Friday, December 16, 2011

Question from Marilyn R - Katherine Howard sending Margaret Pole clothing in the Tower

I would be very grateful if someone could help me out with a reference for Katherine Howard sending warm clothing to Margaret Pole when the old lady was in the Tower.I have had the source but seem to have deleted it & just can't find it amongst my jottings!

Thank you in advance.


Anonymous said...

Alison Weir refers to Katherine Howard's doing this at page 439 of her "Six Wives of Henry VIII" (Grove Press, 1991), but she doesn't cite a specific source for this.


Susan Higginbotham said...

You can find it on page 147 here:

(Proceedings and ordinances of the Privy Council of England)

Marilyn R said...

Thank you for the responses. I hadn’t seen it in context before and, like a lot of the references to Katherine, it could have a different meaning from what has been circulated over the years. The Council is instructing the King’s tailor to make clothes for Lord Lisle in the Tower and the Queen’s is to make garments for the old Countess of Salisbury. Does this necessarily mean that the sending of warm clothes to Margaret Pole in her great discomfort was an act of compassion on Katherine Howard’s part, or did this happen frequently under such circumstances, and Katherine actually had little or nothing to do with it?

Susan Higginbotham said...

Marilyn, I wonder that too. It sounds as if the privy council was simply making provision for the crown's high-status prisoners, not responding to a request from Katherine.

In the last century, the royal wardrobe supplied Margaret of Anjou with clothing while she was a prisoner in the Tower. In Edward VI's reign, the privy council ordered that lieutenant of the Tower of London be given a sum of money for unspecified "necessaries" of the imprisoned Duchess of Somerset.

kb said...

Marilyn R's comment got me thinking about agency. ("...or did this happen frequently under such circumstances, and Katherine actually had little or nothing to do with it?")

I am not a Katherine Howard expert. However, it would have been usual for women's clothes for high status prisoners to come from a woman. In the case of Margaret Pole, her status as an elite was unquestioned. Clothing represented monetary value almost more than it's value of covering the body. Women's clothing for elite prisoners would therefore have to approximate the prisoner's status. The queen's wardrobe would be a logical choice to pull something from.

I doubt very much that Katherine Howard had the sensibility to initiate a grant of clothes to Margaret Pole.

To me, it seems much more likely that this was a practical order - 'she needs clothes? get her something from the queen's wardrobe'. The queen's wardrobe would have held many more clothes than Katherine wore as clothing was a typical gift and some clothing from previous queens would have been still in the inventory waiting to be cut into something new.

If the chamberlain or other ranking household officer initiated the order for clothing from the queen's wardrobe to be sent to Margaret in the Tower, it still would have shown up in Katherine Howard's inventory and accounts. So, I am doubting her active role, her agency, in this.