Saturday, February 13, 2010

Today in History: Catherine Howard, The Rose with out a Thorn

As many of you remember the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event this past year this is my feature post that went up on I know your thinking it is a recycled post but I can not help myself today. Today in history was the day that Catherine Howard made the exhausted walk to the block some 468 years ago.

Catherine Howard the "Rose with out a Thorn" was fifth wife of Henry VIII. She was also a first cousin of Anne Boleyn. She was executed after less than two years of marriage to Henry. The grounds for her execution were treason, in other words she cheated on Henry during the marriage. It has been implied in many novels that Catherine herself was a "silly girl" type caring only for herself. The age diffe
rence between them was probably an issue because of maturity. Catherine being in her late teens and Henry was well in his forties.

She was one of the only three women taken through the "Traitors Gate" to the tower. Anne Boleyn being the first, Catherine next, and later Elizabeth by her half sister queen bloody Mary. Upon her entry through the gate her executed lovers head were on pikes above her on the bridge. The night before her execution she had requested that the "block" be brought to her so she could practice her own beheading. Leaving her exhausted for her date with death.

ne was a very young woman. I believe was a victim of Henry VIII, granted she did cheat. I am not excusing that but she was a product of her environment and growing up with her grandmother the duchess was a very bad situation. The duchesses’ house was a notorious breeding ground of loose morals and since Catherine had spent the bulk of her childhood there doing pretty much as she pleased. It would become her downfall that her past at the duchesses home would follower her to the court of Henry VIII. This is the "Transcript of Catherine Howard loses her head" it is the original letter that ended her life and crushed Henry VIII love for her, making her no longer "the rose with out a thorn".

"Master Coulpeper, I hertely recomend me unto youe praying you to sende me worde how that you doo. Yt was showed me that you was sike, the wyche thynge trobled me very muche tell suche tyme that I here from you praying you to send me worde how that you do. For I never longed so muche for [a] thynge as I do to se you and to speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now, the wyche dothe comforthe me verie much whan I thynk of ett and wan I thynke agan that you shall departe from me agayne ytt makes my harte to dye to thynke what fortune I have that I cannot be always yn your company. Y[e]t my trust ys allway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed me and in that hope I truste upon styll, prayng you than that you wyll com whan my lade Rochforthe ys here, for then I shalbe beste at leaysoure to be at your commarendmant. Thaynkyng you for that you have promysed me to be sogood unto that pore felowe my man, whyche is on of the grefes that I do felle to departe from hym for than I do know noone that I dare truste to sende to you and therfor I pray you take hym to be wyth you that I may sumtym here from you one thynge. I pray you to gyve me a horse for my man for I hyd muche a do to gat one and thefer I pray sende me one by hym and yn so doying Iam as I sade afor, and thus I take my leve of you trusting to se you s[h]orttele agane and I wode you was wythe me now that yoo maitte se what pane I take yn wryte[n]g to you. Yours as long as lyffe endures Katheryn One thyng I had forgotten and that hys to instruct my man to tare here wyt[h] me still, for he sas wat so mever you bed hym he wel do et"


  1. Great post. I always feel sorry for Catherine Howard. She did cheat, but she was a silly young girl married to an old and vengeful king. It was an impossible situation.

  2. Laura, I too feel the same way about Catherine.

  3. Hi Lizzy, check your email asap please:)

  4. Interesting. One can appreciate the standardization of spelling and written English. It gets easier to read after you get the cadence. Her infidelity may have justified punishment, but it doesn't prove treason. She was young and stupid more than anything.

  5. I know right Pat, it does get easier once you get into it a bit. I agree Catherine was young and stupid. To me it has always seemed that her years with her grandmother damaged her.

  6. yes indeed...cute but not known for her political saavy...I also blame Jane Rochford for egging her on. Poor kid.

  7. I have to agree with you Christy, everything Jane Rochford ever had contact with went to garbage. She tainted everything, and I would not have been surprised if she played more into what happened then people are led to believe. She was evil.

  8. No, absolutely not. She may have been undeserving as far as being executed goes, but she wasn't a victim of the King. She (like Anne Boleyn) knew exactly what she was doing. I can't say that "The Tudors" is historically accurate, but there was one scene where she says something to the effect of "I know how to avoid becoming pregnant". Everyone knew that the king wants 1)an heir, and 2)a young queen. She was only trying to milk his favor for as long as possible.

    And did I mention that she was an airhead?

  9. Jerry I have to disagree because honestly she suffered the worst possible punishment...death. No one deserves death so it may be that she was a victim of her own reckless behavior or the victim of a scorned king husband looking for revenge. In my mind she was a misguided soul that probably had no sense about her. Sadly not all of us are born with great intelligence.


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