Catherine Howard: Facts, History, Life, Execution - Henry VIII 5th Wife

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Catherine was one of 10 children of Lord Edmund Howard who was the son of Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk.

Catherine Howard was the 5th queen consort of Henry VIII. She was the cousin of Anne Boleyn, Henry's 2nd wife who was executed for treason.

Sometimes Catherine is spelled Catharine or Katherine.

Katherine was barely literate. She had very little education.

After her mother's death, Catherine lived with Thomas Howard's widow, Agnes.  It was here that she had several lovers. Her lovers before she married Henry VIII were said to be her music teacher, Henry Mannock, Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpepper who was her cousin.

Catherine was said to have a kind heart. Her motto was No other will than his.

Marriage to Henry the 8th

Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester introduced Catharine Howard to Henry VIII in 1540. On July 28, 1540, Henry married Catharine in private. Catharine was only 15. He announced her Queen on August 8.

Downfall and Execution

catherine howard pictureThomas Cranmer Archbishop of Winchester, told Henry of Catharine's past lovers sometime in November 1541. This led to further investigations. She had been carrying on a love affair with Thomas Culpepper aided by Lady Rochford, the widow of George Boleyn. Lady Rochford had testified that George Boleyn had been incestuous with Anne Boleyn. Because of her false testimony, George had been executed for treason. Catharine was also meeting with Dereham who was now her secretary. Both Culpepper and Dereham were executed. All denied any affair since Catharine's marriage to Henry.

On February 11, 1542 Parliament passed a bill of attainder which declared it treason for an unchaste woman to marry the King.

John Longland, the Bishop of Lincoln heard Catherine Howard's confession. She asked for the block to be brought to her room so she could practice laying her head upon the block.

Catharine was beheaded on Tower Green in the Tower of London February 13, 1542. Lady Rochford was also executed with Catharine for aiding and abetting. Catharine Howard is buried near Anne Boleyn in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Catherine Howard portrait

related subject: Medieval Castles in England

Kings and Queens of England


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Weir, Alison, The Six Wives of Henry VIII,  Grove Press (April 2000)

Weir, Alison, Henry VIII: The King and His Court Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (October 29, 2002)