Alice’s Restaurant

August 28, 2007

Tudor Follies: the End of Henry

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al — aliceaudrey @ 12:33 am

Just when we thought Katherine was bound for execution, she stop screaming and got smart.  Lets see if Wriothesley faired as well.  Take it away, Mr. Al.                                                                   ****Henry, Katherine and assorted hangers-on were gambolling in the royal gardens when Wriothesley showed up with forty Tower guards in tow. Most likely Katherine and the ladies were gambolling. Henry’s gambolling days were a very distant memory by then. Henry took the Lord Chancellor aside and read him the riot act. Trick me into believing my loving wife was a heretic, eh? Bamboozle me into burning my Queen at the stake, huh? You never did like her; you and Gardiner. Get the hell out of my garden and take these goons with you or I’ll give ’em a new set of orders!

Wriothesley dropped to his knees and begged Henry’s forgiveness. Fat chance! Lord Chancellor Wriothesley scurried away with his tail between his legs. Katherine was the picture of innocent astonishment when Henry returned. “Golly Snookems, what was THAT all about? How come the Lord Chancellor had all those Tower guys with him?” As angry as Henry was, the warrant DID have his signature on it. Tricked or not, it was kinda hard to explain. Henry decided the best explanation was none at all. He said nothing about the warrant. He told her it was all a misunderstanding. It was a guy thing and as the Head Guy, he’d deal with it. Katherine and the ladies could go back to gambolling. Which they did with joyous hearts.

In the end, no action was taken by Henry against either Wriothesley or Gardiner. And these gentlemen never bothered the Queen again either. More importantly, the Queen never argued with Henry again. Her ladies were forbidden to own, disseminate, acknowledge, discuss or even whisper about ANYTHING even vaguely heretical. Upon pain of instant dismissal. Everyone conformed, with a capital “C” to Henry’s church. She was still a closet Lutheran, of course. But she was so far back in the closet that no one would openly suspect her. Till the day Henry died, she was the Dutiful Wife Extraordinaire.

As the summer of 1546 moved into autumn, Henry’s health began to seriously deteriorate. Between the pustular ulcer on his leg and his great weight, Henry couldn’t move without the use of a specially designed chair with a built in crane, Henry knew he was dying. He wasn’t afraid to face it. He made out a detailed will and set up Edward’s Regency Council. Henry had always been a realist when it came to politics. He saw how England was changing, how it was moving in an undeniably Protestant direction. The Protestants would change his church, but the Catholics would destroy it utterly. Accordingly, he appointed men to the Council who held Protestant sympathies. He also took care to appoint Protestant tutors for Edward.

Wriothesley and Gardiner were appointed. Henry knew them well enough to know what they wanted above all else was power. They would amend their religious beliefs once they realized they might loose their jobs if they didn’t. This would also protect Katherine. Henry knew what she really believed, even though everyone had to pretend otherwise. In as much as Henry was capable of loving anyone, he seemed to have truly loved Katherine. For her part, Henry’s approaching demise genuinely upset Katherine.

He left Katherine something to remember him by. Jewels, plate and household goods for the rest of her life. He also left her his entire wardrobe. While this might seem odd to the modern reader, it should be remembered that fancy clothing in those days often had jewels sewn into them. They also had much embroidery work with gold and silver thread. The satin and silk fabrics were worth a considerable sum by themselves. She also received 1,000 pounds cash, the return of her dowry and whatever properties Parliament saw fit to bestow upon her. They were very generous.

Henry had done about all he could do to be prepared. The fact that the Regency Council would ignore some of Henry’s wishes before his body was cold should not be surprising. With Wriothesley and Gardiner on the Council, Katherine was  banished from the court. She received her due, but they did not want her around Edward. They didn’t seem to care if Mary and Elizabeth hung out with her. They should have.

Eventually Elizabeth would enter Katherine’s household. She was thirteen. Elizabeth and Katherine would both live to regret this, but Katherine’s new hubby, Lord High Admiral Sir Thomas Seymour, would not. It is still a matter of debate how much Sir Thomas’s “attentions” toward Elizabeth affected her as concerns men and marriage; But that’s another story altogether. Suffice it to say that the Tudor follies continued. Edward was king and the Protestant reformation, begun in secret, was now moving into the open. Unfortunately for the Protestant cause, Edward would not be long on the throne.

With his death, his half-sister Mary would become Supreme Monarch. Mary moved with an implacable will to restore the Catholic Church. It would be a very dark period in England’s history. Much else in Henry’s will was ignored by the Council in the power struggle that followed his death. They fought over who would have the most access to nine year old Edward. More importantly, they fought over who would give orders in the King’s name. It became an unholy mess.

