The Tudor Society

Conor Byrne Talk – Katherine Howard’s Sexual Relationships

Our September talk is from Conor Byrne, author of Katherine Howard: A New History. Conor discusses Katherine's sexual relationships with Henry Manox and Francis Dereham, in the context of 16th-century views on women.

There are 10 comments Go To Comment

  1. D

    Well researched. Question: the sheer numbers of young people being raised in Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s household seems also to have been a factor in the lack of control in said household. How much of that was financial on the Duchess’ part? Taking in wards gave control over income. I know that Katherine was a poor relation, but what about for the rest of the young men and women in the Duchess’ charge. How does it compare to other noble households?

    1. C - Post Author

      I’ve passed your question on to Conor so that he can answer it in the chatroom tomorrow night. Thanks for the question.

    2. C - Post Author

      Hi Diane,
      I put your question to Conor in the live chat and he said:
      “Well it depends. Francis Dereham for example was probably a gentleman usher, so some did enjoy occupations within the household that provided them with income. Howard relations, including Katherine and perhaps her brothers, resided within the household. This was not financial necessarily but was an accepted social practice. Young children who were members of the gentry and nobility were often sent to reside in the households of the nobility (consider the sister of Anne Basset, for example). The dowager duchess did not necessarily have a financial incentive in taking in her relatives. Others, for example, like Joan Bulmer, seem to have been occupied in the household, perhaps serving as maids or fulfilling other functions for the dowager duchess.”

  2. F

    i am on this book now so for i like it .
    the things that are done back then not to good for women of any age.

  3. H

    Claire or Tim, is there any way to ‘bookmark’ the chatroom so we can get an email reminder? Thanks for any advice you can offer. I truly enjoyed Conor’s book and look forward to his chat.

    1. C - Post Author

      I don’t think there’s any way of doing that, but we’ll be sending email reminders before the live chats.

  4. D

    A very interesting talk, and a very different view to what we ‘think’ we know and have been told about Catherine, I haven’t read your book yet Conor, but I am looking forward to doing.
    You may have addressed this in your book, but can I ask…
    Catherine was ‘housed’ so to speak, in a dormitory type room, shared with other young girls, and I have read that some of Catherine’s sexual activity took place in this dormitory setting with the other girls present…why then, do you think none of her room mates noticed that she wasn’t a willing participant, came to her aid or perhaps inform her Grandmother straight away about what was happening to her?
    Once again I think your approach to Catherine is very refreshing, great stuff.

  5. D

    I have a Yoga class at 6 and will miss the chat. Will it be available on YouTube or in a transcript?

    1. C - Post Author

      Hi Diana,
      We can save a transcript of it, that won’t be a problem. Do you have a question you want to ask Conor and I can ask him on your behalf.

  6. B

    Well presented. and I agree with what Diane Wilshire has said. It certainly seemed as if the Duchess had taken on more than she could handle really, so K.H’s was in some ways quite normal for a girl who had had for want of a better word gone to seed. The Duchess provided K.H and other others with a rudimently education and saw that they were clothed and fed, but she failed to look after their modesty and teach them self respect.
    Although K.H was guilty of being a bit of a lush (loosely worded) I don’t feel that K.H should be solely to blame for her behaviour. The blame for the way K.H was lies squarely on the Duchess’s shoulders. I much prefered Angela Pleasence’s portrayal of K.H in the Henry 8 series, then I did of Lynne Frederick in the film of 1972.
    We will never really know if Culpepper and K.H actually had sex although we do know that was his intention at some point. I don’t think they did have a sexual relationship, but they did have a very close bond. Too close which probably gave rise and fire to the rumour that they were actually having a sexual relationship.
    I don’t think she deserved to die just because she fell in love and I do think she was in love with Culpepper but I don’t think he was in love with her. I also don’t believe that the so called “love letter” that was found in Culpepper’s belongings, was actually to him. I can’t give you a reason for this other than the fact it seems very disjointed and doesn’t make a lot of sence. To me at least the letter seems as if it’s been cobbled together from other letters. Since K.H could write I just have the feeling that yes she wrote the letter(s) but they were not written to Culpepper. It may well have been she had been asked by another Katherine, and I believe there was a least one other Katherine in the duchess’s household to write the letter to her (the other Katherine) sweetheart. The master Culpepper bit as well just seems as if it’s been added later. K.H was not stupid and I certainly don’t believe that she would put “Master Culpepper” at the top of a love note espeically since she would have known that the letter may have ended up going awry. Remember this is what happened with K.P’s arrest warrant, other wise how would have K.P known about Henry’s plans and gone to him?
    Mary Laselles possibly may have had a personal gripe about K.H so again I think it’s possible that she partly provided the letters that K.H had written for others and that Cramner who was a desperate man in the sence he didn’t want the Catholic Faction to get his hooks into Henry again, so he might well have done a bit of izzy wizzy lets get busy to make sure that it didn’t happen. After all fabricated evidence and gossip had worked to destroy Anne Boleyn so why shouldn’t it again. In fact all through Henry’s reign fabricated evidence seemed to be accepted as the norm in my opinion.
    I have no proof for this theory however so unless something turns up to call the “love letter” into doubt it is just purely my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Conor Byrne Talk – Katherine Howard’s Sexual Relationships