Catherine Howard

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Catherine Howard
Portrait miniature by Hans Holbein the Younger [1]
Queen consort of England
Tenure28 July 1540 – 23 November 1541
Lambeth, London
Died(1542-02-13)13 February 1542 (aged about 18/19)
Tower of London, London
Burial13 February 1542
Church of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London, London
House Howard
Father Lord Edmund Howard
Mother Joyce Culpeper
Signature Catherine Howard Signature.svg

Catherine Howard (c.1523 – 13 February 1542) was Queen of England from 1540 until 1541 as the fifth wife of Henry VIII. [lower-alpha 1] She was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper, cousin to Anne Boleyn (the second wife of Henry VIII), and niece to Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Thomas Howard was a prominent politician at Henry's court, and he secured her a place in the household of Henry's fourth wife Anne of Cleves, where she caught the king's interest. She married him on 28 July 1540 at Oatlands Palace in Surrey, almost immediately after the annulment of his marriage to Anne. He was 49 and she was 16 or 17.

Lord Edmund Howard 16th-century English nobleman

Lord Edmund Howard was the third son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and his first wife, Elizabeth Tilney. His sister, Elizabeth, was the mother of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, and he was the father of the king's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. His first cousin, Margery Wentworth, was the mother of Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour.

Joyce Culpeper English writer

Jocasta "Joyce" Culpeper, of Oxon Hoath was the mother of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife and Queen consort of King Henry VIII.

Anne Boleyn Second wife of Henry VIII of England

Anne Boleyn was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII. Henry's marriage to her, and her execution by beheading, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Queen Claude of France. Anne returned to England in early 1522, to marry her Irish cousin James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond; the marriage plans were broken off, and instead she secured a post at court as maid of honour to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon.


Catherine was stripped of her title as queen in November 1541. She was beheaded three months later on the grounds of treason for committing adultery with her cousin Thomas Culpeper.

Thomas Culpeper was a courtier and close friend of Henry VIII, and related to two of his queens, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. He is known to have had many private meetings with Catherine after her marriage, though these may have involved political intrigue. A letter was found written by Queen Catherine and she signed it, "yours as long as life endures." He blamed the queen, saying he tried to end it, but she was, "dying of love for him". Under torture, he confessed to adultery, and both were beheaded for treason.

Family life

Catherine was one of the daughters of Lord Edmund Howard (c.1478 – 1539) and Joyce Culpeper (c.1480c.1528). Her father's sister, Elizabeth Howard, was the mother of Anne Boleyn. Therefore, Catherine Howard was the first cousin of Anne Boleyn, and the first cousin once removed of Lady Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I), Anne's daughter by Henry VIII. As a granddaughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443–1524), Catherine had an aristocratic pedigree. Her father was not wealthy, being the third son among 21 children and disfavoured in the custom of primogeniture, by which the eldest son inherits all his father's estate.

Elizabeth Boleyn, Countess of Wiltshire was an English noblewoman, noted for being the mother of Anne Boleyn and as such the maternal grandmother of Elizabeth I of England. The eldest daughter of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk and his first wife Elizabeth Tilney, she married Thomas Boleyn sometime in the later 15th century. Elizabeth became Viscountess Rochford in 1525 when her husband was elevated to the peerage, subsequently becoming Countess of Ormond in 1527 and Countess of Wiltshire in 1529.

Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk British noble

Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, styled Earl of Surrey from 1483 to 1485 and again from 1489 to 1514, was an English nobleman and politician. He was the eldest son of John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, by his first wife, Catharina de Moleyns. The Duke was the grandfather of both Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Catherine Howard and the great grandfather of Queen Elizabeth I. He served four monarchs as a soldier and statesman.

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning 'rule of the best-born'.

When Catherine's parents married, her mother already had five children from her first husband, Ralph Leigh (c.1476 – 1509); she went on to have another six with Catherine's father, Catherine being about her mother's tenth child. With little to sustain the family, her father was often reduced to begging for handouts from his more affluent relatives. After Catherine's mother died in 1528, her father married twice more. In 1531 he was appointed Controller of Calais. [2] He was dismissed from his post in 1539, and died in March 1539. Catherine was the third of Henry VIII's wives to have been a member of the English nobility or gentry; Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were from continental Europe.