One thing was clear however; the people of London were grief stricken at Henry’s passing. As displeased as they were with Henry from time to time, they loved him all the same. Henry was a Londoner, one of them. He spent much of his time there and was proud to call it his city. When Henry died, quietly and in bed, on January 28, 1547, the city was plunged into mourning. It most certainly was not the end of the Tudor follies, but it was the end of the man. And with his passing, the end of an age.

                               Le Roi Est Mort! Vive Le Roi! 

                                                            ****

And thus ends Mr. Al’s take on the wives of Henry the Eighth.

Mr. Al assures me he will be ready to start up his take on the Georges very soon.  I’d like to start them in September, but that’s only a few days away.  If I can, I’ll be posting them in Wednesdays.

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August 21, 2007

Tudor Follies: Arm Chair Theologians

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 1:01 am

When we left off Katherine was behaving the same way so many of Henry’s other wives did when finding out how blood thirsty Henry could be.  She had a royal hissy fit.  Let’s see if she fairs any better than the others.***

So sayeth the doctor to Katherine; “First, don’t say anything to anybody else about the warrant! When you talk to Henry, tell him that you could sense that he was upset about something. That after much soul searching you concluded he was upset because you were such a smart-ass know it all. Tell his Royal Husbandness that you will never, EVER do or say ANYTHING that will EVER contradict or upset His Most Benign and Forgiving Royal Self EVER AGAIN! Cross your heart and hope to die!

And tell your servant to put that frick’n warrant back where she found it! Without being seen! If Henry knows you know what he knows, you’re toast. Um…Your majesty will forgive me that last bit. Just a figure of speech.” Katherine continued to carry on as loudly as before, but now she had a plan. The doctor returned to Henry shaking his head. Henry decided to pop in and see what was upsetting his little armchair theologian.

He stayed with Katherine for about an hour, them returned to his rooms. As soon as he was gone Katherine ordered her ladies to gather up any books, pamphlets, letters, anything that might be considered heretical and burn them. Then, in deep remorse mode, she went to Henry’s room for a little chat. Henry was there with some chaps, discussing…religion! Henry invited Katherine in. Perhaps she’d care to add her two shillings on the subject.

Katherine answered Henry’s questions very carefully. She then stated that, as the supreme head of the One True Church, she would never dream of contradicting him on matters of doctrine. Henry was having none of that.
He said, “Not so, by St. Mary! Ye are become a doctor, Kate, to instruct us, as often time we have seen, and not to be instructed or directed by us.”

Katherine had to proceed with the utmost care. If she couldn’t convince Henry she was behind him on matters of the church… She started by saying she had been misunderstood. She was a woman! How could she possibly know as much as her vastly superior husband? If she argued with him it was only for the sake of taking his mind off the cares and burdens of being a king! If she played the devil’s advocate it was for entertainment purposes only! She truly believed she was making her beloved husbands life more pleasant by giving his brain cells a run for their money.

Henry’s heart melted. His little Kate had only noble intentions from the very beginning. He knew it all along. Said Henry,
“Is it so, sweetheart? And tended your arguments to no worse end? Then we are perfect friends, as ever at any time heretofore.”
He bought it all. He hugged her and kissed her and told her he would never doubt her again. After she left, he turned his attention to those who had badmouthed her. The scales had fallen from his eyes. He could see the plans of Wriothesley and Gardiner plain as day. Something would have to be done about those two. 

Meanwhile, the butterfingered councilor had found the warrant right where he dropped it. Yowza! That was a close one! His relief can only be imagined. At some point in the evening Wriothesly became aware of the document’s existence. Since it bore Henry’s signature, he decided not to wait for Henry to make up his mind. He was going to move in for the kill the next day. Lord Chancellor Wriothesley was about to discover how mercurial a prince Henry could be.

****

What a foolish, foolish man.  Wriothesly, I mean.

No, this does not end the Tudor Follies.  Mr. Al has one last episode ready to go.  I couldn’t resist; I went ahead and read it.  I promise, next Tuesday we will end the series with a great post.

Thank you Mr. Al, both for today’s episode, and for your willingness to continue your history lessons after you are done with Henry VIII.

Alice

August 14, 2007

And even more Tudor stuff

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:03 am

We’re back for another installment of Mr. Al’s take on Henry the VIII.  Warning, there is some rough language in this one. 

*** 

One of the things I love about history are those moments when I put down a history book and exclaim, “What the hell was he thinking? How could he be that stupid?” Katherine’s story takes just such a turn. Soon after his conversation with Henry, Gardiner ordered the arrest of three of Katherine’s most important ladies-in-waiting; Lady Tyrwhitte, Lady Lane and Katherine’s sister, Lady Herbert. No rough stuff, but they were taken to the Tower for questioning. While there, their rooms were searched for banned reading materials.

