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House of Tudor - Catherine Howard

Name: Catherine Howard
Father: Edmund Howard
Mother: Joyce Culpepper
Born: abt. 1520 at Lambeth, London
Married: Henry VIII, on July 28, 1540
Died: February 13, 1542 at Tower of London
Buried at: Chapel Royal, London

Catherine Howard was the 5th wife of Henry VIII, and was born around 1520 in London. She was the 10th child of Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpepper. She was the niece of the Duke of Norfolk and first cousin of Anne Boleyn. In 1531 Catherine was sent to live with her step grandmother the Duchess of Norfolk who ran a household with children of relatives who could not afford to support their families.

The Duchess spent much of her time at Court and her household was a free and easy with the result that Catherine who was head-strong and vivacious had romantic liaisons including with a music teacher Henry Mannox, and an affair with Francis Dareham the secretary of the household whom she wanted to marry on his return from a visit to Ireland. The affair ended when the Duchess found out and she was sent to the Court of Henry VIII as a lady-in-waiting to Henry’s new wife Anne of Cleves.

Catherine caught the attention of Henry who was unhappy with his arranged marriage with Anne. She was 20 years old. Henry who was nearly 50, expanding in girth with an ulcerated leg which caused him difficulty in walking, showered her with gifts. A few weeks after his marriage to Anne was annulled, Henry and Catherine were married on 28 July 1540. However, Catherine soon became repulsed by her elderly husband and she embarked on a liaison with Thomas Culpepper a distant relation. Their meetings, which became known in the court but were kept from Henry, were arranged by her lady-in-waiting Lady Rochford who was Jane Boleyn widow of George Boleyn brother of Anne Boleyn.

Catherine and Culpepper accompanied Henry to York on the Northern Progress following the defeat to Northern rising known as the 'Pilgrimage of Grace'. Her indiscretions were reported to Thomas Cranmer who reported them to Henry. He at first refused to believe them, but Culpepper and Dareham were arrested, tortured and admitted their guilt before being executed. Their heads were placed atop London bridge. Her former musician friend Mannox also testified against her. Catherine was stripped of her title of Queen, and imprisoned in the Tower of London where she was executed on 13 February 1542.

Catherine Howard's Signature