23 December 2012


Vivacious, and chock full of life, the young Catherine Howard loved to dance.  One of Princess Mary's complaints about her 'stepmother' is that she seemed to care only for frivolous pursuits, such as dancing.

 Henry VIII's choice of the very young Catherine Howard as his queen was bizarre to say the least. Not only was Queen Cat ridiculously young for the then grossly obese and sickly king, she was entirely unprepared to be the queen of England. And how could anyone have expected anything different?

Catherine Howard was from the powerful Howard clan, but she was decidedly not of a queenly disposition and had a poor upbringing that left her entirely unfit for her eventual station. Given the climate of English politics at the time, and how arbitrary and unpredictable Henry had become, it is little wonder that the poor young queen wound up on the scaffold.
Perhaps it is surprising that Catherine had not thought to tread very softly as the queen of King Henry VIII. Almost predictably, a fatal combination of youth, complete absence of preparedness, and incredible foolishness would lead to ultimate disaster for Catherine. She relied on her youthful beauty and coquetry, seemingly casting off the fact that her own beautiful and brilliant cousin, Anne Boleyn, had perished on the block for supposed adultery and other offenses against the king. While opinions remain divided on Anne's guilt or innocence, Catherine was guilty of brazenly committing adultery with Thomas Culpepper. When at last evidence was presented to the king, as any slightly experienced courtier could have warned Catherine, and she was locked up in her rooms with Lady Rochford, the terrified young girl screamed for an personal audience with her husband and king. Catherine thought that if she could only speak to Henry for a few moments, only gaze in to his eyes, press her hands into his, that all would be well, all forgotten and forgiven. Unfortunately for her, she trusted in youthful romantic notions, and hadn't a clue as to the real and sordid world of politics. Catherine was a child in a cold, adult world.

As one last favor, Catherine asked for the block that she might make practice, learn how to place herself, and "make trial of it." On the cold morning of Monday 13 of February, Catherine Howard, Queen of England was executed. It was said that the young girl, despite the frivolous way she had lived, died with courage and dignity. Catherine was pallid and noticeably weak and faint. But she did manage to give a small and touching final speech.  Catherine admitted she had lived sinfully, and asked for prayer for her king. Immediately afterward Lady Rochford would have her turn on the dreaded block.

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