The ladies were asked about their conversations with the Queen. Discuss religion much? How about that Martin Luther guy? Anything nice to say about him? Apparently nothing was found because the ladies were released without being charged with anything. Before all this happened Katherine knew she had to be careful. If she suspected that she had enemies in her husband’s court before, she knew it for a fact now. The arrest of her ladies-in waiting should have been a red flag the size of a mainsail to her.

Bishop Gardiner’s signature was on the arrest warrants. Katherine should have known that Gardiner didn’t have the juice to pull a stunt like that on his own dime. Henry would never have allowed it! Unless… So what did this very intelligent, common senseical woman do? She continued her theological debates with Henry. What in God’s name was she thinking? She KNEW they were looking for closet Protestants. She KNEW they suspected her. She should have known that Henry was supporting the investigation. Katherine Parr was a snow white bunny rabbit in the middle of a very large, very empty field and the sky overhead was filled with hungry hawks. And she continued to debate religion with Henry.

Henry listened very carefully to his wife’s arguments. He noted anything that might be suspicious. She prattled on and he listened. She prattled some more and he listened. Then, one day, he decided he had heard enough. He had a warrant for her arrest drawn up. The charge? Heresy. Which meant that she would be burned at the stake rather than beheaded. That Henry! He sure knew how to put on a show!

With the warrant before him, Henry signed it and handed it over to a trusted member of his Privy Council. This fellow was told to keep it under wraps until it was called for. No one was to know about it. This fellow was told to guard the document with his life. This fellow swore mighty oaths and promised to do as the king wished. No doubt fantasizing about the rich rewards that would come his way for being so loyal, this unnamed person allowed himself to become distracted enough to lose the warrant. He dropped it in a hallway where it was promptly found by one of the Queens servants.

Apparently this servant didn’t stop to consider the price she might pay for her loyalty to Katherine, because she took it strait to the Queen. Whatever illusions Katherine harbored regarding Henry’s tolerance of her unorthodox views went right out the window, along with her composure, upon reading the warrant. Henry was going to burn her at the stake as a heretic! She was way too smart to think she stood a snowball’s chance in hell of being found innocent. When Henry Tudor had a wife arrested, there was only one outcome.

How could she have misjudged him so badly? There was only one thing to be done, talk to Henry. But first, she’d take a moment or so to collapse on her bed, a screaming, hysterical mass of quivering royal jelly. Katherine lost it completely. So loud were her lamentations that Henry could hear them in his private rooms. Having no idea what was wrong, he sent his personal doctors to check it out.

One of them, Doctor Wendy, was the only other person, aside from the Privy Councilor, that Henry had confided in regarding the warrant. Some how or another, the good doctor figured out what was troubling Katherine. Without tipping off his colleague, Wendy sent him and everyone else out of the room so he could have a heart to heart with the Queen. She told him about the warrant. Oh dear. What was she going to do? The good doctor was completely on Katherine’s side. First and foremost, she had to pull herself together! They only had minutes to come up with a plan so she had to stop freaking out NOW!

 ***

This kind of behavior really brings home the realization that kings and queens are only people too.  Good thing you’ve got another blog planned, Mr. Al.  No way I’d let you quit here.

Alice

August 6, 2007

Tudor Follies: A Conversational Gambit

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:50 pm

Put your breakfast down before you read today’s installment of Henry’s life and wives.  Mr. Al is in rare form today! 

***

 In the summer of 1546, a woman, Anne Askew, was imprisoned in the Tower on charges of heresy. For some reason Wriothesley considered this a golden opportunity to gather evidence against the Queen. Under questioning she denied knowing any members of the Queen’s household, let alone the Queen herself. Wroithesley ordered her racked. When no information was forthcoming, Wriothesley took over, turning the wheel himself. Once her arms and legs had been pulled from their sockets, Wriothesley had Anne dumped on the floor, where she was kicked and beaten for another two hours. She would not deny her faith nor admit to knowing any member of the Queen’s household. Wriothesley ordered her to be burned at the stake. Occasionally, a prisoner sentenced to be burned would be strangled with a cord before the fire was lit; an act of mercy the executioner was not allowed to do for Anne. So, apparently on his own initiative, he tied a bag of gunpowder around her neck. It exploded almost as soon as the fire was lit. That execution was the talk of London. If Katherine needed any evidence as to how far the anti-Protestant crowd would go, she need look no further than Anne Askew. Wriothesley returned to biding his time and hoping that the Queen would slip up.It was becoming more difficult for Katherine to hide her true beliefs. Especially since she loved theological debates. So did Henry. This would have been fine but for the fact Henry DID NOT like to be contradicted. Katherine did it constantly. Perhaps this would have been acceptable on a very limited basis with a man like Archbishop Cranmer, perhaps not. It was not acceptable from a mere woman, Queen or no queen. Katherine didn’t get that memo.

