Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Question from Kelly - Was Catherine Howard pregnant at her execution?

In The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir, it said that after Jane Seymour, none of Henry's wives were pregnant, expect for Catherine Howard. Was she pregnant when she was executed?


  1. There was no evidence that Catherine Howard was pregnant. There were rumors during her brief marriage to King Henry that she may have miscarried, but they were unsubstantiated. As far as we know, she was not pregnant at the time of her death. But I am extremely curious where Ms. Weir is getting the information to base her suppositions on the pregnancies of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard possibly being pregnant at the time of their executions.

  2. Like Elizabeth M., I am also very curious as to where Ms. Weir is getting these rumors. As I noted in the discussion re: rumors of Anne Boleyn's pregnancy, such rumors were common enough in the Tudor period but seem to have all originated well after the individual's death and usually to have been based in some deeply obscure literary reference quoted or coined to praise some aspect of the deceased's character. See the discussion of the Boleyn pregnancy for my note on the origins of rumors that Jane Grey was pregnant when she was executed, as well as the reasons why most of us think Weir has severely misinterpreted the evidence in regard to Boleyn. I'd wager that if anyone can cite for us the passage from Weir related to Howard, most of us would again conclude Weir has misinterpreted the evidence. I think sometimes the imaginative novelist in Weir overcomes the historian.

  3. I reread the page and Alison Weir had suffered a miscariagge which seems unlikely

  4. I understand that Catherine Howard may have employed the use of a pessary in order to prevent a pregnancy. Her days under the tutelage of the Duchess of Suffolk seem to have been full of the wrong kind of fun, the same risky behaviour she appears to have continued at court and as queen. Could this issue of the pessary (if substantiated) refute the rumours of her pregnancy at the time of her execution?


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