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For this reason, a woman who was raped and subsequently became pregnant was unlikely to be viewed sympathetically by others. The 16th-century church required that both parties freely and voluntarily consent to their marriage. Undoubtedly she had a pre-marital sexual past, but from her perspective it was not necessarily one that she had consented to or welcomed.

Once placed in the household of Anne of Cleves, Catherine speedily attracted the attention of the amorous king and they married on 28 July , when he was 49 and she was probably 16 or Culpeper had an undesirable reputation as a rapist and possible murderer, although it is uncertain whether allegations of his criminal past related to himself or to his older brother — confusingly also named Thomas — or whether these allegations were invented.

It is difficult to characterise their meetings with each other, but very little evidence supports the popular assumption that theirs was a passionate love affair, as depicted in the television series The Tudors. Previously, she had insisted that Lady Rochford chaperone the meetings by standing close by. An ambitious and apparently unscrupulous courtier, he may well have pressured the queen to grant him favours and attention in reward for maintaining silence about her affair with Dereham. Clearly, it remained uncertain in the immediate decades after her death whether Catherine actually was guilty of adultery.

It is time for the still-widespread perception of Catherine as an adulteress to be challenged. No convincing evidence proves without a doubt that she had a sexual relationship with Culpeper, and indeed, much of the evidence cited to prove her love for him does not indicate that she was infatuated or romantically involved with him. With the benefit of hindsight, she should have confessed her pre-marital past to Henry VIII, for she was later condemned for concealing it from him on the advice of her family.

The ambitious Culpeper may well have learned of this dubious past and used it to obtain favour from the insecure queen, who was ultimately unable to silence those who knew of her past. Did Catherine Howard commit adultery? April 5, at am. William Dalrymple on the East India Company. Was William the Conqueror a war criminal? She was taught how to run a great household and music and could read and write. She may not have been a bookworm, but few women of noble families were.

Noble families collected books and Katherine as Queen had at least four dedicated to her, but books were still expensive, in spite of printing. The Dowager Duchess was wealthy and had a great household to run and several young women and gentlemen. Officially there were rules on modesty and discipline, but here supervision fell short. It is obvious that those supervisors in charge at night neglected their duty as the key to the dormitory was easy to steal and sneak in gentlemen.

There were young men in the household and people employed by the Duchess to add to the young ladies education. No young woman of a decent family, especially a royal or noble or gentlewoman could expect to be any use as a wife without some form of education. We cannot project modern ideas of education onto sixteenth century women. Anne Boleyn was not a typical woman of her day and even she had to conform to male control, something she resisted as Queen.

Katherine had to learn statecraft, decorum, household maintenance and control, music, needlework, a basic knowledge of herbs, to run her kitchen, staff, everything required to keep a large house clean, read and write, basic accounts, everything she would need to run and control a complex household. Jane Seymour would have received a similar education but within the context of her own home and she certainly would not have been suitable to serve two Queens for a number of years shut up at Wolfe Hall not doing anything. She is another lady who is maligned as dim and uneducated without any evidence being offered by those commentators.

Sadly for Katherine, her reputation has suffered more because she has been caught up in scandal. Due to a lack of vigilance she was firstly at a young age pressured into inappropriate behaviour by her music teacher at the age of 12 to 14 which we would view as abuse. The Duchess did also dismiss him. Both Katherine and Mannox were disciplined but Mannox was a nuisance. Later she had a consensual relationship with a gentleman called Francis Dereham who was well known to the household. Several young ladies invited gentlemen to their dorm and they enjoyed parties and romps of an evening.

Here the staff were negligent.

Katherine Howard became a lady at court when she was about sixteen to Anne of Cleves, which is further proof that she had received at least a basic education. She would have been finished here at court, so she knew how to behave at court. There is further proof that she knew how to behave because she is described as playing her part as a great lady by David Starkey and sources described her as having grace. In public at least there was no sign of the spoilt brat in the Tudors. In Lincoln and York she was praised for her charm and beauty and her carriage of herself.

Katherine has a mixed reputation as Queen. On the one hand there is Katherine the fun loving, dress loving, dancing party girl and yes, she loved pretty dresses and which teen is not going to enjoy being spoilt rotten by the King, who lavished her with fine things. Part of this was expected anyway as Queen of a glittering Court. On the other hand we have Katherine the flirt whose immoral behaviour led to her tragic death in the Tower, aged little more than 19 at most.

Katherine also had a difficult relationship with Mary, who saw her as not being worthy of her father. Mary was also fond of Anne of Cleves and she saw Katherine as a usurper.

