Saturday, February 21, 2009

Question from Diane - Katherine Howard's "Culpepper letter"

Does anyone else feel that Katherine Howard's "yours as long as life endures" letter to Thomas Culpeper (if it is truly hers) must date from a time before she became Queen? Because why else would she be brave enough to mention Lady Rochford and to sign her own name to it? She could not have been that incredibly foolish as Queen with the memory of Anne Boleyn still fresh at Court. And wouldn't Thomas have destroyed it immediately? I don't know for certain but I don't think that Catherine or Thomas admitted to an affair during her marriage to the King. So Thomas might have kept a letter from her as a keepsake from a time when she was not married.

I'm not convinced the letter is really Katherine's anyway. Perhaps Manox or Dereham "planted" it in an attempt to attack her for leaving them in the dust? Manox had already left a note for the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk telling her of Dereham's visits to the maid's chamber at Horsham (or Lambeth?) And if Dereham considered himself her true husband he must have been angry with her for her betrayals with Culpeper and the King.

How do others feel?

8 comments:

Roland H. said...

The letter would have been written after Katherine became Queen - Lady Rochford did not enter her service till then.

Tracey said...

Yes, Katherine could have been that incredibly foolish as queen with the memory of Anne Boleyn still fresh at court.

I believe she didn't know all the particulars about her cousin's death and besides...it could never happen to her. Pretty much the feeling that teenagers have nowadays...being invincible.

Elizabeth M. said...

Poor Katherine was just a young and foolish girl, who was not helped by Lady Rochford, who should have known better. Katherine was married to a man, who though besotted with her, was old enough to be her father, maybe even grandfather, who was fat, ill-tempered, and in constant pain from a grotesquely ulcerous leg. A young girl with barely an education, all of a sudden given anything she could want--clothes, jewels, money, and what she thought was freedom. It went to her head. And she probably thought the King would forgive her anything. Here, Lady Rochford, having seen what happened to Anne Boleyn and her own husband, could have been the voice of reason. Instead, for whatever her own motives were, she egged her mistress on in her affairs. Katherine was hindered by her own lack of education, maturity, and ignorance. She also suffered from a lack of humility--as queen, she felt herself invincible. And she paid the price. I do feel sorry for her, however. Her life as queen might have been different had she been blessed with confidants who honestly wanted to help her in her new role, instead of using her for their own aims.

djd said...

I like the story line in Phillipa Gregories "The Boleyn Inheritance". I know that it is a work of fiction, but the story provides the reader with possible motives for Jane Parker's advice and actions in regard to Katherine Howard - that Jane was used by the Duke of Norfolk in a similar way that Anne was to further the families interests. Katherine becoming pregnant was critical, and if Henry could not get Katherine pregnant due to his physical challenges, perhaps Culpepper could impregnate her. Jane was most certainly a key factor in arranging their meetings and protecting her, and after going through the fall of the Boleyns, why on earth would she take a risk like assisting the queen in an affair? I think Gregorie's story makes sense.

Elizabeth M. said...

It is not exactly Phillippa gregory's story. The Catherine Howard chapter of the 1971 BBC series THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII also espoused this plotline. However, it has major faults. The Duke of Norfolk was intensely proud of his family heritage and its prestige. he had seen it tarnished by the fall of his niece and nephew, Anne and george Boleyn. It is highly doubtful, in my opinion, he would so recklessly endanger his and his family's reputation by forcing lovers onto his young, giddy niece who had recently been made queen. There was always the danger of the plot getting out. Henry would have not only been furious at being cuckolded, but cuckolded by the leading peer of his realm, using courtiers to impregnate the queen in order to get a bastard who could be passed off as a legitimate heir.
Yes, I think Norfolk used his niece, but I don't think he would be party to such a scheme that was wrought with such danger. His niece was not the soul of discretion, humility, or common sense.

Tudorrose said...

