Catherine Howard was queen consort of England from 1540 until 1541 as the fifth wife of Henry VIII. She was stripped of her title as queen in November 1541 and beheaded three months later on the grounds of treason for committing adultery with her distant cousin Thomas Culpep. Her character has often been described as vivacious, giggly and brisk, but never scholarly or devout.
About Catherine Howard in brief
Catherine Howard was queen consort of England from 1540 until 1541 as the fifth wife of Henry VIII. She was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper, cousin to Anne Boleyn and niece to Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. Catherine was stripped of her title as queen in November 1541 and beheaded three months later on the grounds of treason for committing adultery with her distant cousin Thomas Culpep. Catherine’s father was not wealthy, being the third son among 21 children and disfavoured in the custom of primogeniture. Her character has often been described as vivacious, giggly and brisk, but never scholarly or devout. She also had a nurturing side for animals, particularly dogs. In around 1536, Catherine began music lessons with two teachers, one of whom was Henry Mannox. Mannox’s exact age is unknown, although it has been stated that he was in his late thirties, perhaps 36, at the time of Catherine’s marriage. This is not supported by Catherine’s biographers, but it would be unusual for someone from his background to have reached mid-thirties without being married, perhaps sometime in the late 1530s – late 1540s. There are no surviving records for Mannox, since there are no baptismal records for him, and there is also some evidence that other men serving in his household, including his cousin Edward Waldegrave, may have been serving in the household, as well as Catherine’s cousin Edward. Catherine had an aristocratic pedigree, but was not as well educated as some of Henry’s other wives, although, on its own, her ability to read and write was impressive enough at theTime.
Catherine became influenced by some older girls who allowed men into the sleeping areas at night for entertainment. She had a love of dance, and was often distracted during her dance lessons, but would often be distracted during them and make jokes. Her mother had five children from her first husband, Ralph Leigh ; she went on to have another six with Catherine’s dad, Catherine being about her mother’s tenth child. After Catherine’s mother died in 1528, her father married twice more. He was dismissed from his post in 1531 he was appointed Controller of Calais, and died in March 1539. Catherine was sent with some of her siblings to live in the care of her father’s stepmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who presided over large households at Chesworth House in Horsham in Sussex, and at Norfolk House in Lambeth where dozens of attendants, along with her many wards. The girls were entertained with food, wine, and gifts stolen from the kitchens. While sending young children to be educated and trained in aristocratic households other than their own was common for centuries among European nobles, supervision at both Chesworth Houses and Lambeth was apparently lax. Catherine is the third of Henry VII’s wives to have been a member of the English nobility or gentry.