, while Henry was a beast of a man.

As we have briefly skimmed over the wedding night of the King and Katheryn, there is one part of this story that we need to discuss. There are still those who believe Henry VIII had syphilis. This is untrue. Author, Gareth Russell in his book about Katheryn Howard, states the story originated in 1888 but was revived again in 1958 when a Danish historian wrote “The Medical Problems of Henry VIII”. The historian’s name was Ove Brinch and he argued that portraits of Henry show a ridge in his nose that is consistent with syphilitic gumma. There are no indications (in the medical records that survive) that Henry was ever treated with mercury, this was the most common treatment for syphilis. So…let’s just drop that tall tale and move on.

After their honeymoon was over, Henry and Katheryn began their journey back to London. It is highly likely that they made a stop along the way at Nonsuch Palace. Nonsuch was still under construction at the time and wouldn’t be finished for five more years. This palace was one of the King’s favorite hunting lodges and would have been a great stop on their way back to London.

While the royal couple and court were traveling around the countryside the plague was running rampant throughout England.It is believed the great drought and heat from that year caused the pestilence to grow and spread. This would have been another reason the court would move around so much. They were go where the plague was not.

The Queen’s Household

It wasn’t until the 8th of August that a formal announcement was made about the King’s wedding. This announcement was made at Hampton Court Palace – it wasn’t very long after that friends from the Queen’s past were looking for a job in her household. The first friend who appears to have reached out was Joan Bulmer. Joan was not enjoying married life and begged the new queen to safe her from her misery by giving her a prestigious position at court.

Katheryn appears to have been coerced into to doing so, but she gave Joan a position as one of her Chamberers…this has been confirmed by Kate Emerson’s list of ladies in the household. A Chamberer performed more menial tasks such as arranging bedding and cleaning the queen’s private chambers.

There were many others from Katheryn’s past who were able to obtain positions within her household. There was another woman by the name of Katherine Tilney who was also appointed as a chamberer. As well as a servant from the household of the dowager duchess, Alice Wilkes – she also held the same position. These women were all aware of Katheryn’s past and that she would want to keep it secret from the King and the court. It’s probable that these ladies were offered jobs as a way to keep them quiet – that they were asked to fill the position instead of petitioning for a spot.

Katherine Tilney was especially dangerous because she shared a bed with Katheryn at Chesworth. Tilney was present one evening when Katheryn and Francis Dereham were being intimate.

The dowager duchess of Norfolk, and William Howard (along with his wife) were all too keen at this point to keep Katheryn’s past hidden. By the time they all realized the King’s plans for Katheryn it was too late to come clean. They would all be ruined and the Howard named tarnished once again. Little did they know what would lie ahead of them.

The household of the Queen also included family members – her grandmother, the dowager duchess of Norfolk was a Great Lady of the Household, while her half-sister, Isabel Leigh, Lady Baynton was a Lady of the Privy Chamber, and her other half-sister Margaret Howard, Lady Arundell who was a Gentlewoman Attendant.

Katheryn ended up having thirty-four women in her household in all. There were six great ladies, four ladies and four gentlewomen of the Queen’s privy chamber. There were also nine ladies of exalted rank, five maids of honor and as always, a mother of the maids.²

These thirty-four women who served the Queen were: Lady Margaret Douglas (King’s niece), Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond and Somerstet (King’s ex-daughter in law), Lady Margaret Howard (her aunt), Katherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, Mary Radcliff, Countess of Sussex and here’s a surprise – the King’s former mistress and mother of Henry Fitzroy, Elizabeth Blount, now Lady Clinton.

Katheryn’s privy chamber included: Her half sister, Isabel, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Katherine, Lady Edgecombe, Eleanor Paston, Lady Rutland, Anne Parr, Lady Herbert who was entrusted with the queen’s jewels, Elizabeth Tyrwhitt, Joyce Lee and Susanna Gilmyn.

It wasn’t only women from Katheryn’s past that were looking for positions within her household, but also her ex-lover, Francis Dereham. We’ll have more on that later on.

Life as Queen

The curfew in place for the staff of the Queen was nine o’clock. If there was anything Katheryn needed in the middle of the night she would have a lady in waiting who slept nearby to attend her when needed.

As soon as the 29th of August, merely a month into their wedding, that the Privy Council noted a man had been imprisoned for having “words about the Queen”. As I dug deeper to discover who that man was I came across a statement in the Annals of Windsor (since Windsor was mentioned in the Letters and Papers) that declared the privy council was held at Grafton on the 29th of August. That the Lord Privy Seal received letters which stated the dean of Windsor was the man who spoke out against the queen – he was discharged by the keeper of Windsor and sent to prison for speaking unfitting words of the queen’s grace. We don’t know what happened to him, but we do know that Henry VIII’s pleasure was to keep him imprisoned for his further punishment.

Katheryn was slowly working her way into the official role as queen in her first few months of marriage. This would be a whole new reality for the girl who spent time as a ward in her grandmother’s household. After their initial stop at Hampton Court Palace to announce Katheryn as Henry VIII’s fifth wife Katheryn stayed away from London through most of the fall of 1540. During that time the newlyweds traveled from one household to another before returning to Windsor Castle on the 20th of October.

