The Tudor Society

Expert Talk – Gareth Russell – Catherine Howard: Personality and Private Life

To celebrate our Tudor Society open weekend, we have a special bonus expert talk this month from historian Gareth Russell, author of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Tragedy of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII.

Gareth is also joining us in the Tudor Society chatroom at for a Q&A session.

Here are the times of the chat in different time zones:

  • London, UK - Saturday 8th December at 11pm
  • Madrid, Spain - Sunday 9th December at 12am
  • New York, USA - Saturday 8th December at 6pm
  • Los Angeles, USA - Saturday 8th December at 3pm
  • Sydney, Australia - Sunday 9th December at 10am
  • Adelaide, Australia - Sunday 9th December at 9.30am

Our actual December expert speaker is historian Kate Cole who has done us a wonderful talk on "The Witches of Elizabethan and Stuart Essex". Kate says of her talk: "It's a fascinating subject with so many aspects to it - religion, Witchfinders (Essex had two), neighbourly quarrels, poor women living outside the “norms” of society. My talk also includes examples of ordinary people who were caught up in the witchcraft trials." You can click here to listen to Kate's talk.

You can browse our archives of Expert Talks going back to 2014 here.

There are 5 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    Yes, so no swinging naked in the garden calling to Henry or rolling in the mud on the roads as in the Tudors.

    It really is very amazing just how many silly images about Kathryn which have come down to us via the media and even historians who give the idea that she was both a whore and that her guilt is apparent. However, we don’t really know the real Kathryn until we look at her closely because we are either presented with a girl who liked sex and didn’t care who she slept with or a girl who was an abuse victim. The reality is much different. She may or may not have been groomed by Mannox, that is open to her interpretation or her age, which is unclear. I believe she had a full sexual relationship with Dereham and then dumped him but he wanted more, until he realised she had replaced him. I believe she was a reasonable Queen, she was good for Henry but she wanted more. It is not proved beyond a doubt that she slept with Thomas Culpeper. I also agree that Kathryn could be very manipulative and mean and this explains why Jane Lady Rochford got involved. What else was she to do if she had to obey the Queen? She became involved and then was stuck. I do feel sorry for the women but I don’t believe she should be called a victim or poor child as she was neither of these. She was very human as you say but she was also gracious and had good manners and there was much more to this young woman than the scandals we have been forced to see in every film made on the wives. It would be wonderful to think about how she might have turned out but for gossip and foolish behaviour. Kathryn didn’t have a trial and there was some discontent over the way her voice was denied when she was formally accused of a variety of sexual crimes. It also appears that the document which condemned her gives more emphasis to her former life, despite the fact that this was not a crime. Very little is said about the alleged crimes as Queen and this I believe leaves too much confusion and too many questions about what she really did or not. Anne Boleyn had a trial, even if it was a set up. Kathryn has no public chance to give her side of things. It is unsettling.

    I personally believe that Kathryn and Culpeper committed adultery but the evidence for this is hard to find. Certainly she looked and acted guilty and her own words didn’t help her. Her youth and beautiful ways make this a tragic loss when she had potential, given time to learn and grow into a responsible Queen.

  2. L

    Throughly enjoyed the talk, think I’ll get your book out again and start reading it yet again Young& Damned & Fair a enjoyable read

    1. R

      Yes, it’s a while since I read my copy, although I dip back as a reference, so I’ll be reading it again soon.

  3. M

    Thank you for an informative and interesting talk. I appreciate it!

    1. C - Post Author

      Thank you for listening!

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Expert Talk – Gareth Russell – Catherine Howard: Personality and Private Life