Peoples and Nations

Kathryn Howard

Kathryn Howard

Famous for being the fifth wife of Henry VIII

Born - c1521 - exact date not known
Parents - Edmund Howard, Joyce Culpepper
Siblings - Mary, George, Henry, Charles
Married - Henry VIII 28th July 1540
Children - None
Died - 13th February 1542 - Beheaded

Kathryn was the fourth child of Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpepper. She was Anne Boleyn's cousin. At the age of ten years she was sent to live in with the dowager duchess of Norfolk to be educated and trained to be a lady. While living in the duchesses household Kathryn had two relationships - one with her music teacher and one with Francis Dereham. The latter was a more serious relationship that ended in 1539.

Kathryn who had become a lady in waiting for Anne of Cleves in 1540 had caught Henry's eye and he was determined to marry her. The marriage took place in July 1540. Henry was 49 years old, overweight and unable to walk far due to his weight and an injury to his leg that festered and refused to heal.

Kathryn was young, lively and flirtatious. She was bored with having an old husband and sought out young friends among the courtiers. Unfortunately for Kathryn one of the courtiers in question was Francis Dereham. Dereham bribed Kathryn to give him a better position, threatening to reveal details about her past if she did not comply.

Katherine's actions led to her being accused of adultery with her cousin Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham and subsequently executed in 1542.