Worse yet, it was becoming clear that she was pushing church reform much further than Henry was willing to go; and in an undeniably Protestant direction. This wasn’t sitting well with Henry. Nor was the fact that after three years of marriage there were no kids, male or female. Edward’s health as well as the changing situation in Scotland convinced Henry that more princes were required. Three whole years and no rug rats. What the hell?!

Since any problems in a Henry marriage were automatically the woman’s fault, Katherine would have to, um…take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and do something about it. She didn’t seem to be aware that there was a problem. She really should have. Kids aside, she continued to push for greater church reforms and continued to contradict Henry. Wriothesley, (Say that name really fast five times.) and Gardinier were delighted to give her all the rope she wanted. It was only a matter of time before she hung herself. And then, one evening at the dinner table, she did.

What point they were debating is not known. Considering Henry’s reaction it was probably religious. In any event, in the middle of making a point, Henry told Katherine to shut the hell up and change the subject. Shocked, Katherine did as she was told. After dinner, she rose, bid His Majesty a good night and left the room. Bishop Gardiner was at that meal. As soon as Katherine was gone, he went to work.

Henry grumbled about uppity women daring to contradict their husbands. What was the world coming to? It broke the good bishops heart to have to report to Henry that the Queen’s views were not hers alone. No, there was an entire Protestant faction within the Queen’s household that was promoting a brand of heresy that would be an automatic death sentence for anyone of lesser rank.

Worse, these members of the Queen’s household were planning the overthrow of Henry’s government, the destruction of his church and the imposition of a radically heretical sect in its place! Worse than Lutherans, maybe. Although in Gardiner’s book, it would be pretty hard to sink lower than a Lutheran. Henry was stunned. What in heavens name was his little Kate getting up to? Sure, she was lippy and opinionated, but this? Henry wasn’t sure what to think. These charges were about as serious as it gets.

Henry had known Gardiner a lot longer than he had known Katherine. If a man of his caliber was making such claims, he’d better have the matter investigated. Besides, Gardiner must have known the price he would pay for lying about such a thing. He would never risk it unless at least some of it was true. Henry and the bishop had a long conversation that night. When it ended, Henry was in a very bad mood. He ordered Gardiner to find the proof. Leave no stone unturned.

***

Uh oh.  Poor Katherine. How dare she be a real person!  Mr. Al, tell me this ends well.  I’m tempted to skip ahead to next week.

Alice

July 31, 2007

The Tudor Follies: Marital Bliss with Henry

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:59 am

When we left off last week, Henry and Katherine Parr had just gotten married, and Henry was in the mood to celebrate.  Now, back to the words of Mr. Al.****

Henry decided on a celebration that would combine business with pleasure.  Accordingly, during a visit to Windsor Castle, Henry had three Protestant heretics burned at the stake on the front lawn. Yes, all was well in the Tudor household. Katherine had prevailed upon Henry to be nice to Mary and Elizabeth. With Edward brought in from the royal bubble Henry kept him in, all three half-siblings were finally spending quality time together. Edward loved it! He didn’t get to socialize much, and it showed. Unfortunately, not everyone was happy.

Lord Chancellor Wriothesley was a political ally of the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, whom we met earlier in a public house in Essex. Mister Gardiner’s career had come along nicely, thank you very much. Wriothesley and Gardiner hated Protestants every bit as much as Henry. They also suspected the Queen of being one. Which she was. Very, VERY secretly. Katherine was aware of the danger and conducted herself accordingly. Unfortunately, she began to feel a little bulletproof, being the Queen and all. What she didn’t realize was that being Queen made it even more imperative that she be careful. Especially since she didn’t know who her enemies were.

When the heretics were burned at Windsor, she didn’t bat an eyelash. She did nothing to intervene. She was aware that she was being watched for her reaction. She couldn’t fool Wriothesley. He wanted to bring her down the way he had brought down Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. One gets the impression that he did not approve of queens.

Poor Henry, every time he set out to find the perfect wife, somebody had to jam the spokes of the wheels of the wagon of wedded bliss with the triple monkey wrenches of adultery, heresy and more adultery. Wroithesley and Gardiner decided to bide their time. Henry wasn’t going to live forever, or even much longer. They fully expected to be appointed to Edward’s Regency Council. Then they would make their move.

In the meantime, all Katherine could do was try to keep to herself. That, and indulge one of her great passions, female education. To say Katherine Parr was ahead of her time on the issue would be putting it mildly. She was centuries ahead of her time. Not just for girls of Good Family, but the poor as well. Educate the poor?! Men of the court were horrified. Katherine used her position to champion these causes and more.

