Fact number 30 guys?! What the hellllll :D! Beyond exciting and beyond awesome that there is now 30 of these wonderful little “Short Historical Facts”. So! Here is number 30, enjoy ❤
On this day, 476 years ago, Henry VIII’s youngest and 5th wife Catherine Howard was taken to the Tower of London having been accused of Treason.
Being the youngest of Henry’s brides, around 18-19, Catherine Howard found herself in an incredibly sticky situation on February 10th 1542. Catherine was at the time being accused of high Treason by her Lord and Husband and on this day was making her way to the Tower of London to be held. Worst of all, this treason she had been accused of committing was with none other then a gentleman to the king’s privy chamber, Thomas Culpeper.
To add to the list of her offences, it is also believed that Catherine was in fact pre-contracted to Francis Dereham before she married the king. This itself was enough to cause an end of her marry to the king, for it was something he was never made aware of and Howard continued to deny the pre-contract while being accused and held, she even went as far to accuse Dereham of raping her. However, it would appear no matter how much she protested she was removed of her title as queen in November 1541 and was sent to be imprisoned in Middlesex at Syon Abbey. It was here she stayed for the entirety of the 1541 winter.
Both Culpeper and Durham were held at Guildhall on December 1st 1541 and were then executed on December 10th. Culpeper was hung but Dereham got the worse punishment out of the two: hanging, drawing and quartering. Once dead, the king proceeded to show the world how traitorous they truly were by putting there heads upon spikes on top of London Bridge.
Catherine however, remained hidden away until January 1542 until a new bill was introduced in parliament. This bill itself was the “Bill of Attainder” and it made the act that Catherine had committed treason and punishable by death. This was due to the fact that Catherine had not informed the king of her sexual history within the time of 20 days from them first being married. This act solved just about everything for Henry and was the means to Catherine’s death. She protested, panicked and screamed when she was collected on February 10th, 1542 to be taken to the Tower. Once arriving at the Tower, Catherine was scheduled for execution on February 13th.
She is said to have practised many times how to lay her head on the chopping block the night before her death and is said to have died with “relative composure”. Her last words, according to folklore were, “I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper”. She was then executed with the single swing of an axe.
Interestingly enough, if you didn’t know this, Catherine Howard was the cousin of Henry’s 2nd wife Anne Boleyn. Both were the only wives to be beheaded by Henry and for very similar accusations. Coincidence? That fact always intrigues me.
With love, Charlotte x