"dissolute living before her marriage with Francis Dereham, and that was not secret, but many knew it."
In the October of 1541, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was told by John Lascelles, a member of Thomas Cromwell's household, that he had knowledge that Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII had had intermate relations with three men while living at Chesworth House, a place where she had spent her childhood.
Cranmer disliked Thomas Howard, Catherine's grandfather, and used this information to discredit the Howard family by informing Henry of Catherine's teenage activities. He left the king a note as he celebrated All Souls Day in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court. In this note, Cranmer wrote that Catherine Howard had been accused of
"dissolute living before her marriage with Francis Dereham, and that was not secret, but many knew it."
Events soon escalated with the arrest and torture of the so-called lovers of the queen. This was followed by the execution of Dereham, along with Thomas Culpepper, on the 10th of December and Catherine went to her death on the 13th of February the following year. The third man accused was Henry Manox, he was fortunate to escape death.
What of the troublemaking John Lascelles, the instigator of this affair? He would be burnt at the stake for the crime of heresy on the 12th of July 1546. Cranmer would suffer the same fate in 1556.
On the 13th February in 1542 the execution of Catherine Howard and Jane Boleyn.
Many people believe that it was Jane Parker, the wife of George Boleyn, who was to blame for initiating the downfall of her sister in law Anne in 1536, but there were other women in the court, Elizabeth Browne for instance, whose actions history might like to take a look at. However, it was the events of 1542 that were Jane's downfall.
In 1541, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII fifth wife, had begun a physical relationship with one of his favourite courtier, Thomas Culpepper, and Jane Boleyn went out of her way to encourage this relationship.
Catherine wrote to Culpepper in a letter that was to be all their undoing:
“praying you that you will come when my Lady Rochford is here”
If Jane had anything to do with Anne’s downfall she must have realised that she was lucky to escape in 1536, and if she didn’t, then she doesn't seem to have learnt anything from the whole affair. Jane must have known what would happen if Henry found out that she was involved with Catherine and Culpepper and when the affair was out in the open each woman blamed the other. Jane Boleyn walked right into the Culpepper affair with her eyes open.
Following their arrest, Jane was imprisoned in the Tower of London and Catherine Howard at Syon Abbey. The night before her execution, Catherine is said to have spent it practicing laying her head upon the block, and Jane was in the throes of a nervous breakdown.
Both women were beheaded with one blow of the executioners axe and their bodies buried in the chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.
I often asked myself the question, were Catherine, Jane and Anne's 'crimes' so appalling that they warranted a death sentence? That, I think made little difference, once they stood before the justice's their fates were sealed, state trials weren't fair trials. Schauer and Schauer in their article Law as an Engine of State wrote " Laws, like armies, were an engine of state, not a mechanism for justice!" and in that lies the answer.
On the 2nd October 1501, Catherine of Aragon arrived at the Devon port of Plymouth
Catherine was greeted by the nobility who escorted them to St Andrews Church where thanks were given for her safe arrival and outside the townspeople clamoured to welcome their distinguished foreign guests.
Catherine was later escorted to Exeter where she was to stay for fourteen days. On the 16th her future father-in-law, Henry VII, sent messengers with a letter of welcome and a delegation of courtiers to escort her to London.
Catherine was to be married to Prince Arthur, the heir to the throne of England and of course we know that this marriage was short lived. Catherine would become queen of England on her marriage to Henry, Arthur's brother and for the first eleven years of her marriage she would be happy, but in what would later be known as the Kings Great Matter her life would be turned upside down.
Catherine was renowned for her strength of character and virtue, and I wonder if she could have seen her future would have had reconsidered this English marriage as she left the Alhambra in Granada for the port of Corunna to board a boat to England.
On the 28th July in 1540 just nineteen days after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, King Henry VIII took, as his fifth bride, the twenty-year-old Catherine Howard. Catherine was said to have been pretty - Henry's "rose without a thorn."
No doubt it never crossed Henry's mind what Catherine thought of him the fat 49-year-old - whose youthful physique had long gone.
Why did Catherine marry Henry then? The answer is quite simple, she married him because she had too.
Sadly, Catherine had let her new position as England's new queen go to her head and by the following year, she had begun a physical relationship with Henry's favourite courtier, Thomas Culpepper, which as we all know was her undoing.
