13th February, 1542: The Execution of Katherine Howard

 

Portrait of a Young Woman (Catherine Howard), ca

Katherine Howard: The rose among thorns

Of all of the Tudor queens, it is Katherine Howard that I have the most empathy for.  It seems her whole life, albeit a very short one, was filled with predatory men taking advantage of her circumstances. At a young age, she was forced to go and live with her step-grandmother – Katherine’s father had fallen into debt, and had to do a bunk out of the country before his debtors caught up with him. So she was sent to the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who, if I’m honest, was utterly shit and apparently well out of her depth at taking care of the young women in her protection.

In my professional* opinion, Katherine had significant attachment issues because of this, which rendered her vulnerable and extremely likely to accept the attention of anybody willing to give it; queue the gross, rapey, sex-pest-esque, Tudor fuckwits, who preyed upon young girls to get their thrills…men like Henry if were being entirely honest. As you can probably see already – I am on Katherine’s side in all of this!

It was in the Dowager Duchess’s care that Katherine had her first sexual encounters; one of which would testify against her, and the other would face his death as consequence. However, this blog is about Katherine’s execution, not the gobshites who caused it, so I shall put a link to a page about them at the bottom of this piece if you are interested in knowing about their part in it all.

Katherine was only 17 when she was stripped of her title as Queen, and sent to the block. She was executed because she had been seduced by yet another little buttmunch, Henry’s Privy Council pal, Thomas Culpepper. Thomas was seemingly yet another self-entitled piece off work, who managed to talk his way into Katherine’s knickers when the King was out of town. Though if certain history books are to be believed, it was Katherine that did the seducing.

The affair was aided by Katherine’s lady-in-waiting, Lady Rochford, who helped Thomas and Katherine to meet in secret and get their rocks off. Not content with simply being aware of the affair, but actively encouraging and supporting it, Lady Rochford implemented herself in the treasonous act. When Henry found out the affair, the intimate details of Katherine’s sexual past were investigated and all the unfortunate misgivings of her past were aired out like knickers on a clothesline. He immediately set to work summoning Katherine’s past conquests and gathering evidence against his young bride.

Katherine was defenceless. She had all but been caught red-handed and the evidence was overwhelming. Both she and Lady Rochford were sentenced to death. Henry, despite being a massive pig-dog of a man, was smitten with Katherine and her betrayal hit him hard. Henry had entered the marriage believing that Katherine would be the bride that his previous wives had not. Despite being 49, partially lame and riddled with cock-rot, Henry’s hyper-inflated ego meant that he thought he was irresistible to all women, even the 16 year old Katherine. There was no way his new Queen would look elsewhere right? I mean, what girl in their right mind would look elsewhere when they have to put up with an obese, stinky dad-man, with a pustulous leg and breath like a dead hookers minge, gyrating his syphilitic ramrod against her kirtle?!  I mean, the very idea of such a catch has me wiping my chair as I write… oh wait, no. No it doesn’t, and Henry was both naive and arrogant to think that Katherine would find him to be the man of her dreams, regardless of his status.

Execution of Catherine Howard

The execution of Katherine Howard 

The main sticking point for Henry was that he thought Katherine was a virgin when he married her. He had undoubtedly also boasted to his privy boy-gang about deflowering her, and felt like a knobhead when he found this to not be true. In fact, Katherine had been with a couple of men prior to Henry, to one of which she had promised herself to be his wife. This was a man called Francis Dereham. When Henry learned about her relationship with Dereham, a man now in employment at the royal palace, he went fucking mental and ordered that Dereham, along with Culpepper, be sentenced to a traitor’s death. Culpepper was able to talk his way out of such a fate, but Dereham was not so lucky. Nor was Katherine or Lady Rochford.

On the night on 12th February, 1542 Katherine awaited her execution. Being a Sunday, it was postponed until the next morning. The extra day’s wait must have been agonising for the young girl. Katherine spent her last evening preparing for her death by practicing placing her head on the block so she didn’t fuck it up the following day. At 7am the following morning, dressed in a black velvet gown and weak from emotion, she was escorted to Tower green: the very place her cousin, Anne Boylen, had met her fate at the hands of Henry just less than five years earlier. She was accompanied by Lady Rochford.

After mustering the courage to address the crowd, she placed her head on the block and was executed with one swift blow of the axe. Lady Rochford followed, kneeling in the blood of her former Queen as she too was beheaded. Their bodies were taken to St. Peter-ad-Vincula within the grounds of the Tower, and covered in Quicklime. Interestingly enough, during renovations of the church in Victorian times, the bodies of the women were never uncovered, although they do say her ghost haunts the halls of Hampton Court.

So there it is, the sad tale of Henry’s ‘Rose without a thorn’. May her ghost shit on the heads of all who sailed in her. If you are interested in the executions of Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper, you may like this Tudorial here.

 

 

 

 

*I feel that I am allowed to say ‘in my professional opinion’ as I work with young people with such issues and recognise the pattern…plus it’s a no-brainer…plus it’s my blog so that surely makes me qualified *ahem*!

December 10th 1541: The Executions of Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper

katherine howard

Katherine Howard

If you’re not familiar with the names Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper then fret not; all will be explained. These are the chaps partly responsibly for the execution of Henry VIII’s fifth bride, Katherine Howard.

