Friday, August 29, 2008

Question from Tudor Rose - Reconstruction of Kathryn Howard's skull

Do you think that the skull of Catherine Howard should be dug up and reconstructed?
I think that the skull of catherine Howard should be reconstructed then that way everyone will have a clear idea of what she looked like.
Because up until now there has been no authenticated likeness of her.

15 comments:

Kathy said...

I think they should all be dug up and reconstructed, but it won't happen. Elizabeth II won't even give permission for them to take a DNA sample from the bones in Westminster Abbey to determine if they are the bones of the princes in the tower. So I'm sure there is no chance at all she would let Katheryn Howard be dug up.

Nikki said...

I wonder why Elizabeth II won't let that happen? We are lucky enough to live in the age where we can find out the answers to these questions. DNA testing has come a long way and I am sure it would be able to answer a lot of questions! It would put an end to a lot of speculation.

Kathy said...

nikki, I don't know why E2 won't let them get a bone sample to see if they can DNA out. The bones are in a reliquary box (for lack of a better term) on the wall near E1's tomb. It would extremely simple and quick to open it and take samples out. The team that was behind this wanted to compare the mitochondrial DNA from those bones to a sample from the lock of Mary Tudor's hair that is in Moyses Hall Museum in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Since mitochondrial DNA comes strictly from the mother, there should be a definitive match. But E2 won't let them have the bones from the Abbey. I suspect it may be because she doesn't really understand DNA analysis and doesn't want "royalty" (real or not) dug up. Also, there were some very nasty comments about her a few years ago from David Starkey who organized the 2003 Tudor exhibition at Greenwich and gave her a personal tour of it before it opened. He said she was only interested in how her own possessions (lent for the exhibit) were displayed and had absolutely no interest at all in her ancestors or her heritage. I find that very sad if true. Maybe future generations will be more interested and allow the testing. BTW, they are going to try to go ahead with the testing of Mary Tudor's hair to see if they can get the DNA code and keep it on record.

Roland H. said...

According to the Victorian era article written about the excavations done in the Tower chapel, no bones that could be identified as those of Katheryn Howard`s could be identified.

Also, bones said to be of Anne Boleyn`s were discovered, but that was based on dubious 19th century `science`. There were so many people buried in the chapel that in most cases positive identifications would be hard to make, even today.

Kathy said...

rolandh, I had wondered about that myself. The last time I was at the Tower and took the yeoman warder's tour, he said that most of the bones in St. Peter Ad Vincula were male -- former yeoman warders -- and that the female bones stood out. There would have been relatively few of those from everything we know. I think it may be time for another investigation with modern forensic anthropology techniques. They would be able to tell more today than they did during Victorian times. Maybe a future monarch will be more enlightened and let it happen.

Anonymous said...

I find this especially sad as several years ago there was a case similar to that of the princes in the tower in France. Scientists compared the mitochondiral DNA in an embalmed heart said to be that of Marie Antoinette's son Louis XVII to a lock of his maternal aunt's hair. It was a match, proving that the boy "king" did die while imprisoned during the revolution.

To make a long story short, there is precedence of royalty being exhumed for DNA testing, even if it was French and not English, and moreoever the entire affair was successful.

However, France is no longer a monarchy, and I think kathy is right when she says that E2 is leaning on the subjects' status as royalty as a barrier to their exhumation.

Elizabeth M. said...

There may be some truth about what Kathy says about E2 not really being interested in her heritage or ancestors, at least the Tudor ones. I read a long time ago that Queen Victoria never really showed much interest or pride in her Stuart or Tudor heritage, but was more enamored of her German heritage. I would surmise this has carried on through the generations, even with the family name change to Windsor, which was done purely for political reasons during World War I.

Analisa said...

I recently asked a question on one of the tudor yahoo groups about something similiar...genetic testing. I would love for it to happen....it would certainly add a new angle to history. And the reconstruction of skulls is a good idea...but I definetly doubt the British Monarchy would allow it.

Kathy said...

elizabeth m, I don't think Victoria was completely uninterested in her Tudor ancestors. She is the one who commisioned and paid for the beautiful stained glass window dedicated to Mary Tudor at her burial site in Bury St. Edmunds, and she is the one who ordered the bodies disinterred from St. Peter Ad Vincula at the Tower and the graves of Anne Boleyn, Kathryn Howard, and Jane Grey be marked. Also she is the one who ordered a marker at the scaffold site on Tower Green. (Hope I'm not shattering anybody's illusions here, but there really wasn't "a" scaffold site there. A scaffold was erected as needed anywhere the carpenters happen to start building, so that marker is fairly meaningless, but it was a nice gesture on her part.)

As for E2, I'm not sure what her issues are. She wasn't very well educated, but most women weren't in her day and a war intervened too. Charles and William are far better educated, so I think their attitudes may be different. I can't say I am particularly fond of Charles, but he does seem to be very interested in the history of England -- his role in the recovery of the Mary Rose shows that. So I hope there will be monarchs in the future who are interested in the Tudors and who are willing to let some mysteries be resolved for everybody's benefit.

Anonymous said...

Are they sure that the skull belong to Katherine Howard? and Not Anne Boleyn's,or Jane Parker? I think it would be interesting reconstruct the skull to determine who the skull belongs to,as well as get an idea of how they might actually look.

Kathy said...

anonymous, I have no idea if they got the identifications of the skulls correct since it was done in Victorian times. It doesn't really much matter though because about all they did was rebury them.

They can do wonders in forensics now, so I think they should all be dug up and identified. It should be simple to separate Kathryn Howard and Jane Grey from Anne Boleyn since they were teenages and Anne was in her 30's when she died. Also if they ever get the DNA analysis from Mary Tudor's hair, they could use that to identify Jane Grey as Mary was her grandmother.

In addition to the facial reconstructions, they would be able to measure the height of the skeletons. And they might just possibly be able to determine with Anne Boleyn really did have a deformity on her hand.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if perhaps the Queen's motives are more spiritual/based on her religious views. If she did have emotional involvement in her ancestors; perhaps she doesn't like the thought of their "rest" being disrupted and their bones being tinkered with. Since she was born into a generation much different than ours, she may still have this old-fashioned way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the DNA of the Tudor line found. I did a serious pedigree of my mother's side of the family and was able to date it back to 1050. Turns out, I'm from the Stuarts of Scotland, and distantly related to Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn. I'd love to see the DNA evidence to back that up! I've been to St. Peter's at the Tower and wanted so badly to get a closer look at the graves surrounding the alter. I wish I could have seen Thomas Moore's tomb- he was quite a man.

CMcNaul said...

I too, think DNA should be used to confront or verify a variety of questions regarding the British Royalty the most controversial issues. Furthermore, I believe that DNA HAD been used on the two Princes who turned up missing; then later found buried under stone flooring of a staircase in one of those castles there. They used the DNA to prove the two, small stature skeletons were the remains of royalty.The Royal family did not want to rebury the remains without proof of royal blood, in case the bones were from a peasant.
I think the dna tests were done between 2004-2008.

CMcNaul said...

DNA testing...I think it would be awesome to not just do dna tests, but also test for medical conditions of all British Ancestors to determine what ailments plagued the Crown. i.e.: Henry viii, all his wives, etc. and put to rest all the suspicions once and for all.
But that won't happen, the Brits don't like admitting fault in anything, i.e.:Revolutionary War; case in point: The Patriot movie was not well received if at all in their theaters because the movie paints one of their most beloved Generals in a bad light.
I think it would be quite fascinating.