Pale of Calais

The Pale of Calais was a historical region in France that was controlled by the monarchs of England following the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and the subsequent siege. Pale is an archaic English term for "area, jurisdiction". Its capture by the English is the subject of Auguste Rodin's 1889 sculpture The Burghers of Calais. In 1558, the expanding Kingdom of France annexed the Pale of Calais in the aftermath of the Siege of Calais.

Nobility privileged social class

Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.

Gentry people of high social class, in particular of the land-owning social class

Gentry are "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past. In the United Kingdom, the term gentry refers to the landed gentry, the majority of the land-owning social class who were typically armigerous, but did not have titles of nobility. Gentry, in its widest connotation, refers to people of good social position connected to landed estates, upper levels of the clergy, and "gentle" families of long descent who never obtained the official right to bear a coat of arms. The historical term gentry by itself, so Peter Coss argues, is a construct that historians have applied loosely to rather different societies. Any particular model may not fit a specific society, yet a single definition nevertheless remains desirable. Linguistically, the word gentry arose to identify the social stratum created by the very small number, by the standards of Continental Europe, of the Peerage of England, and of the parts of Britain, where nobility and titles are inherited by a single person, rather than the family, as usual in Europe.

Early life

Catherine was probably born in Lambeth in about 1523, but the exact date of her birth is unknown. [3] [4] Soon after the death of her mother (in about 1528), when Catherine was aged about five, she was sent with some of her siblings to live in the care of her father's stepmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. The Dowager Duchess presided over large households at Chesworth House in Horsham in Sussex, and at Norfolk House in Lambeth where dozens of attendants, along with her many wards—usually the children of aristocratic but poor relatives—resided. [5] While sending young children to be educated and trained in aristocratic households other than their own was common for centuries among European nobles, supervision at both Chesworth House and Lambeth was apparently lax. The Dowager Duchess was often at Court and seems to have had little direct involvement in the upbringing of her wards and young female attendants. [6]

Lambeth district in Central London, England

Lambeth is a district in Central London, England, in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is situated 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Charing Cross. The population of the London Borough of Lambeth was 303,086 in 2011. The area experienced some slight growth in the medieval period as part of the manor of Lambeth Palace. By the Victorian era the area had seen significant development as London expanded, with dense industrial, commercial and residential buildings located adjacent to one another. The changes brought by World War II altered much of the fabric of Lambeth. Subsequent development in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has seen an increase in the number of high-rise buildings. The area is home to the International Maritime Organization.

Chesworth House grade II listed house in Horsham District, United kingdom

Chesworth House is a former Tudor manor house, located a mile south of Horsham, West Sussex, England.

Horsham town in West Sussex, England

Horsham is a market town on the upper reaches of the River Arun on the fringe of the Weald in West Sussex, England. The town is 31 miles (50 km) south south-west of London, 18.5 miles (30 km) north-west of Brighton and 26 miles (42 km) north-east of the county town of Chichester. Nearby towns include Crawley to the north-east and Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill to the south-east. It is the administrative centre of the Horsham district.

As a result of the Dowager Duchess's lack of discipline, Catherine became influenced by some older girls who allowed men into the sleeping areas at night for entertainment. The girls were rewarded with food, wine, and gifts. Catherine was not as well educated as some of Henry's other wives, although, on its own, her ability to read and write was impressive enough at the time. Her character has often been described as vivacious, giggly and brisk, but never scholarly or devout. She displayed great interest in her dance lessons, but would often be distracted during them and make jokes. She also had a nurturing side for animals, particularly dogs. [7]

In the Duchess's household at Horsham, in around 1536, Catherine (then aged 13) was repeatedly molested by her music teacher, Henry Mannox (aged 36). He later gave evidence in the inquiry against her. Mannox and Catherine both confessed during her adultery inquisitions that they had engaged in sexual contact, but not actual coitus. When questioned Catherine was quoted as saying, "At the flattering and fair persuasions of Mannox, being but a young girl, I suffered him at sundry times to handle and touch the secret parts of my body, which neither became me with honesty to permit nor him to require." [8]