While he was marrying Catherine, his friend and the fixer of his problems, Thomas Cromwell was climbing the scaffold to his execution. I have every sympathy with all of Henry's wives, each of them had to suffer this menacing tyrant in their own different ways. Poor Catherine's problem was that she was young and naive and you could argue easily lead, notably by Henry's onetime sister in law Jane Boleyn - but that's another story.
On this day in 1540 the execution of Thomas Cromwell, adviser and one-time friend to Henry VIII.
Chronicler Edward Hall wrote of Cromwell’s last words:
“I am come hether to dye, … for … I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For … I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And … beyng but of a base degree, … have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me. O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe … . Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have … mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe … . And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long … reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe”.
And of his last moment Hall writes:
“.... committed his soule, into the handes of God, and so paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and Boocherly miser, whiche very ungoodly perfourmed the Office.
After his execution, Cromwell's head was boiled and placed on a spike on London Bridge, his face it was said, looking away from the city. I often wonder about men like Cromwell - why were they so eager to take the place of others who had gone to the block for not giving Henry what he wanted. Cromwell was in the pay of Cardinal Wolsey when he fell from grace in 1529, if he didn't learn anything then surely he must have been aware of the consequences of failing Henry when Thomas More was executed in 1535.
Or did he really think he was invincible?
In 1541, Catherine Howard began a physical relationship with Thomas Culpepper, her husband Henry VIII's favourite courtier. In a letter to Culpepper Catherine wrote
“praying you that you will come when my Lady Rochford is here.”
It would be their undoing.
Adultery with a queen was high treason, Thomas Culpepper was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered but the sentence was commuted to beheading. He was executed on the 10th December in 1541.
History tells us that Thomas Culpepper was born in 1514 the son of Alexander Colepeper. If this is the case then he had an older brother also called Thomas (to have a sibling of the same name is not unusual) who was born in 1501. This Thomas Colepeper was married to my 13th great-grandmother's sister and is mentioned in his father's will and other Colepeper wills.
These predates the Catherine Howard affair, it seems strange that there is no reference to the Thomas who died that day.
You can read about Thomas's and Catherine's downfall in my blog Dangerous Talk Cost Lives.
On the 25th May 1553 the marriage of Jane Grey, the daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk and Francis Brandon and Guildford Dudley, the son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and Jane Guildford at Durham Place, Northumberland's house in London.
During the first few months of 1553, Edward VI, under the influence of the Duke of Northumberland, had made an amendment to his Devise for the Succession in which he disinherited his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth and named Jane his heir. By the May of that year and as part of his master plan Northumberland arranged the marriage of his son Guildford to Jane.
Two months later, the boy king was dead and Jane was proclaimed queen and in a surprising act of defiance refused to allow Guildford to be named king, therefore scuppering Northumberland's plans to control both Jane, Guildford and England. Soon after events took a downturn with surprising speed. By July Jane was deposed, by November she had been tried and found guilty and by the beginning of February, she was awaiting the day of her execution.
You can see the couple played here by Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes in the 1986 film Lady Jane (which I quite liked but many didn't)
On the 17th May in 1536, George Boleyn, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Mark Smeaton, Sir William Brereton were all executed on Tower Hill, their sentences commuted from being hung, drawn and quartered to beheading.
Boleyn is said to have said the following to the large crowd that had gathered:
“Christen men, I am borne undar the lawe, and judged undar the lawe, and dye undar the lawe, and the lawe hathe condemned me. Mastars all, I am not come hether for to preche, but for to dye, for I have deserved for to dye yf I had xx. lyves, more shamefully than can be devysed, for I am a wreched synnar, and I have synned shamefully, I have knowne no man so evell, and to reherse my synnes openly it were no pleaswre to you to here them, nor yet for me to reherse them, for God knowethe all; therefore, mastars all, I pray yow take hede by me, and especially my lords and gentlemen of the cowrte, the whiche I have bene amonge, take hede by me, and beware of suche a fall, and I pray to God the Fathar, the Sonne, and the Holy Ghoste, thre persons and one God, that my deathe may be an example unto yow all, and beware, trust not in the vanitie of the worlde, and especially in the flateringe of the cowrte.