It was during their trip around the countryside that Katheryn chose her motto to be “No other will but his”.

In books and pop culture, Katheryn has been known as Henry’s “Rose without a Thorn”, or “The dazzling rose without a thorn”.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve repeated that nickname – actually wrote it in an article or made it a headline at least one time. I need to go back and edit that!

The phrase was actually referring to Henry himself and the Tudor rose. Here is a quote by Gareth Russell in Young and Damned and Fair: “The Tudor rose was the flower without a thorn, a royal succession that would inflict no more wounds on the nation.”There are no contemporary reports of the Queen being called by this nickname. There was, however, a coin made in 1526 that used the phrase…again, in reference to King Henry and the dynasty.

As queen, Katheryn had no clear agenda, whether religious or political. It appears that at the beginning of her reign she had restraint and self-preservation in mind at all times. She did, however, wish to shower favor on her servants. We can look no further than the letter she received from Archbishop Lee on the 7th of December 1540. This letter informed her that the request for her chaplain to fill the position of Archdeacon of York was declined – Lee only took orders from the King on this matter.

The Lady Mary

It’s well known that the Lady Mary was not a big fan of her new stepmother. Katheryn was disgusted by the fact that Mary would not treat her with the respect due and threatened to take away two of her maids as punishment. This shows part of Katheryn’s Howard personality.

On the 5th of December 1540, Chapuys wrote a letter to the queen of Hungary where he mentions the Queen’s behavior toward the Lady Mary:

He informed that queen of Hungary that he told Lady Mary about the Queen of England’s threat to take away two of her ladies. That it was the princess’s fault because she treated the Queen without the respect that was due.

Somehow Lady Mary figured out a way to appease the Queen for awhile. The royal ladies got along for about two months before Katheryn had to make good on her threat against Mary. Two of Mary’s ladies were removed from her household – her punishment for not showing the Queen the respect that she had to her predecessors.

Sadly, one of Mary’s ladies who had been removed, died not long after from apparent grief. Mary’s ladies were very attached to her, evidently.

From the Past

It was while the royal couple were at Windsor Castle that Francis Dereham arrived in London from his time away in Ireland. If you recall, from Part One, Dereham still believed he and Katheryn would marry upon his return. Imagine his surprise when he found out she was married to another man. The King of England, of all people too.

When a servant of the Howard household heard of Dereham’s return, they told Margaret Howard,(Katheryn’s aunt) that “If I were Dereham I would never tell to die for it”. It was all too obvious that if Dereham wished to live, he would need to stay quiet. With that in mind that Dereham was impulsive and possessive, so his silence would need to be obtained, for all their sakes.

Francis was smart…or dumb, depending on how you look at it. He knew that Katheryn would want to keep their past a secret and so he requested a job in her household. He most likely approached his former employer, Agnes Tilney, dowager duchess of Norfolk to obtain a post. Tilney then approached the Queen about it the matter.

There were only a handful of people included in the decision to bring Dereham onboard – Katheryn herself, the dowager duchess, the Countess of Bridgewater, William Howard and his wife Margaret Howard. Whatever they decided would inevitably affect them all, one way or another.

From the moment Francis Dereham showed up in London it caused great anxiety in the Queen, and those near here who were familiar with their past.

As part of their plan, William Howard brought Dereham with him to court sometime before Halloween 1540. This would be the perfect opportunity to have what would look like a spontaneous meeting with her uncle and his male companion, but really it had all been planned.

Katheryn is quoted as saying, “My lady of Norfolk hath desired me to be good unto him, and so I will.”²

Unlike it is often portrayed, Francis Dereham was not made the Queen’s private secretary. The position of the Queen’s Private Secretary was held by a man called Thomas Derby – followed by a man named John Huttoft. Huttoft served the Queen until she lost her title.

It seems that the group was not certain what role would best fit Dereham’s situation. They knew better than to grant him a position with great power because that would look very suspicious. What he was given is not clear, but whatever it was kept him close enough to be watched but not so close to be deemed suspicious.

The Privy council noted that the King and Queen left Windsor on the 23rd of November for Woking Palace. This was another of Henry’s favorite hunting spots. The location was small so the royal couple only brought with them a small retinue. This trip was needed for the aging King and he was quoted as saying that “he feels much better than when he resided all winter at his houses at the gates of this town (London).”¹

The couple’s next stop, merely two weeks after they arrived at Woking, was Oatlands Palace – the place they were married roughly five months earlier. They stayed at Oatlands for eleven days while continuing their hunting and hawking.

At this point in time, Henry VIII and Katheryn Howard were married merely five months. Katheryn had already had bad words spoken of her by the dean of Windsor, dismissed two of Lady Mary’s attendants and was left worrying about whether or not the people from her past would speak of it.

Defining Her Role

On the 18th of December, Queen Katheryn arrived back at Hampton Court Palace and was ready to completely embrace her position as Queen.