The interferences by Mannox came to an end in 1538, when Catherine, now aged 15, moved to the Dowager Duchess's household in Lambeth. There she was pursued by Francis Dereham, a secretary of the Dowager Duchess. They allegedly became lovers, addressing each other as "husband" and "wife". Dereham also entrusted Catherine with various wifely duties, such as keeping his money when he was away on business. Many of Catherine's roommates among the Dowager Duchess's maids of honour and attendants knew of the relationship, which apparently ended in 1539, when the Dowager Duchess found out. Despite this, Catherine and Dereham may have parted with intentions to marry upon his return from Ireland, agreeing to a precontract of marriage. If indeed they exchanged vows before having sexual intercourse, they would have been considered married in the eyes of the Church. [8]

Arrival at court

Catherine's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, found her a place at Court in the household of the King's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. [9] As a young and attractive lady-in-waiting, Catherine quickly caught Henry's eye. The King had displayed little interest in Anne from the beginning, but on Thomas Cromwell's failure to find a new match for Henry, Norfolk saw an opportunity. The Howards may have sought to recreate the influence gained during Anne Boleyn's reign as queen consort. According to Nicholas Sander, the religiously conservative Howard family may have seen Catherine as a figurehead for their fight by expressed determination to restore Roman Catholicism to England. Catholic Bishop Stephen Gardiner entertained the couple at Winchester Palace with "feastings".

As the King's interest in Catherine grew, so did the house of Norfolk's influence. Her youth, prettiness and vivacity were captivating for the middle-aged sovereign, who claimed he had never known "the like to any woman". Within months of her arrival at court, Henry bestowed gifts of land and expensive cloth upon Catherine. Henry called her his 'very jewel of womanhood' (that he called her his 'rose without a thorn' is likely a myth). [10] The French ambassador, Charles de Marillac, thought her "delightful". Holbein's portrait showed a young auburn-haired girl with a characteristically hooked Howard nose; Catherine was said to have a "gentle, earnest face."


The Six Wives of
Henry VIII
Catherine Howard's arms as queen Coat of Arms of Catherine Howard.svg
Catherine Howard's arms as queen

King Henry and Catherine were married by Bishop Bonner of London at Oatlands Palace on 28 July 1540, the same day Cromwell was executed. She was 16 or 17 and he was 49. The marriage was made public on 8 August, and prayers were said in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. [12] Henry "indulged her every whim" thanks to her "caprice". [13]

Catherine was young, joyous and carefree; Mannox had taught her to play the virginals. She was too young to take part in administrative matters of State. Nevertheless, every night Sir Thomas Heneage, Groom of the Stool, came to her chamber to report on the King's well-being. No plans were made for a coronation, yet she still travelled downriver in the royal barge into the City of London to a gun salute and some acclamation. She was settled by jointure at Baynard Castle: little changed at court, other than the arrival of many Howards. Every day she dressed with new clothes in the French fashion bedecked with precious jewels. With ominous foresight the motto adopted read Non autre volonte que la sienne (No other wish but his), decorated in gold around her sleeves. [14]

The Queen escaped plague-ridden London in August 1540 when on progress. The royal couple's entourage travelled on honeymoon through Reading and Buckingham. On 29 August the Duke of Grafton arrived for a Council meeting. After the Queen's Chamberlain got drunk and misbehaved, the King was in a bad mood when they moved on to Woking, when his health improved. The King embarked on a lavish spending spree to celebrate his marriage, with extensive refurbishments and developments at the Palace of Whitehall. This was followed by more expensive gifts for Christmas at Hampton Court Palace. [15]

That winter the King's bad moods deepened and grew more furious. Undoubtedly the pain from his ulcerous legs was agony, but did not make relations any easier at court. He accused councillors of being "lying time-servers", and began to regret losing Cromwell. After a dark depressed March, his mood lifted at Easter.

