Catherine Howard (1521-1542)
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Catherine Howard (1521-1542)

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Henry VIII married Catherine Howard, his fifth queen, in 1540, the year of his marriage to, and divorce from, Anne of Cleves. Within two years Catherine had been accused of adultery and, although no evidence could be found, she was charged with high treason and executed at the Tower in 1542.

The portrait is based on two contemporary miniatures.

She escaped from her apartment in Hampton Court, and rushed down the gallery towards the chapel where she knew the King was at mass. The guards caught her before she could reach him, and she was dragged back, shrieking; a scene that it impressed itself so vividly on the public mind, that the gallery is said to be haunted still.
- Elizabeth Jenkins, Elizabeth the Great.

(2) Catherine Howard (1521-1542)

Additional Information on
Catherine Howard (1521-1542)

Catherine Howard was the niece of the Duke of Norfolk and after being orphaned in 1539 at the age of 18 she was sent off to court as lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves. It is certain that she had already had a number of affairs, not least with a Francis Dereham with whom she was caught by the Duchess (of Norfolk). She had a natural grace and vivacity, and was not unattractive, so her uncle, realising the king's marriage to Anne was in trouble, arranged for Henry to see her displaying her dancing and musical accomplishments at a banquet. He was immediately smitten and, following her cousin Anne Boleyn's example, the Howards ensured that the king could not bed her until she was married, which happened in the summer of 1540 after the divorce from Anne. A few weeks later she was crowned Queen.

Finding the King, who was by now grossly fat and in constant pain from his ulcerated legs, very unattractive, and not being blessed with the intelligence of cousin Anne, she was very careless in hiding her numerous amours. She even confided in, of all people, Lady Rochford, who had been happy to betray her own husband and sister-in-law to save her skin. She allowed the indiscreet Francis Dereham to come to court and conducted an affair with an old friend, Thomas Culpeper, even whilst the court was on a royal progress through the North of England in 1541.

Inevitably someone who had known about her early love life, informed Archbishop Cranmer at the end of that year, who revealed it to the king, who ordered an immediate investigation to 'clear the Queen's name'. Dereham and Culpeper confessed under torture, the former being hanged, drawn and quartered and the latter, like Catherine, being beheaded, and buried next to her cousin Anne under the floor of St. Peter-in-the-Tower. She is believed to haunt Hampton Court. She was just twenty one. In spite of her efforts, Lady Rochford was also executed. Advanced Category Search

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