Monday, April 28, 2008

Question from Brittany - Information on Thomas Culpepper

I'm currently writing a short story about Thomas Culpeper, but I can find very little details on him. I've already looked at tudorhistory, wikipedia, and, but everyone mostly talks about his involvement with Katheryn Howard and little else. They pass briefly over the incident where he apparently raped a girl, and don't give many details. No one seems to mention when he was born either; I saw someone somewhere speculate 1500, but that would mean he was 40 when he had an affair with Katheryn and I always assumed he'd be pretty young (a good deal younger thn Henry at least!). Katheryn's mother Joceta (or Joyce?) was a Culpeper, so he was related to her I suppose, but I also heard he was related to the Howard family. So if anyone knows details about this, they'd be much appreciated.

And if anyone knows extra tidbits about the history of Francis Dereham, or even Henry Mannox, I'd love to hear it!

Thank you.


  1. Information on Thomas Culpeper can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, either the online edition or the most recent printed version. In both instances, he is detailed in the article on Katherine Howard written by Retha Warnicke. The ODNB is available in most university libraries or via that library's computer system. If you are unable to access this easily, perhaps Lara will share my email address with you and I can send you a "copy and paste." I do not find any info in the ODNB on eitehr of the other two men.

  2. I do not have access to to the ONDB...If you could email me the article at , I would be very grateful!

    Thank you for your help!

    -- Brittany

  3. There is also a biography of Katherine Howard by Joanna Denny that probably includes more information on all these men. I can't vouch for the quality as I haven't read it. But perhaps it's on the shelf at a nearby book store. 'Katherine Howard, A Tudor Conspiracy', J. Denny.

    Good luck

  4. There is extra confusion because he had an elder brother, also called Thomas Culpepper, and both were repeatedly in trouble. He was Katherine's sixth cousin, so not much more closely related to her than Henry (who was her eighth cousin.)

    Books on Katherine Howard, such as those by Lacey Baldwin-Smith, Joanna Denny and Margaret Doner might give more details.

  5. kb: I intend to check out the Joanna Denny book from the library if I can...but I did hear that it was really inaccurate, so I don't know how much of it I should disregard.

    monica: His older brother was often in a lot of trouble? I never heard much about him. Do you know where I can find out more?

  6. I haven't read the Denny book so I can't comment on it's accuracy. There are probably stronger books out there. But it would be a place to start - actually the bibliography is probably the best place to start. The more I research, the more I tend to start at the index and bibliography and less at chapter 1.

  7. KB has the correct method when it comes to research! Start at the bibliography, not Page One.

    As for Joanna Denny, her work is fine for the general public with little or no knowledge of the Tudor period. It is a starting point. But if you have even a smattering of real knowledge about the period, be very careful. Ms Denny was principally a novelist and had no formal training at all in history or historical research. She was therefore much too inclined to add "color" to her later semi-non-fictional works in order to make them more fun to read. I do not allow my undergraduate history majors to cite her works.

    Margaret Doner is a novelist. Her works are purely fictional.

    The work by Lacey Baldwin-Smith, though very outdated, is nonetheless very good.

    David Starkey's "Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII" is good, as is Alison Weir's "Six Wives of Henry VIII" and Antonia Fraser's book by the same name. Pperhaps they have some info on Culpeper et al.

  8. Oops, sorry, I checked on Amazon the books on Katherine Howard and didn't notice Margaret Doner's was historical fiction. Joanna Denny's book, though not as academic as Lacey Baldwin-Smith's, gives the references for information you may want more detail on. The two Thomas Culpepers are mentioned in most books on Katherine, but I think there is more research to be done on confirming which was involved in which scandal. The Thomas you are looking for is sometimes referred to as Thomas Culpeper the Younger and seems, the issue with Katherine aside, to have been involved in more scandal than his brother.

  9. The Joanna Denny book actually wasnt too bad, especially for general reading. I appreciate that she tells you when she is speculating (which some authors neglect). I have a slightly related question: does anyone else (other than an overly sensitive reader on a transatlantic flight) find Starkey's writing--esp in the 6 wives--to be sexist? No one else I know reads these guys rock.

  10. David Starkey, Professor of History at Oxford University, is also known as "the rudest man in Britain" thanks to his regular appearances on a UK telelvision show. I think Simon Cowell must have modeled his own public persona after Starkey's. But yes, Starkey is indeed somewhat unapologetically sexist.

  11. re: Starkey - Sexist is putting it mildly. Misogynistic isn't strong enough. I have mildly violent fits every time I read him. I remember turning in a critique of his work to my supervisor (yes, I'm an academic) and apologizing to her that I had gone on a bit of a rant. My supervisor said it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. phd historian summed it up well.

  12. I was being diplomatic in my assessment of starkey. He is very Simon Cowell-ish on tv; good comparison. I dont know why feels the need to resort to that kind of attitude in writing and on screen; Alison Weir does a decent job of writing mainstream history without really resorting to a "personality" or gimmick. Still, I work in a bookstore, and if you malign starkey, some people get as upset as when you criticize Phillipa Gregory. And the academics in my department refuse to read him. So I just wanted to confirm my own feelings. In a somewhat devil's advocate move, I admit that Denny has a slant as well: she is very interested in rehabillitating Howard, though she at least spells this out at the beginning, and shes not afraid to say that Katherine was no saint, either. In other book-related news, has anyone read Germaine Greer's new book on Hathaway? I know someone tried to start a thread on the new Blanche Parry book, but I cant get ahold of it and wanted to know if anyone was interested in trying a discussion on this one? Or another book?
    Many thanks once again.


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