She took money from her household fund to provide scholarships for academically worthy boys from modest homes. And she practiced what she preached close to home. Under her guidance Mary, Elizabeth and Edward excelled at their studies. Granted, Elizabeth and Edward were prodigies, but Mary was not. She was very intelligent, but not on the level of her half-siblings. Adding to that the treatment she had received at the hands of her father, she had the self-esteem of a clam. Katherine made sure she did her best. Which turned out to be pretty damned good. Edward remembered those days as the happiest of his life. Elizabeth thought she’d died and gone to heaven.

Both Mary and Elizabeth produced translations of French philosophical texts that were good enough to publish. These works received a wide reading and were praised by academics across England. Edward’s grasp of foreign languages astounded his tutors. Not yet in his teens, he could, and did, argue points of theology and law with university professors. Katherine was the toast of the university community. And not just because she had money for them.

Mary and Katherine were very close in age. The two of them got on wonderfully, as long as they didn’t discuss religion. This must have been hard for both of them. Mary as a devote Roman Catholic and Katherine as a closet Lutheran. It couldn’t be any other way. With Henry’s reforms, they were both skating on thin ice. Katherine was about to find out how thin.

***

Thank you Mr. Al.  It’s amazing how Henry’s least little mood swing makes me cringe.  I’m so glad I’m not living in his times.

Alice

July 23, 2007

Tudor Follies: Courtship, Henry Style

Filed under: Henry VIII, History, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:42 pm

Welcome back to Mr. Al’s take on the many wives of Henry the XIII. When we left off the sweet, young, but not so innocent Katherine * had lost her head. Wouldn’t you know Henry would turn his attention to another Katherine. And now, without further ado, Mr. Al:
***
Yes, Katherine Parr was already married. But the hubby, Lord Latimer, was much older and sick with some long-term disease that would carry him off before too long. And a good thing too, because Henry was no spring chicken. He didn’t have time for lengthy courtships. Hell, he didn’t need no stink’n courtship at all! Wasn’t he king? The scullery maids never said “no”, why should Katherine? He began sending her little ‘tokens’ of his esteem. Katherine wanted to send them back, but she didn’t dare..
Her resolve was put to the test in March of 1543. Lord Latimer died, leaving Katherine a couple of manor houses, some cash and the usual knick-knacks. Family silver, ect. At 31, Katherine Parr was an independent woman of means. And an attractive one. With deep auburn hair, blue eyes and fashionably pale skin, more guys than Henry considered her a prize.

.
Being newly widowed and all, Henry decided to keep a low profile for the time being. One fellow wasn’t going to wait. Sir Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen, was six years older than Katherine, handsome to a fault and as ambitious as his sister. In Katherine he saw looks, money and connections to the oldest families in the kingdom. Sir Thomas Seymore was…a scoundrel!

.
Katherine was flattered by all the attention from this dashing fellow. Respectable enough to be employed by Henry as an ambassador, but not TOO respectable. She found him very exciting. There is no indication that Sir Thomas and Henry knew about each other in the beginning. It’s not likely that Katherine would have mentioned the gifts from Henry. You just naturally forget to mention things like that when an exciting non-Henry type guy comes calling.

.
It wasn’t long before they were discussing marriage. They might as well have been discussing a trip to the Moon for all the reality of it. Henry had his eye on Katherine. And when he found out about Sir Thomas, he had his eye on him as well…But not for the same reason…obviously…Anyway… Henry moved swiftly to nip the Seymour/Parr romance in the bud. Sir Thomas was sent on an embassy to the Regent of the Netherlands. An important post and an indication of Henry’s regard for Sir Thomas’s diplomatic abilities. Alas, the posting would last until Henry told him to come home.

.
No doubt Henry gave him some lovely parting gifts. With Sir Thomas gone, Henry turned up the heat on Katherine. She was not happy, but Henry being king and all, she had to go along. In July of 1543, Henry concluded a treaty with Scotland for the future marriage of his son, Edward, to Mary, Queen of Scots. This arrangement was entirely to Henry’s advantage. It left him in such high spirits that, dang it, he couldn’t help himself, he asked Katherine to marry him.

.
Katherine was appalled. She did NOT want to marry Henry. She tried to beg off. Henry asked again.  He let her know that there was only one acceptable answer. She said yes. While Henry may not have been Katherine’s first choice for a husband, she quickly decided to make the best of it. She had no more love of sports or gambling than Anne of Cleves did, but at 52, neither did Henry. Henry was an old man by the standards of the day, and he felt it.

.
Not willing to give up the rich foods and wine that gave him so much pleasure, Henry had put on a great deal of weight. The weight gain seems to have brought on impotence. This apparently didn’t bother Henry either. Not at first, anyway. Katherine possessed an unusually keen intellect. One of her favorite subjects for debate was theology. Oh boy! Not only was it one of Henry’s favorite topics, but it endeared her to Archbishop Cranmer immediately. She was absolutely committed to church reform.

