For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday I have chosen to look at the story of Henry VIII’s infamous fifth Queen! Kathryn Howard was just a teenager when she caught the eye of the aging monarch. She is most noted for being the second Queen that he beheaded. I feel much empathy for this young and vivacious woman.
Being so young when she captured Henry’s eye meant that she was quite literally not fully developed of the mind. Our brains do not finish developing until we are 25 years old, after all. In many ways her story is one that is similar to a modern teenage girl. She made many mistakes based on her passions and her hormones. Unfortunately, Kathryn was not a modern girl who could make up for her bad decisions. She was living in a time when she was already a wife, and her hormone driven choices ended up costing her her own head!
Before coming to court Kathryn was living with her step-grandmother. It was here she first met two men that would find her incredibly attractive. Each in turn became her flirtation partners. The second one, Francis Dereham, ended up becoming her lover! It was this act of losing her virginity outside of marriage that was rebellious and would lead to her later becoming doomed. Francis would claim that she was pre-contracted, however she never wanted to marry him, and was happy to leave him to go to court.
Once there, she gained the attention of Thomas Culpepper. He worked for the King, and she found him incredibly desirable. But it was not long before the King, bored of his disastrous fourth marriage turned his attention her way! It was not something she had a choice in, and she had to marry the King.
In this case she chose to make the best of the situation. She reveled in dancing and buying beautiful things, and found her lot in life enjoyable. Then Francis Dereham came to court, and she employed him in order to make sure he did not tell the King of their past. Finally her fateful decision was to take a lover, and she chose none other than Thomas Culpepper! This is what made her an adulterous Queen, and that was treason.
She was quickly caught, and she and the men all lost their heads. This all happened because she was a young woman who followed her heart to her own demise! I hope you have enjoyed this short and tragic tale of Kathryn Howard. I would love for you to join me here at White Rose of Avalon for next week’s Femme Fatale Friday. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Kathryn Howard from The Tudors. I found the image onhttps://tudors.fandom.com/wiki/Katherine_Howard.
- Young Damned and Fair by Gareth Russell
- Katherine Howard by Joanna Denny