The Tudor Society

The Men in Catherine Howard’s Story – Gareth Russell – Expert Talk

Learn what is true, false and open for interpretation about the men in Queen Catherine Howard's life and eventual downfall with Gareth Russell's amazing expert talk on the Dukes, Deceivers and Disappointments in Catherine's life.

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  1. M

    Wow, terrific talk, thank you! I am a big fan of yours. I own your bio of Queen Catherine, and its one of my favorite books, period. I love your podcast, too, and I love your many contributions to the monthly magazine, too. Loved the Boleyn documentary you recently were part of. I have some questions…
    John Gage, the constable of the tower…is this the same man who was the only man who was involved with Anne Boleyn’s prayer book, found by Kate McCafferty? Or maybe it was just his family… Also, Gage again, is he the same person who was executed by Queen Mary I upon her accession? I may have names confused.
    Thomas Culpepper, is there evidence about a reaction from Henry regarding him? If he was a favorite, there must have been a reaction. Anger, sadness. Anything documented? Last question, I was looking at older Tudor Society magazines from before I was a member this summer. I don’t remember the issue, though it was 2017 or 2019 I think. You had written a short article in favor of a 1507 birthdate year for Anne Boleyn, and I wondered if you still feel that way?
    Thank you so much, your insights are so appreciated.

    Michelle t

  2. K

    Thanks very much for this brilliant talk – it was so interesting!

  3. L

    I truly enjoyed this talk. Gareth has a soothing voice. I have always felt that Katherine Howard was treated unfairly. I’m pretty sure she could have made Henry forgive her, had she been able to talk to him alone.
    I’m not so sure that she would have been desirous of remaining the wife of such an.old, smelly impotent husband. Perhaps on balance of the crown or the block.

    1. R

      To Loretta I find comments like this show an immature attitude to marriage and that you have no idea what it means to care for an older husband with health issues.

      Kathryn was actually extremely privileged to be Queen and was well treated.

      Many people are married to people with illness and even smelly illness. It was hardly the King’s fault that his legs smelt, it was in fact down to the treatment his doctors made for him. They kept his wound open which was extremely painful. Henry today would be regarded as a disabled man in need of 24 hours care. It is only immature people who make such remarks about his legs. Yes, the smell wouldn’t have been pleasant but she was his wife and he had others to do his leg for him and tried to shelter Kathryn from him.

      Many older people have ulcers on their legs today. They are very painful and unpleasant. Would you make the same remarks about them or is it just prejudge against Henry Viii because you don’t like him personally?

      I am married to someone who until recently had a stoma bag and I can assure you he is older than Henry and there is nothing worse than a stoma. Believe me, it is often smelly and unpleasant when it bursts and as his wife and carer I have often had to help in ways you couldn’t cope with. I find this sort of remark displays a lack of understanding of several disabilities and I really feel sorry for any husband unfortunate enough to have a similar illness whom you are caring for. People need to learn more respect and a better attitude to disabled people and Kathryn Howard probably had a more caring attitude than you.

  4. C

    Very interesting podcast as always Gareth. You showed more interesting and well researched facets of the people closest to Catherine.e.g.the fact of being a ward yet having a bed to sleep in.and more on the personality of Edmund Howard and how he differed from his more successful brothers.

  5. R

    Wonderful talk Gareth, very detailed about the many men in the life of Queen Kathryn Howard. Its especially interesting to learn more about her family, her brothers and her Uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. Kathryn had a very lively life during her teens and one man Mannox was very inappropriate. It might not have been grooming or abuse but it wasn’t something she wanted. Mannox was an employee and should have known better. It was correct that he was removed.

    I think her relationship with Francis Dereham was a cheeky and exciting sexy love affair which then turned into something more dangerous and dark. I don’t believe he raped her as was and has since been claimed but I don’t believe she wanted to marry him. Francis saw things differently and might have claimed Kathryn had she not been married to Henry Viii.

    Thomas Culpepper is an odd one. He was her lover before marriage and afterwards. There was a break from the relationship and she married Henry and for several months she was content with him. Henry became ill and depressed in March 1541 and like Gareth said, Kathryn was kept from him for several weeks. There were rumours that he was going to divorce her and remarry Anne of Cleves and even that Anne was pregnant. Henry had to put the rumours to bed and in the meantime it seems Kathryn got friendly with Culpepper. Did she become his lover in the fullest sense of the word?
    This is something we don’t know and we don’t have any real evidence for. What we do know is that the pair met foolishly and in secret late at night and where not always chaperoned. They spent hours together after Henry went to bed, they almost got caught on one occasion. They got Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford involved to watch for them and as a chaperone and go between. Only she knew the full truth, although some ladies saw and heard things. Maybe they didn’t have sex but they intended treason and they were not innocent of all crimes. It could legally be presumed that more was intended and that they had imagined the King’s death. Making plans of marriage was treason. That could be presumed to mean Thomas and Kathryn intended Henry’s death. The King was paranoid and so where his Council. The persuasion wasn’t very much.

    With Kathryn Henry was very careful to have a long and thorough investigation and he did nothing until one had been conducted. The term used to question Francis Dereham indicates torture because it is severe interrogation. I assume a warrant was issued as only the King could authorise torture under warrant. There were other forms of torture like unofficial excess pressure, deprivation etc and even a bit of rough handling i. e a good beating might produce a confession. Being shown the torture implements could scare you into a confession and it was all perfectly legal if authorised. 24 hours just being with Thomas Cromwell without any real signs of actual torture was enough to make Mark Smeaton confess to having sex with Anne Boleyn three times. He never took it back, which meant he was probably threatened with a full traitors death if he did. Dereham told his tormentors that Culpepper had replaced him. Was he just trying to get out of more pain? Well, he obviously spoke the truth. There isn’t any evidence that Kathryn did commit adultery but her behaviour certainly made it look as if she had.

    Was she treated fairly? Actually yes she was. She was restricted to her apartments at first, not arrested and she was only questioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her ladies remained with her. However, she was given very little information and Henry abandoned her. A long investigation followed and she was taken to Syon House where she was under house arrest but comfortable. Henry arrested her alleged lovers before he arrested her. Henry took his time and didn’t want to believe the allegations. However, he later lost his temper and threatened to kill her. Kathryn was offered a way out and didn’t take it. It might have been unfair in that she wasn’t given the chance to explain herself but in all other aspects this was as fair as it got under the Tudors. The people around Kathryn had also manipulated her and she was fearful of her former life coming out. Then her Queenship would end because her marriage might be in question. Kathryn did very well as Queen. She was indulged like a spoilt child. Henry let her have anything she wanted. He even pardoned a few people at her request. Kathryn had lit up his life and made him feel young again. She was very foolish to put all that at risk, no matter what her reasons where.

  6. T

    Wow, great discussion! Thank you very much!

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The Men in Catherine Howard’s Story – Gareth Russell – Expert Talk