Young Katherine was only 19 when she was executed for treason. She had been found to be shagging a member of the King’s Privy council, a strapping young lad named Thomas Culpepper. To be fair,  You can’t really blame her when she was married to a fat 50 year old king, who stank of pus from his ulcerated leg and insisted on letching over the poor girl at any opportunity going.

Katherine’s start to life was far from that of a future queen. Although she was Ann Boleyn’s cousin, she had not been graced with the same upbringing and social status.She had been dumped in the care of her Grandmother because her parents, though noble, were too skint to raise her, so there she stayed, in a dorm with other unwanted girls. Her education was limited and she was by no means as intelligent as the other women that had graced Henry’s bed. She was however pretty and charming.

She came to court around 1539 to serve as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleeves. Henry had married Anne but didn’t like her and so was desperate to get rid when young Kitty Howard caught his eye. To cut a long story short, he divorced Anne and married Katherine.He described Katherine as his ‘rose without thorns’ and was completely smitten. However, fairly soon into their marriage it became apparent that Katherine was not as innocent as Henry was led to believe.

At the time there were people at court who knew of Katherine’s past and the shit she got up to whilst living at her Grandmother’s. Basically Katherine had been getting frisky with her music teacher, Henry Mannox and had then gone onto have a relationship with a bloke called Francis Dereham. Now you may be thinking that there is nothing odd about that, a young girl having a boyfriend, but the problem was that she had declared her love for Dereham in front of God, which technically made them married, referred to themselves as man and wife and more than likely consummated the marriage, (who am I kidding, they defo shagged – Katherine later admitted that she knew her way around a man’s cock without getting preggers…not the words of a virgin).

Katherine thought she could hide her past and move on, be a queen and become the most important woman in the land. The problem is that when you are rich and have the world at your feet, it takes one dirty little bastard from your past to lay down a little blackmail for it all to come crashing down around you. Soon after she became Queen, Katherine found  that one of her old pals from back in the day, Joan Bulmer, had requested to come to court to serve as a lady in waiting. Joan was pure poison – she had dirt on the queen and was prepared to use it for her own gain, what could Katherine do? Joan was swiftly followed by  Dereham, who came knocking on Katherine’s door asking for a position of power. Katherine gave Dereham the position of her secretary, possibly to keep tabs on him and stop him running his mouth, keep your enemies close and all that.

Dereham wasn’t the only bloke at court to get close to Katherine. Whilst the King was ill earlier in 1541, Katherine had began a smoking hot affair with a dashing young chap named Culpepper, (but please don’t get a vision of a Tudor ‘Darcy’ type character in your head, this prick had not long before raped a gate keepers wife, then killed the gate keeper and got away with it like a slimy fucker… though some historians speculate that this was actually his brother, also called Thomas). It’s fair to say Katherine loved Culpepper, (who, incidentally was her distant cousin), very much and the whole affair was assisted by Katherine’s Lady in waiting, Lady Jane Rochford. Things were certainly complicated for Katherine, but she was young and naive, and spoiled by the king, who was besotted with her (and bragged constantly about the hot sex he was getting from the girl more than half his age).

Anyway, shit got real on November 2nd 1541, when the King was passed a letter pointing out that the queen was far from ‘a rose without thorns’ and had actually been married and was now shagging one of his pals behind his back. He went fucking mental. Everything went on lock-down and all parties were questioned. The ladies in waiting were sent to the tower and questioned, Henry Mannox was called in (the letter stated he knew of a ‘private mark’ on the queens body), Culpepper was tortured and confessed, as did Dereham.

Culpepper and Dereham were arrested as traitors and condemned to death. Mannox was allowed to go, he had gained his carnal knowlege of the Queen before the King had rocked up. Dereham had deflowered the Queen, and for that Henry could not forgive him. Katherine denied her marriage to Dereham (if she had admitted it, she would’ve been in a contract with another man and her life may have been spared). It was no good, she had not only made Henry look a right mug, but because she had now gained the reputation of a whore, any kids she had would have their paternity questioned, and since these kind were would be kings that shit wouldn’t fly.  She had to go.

Katherine was condemned to death, along with Lady Jane Rochford (who went mad, literally) and the whole of the Howard family. This however, is the story of Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham. Culpepper, being an old pal of the kings, got away lightly with beheading, Dereham on the other hand suffered a far worse fate, He was sentenced to a traitors death. That was some cold, bad shit about to come his way.

Dereham faced a traitors death, which consisted of: hanging, membering, disembowelling, beheading and quartering. In that order. It feels a little unfair that Dereham was handed this death whist Culpepper, who worked for the King, had been trusted by the King and was still bending his rapey little cock inside the Queen, got the easy option. Dereham had popped the Queen’s cherry long before Henry had a whiff of it, this pissed Henry off more than anything.

Dereham’s death was long, excruciating and humiliating.He was taken to Tyburn where he was hung but cut down before death, he than had his cock hacked off and his intestines ripped out and burned before him whilst made to watch. He was then beheaded and quartered. The Queens execution happened the following year, her last words being ‘I die here a queen, but I would have rather died the wife of Culpepper’.

300px-Drawn_quartered2

A traitors death: a jolly good show for all the family. No seriously, this was a day out in Tudor times.