It was three days later that she met ambassador Chapuys for the first time. Chapuys would undoubtedly report what he saw and experienced to his master, Charles V.  He stated that the queen was most magnificently dressed – and was decorated with jewels. Other than that he didn’t have much to say. Some have declared that this means Katheryn was more attractive than Jane Seymour because Chapuys had much more to say about Jane’s appearance.

There is no doubt that Henry lavished gifts on his new bride. Being the Queen of England and having a husband who would give you the world left Katheryn Howard very fortunate during the Christmas season. It was reported that she received a pearl necklace with 200 pearls, a necklace with six large diamonds and five rubies as well as pearls and more diamonds to accent – these were among the most awesome gifts received. She also received a black velvet muff which would keep her delicate hands warm in the cold winter months. The list of gifts went on and on. It must have been an amazing time for Katheryn.

On the 31st of January 1541, it was noted in Letters and Papers that the King gave Katheryn, a plethora of lordships and manors as well as castles and a couple of forests and parks. The list of items received is quite unbelievable. Katheryn was now a very wealthy woman.

A couple of months later, we get a hint at the generosity of the young Queen, when on the 1st of March 1541, it shows up in the council notes about the Countess of Salisbury: A letter sent to the Queen’s tailor to make “a night gown furred¹ (actually two²), a kirtle of worsted¹ (or woollen kirtle²) and a petticoat furred and four other items¹. (a bonnet, four pair of shoes, four pair of hose and a pair of slippers²).” Margaret Pole had made complaints about the cold at the Tower – now, this would give her what’s due to someone with her rank.

The King’s tailor also received a letter and was informed to make a large gown of damask furred with black ‘cony’ as well as nine other items for his relative, Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle who was also in the Tower of London at the time.¹ Now, scholars have said that this made Katheryn the generous party, however, after reading the excerpt it makes me wonder if it was all Henry’s idea after all – that Katheryn only suggested he do the same for Margaret Pole as he would for his half-uncle, Lord Lisle. It is quite possible that Katheryn was attempting to make a  mark in her role as queen by finding causes that were worthy to her.

In January 1541, Sir Thomas Wyatt was arrested and sent to the Tower of London on suspicion of treason, and on the following day Sir John Wallop was arrested. Katheryn’s role in their freedom has been noted by history, because, three months later (in March), while the royal couple were staying at Greenwich, Henry VIII announced his intentions to free both Wyatt and Wallop – he said he couldn’t refuse his queen’s request.

On the 26th of that month there was also a note from the Council to William Howard that mentions the King’s pardon. William Howard had been named Wallop’s successor as ambassador to France, and so he was kept in the loop. “A great intercession was made for him (Wallop) and Wyatt by the Queen, the King has pardoned him and holds him in no less estimation than ever. Wyatt acted in the same way, and at the great suit of the Queen, the King pardoned him.Their pardons have been delivered and they sent for hither to Dover to the King.”¹

Ambassador Chapuys wrote a letter to Charles V the following day that discussed Henry and Katheryn’s reason for being at Greenwich stated – it was the Queen’s first entrance into London. He stated:  “It was the first time since her marriage that she had passed through London by the Thames, the people gave her a splendid reception, and the Tower guns saluted her.”¹

In his letter to Charles V, Chapuys also mentioned the fate of Wyatt and Wallop: ‘From this triumphal march she took occasion to ask the release of Wyatt, which the King granted, though on hard conditions, that he should confess his guilt; and that he should take back his wife from whom he had been separated upwards of 15 years, on pain of death if he be untrue to her henceforth. On the same day full pardon and release was given to Mr. Wallop, who, since his return to England, had been detained a prisoner in the house of my lord Privy Seal.”¹

Soon rumors were abundant that the Queen was with child – ambassador Marillac, the French ambassador, wrote that “this Queen is thought to be with child, which would be a very great joy to this King, who, it seems, believes it, and intends, if it be found true, to have her crowned at Whitsuntide. Already all the embroiderers that can be got are employed making furniture and tapestry, the copes and ornaments taken from the churches not being spared. Moreover, the young lords and gentlemen of this Court are practising daily for the jousts and tournaments to be then made.”¹

By Easter that year, some of the ladies of the Queen’s household had begun to notice the preferential treatment Lady Rochford received. As with any setting that contains a bunch of women, jealousy began to set it. This decision on the part of Katheryn Howard may not have been the moment that she made a fatal mistake but it definitely did not help her cause.

Continue on with more of Katheryn’s story in Part Three !


¹‘Henry VIII: December 1540, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, ed. James Gairdner and R H Brodie (London, 1898). British History Online

²Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair (2016)

Further Reading:

Russell, Gareth; Young and Damned and Fair – The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of Henry VIII (2016)
Loades, David; The 6 Wives of Henry VIII (2014)
Licence, Amy; The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII (2014)
Fraser, Antonia; The Wives of Henry VIII  (1994)
Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991)
Byrne, Conor; Katherine Howard: A New History (2014)
Kizewski, Holly K.; Jewel of Womanhood: A Feminist Reinterpretation of Queen Katheryn Howard (Thesis 7/30/14 – University of Nebraska – Lincoln)

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