Monday, December 10, 2012

Queen Catherine Howard's Lovers are Executed - 1541

Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham are executed at Tynurn on December 10, 1541. Culpeper was a great favorite of Henry VIII and it was because of this favoritism that Culpeper had major influence with the King. He was given the honor of being keeper of the armory and eventually made gentleman to the King's Privy Chamber, which gave him intimate access to the King, as the role involved dressing and undressing Henry and often sleeping in his bedchamber. Culpeper had close access and often came into contact with the Queen and her attendants. Thomas Culpeper was first introduced into Catherine Howard in March 1541. At this time Culpeper began asking favors of Catherine, who was distantly related to him. The private meetings between them are thought to have begun sometime around May of that same year. Catherine’s lady-in-waiting the Lady Rochford arranged the meetings between Culpeper and Catherine. On these occasions only she and another lady-in-waiting, Katherine Tilney, were allowed entrance to the Queen’s chamber. 

Stories of the Queen's premarital indiscretions had meanwhile come to the attention of Thomas Cranmer, then Archbishop of Canterbury. During Cranmer's investigations, he came across rumors of an affair between the Queen and Culpeper; Culpeper was soon arrested for questioning. Both he and the Queen denied the allegations, but a letter from Catherine to Culpeper, found during a search of Culpeper's quarters, provided the evidence for which Cranmer was looking. Whether the association between Culpeper and the Queen was ever consummated is still debated by historians, but the letter seems to give evidence of Catherine's feelings for Culpeper.  

 Culpeper was arrested on orders from King Henry VIII and, in December 1541, was tried for adultery alongside Francis Dereham, who was separately accused of adultery with the Queen before her marriage to Henry. Catherine had not hidden the affair with Culpeper from members of her household, who now testified against her to protect themselves. The Queen was portrayed as having seduced Culpeper, although it could easily have been the other way around. Culpeper admitted under torture to having had sexual relations with Catherine. Both Culpeper and Dereham were found guilty and sentenced to death. They were both to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Both men pleaded for mercy; Culpeper, presumably because of his former closeness to the King, received a commuted sentence of simple beheading. Dereham received no such mercy. Queen Catherine Howard was executed on February 13, 1542 at the Tower of London. 

Michael Thomas Barry’s new book – Great Britain’s Royal Tombs: A Guide to the Lives & Burial Places of British Monarchs can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble thought the following links: 

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