Preparations were in place for any signs of a royal pregnancy, reported by Marillac on 15 April as "if it be found true, to have her crowned at Whitsuntide." [16]


Catherine may have been involved during her marriage to the King with Henry's favourite male courtier, Thomas Culpeper, a young man who "had succeeded [him] in the Queen's affections", according to Dereham's later testimony. She had considered marrying Culpeper during her time as a maid-of-honour to Anne of Cleves. Culpeper called Catherine "my little, sweet fool" in a love letter. [17] It has been alleged that in the spring of 1541 the pair were meeting secretly. Their meetings were allegedly arranged by one of Catherine's older ladies-in-waiting, Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford (Lady Rochford), the widow of Catherine's executed cousin, George Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's brother. [18]

During the autumn Northern Progress, a crisis began to loom over 17-year-old Catherine's conduct. People who claimed to have witnessed her earlier sexual behaviour while still a ward at Lambeth reportedly contacted her for favours in return for their silence, and some of these blackmailers may have been appointed to her royal household. The brother of Mary Lascelles, John Lascelles, claimed that he tried to convince his sister to find a place within the Queen's royal chamber; however, Mary allegedly refused, stating she had witnessed the "light" ways of Queen Catherine while living together at Lambeth. Supposedly after hearing this John Lascelles reported such news to Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, who then interrogated Lascelles' sister. Under the archbishop's interrogation, Mary alleged that Catherine had had sexual relations while under the Duchess's care, prior to her relationship with the King.

Cranmer immediately took up the case to be made to topple his rivals—the Roman Catholic Norfolk family. Lady Rochford was interrogated, and from fear of being tortured, agreed to talk. She told how she had watched for Catherine backstairs as Culpeper had made his escapes from the Queen's room. [19]

Letter from Catherine Howard to Thomas Culpeper CatherineHowardLetter.jpg
Letter from Catherine Howard to Thomas Culpeper

During the investigation, a love letter written in the Queen's distinctive handwriting was found in Culpeper's chambers. This is the only letter of hers that still survives (other than her later "confession"). [20] [21] [22]

It is unlikely that King Henry was unaware of the allegations against his wife when on All Saints' Day, 1 November 1541, he arranged to be found praying in the Chapel Royal, [23] where he received a warrant of the queen's arrest that described her crimes. On 7 November 1541, Archbishop Cranmer led a delegation of councillors to Winchester Palace, Southwark, to question her. Even the staunch Cranmer found the teenage Catherine's frantic, incoherent state pitiable, saying, "I found her in such lamentation and heaviness as I never saw no creature, so that it would have pitied any man's heart to have looked upon her." [24] He ordered the guards to remove any objects that she might use to commit suicide.

Imprisonment and death

Establishing the existence of a precontract between Catherine and Dereham would have had the effect of terminating Catherine's royal union, but it also would have allowed Henry to annul their marriage and banish her from Court, in poverty and disgrace, instead of executing her, though there is no indication that Henry would have chosen that alternative. Yet Catherine steadfastly denied any precontract, maintaining that Dereham had raped her.

Catherine was stripped of her title as queen on 23 November 1541, and imprisoned in the new Syon Abbey, Middlesex, formerly a convent, where she remained throughout the winter of 1541. [25] She was forced by a Privy Councillor to return Anne of Cleves' ring that the King had given her; it was a symbol of her regal and lawful rights. The King would be at Hampton Court, but she would not see him again. Despite these actions taken against her, her marriage to Henry was never formally annulled. [26]

Culpeper and Dereham were arraigned at Guildhall on 1 December 1541 for high treason. They were executed at Tyburn on 10 December 1541, Culpeper being beheaded and Dereham being hanged, drawn and quartered. According to custom, their heads were placed on spikes atop of London Bridge. Many of Catherine's relatives were also detained in the Tower with the exception of her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who had sufficiently distanced himself from the scandal by retreating to Kenninghall to write a grovelling letter of apology. [27]

The Duke of Norfolk's son Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, a poet, remained a favourite of the King. The Duke, knowing his family had fallen from grace, wrote an apology on 14 December to the King, excusing himself and laying all the blame on his niece and stepmother. [27] All of the Howard prisoners were tried, found guilty of concealing treason, and sentenced to life imprisonment and forfeiture of goods. In time, they were released with their goods restored. The King sank further into morbidity and indulged his appetite for food and women. [28]

Catherine herself remained in limbo until Parliament introduced a bill of attainder on 29 January 1542, which was passed on 7 February 1542. [29] The Royal Assent by Commission Act 1541 made it treason, and punishable by death, for a queen consort to fail to disclose her sexual history to the king within twenty days of their marriage, or to incite someone to commit adultery with her. [30] This retroactively solved the matter of Catherine's supposed precontract and made her unequivocally guilty. [31] No formal trial was held.