Catherine Howard

Katherine Howard was also an insecure Queen, because of rumours that Henry was seeing Anne of Cleves and would renounce her. This shows a very sensitive and vulnerable young woman with genuine anxieties. She was not cut out for the private demands of a Queen, being separated from Henry for periods of time and her insecurities show here as well. She was often angry with her ladies and could be spiteful, sharp and controlling.

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She could also be generous, as evidenced by her making clothing for Margaret Pole and I know Gareth Russell dismissed this as being made on the orders of Henry as a duty to provide prisoners with clothes, but she sowed these herself. She gave gifts away and she helped some of her friends. She was also good at her role as intercession and generally was probably a very decent Queen.

She could have been married to a gentleman or noble anyway in or and her time at court could be seen as a coming out and a chance to be seen by eligible families.

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He offered her power and prestige and the chance to finally shake that past. She could have become the mother of a much needed Duke of York and no matter what Henry looked like, he could still charm and still woo and he treated Katherine with respect. The investigation which followed dug up Francis Dereham who had followed her to court, but whose role is ambiguous. Katherine claimed he raped her, but he claimed they were promised to each other.

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  4. There appears to be no or little evidence to support the long repeated idea that he had renewed his relationship with Katherine Howard as Queen, although Karen Lindsey argues that Katherine did have sex with both him and Thomas Culpepper as she enjoyed sex and he had followed her in order to claim Katherine as his wife. Francis Dereham was closely questioned but may not have been tortured as he put Thomas Culpepper into the frame.

    Now Culpepper did have a brief relationship with Katherine before she married Henry and she was pleased to renew this as a friendship afterwards. Henry had a bout of depression in March and shut the over active Katherine out of his bedroom. It is clear that she became bored and used the opportunity of his visits on errands by the King to renew their time together. It has been said she only continued to see him in an intimate sense because he bribed her.

    However, she gave him gifts and wrote to him to come when her trusted senior lady, Lady Jane Rochford was about.


    There is contradictory evidence as to who was in control of her liaisons while on progress, with the finger being pointed at Lady Rochford, but Katherine could be hard to please and her household state that both she and Lady Rochford used them to find and plan ways to bring Culpepper to her. Katherine is often shown as hysterical when giving her testimony to Cranmer and in the Six Wives, she is deleterious and mad. There is some truth in this as she was very upset and terrified when he came to question her, but probably not to the extent of madness.

    In fact it was Lady Rochford who went mad. Katherine did weep a lot and was in a terrible and probably hysterical state and it took a lot of time and assurance to get her to talk.

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    She spent her time over the next months between illness, comfort eating, being carefree and bouts of tears. Told she would die she became very frightened and had to be man handled into her barge to go to the Tower. What we have to understand is Katherine was at first promised mercy and then a tearful Henry, having now discovered her presumption of adultery and treason, threatened to kill her himself. Katherine also has to be seen in a world where women were meant to be virtuous maidens and virginal wives and very modest. Katherine was charged with having led a debauched life.

    This has given life to her presumed reputation. Katherine is wrongly seen as having numerous lovers, were the figure, if we say she is guilty is more like two men before marriage and two, including her husband afterwards. One of these abused her in a modern, but not historic sense and was certainly inappropriate with a very young girl, who was just about old enough to be considered for marriage.

    Catherine Howard | Biography & Facts |

    One she was promised or married to under canon law and claimed her after her bigamy with the King in his eyes. The other she fell in love or lust with and finally of course she slept with her husband the King. Even if guilty of adultery, this is hardly the activity of a sexual and overly pampered bimbo. Again, hardly worthy of the whorish reputation of novels and Hollywood. Not even Anne Boleyn, who was accused of sleeping with half of the English and French courts and adultery with five men and incest with one of them, has now that same reputation. Katherine was not even tried.

    11 facts about Catherine Howard

    She was declared guilty by an Act of Parliament in which the allegations are laid out called an Act of Attainder. Hi Gareth — what fascinating images, Parthenope and Iphigenia: one a siren and the other a princess blood sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. Are you saying that we have these differing reputations to sculpt our impression of the young queen and that we need to look beyond and find the more rounded person behind them?

    So I tend to agree with you — if that is what you mean. Great article, Gareth! Though you only touched on Cavendish, I was glad of the reminder because it reinforces for me his bias towards the Boleyns. He is much kinder to Catherine Howard, though she and Anne faced similar charges. There just seems to be something about Catherine that generates that underlying sympathy.

    Yes, Catherine Howard was a young impressionable, from noble family and sent to partenal grandmother for guardianship, where her guardian failed to protect her. Catherine was left on her own and made bad choices. These mistakes came back to haunt her which cost her her life.

    Amazing Article!!