.
That same July, Cranmer issued a special license for the lovebugs to get married wherever and whenever they felt like it. Two days after receiving it, Henry and Katherine were married, are you ready for this? In a small, quiet ceremony at Hampton Court. Everything was going as well as Katherine could hope. The new Queen organized her new household. Relatives and friends were given cushy jobs. Henry was feeling better than he had in years! In fact, he felt that a special celebration was in order.

****

Oh boy. When Henry feels like celebrating I cringe.

Many of you have expressed concern that the Tudor Follies could not continue indefinitely, and indeed they can’t. There will be four more episodes, and then, alas, we will have to lay Henry and all his wives to rest. (I can hear Mr. Al’s voice in my head as I type this. Dear, there is such a thing as too much togetherness.)

There will be a short intermission for Mr. Al while he changes gears. He is boning up on his Georgian history, or at least that’s what the books scattered around the kitchen seem to be on. He is threatening to go backwards on me – starting with the Prince Regent from whom we get the term “The Regency Period” and working his way back in time to George the First. Sigh. If you must, dear. If you must.
Alice

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

Alice

July 9, 2007

Tudor Folley’s: Feeding Katherine Howard To The Wolves

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:06 pm

 Welcome back to Mr. Al’s take on the life and times of Henry the VIII’s wives, what little they tended to have at any rate.  We left off with a young bride accused.  And now, in the immortal words of Mr. Al:
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Henry had brought to Parliament, in it’s role as Supreme Court, the matter of Katherine’s “abominable behavior.” This was extremely bad news for Katherine. Henry was not going to be satisfied with an annulment. He wanted a divorce. Or worse. It did not take long to seal Katherine’s fate. Lady Rochford, her trusted lady in waiting, provided the evidence. Before Katherine moved to the country Cranmer had Rochford taken to the tower. Just a formality, a few routine questions. But don’t wait up for her, your Majesty.

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Rochford collapsed like a house of cards. She told Cranmer about Dereham and Culpeper. Names, dates, everything she thought Cranmer wanted to hear. Katherine was a slut, a whore, no better than a dog in heat. Dear Lady Rochford was making stories up in a bid to save herself.                                         After unburdening her conscience, she was asked if she would swear that everything she had just told them was true.

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She did.

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Did she understand that the sex acts constituted treason on the part of the men?

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She did.

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Was she aware that the punishment for High Treason was horrible in the extreme?

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She was.

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And that, according to her own statements, Katherine had tried to hide her immoral activities by meeting her lovers in her Ladyship’s room? With no one present but the lovers and her Ladyship?

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Um…yes, that’s what she said.

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And that these meetings were arranged, well in advance, by her ladyship for the purpose of facilitating the immoral behavior of the Queen. And the treasonous behavior of the men involved?

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Her ladyship felt the questioner was rather overstating the case, but she sorta said something that kinda sounded like that.

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And did her ladyship realize that anyone facilitating an act of High Treason was a co-conspirator if that person was aware the act was treasonous but did not report it?

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Lady Rochford was ordered back to the Tower, her sentencing a mere formality. She was dead meat on a stick. Figuratively and literally.

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Just to make sure all was neat and tidy, Cranmer had Culpeper and Dereham sign their confessions while they were still capable of doing so. The Council condemned them to a traitor’s death. Culpeper went first. Members of the court asked Henry to commute Culpeper’s sentence to simple decapitation. No point in setting a precedent for people of Good Family to die horribly. It was bad enough that the Lesser Sorts were being allowed to watch the spectacle.

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Dereham, on the other hand, was just the sort of fellow who needed to be made an example of. He got the full program. The London crowd was thrilled. Both heads were set on London Bridge. Considering all the fuss that so many people had gone to reach this point, it’s worth taking a moment to consider Katherine’s position.

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She didn’t have one. She was a Queen who exercised very little power. She married a man she didn’t understand. A man who may or may not have loved her, but most certainly now wanted her dead. As a person, she held no importance at all. She was just a girl who was now in the way of the grown-ups plans. Men wanted her dead not because they hated her, it was just business. Men used her sexually because she was attractive and they could get away with it. They used her politically because it was to their profit and advantage to do so. And also because she was too ignorant to realize what they were up to. Of all the adults who exploited Katherine Howard, none was guiltier than the Duke of Norfolk.

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As with Anne Boleyn, The Duke maneuvered Katherine into a position within the Queen’s household that would get her noticed by Henry. Unlike Anne, who already had extensive experience in court behavior, not to mention the ambition to become queen, Katherine needed a great deal of prepping. The Duke was happy to do it. As with Anne, when it was time to feed her to the wolves, he couldn’t push her into the pit fast enough. This time, however, there was a difference.

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Tune in next week to find out what the difference was.  Thank you Mr. Al.

