Friday, July 11, 2014

The Wives of King Henry VIII - Chapter V: Queen Kathryn Howard

While King Henry VIII's short-lived marriage to Anne of Cleves was not yet annulled, Henry became infatuated with a very young and pretty girl named Kathryn Howard. The King was considerably older, but that didn't matter to him. Perhaps Henry was reminded of his younger days, when he first fell in love with the charming Anne Boleyn. After all, Kathryn was Anne's cousin.

She was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne of Cleves. While at court her flirtatious manner and vivaciousness enticed the King. Compared to his then-current wife, who he found grotesque and unattractive, Kathryn was like a gift from Aphrodite.

Only two weeks after his short-lived marriage to Anne, he was married to Kathryn. He called her his “rose without a thorn.” He gifted her with beautiful, expensive things. To the King, she was absolutely perfect. He said she was “the very jewel of womanhood.” The King really loved her—perhaps more physically than emotionally.

But how did Kathryn feel about him? She enjoyed the gifts and attentions, I can imagine, but as for the King himself? She seemed indifferent. While married, she had an affair with Thomas Culpeper, a favorite of the King. The courtiers began to take notice of their relationship. Thomas Cranmer finally broke the news to the King during Mass. At first, the King could not believe his perfect and innocent wife would do that. After further investigation she did not seem so innocent.

The now ex-Queen was imprisoned and never saw Henry again. She was executed at the Tower Green and buried next to Anne Boleyn. Her known lovers, as well, were executed.

Thus quickly passed the fifth Queen of King Henry VIII. Kathryn's motto was “No other will than his.” However, it was against Henry's will, I am sure, that she should be so promiscuous.


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