On 28th July, 1540, Henry VIII married his fifth wife, the child bride Katherine Howard, (OK, OK, she wasn’t *technically* a child bride, but he was nearly 50 and she was around 17 years old, so its pretty fucking grim, even by Tudor standards).
Katherine’s life is a sad tale; riddled with abandonment, a lack of affection and constant occurrences of sexual abuse. It’s fucking heartbreaking reading it as a woman in the 21st Century. It really all started when her Mum, Jocasta Culpepper, died in 1531. Jocasta, or Joyce as she was known (because lets face it, Jocasta is a fucking stupid name*), had around fifteen children: ten from her marriage with Edmund Howard, Katherine’s Dad, and five from a previous marriage. Joyce was a strong and empowered woman; however Katherine’s Dad was the opposite in every way.
Edmund Howard was brother to Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, who was powerful and prominent politician at court. Edmund forever lived in his brothers shadow, failing to gain any importance (and fucking it up when he did), and racking up a shit load of debt, so when Joyce died and he was left with fifteen kids, he shit himself. To get himself out of the financial turd he was in, he decided the only course of action was to ditch some of the kids onto rich relatives, and being a Howard, there was no short supply of those. So that was it, off Katherine went to live with her step-Grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.
Now don’t get it twisted – this wasn’t like going to stay with your Nan and having cake every day. This woman already had several girls in her care, and her guardianship was lax to say the least. Actually, scrap that, her guardianship was some pure, stone cold bullshit, because whilst Katherine was there she was pursued by her music teacher, Henry Manox, which incidentally was only discouraged due to him being a lower rank than Katherine, and then preyed upon and sexually exploited by the Dutchess’s man servant, Francis Dereham. These events would eventually come back to haunt Katherine and lead to her death a few years later.
In 1539, Katherine was sent to court to become a lady-in-waiting to the new queen, Anne of Cleeves. Now it will hardly be a spoiler when I tell you that Henry VIII didn’t really like his forth wife, Anne, and neither will it come as a shock when I say that he wanted to get his kicks elsewhere. Henry couldn’t get ‘aroused’ by his new queen, (which apparently had everything to do with her being supposedly smelly and ugly, and nothing to do with him being a vile old cunt who was rife with Syphilis, and dented pride), so when Katherine was brought to court, and waved in front of the King’s nose by her pimp-like Uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, it was no surprise that Henry had to have her.
Poor Katherine, she must have thought all her birthdays had come at once, the King and her Uncle offering her centre-stage at court, and allowing her to believe it was because she was special and neither had anything to gain. Conversely, poor Anne; newly arrived in a foreign country, called names by a fat pig of a King, and then to be embarrassed at court as he paraded his young mistress around like King of the peados.
A few months after Henry’s annulment to Anne, he decided to wed his young bride, Katherine. Little is known about the actual ceremony, Henry had been so eager to impress everyone and pull out all the stops for his marriage to Anne, that he had managed to break the treasury and so decided to have a ‘low key’ affair with Katherine. The service was held at the chapel in Oatlands Palace, which he had built to rival Hampton Court as a gift for Anne of Cleeves… and then married her lady-in-waiting in it.
The pair were married by Bishop Bonner, but it is unknown who else was in attendance. After the ceremony, the wedding appears to have been kept quiet for a short while as Katherine was not announced as Queen until 8th August, when prayers were said for her at Hampton court – not that they did her much fucking good, prayers couldn’t save you from Henry. There is no record of plans for her coronation immediately after the wedding, which is unusual, but nobody could deny that Henry wasn’t smitten with his new bride, groping and grabbing at her constantly, and bragging about their bedroom exploits to his band of twats. The ceremony itself took place as Henry was having Tomas Cromwell executed for Treason for crimes only known to Henry, and after the pair went on a hunting holiday honeymoon around Surrey and Berkshire… how romantic.
You probably already know how the story ends: Katherine began an affair with a member of Henry’s council, Thomas Culpepper, then Francis Dereham rocks up demanding a place by her side, so she gives it to him possibly out of fear, and then everyone finds out everything and all involved lose their lives, including Katherine and Henry Manox, the music teacher. You can read more about their deaths by following the link at the bottom of this page, (I hated writing about it, as it’s depressing as fuck and makes me want to set fire to things).
As with everything ever EVER, I have opinions about the whole Katherine and Henry thing, (aside from him being a cretinous, lecherous jizz-sack of a man). I often find myself questioning whether Henry Manox actually deserved to die. Apparently he was totally in love with Katherine, but was banned from seeing her, and when he got wind of the slime bag Dereham sneaking into her dorms at night, he alerted the Dowager Duchess, who did fuck all about it. As for Dereham and Culpepper?… fuck them. They were equally as much the sneaky little shit holes as Henry was a dirty old mongrel of a man. Having said that, some historians believe that Katherine and Tom Culpepper were in a relationship before Katherine became involved with Henry, but it never really went anywhere, because they argued like a couple in IKEA on a bank holiday Monday, but either way he was accused of raping a woman and continued to pursue Katherine after she was married, so he can go fuck a knife.
Now lets think about Henry…This old prick had his BFF executed on the day that he married his new bride. Thomas Cromwell was once the Kings closest and most trusted adviser, yet like the cruel bastard he was, Henry sent him to death and still managed to make it a day of celebrations. This wasn’t the first time Henry pulled shit like this. He married Jane Seymour the day after Anne Boleyn’s execution, and made a point of wearing yellow on the day of Katherine of Aragon’s death. I don’t know why Henry did this; possibly to illustrate his power, possibly to hide the feeling of guilt, though doubtful.
And so that brings us to Katherine, a child abandoned by her family and left with a woman who can only be likened to Miss Hannigan, the evil woman from Annie, only to crave affection and find it in the arms of those who would take advantage of a young girl. If it was modern day, she would be protected by social services and a Child Sexual Exploitation case would be opened. However, it wasn’t modern day, it was Tudor time, so instead she was branded a whore, and put to death. Tudor men were fucking cunts at times.
If you want to know more about Katherine’s downfall you can read about it here
Also, you can read about Anne of Cleeves’ betrothal to Henry here and about how she ultimately won the long game here.
If you want to know more about Thomas Cromwell and the events that led to his demise, you can find out here.
*Apologies to any readers who may be called Jocasta. I was showing off and it wasn’t big or clever. Jocasta is a great name and I’m sure you don’t ever get questioned about it.