Alice

July 3, 2007

Tudor Follies: A Queen Besieged

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:15 am

Mr. Al left us wondering how Cranmer would wring confessions from Queen Katherine (The Howard Katherine, not that earlier one).  Today he lets us know.
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He couldn’t touch the Queen, of course. But he could try to trick an incriminating statement out of her. She was Queen, but she was also an emotionally distraught teenage girl. It was worth a try. In the meantime, he could turn the pros in the Tower lose on Dereham and Culpeper. His first meeting with her didn’t go so well. For either of them. Katherine was so hysterical that Cranmer couldn’t get a coherent sentence out of her. He decided to try again later. He also decided that the adversarial approach would be counter- productive. Instead, he would be her friend, someone with her best interests at heart.

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The new warm and cuddly Archbishop of Canterbury returned the next day. He had a letter from someone important! Would she like to read it? Oh… nevermind. He’d be happy to read it to her. It was from Henry! His Majesty was willing to forgive all if only she would fess up to every stupid, nasty, slutty thing she had ever done. Willingly or unwillingly. My, my. It certainly takes a big fellow to make that kind of offer. There now, didn’t her Majesty feel better? All that she had to do MAKE things better was to sign some unimportant papers the contents of which she needn’t worry her pretty little head about.

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Katherine didn’t buy it.

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She did give Cranmer the impression that a pre- contract existed between her and Dereham. There was nothing on paper; in fact, most of the reality of this pre-contract seemed to exist in Dereham’s head. It seems that he enjoyed going about calling Katherine his wife while she was with the Duchess. Dereham certainly expected her to act like a wife in at least one respect. When she was questioned about this Katherine stated that Dereham had raped her. That she never willingly submitted to him. She was probably telling the truth. A number of people in Katherine’s royal household were convinced that Dereham had blackmailed his way back into Katherine’s life.

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Cranmer had no use for this information. He wanted evidence that Katherine and Dereham were still having sex. At the very least, that a pre-contract existed. Then the marriage could be annulled. Katherine back-peddled and said no such thing existed. Not ever. She didn’t realize that the existence of a pre-contract would nullify any charge of adultery. You can’t commit adultery if both parties are unmarried. She believed admitting to a pre-contract would make things worse.

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Productive conversation between Cranmer and Katherine came to a screeching halt when Katherine found out that almost every guy she was suspected of sleeping with, since marrying Henry, was a guest in the Tower. Her emotional state was such the Cranmer thought she was losing her mind. Cranmer wrote up what he had to date in the form of a confession. Before Dereham there had been a music teacher named Manox. That started when Katherine was ten or eleven and lasted until he was fired by the Duchess. Dereham picked up where Manox left off until Katherine entered Queen Anne’s household and Dereham set sail to be a Celtic Jack Sparrow. There was nothing about Culpeper, A handsome courtier who’s only crime seems to have been being attracted to the Queen in a way that got people’s attention.

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No matter. Cranmer believed he had enough. No, she did not confess to adultery, but he had enough to prove a case of pre-contract, the evidence just needed a little tweaking here and there. That would annul the marriage and he could sweep the court clean of the Howard clan. And Henry wouldn’t have to chop Katherine’s head off! Pheew! Time for everyone to put this sordid business behind them and move on.

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Henry was pleased that his little Katherine hadn’t cheated on him. Cranmer assured him that he could prove a pre-contract. Marriage annulled. End of story. Henry returned to Hampton Court in high spirits. When Cranmer got there the place was buzzing like a beehive on a hot July afternoon. Rumors were flying. Henry would divorce Katherine and take back Anne. He was going to chop Katherine’s head off and take back Anne. That all was forgiven and he would continue with Katherine. There was another woman and Henry would kill that poor girl so he could have his way with yet another.

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Cranmer knew Henry well enough to realize that he might very well take Katherine back if she was allowed to talk to him. The second half of the Henry Marriage Drill went into effect. Katherine was sent to a place in the country until the matter was settled. Cranmer also realized that as long as Katherine was alive there would always be a danger that the two of them would kiss and make up. Henry had to be rid of Katherine beyond all hope of reconciliation. Cranmer was still at Hampton Court when he discovered that Henry’s mind and his were as one on the subject.