When the Lords of the Council came for her, she allegedly panicked and screamed aloud, as they manhandled her into the waiting barge that would escort her to the Tower on Friday 10 February 1542, her flotilla passing under London Bridge where the heads of Culpeper and Dereham were impaled (and remained until 1546). Entering through the Traitors' Gate she was led to her prison cell. The next day, the bill of attainder received Royal Assent, and Catherine's execution was scheduled for 7:00 am on Monday, 13 February 1542. [31] Arrangements for the execution were supervised by Sir John Gage in his role as Constable of the Tower. [32]

The night before her execution, Catherine is believed to have spent many hours practising how to lay her head upon the block, which had been brought to her at her request. [33] She died with relative composure, but looked pale and terrified; she required assistance to climb the scaffold. She made a speech describing her punishment as "worthy and just" and asked for mercy for her family and prayers for her soul. According to popular folklore, her last words were, "I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper". However, no eyewitness accounts support this, instead reporting that she stuck to traditional final words, asking for forgiveness for her sins and acknowledging that she deserved to die 'a thousand deaths' for betraying the king, who had always treated her so graciously. This type of speech was typical of the speeches given by those executed during this period, most likely in an effort to protect their families, as the condemned's last words would be relayed to the King. Catherine was beheaded with a single stroke of the executioner's axe. [34]

Lady Rochford was executed immediately thereafter on Tower Green. Both their bodies were buried in an unmarked grave in the nearby chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, where the bodies of Catherine's cousins Anne and George Boleyn also lay. [35] Other cousins were also in the crowd, including the Earl of Surrey. King Henry did not attend. Catherine's body was not one of those identified during restorations of the chapel during Queen Victoria's reign. She is commemorated on a plaque on the west wall dedicated to all those who died in the Tower. [36] [37] Upon hearing news of Catherine's execution, Francis I of France wrote a letter to Henry, regretting the "lewd and naughty [evil] behaviour of the Queen" and advising him that "the lightness of women cannot bend the honour of men". [38]


Catherine has been the subject of contention for modern biographies, A Tudor Tragedy by Lacey Baldwin Smith (1967), Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy by Joanna Denny (2006), Katherine Howard: A New History by Conor Byrne (2014), and Young and Damned and Fair by Gareth Russell (2017). Each is more or less sympathetic, though they disagree on various important points involving Catherine's motivations, date of birth, and overall character.

Her life has also been described in the five collective studies of Henry's queens that have appeared since the publication of Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991) — such as David Starkey's The Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003). Several of these writers have been highly critical of Catherine's conduct, if sympathetic to her eventual fate. Baldwin Smith described Catherine's life as one of hedonism, and characterised her as a "juvenile delinquent", as did Francis Hackett in his 1929 biography of Henry. Weir had much the same judgement, describing her as an "empty-headed wanton". The general trend, however, has been more generous, particularly in the works of Antonia Fraser, Karen Lindsey, David Loades and Joanna Denny.


Painters continued to include Jane Seymour in pictures of King Henry VIII long after she died, mainly because Henry continued to look back on her with favour as the only wife who gave him a son. Most of the artists copied the portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger because it was the only full-sized picture available. After Catherine Howard was executed, even the Howard family removed her picture from their family portrait gallery. Debate continues about the identity of the sitter(s) for these portraits, and there is no portrait conclusively known to be of Henry's fifth queen.

Susan James, Jamie Franco, and Conor Byrne have identified the "Portrait of a Young Woman" in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as a likely portrait of the queen. The painting is attributed to the workshop of Hans Holbein. [39]

Round miniatures

Most historians believe that a round portrait miniature (shown here)—which exists in two versions by Holbein (Royal Collection and Duke of Buccleuch)—is the only surviving image of Catherine painted from life (in the case of the Windsor version). The historian David Starkey dated it (from details of her dress and the technique of the miniature) to the short period when Catherine was queen. In it, she wears the same large jewel as Jane Seymour in Holbein's panel portrait in Vienna. Records show that these jewels belonged to the Crown, not to any queen personally, and there is no record that they were removed from the treasury and given to anyone else. [40]