And I cry God mercy, and aske all the worlde forgevenes, as willingly as I wowld have forgevenes of God ; and yf I have offendyd any man that is not here now, eythar in thowght, worde, or dede, and yf ye here any suche, I pray yow hertely in my behalfe, pray them to forgyve me for God’s sake. And yet, my mastars all, I have one thinge for to say to yow, men do comon and saye that I have bene a settar forthe of the worde of God, and one that have favored the Ghospell of Christ ; and bycawse I would not that God’s word shuld be slaundered by me, I say unto yow all, that yf I had followecl God’s worde in dede as I dyd rede it and set it forthe to my power, I had not come to this. I dyd red the Ghospell of Christe, but I dyd not follow it; yf I had, I had bene a lyves man amonge yow : therefore I pray yow, mastars all, for God’s sake sticke to the trwthe and folowe it, for one good followere is worthe thre redars, as God knowethe.”
Following their deaths Norris, Smeaton, Brereton and Weston were buried outside the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula George Boleyn’s remains were taken inside the Chapel, and interred.
Only two days later, poor Anne would be joining him.
On this day, the 23 April 1616 William Shakespeare died, the 23rd of April may have even been the day he was born too. His baptism appears in the parish register for the 26th April 1564, babies were usually baptised a few days after their birth so it is in the realms of possibility.
William Shakespeare was one of our greatest playwrights, (I forgave him for the hatchet job he did on Richard III years ago!) and would like to write a piece on him myself but his life and his works are much covered and in a way I could never aspire to. However, I found this lovely comic line supposedly said by the man himself and thought, "this is my piece on Shakespeare."
"No I have drunk with Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston, Haunted Hillboro’, Hungry Grafton, Dodging Exhall, Papist Wixford, Beggarly Broom and Drunken Bidford and so, I will drink no more."
The line supposedly originates from when he was visiting Stratford, Shakespeare is said to have gone on a Elizabethan 'pub crawl' setting out with a party of friends with the intent of out drinking a drinking club from the neighbouring village of Bidford on Avon. Drinking, all night, in no less that eight ale houses in the same number of villages, including Marston, Exhall and Wixford, Shakespeare finally fell asleep under a tree, where he was woken in the morning by his drinking friends who asked him join them the following evening, to which Shakespeare is said to have replied with the above sentence.
There is no proof that Shakespeare actually had the conversation but still, it may have come from his lips. We know he wrote comedy using such things as slapstick and practical jokes, and this statement is a fine example of Shakespeare talking in a quick and witty manner.
What a great pun! Only a man with the talent of William Shakespeare could have said that surely.here to edit.
I took a bit of a fancy to James Hepburn the 4th Earl of Bothwell while still at school and the attraction hasn't waned since seeing him portrayed by Kevin McKidd in the 2004 mini-series Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
Bothwell was a staunch supporter of the regency under Mary of Guise and his support continued when Mary's daughter arrived from France to take the Scottish throne, however, he was unhappy with her marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.
Darnley, by all accounts, was a disreputable young man that history describes as a heavy drinker, vain, arrogant, self-centred, egotistical and violent he was also disliked by many of his peers. Both Mary and Bothwell were suspected of being involved, in Darnley's murder - Bothwell was tried but was cleared.
After Mary was forced to abdicate and incarcerated, it was Bothwell's intention to rescue her, but circumstances forced him to flee to Norway where he was questioned about monies owed to Anna Throndsen, a woman who he had abandoned years earlier. He was held first at Copenhagen Castle and by 1573 he found himself in solitary confinement in Dragsholm Castle
also in Denmark.
I still dither in my opinion of him, I'm not sure if he was ambitions and power crazy or a true noble of Scotland who put his country first?
It was at Dragsholm Castle that James Hepburn died on the 14th April in 1578 insane, weakened and degraded allegedly chained to a stone pillar and unable to stand.
In a gruesome end to his tale we find that his mummified remains were displayed in the church in the village of Faarevejle until finally buried some four centuries later.
After ten years in the workplace I became a mother to three very beautiful daughters, I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay at home and spend my time with them as they grew into the young women they are now. I am still in the position of being able to be at home and pursue all the interests I have previously mentioned. We live in a beautiful Victorian spa town with wooded walks for the dog, lovely shops and a host of lovely people, what more could I ask for.
All works © Andrea Povey 2014. Please do not reproduce without the expressed written consent of Andrea Povey.