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Poor Katherine.  I really feel for her.
Alice

June 26, 2007

Tudor Follies: The Sad Tale of Katherine Howard

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:58 am

It’s Tudor Tuesday and Mr. Al is back with his short and pithy take on history.  Put down your cereal bowls. We’re going to skirt the edges of “eww” with this one.
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Of the six wives of Henry the VIII, Katherine Howard was probably the least prepared for what lay ahead. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. Her mother died when she was a toddler. Her father remarried, but her stepmother had little to do with her upbringing. She was sent to live in the household of her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. That woman more or less ignored Katherine from day one. Her education was spotty, at best. By today’s standards Katherine was functionally illiterate. If only the neglect had stopped there.
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Basically, Katherine ran wild with damned little adult supervision growing up. This was something that would be brought up at her trial. The Duchess tried very hard to hide her gross incompetence as a foster parent. If her detractors are to be believed Katherine began having sex when she was ten or eleven; A bit early, even in an age when many girls were married at twelve. It seemed to be the story of Katherine’s short life to be used by adults for their own ends. It was certainly the intention of her uncle and the Duchess that she do everything in her power to attract Henry. She was considered pretty by many, of medium height with auburn hair and gray eyes. Beyond the fact that her early life was unsupervised, little is known about Katherine as a girl.
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She and Henry were married at the Oatlands, one of Henry’s palaces. The date was July 28, 1540. By odd coincidence, it was the same day as Cromwell’s execution. Henry had decided to demonstrate his merciful side by having Cromwell’s sentence commuted to “simple decapitation.” The London crowds must have been keenly disappointed. It was probably some consolation to them that the executioner bungled the first strike and had to try again to get the head to come off. What the hell, at least they weren’t charged admission.

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Henry and Katherine hadn’t even left for their honeymoon before Katherine’s enemies began looking for ways to bring her down. They weren’t really Katherine’s enemies; these people didn’t give a tinker’s cuss about Katherine. The Duke of Norfolk was the target. Having Katherine killed was just a formality. As they dug up the dirt on Katherine’s sordid past, a problem arose. All this stuff was useless unless they could prove that Katherine was still having it off with whomever. Pre-marital sex wasn’t against the law. It certainly didn’t make her look good, but it wasn’t a death sentence.

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The man who made it his mission to bring Katherine down was Archbishop of Canterbury Cranmer. He was against what Katherine represented; The Catholic faction. To have this faction in the ascendancy was unacceptable. These people were against everything Cranmer had worked so hard for. Henry’s church was too new to allow this group even a toehold in Henry’s court.

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Consequently, Cranmer went to work on gathering evidence that Katherine was still having it off with other men. A job made both easier and harder by Katherine herself. Easier because she made one of her alleged ex-lovers a member of her household. Harder because the only evidence against her came from servants who never saw anything directly. Even under intense questioning, the best these servants could give Cranmer were stories about Katherine spending a few hours with this or that fellow late at night, but never alone. The lady Rochford, of the Queen’s Privy Chamber, was always present. And these gents never stayed the whole night.
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If no one was willing to tell Cranmer what he wanted to hear through routine questioning, perhaps a little persuasion was in order. It looked like some people needed a trip to the Tower to loosen their tongues. Two fellows in particular, Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper were prime suspects. Both had known Katherine before Henry and Dereham had made statements in public that he and Katherine would one day be married.
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There were plenty of stories about the two of them while Katherine was still under the Duchess of Norfolk’s roof. And Dereham was the guy Katherine made her private secretary. Not a smart move on her part, particularly since he had no obvious qualifications for the job. The last time Katherine had seen him, before she took up her post as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves, Dereham had announced he was going to Ireland to become a pirate! Witnesses testified that Katherine was visibly relived to see him go.
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“See ya later, Francis! Yo ho ho and a bottle of Jamison’s! You go Francis! Live the dream! That’s it, keep going, have fun, do forget to write, see ya.” (I made up that last bit.)
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Katherine expressed the hope that she would never see him again.
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Even though he had not collected solid evidence of adultery, Cranmer felt that he should let Henry in on his suspicions. He was confident that he could prove Katherine’s promiscuous past. That should be enough to get the green light for a full-scale investigation. Poor Henry. By all accounts he really was in love with Katherine. Cranmer’s information was a profound shock to him. Unlike Cromwell, Cranmer was not born to this sort of thing. He was a theologian, not a secret policeman. His concern was for the church. Henry gave him a bad scare by telling him what would happen to him if he didn’t have his facts strait.
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After he calmed down, Henry told Cranmer to do whatever he had to do to get to the bottom of this mess. Like Anne Boleyen before her, Katharine was confined to quarters until the matter was settled. This gave her a very bad turn. The fine points of the law were totally beyond her. That Henry even suspected her of adultery was enough to convince her that her fate was sealed.
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Did she have a guilty conscience? Not about her behavior after her marriage. There never was any evidence that she had committed adultery. That Dereham and Culpeper wanted to sleep with her after she became Queen, there was evidence.  That Katherine had firmly rebuffed them, there was evidence. Cranmer ran with the former and ignored the latter. Lacking solid evidence, Cranmer did what any unscrupulous 16th century prosecutor would do. He would wring, in the worst sense of the word, confessions out of the suspects.

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Thank you Mr. Al.  Now I want to know what happened to Cranmer.  Not what happens because of him.  What happens to him.  Does he get his?

Alice
 

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