The pearls may tie in with a gift to Catherine from Henry in 1540, and she is the only queen to fit the dating whose appearance is not already known. For female sitters, duplicate versions of miniatures only exist for queens at this period. There are no other plausible likenesses of her to compare to. Both versions have long been documented as of Catherine Howard, since 1736 for the Buccleuch version and 1739 (or at least the 1840s) for the Windsor version. [40]

A Holbein sketch (above) is also traditionally identified as being of Catherine Howard, but this is widely disputed.[ citation needed ]

"ETATIS SVA 21" portraits

The contemporary Hans Holbein the Younger portrait of a woman in black (Toledo Museum of Art), was identified by Sir Lionel Cust in 1909 as Catherine [41] Two copies of Holbein's original are extant: one at Hever Castle and another owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London. [42] The portrait has long been associated with Henry VIII's young queen; however, the identification of the portrait as Catherine Howard is widely but not universally discounted. [43] [41] [44]

The text on the portrait, ETATIS SVA 21, indicates that the sitter was 21 years old, an age Catherine Howard never reached. Herbert Norris notes that the sitter is wearing a sleeve which follows a style set by Anne of Cleves, [45] which would date the portrait to after 6 January 1540, when Anne's marriage to Henry VIII took place. [46] The original Holbein is dated to 1535–1540, [47] but the National Portrait Gallery dates their copy to the late 1600s. [48] This would seem to indicate a sitter who was still a connection to be commemorated over a century later (unlike Catherine). [44]

Historians Antonia Fraser and Derek Wilson believe that the portrait is far more likely to depict Elizabeth Seymour. [49] [50] Antonia Fraser has argued that the sitter is Jane Seymour's sister, Elizabeth, the widow of Sir Anthony Ughtred, on the grounds that the lady bears a resemblance to Jane, especially around the nose and chin, and wears widow's black. Black clothing, however, was expensive, and did not necessarily signify mourning: it was an indication of wealth and status. Derek Wilson observed that "In August 1537 Cromwell succeeded in marrying his son, Gregory, to Elizabeth Seymour", the queen's younger sister. He was therefore related by marriage to the king, "an event worth recording for posterity, by a portrait of his daughter-in-law." [49] The painting was in the possession of the Cromwell family for centuries. [41]

Another possibility is that the portrait shows Henry's Scottish niece, Lady Margaret Douglas, [44] the mother-in-law of Mary, Queen of Scots. In October 1531, Margaret Douglas turned sixteen, and received gifts from the king including a dress of "tynsen", possibly gold-coloured cloth. At Christmas of 1535, she gave a miniature portrait of herself to Lord Thomas Howard. Both were imprisoned in the Tower in July 1536, when Margaret Douglas was 20, over their relationship. She left the Tower, and later travelled to Syon Abbey in November 1536 or 1537, just after either her 21st or 22nd birthday. In December 1536 Douglas received a gift from the King. Around this time, she was ill, incurring a medical bill of £14 4s. Thomas Howard was also ill and died in the Tower on the 31st of October 1537. Margaret Douglas died in March 1578, [51] age 63. [52] Her grandson James Stewart became king of both Scotland and England. [51] Other portraits of Margaret Douglas exist, mostly showing her decades after these portraits were painted.

The portrait shown on this page, attributed to Hans Holbein, dated circa 1535–1540, is exhibited at the Toledo Museum of Art as Portrait of a Lady, Probably a Member of the Cromwell Family (1926.57). [41] Another version of the portrait, now located at Hever Castle, dating from the 16th century, is exhibited as Queen Catherine Howard. [41] The National Portrait Gallery exhibits a similar painting, Unknown Woman, Formerly Known as Catherine Howard (NPG 1119), [53] which has been dated to the late 17th century. The National Portrait Gallery remains undecided about the sitter's identity.

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  1. There are several spellings of "Catherine". Her one surviving signature spells it "Katheryn". Biographer Lacey Baldwin Smith uses the common modern spelling "Catherine"; other historians use the traditional English form "Katherine", such as Antonia Fraser.

