Alice’s Restaurant

July 17, 2007

Tudor Follies: Teaching the Howards a Lesson

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:13 pm

My sincere apologies for the delay in posting Tudor Tuesday this week.  It’s been a rough few days around here.  But my computer is back out of the shop and here’s Mr. Al’s history lesson for the week.


Because so little of what Katherine was doing was of her own choice, the hand of the Duke was much more in evidence. Cranmer saw it plain as day. Yessiree, he saw through the Duke’s plans and he was going to teach the Duke a lesson. A Bill of Attainder against Katherine was submitted to Parliament in January 1542. With Henry’s help, it was rammed through both houses so that Katherine could be judicially murdered ASAP. That would show that o’l Duke! Henry went to the Commons to thank those gentlemen for being so concerned for his happiness. I swear to God I’m not making this up. Henry went to the Commons to thank them for giving him the green light to murder his illiterate teenage wife.

Katherine seemed resigned to her fate. She blamed herself for everything and repeatedly stated that she deserved to die. That is, until members of the Privy Council, including her uncle, arrived at Syon Abbey, where she had been confined, to take her to the Tower. It was then that she fully realized that Henry really would kill her. She lost it. She had to be restrained and hauled to the waiting barge.

The barge was closed so she wouldn’t be gawked at by the crowds. This was just as well because she could hardly have missed the heads of Dereham and Culpeper on London Bridge as they passed under it. She was in a semi-hysterical state until the night before her execution. At that point she calmed down enough to request the chopping block be brought to her room. So she could practice setting her head into it. She wanted to make a good impression on the crowd.

On Monday morning, February 13, 1542, Katherine Howard went to the block. After a short speech in which she said that she deserved to die because of all the sinful, slutty things she had done in her life, the executioner removed her head with one chop of his ax. She was seventeen. Lady Rochford followed immediately after.  Because she remained utterly panic stricken, Henry had to pass a special law allowing for the execution of crazy people.

It took Henry two whole weeks to get over Katherine. To make sure there would be no more Katherine’s, a law was passed making it a capital offense not to tell the king of any naughty behavior on the part of a potential wife that involved persons might be aware of. During this time the good Duke of Norfolk remembered he had business on some land far, far from London. He was ordered to return. He begged off on the grounds that he had a tummy-ache. Oh well, at least there were some Howards near London that were not so fleet of foot.

Every Howard Cranmer could get his hands on went to the Tower. Including some that were out of the country during the whole affair. The Governor of Calais was just such a fellow. He had never even met Katherine. Cranmer ordered him to return to London. Once there, he was stripped of his titles, money, property and arrested. Even the Duchess went into the Tower. Eventually, they were all released, but not before all of their property had been confiscated.

And the Duke? He kept his title, his properties, his money, everything. He was even allowed to return to court. Henry never did trust him again, but hey, it was just business. Yes, and a sad business at that. What Henry needed to buck up his flagging spirits was another wife! Maybe, God willing, one who could keep her mouth shut and her legs together. Except, of course, when royal duty called.

The Council brought the matter up from time to time. Henry agreed with the logic of it. It was good for the Tudor line after all. But poor Henry was feeling decidedly ill-used by the institution of Holy Matrimony. Still, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. The wife hunt began again. The Council faced the same problem it had before. A very acute shortage of princesses willing to marry Henry.

Fortunately for them, Henry himself had found the girl of his dreams! She wasn’t as young as the others had been, but she wasn’t that old either. She was good looking, apparently acceptable in the hooter department and astoundingly intelligent. Her background was without blemish. Not a whiff of untoward behavior and…She was a stylish dresser, an accomplished dancer of some note and…A firm supporter of Henry’s church reforms! Too bad she was already married. She was also horrified to discover that Henry had his eye on her. Her name was Katherine Parr.


Thank you Mr. Al.  We even managed to post this on a Tuesday.  Just the wrong end of Tuesday. 



  1. Katherine is dead, long live Katherine? He had a thing for girls with that name didn’t he? So, how does he dispose of KP’s dh? This is so fascinating, Mr. Al! I’ve heard of all these characters but never really knew the whole story. Thanks for another enjoyable episode!


    Comment by Laurie — July 17, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  2. Thank you Mr. Al! The hypocrisy of the times is truly infuriating! Thank you Alice for posting it!!! 😉

    Comment by Anastasia — July 18, 2007 @ 8:40 am

  3. Mr. Al you should write your own book (I mean Tudor. Oh, you know what I mean)

    Comment by Bev — July 18, 2007 @ 1:04 pm

  4. The fact that Katherine Parr was horrified is an extremely good indication of her intelligence. Too bad she couldn’t use those dancer’s legs to high tail it out of the country.

    Comment by Donna — July 18, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

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