Catherine Howard wrote this letter to culpepper when she was married to the king.In 1541.Also she was queen at the time the letter was wrote.I don't think that this letter was written before she became queen.No.Also I think the letter is in her own hand.Catherine Howard was uninhibited in her behaviour.And also was childish at times.She the queen had secret meetings with culpepper at night time with Lady rochford acting as lookout.Catherine was known to be flirtatious.But as far as adultery is concerned I am not to sure.She was defanately involved with A couple of gentlemen before her marriage but culpepper was not one of them.She was only to meet him when she gained entry to court.I think her only real relationship she had prior to marrying the king was to francis dereham.I think that her involvement with mannox when she was a child was sexual abuse.Dont forget if she was only a child and mannox an adult.This was no love match.I think he took advantage of her.I think if she hadn't of met the king catherine and francis would have wed.It was her misfortune to meet the king.This was set up by the Howard familly to further there positions at court.But also I think Henry did take a liking to the young catherine.She enjoyed the attention that the king gave her and the gifts he showered on her.I think he really liked her.When she met culpepper I think that it was natural of her to want the attention of a man her own age and I would say She a a lot of love for him.But how he felt about her I am not really sure.I am staying neutral on this one.I am not for or against the culpepper and catherine love affair.I know Mannox did leave a letter for the duchess of norfolk about catherine and francis's meetings and I think that this is because he felt jealous.But i think it would be a bit of a coincidence for the same thing to happen again where dereham writes a letter trying to set Culpepper up all because he was jealous.Dereham probably did have some sought of feeelings when catherine married the king also he was aware of culpepper because he mentioned his name under interrogation.If he hadn't of done so Culpepper may have just have gotten away with it.There must have been some sought of jealousy on derehams part.Dont forget her mother died when she was young and she was left with her father and four other brothers and sisters and also he was left with five other siblings from his wife Joyce's previous marriage.He couldn't look after her or the rest of the children so they were put into households.I think that is why she craved the attention of men.Being men her own age and older because of her upbringing.No mother no love from her father.She must have felt alone.As big as the household was there wouldn't have been enough supervision to keep an eye on everyone.so therefore anyone's behaviour would have gone amiss and totally ignored that is why the Duchess didn't have a clue about what Catherine was doing.So she wouldn't have been able to have said or done anything to controll her.unless someone had made her aware of it.Or if she had seen it with her own eyes.A lot of peoples behaviour probably went unnoticed in the Duchesses household.It wasn't wise of her to make Francis her secretary but after all she must of thought she had to do him a favour since the had previously been aquainted and the fact she was now a queen.Also he would have expected some sought of positon granted to him by her.They probably still had feelings for eachother.Culpepper was probably looking for an advance to a higher position from her now she had the powers to do so.After all he was just an usher of the king's chambers and had been for a long time.I think he would have took and looked forward to beeing positoned as something else.This is probably what he was waiting on.Another thing was she aware of what she was doing or not? She may not have been because I think if so she would have tried being more carefull with the people around who were making up stories.I think also that she may have suffered from some sought of undiagnosed condition that had gone unnoticed and wouldn't have been heard of then.I think that this would have accounted for a lot of her behaviour.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested, this letter will be on display at Hampton Court over the summer as part of the 2009 celebrations, along with other artifacts linked to the queens. So you can examine the writing and make your minds up :)

Anonymous said...

The Howards were manipulators of their women into positions of advantage. Anne Boleyn was a Howard as was Katherine Howard. They were first cousins. The Duke of Norfolk wasn't above thrusting his young relatives into Henry VIII's notice for his own political advantage. It didn't keep him from being arrested for treason. The only reason he wasn't executed was Henry VIII died before Norfolk could be executed.

http://englishhistory.net/tudor/monarchs/anne-boleyn-catherine-howard-related/

http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/thomashoward2.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Howard,_3rd_Duke_of_Norfolk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Howard,_4th_Duke_of_Norfolk