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The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel by British author Philippa Gregory which was first published in 2006. It is a direct sequel to her previous novel The Other Boleyn Girl, and one of the additions to her six-part series on the Tudor royals. * The novel is told through the first-person narratives of – Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Jane Boleyn, who was mentioned in The Other Boleyn Girl. It covers a period from 1539 until 1542 and chronicles the fourth and fifth marriages of King Henry VIII of England.

Agnes Howard, Duchess of Norfolk British noble

Agnes Howard was the second wife of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. Two of King Henry VIII's queens were her step-granddaughters, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Catherine Howard was placed in the Dowager Duchess's care after her mother's death, and the Duchess's lax guardianship allowed her to commit sexual indiscretions that ultimately led to her execution while queen.

<i>The Tudors</i> historical fiction television series

The Tudors is a historical fiction television series set primarily in 16th-century England created and written by Michael Hirst, produced for the American premium cable television channel Showtime. The series was a collaboration among American, British, and Canadian producers, and was filmed mostly in Ireland. It is named after the Tudor dynasty as a whole, although it is based specifically upon the reign of King Henry VIII.

<i>Henry VIII</i> (TV serial) 2003 two-part British television serial directed by Pete Travis

Henry VIII is a two-part British television serial produced principally by Granada Television for ITV from 12 to 19 October 2003. It chronicles the life of Henry VIII of England from the disintegration of his first marriage to an aging Spanish princess until his death following a stroke in 1547, by which time he had married for the sixth time. Additional production funding was provided by WGBH Boston, Powercorp and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

<i>Henry VIII and His Six Wives</i> 1972 film by Waris Hussein

Henry VIII and His Six Wives is a 1972 British film adaptation, directed by Waris Hussein, of the BBC 1970 six-part miniseries The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Keith Michell, who plays Henry VIII in the TV series, also portrays the king in the film. His six wives are portrayed by different actresses, among them Frances Cuka as Catherine of Aragon, and Jane Asher as Jane Seymour. Donald Pleasence portrays Thomas Cromwell and Bernard Hepton portrays Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, a role he had also played in the miniseries and briefly in its follow-up Elizabeth R.

Mary FitzRoy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset British duchess

Mary FitzRoy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset, born Lady Mary Howard, was the only daughter-in-law of King Henry VIII of England, being the wife of his only acknowledged illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset.

Katharine Basset was an English gentlewoman who served at the court of King Henry VIII, namely in the household of Queen Anne of Cleves, and was briefly jailed for speaking against him. Three of her letters to her mother Honor Grenville survive in the Lisle Papers.

Elizabeth Stafford, Duchess of Norfolk Wife of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk

Lady Elizabeth Stafford was the eldest daughter of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Eleanor Percy. By marriage she became Duchess of Norfolk. Her stormy marriage to Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, created a public scandal.

Mary Boleyn sister of English queen Anne Boleyn

Mary Boleyn, also known as Lady Mary, was the sister of English queen Anne Boleyn, whose family enjoyed considerable influence during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey English countess

Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey was an English heiress and lady-in-waiting to two queens. She became the first wife of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey.

John Lassells was an English sixteenth-century courtier and Protestant martyr. His report to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer initiated the investigation which led to the execution of Queen Catherine Howard.

Mary Hall was an English gentlewoman whose report of the 'light' behaviour in her youth of Henry VIII's fifth Queen, Catherine Howard, initiated the process which ended with Queen Catherine's execution.



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  14. Letters and Papers; Correspondance; Weir, Henry VIII, p.440–1
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  17. Letters and Papers; Hall, Triumphant; Weir, Henry VIII, p.454
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  36. Wheeler 2008.
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  41. 1 2 3 4 5 Russell 2017, pp. 385–387.
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  46. Wagner & Schmid 2012 , p.  38 Anne of Cleves was queen consort from 6 January – 9 July 1540. Until 1752, the year commenced on Lady Day , 25 March.
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  51. 1 2 Margaret Douglas: Life Story, Tudor Times, 9th October 2015
  52. Until 1752, the year commenced on Lady Day , 25 March.
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Secondary sources
English royalty
Title last held by
Anne of Cleves
Queen consort of England
28 July 1540 – 23 November 1541
Title next held by
Catherine Parr
Lady of Ireland
28 July 1540 – 23 November 1541
Crown of Ireland Act 1542