Women of Royalty
The Wives of Henry VIII
Catherine of Aragon
     Catherine of Aragon was born Catalina de Aragon on December 16, 1485 to Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand of Spain at the archbishop of Toledo's palace in Alcala de Henares. The daughter of the legendary rulers of Spain, she and her brothers and sisters received excellent educations and were brought up very strictly in the Catholic faith, as was their mother, a very devout Catholic. Catalina's siblings had all married off into important families across Europe. Juan and Juana married Hapsburgs while Isabel and Maria would both marry the king of Portugal. Catalina would get England. Before she was 4, Catalina would be betrothed to a Tudor. England had been torn apart between the Lancasters and the Yorks in the War of the Roses, but Henry VII, a Tudor, had managed to grasp England and although he married a Plantagenet, Elizabeth, his dynasty was not stable. However, a tie with the powerful Spanish kingdoms would stabilize the Tudor dynasty. And so Henry's son, Arthur, Prince of Wales, was betrothed to Catalina and at the age of 16, in 1501, Catalina set out for England. 
     Within a week of her arrival, she and Arthur were married. However, Arthur was very sick even before her arrival. The marriage was not consummated and while London rejoiced, Arthur and Catalina left for Ludlow Castle in Wales, the seat of power for the Prince of Wales. Within 6 months, Arthur had died from the sweating sickness, leaving the young Catalina a widow. Catalina left for London, but she did not return home. Henry VII had written to her parents with another marriage in mind: Catalina and Henry VII's son, also named Henry. Although Henry was 6 years younger than Catalina, he was robust and healthy, unlike his brother. He had been taking vows to enter the church, but now he was being called upon to become the next king of England. The plan needed a papal dispension, as Henry would be marrying his brother's widow. Granted by Pope Julius II, Henry and Catalina were now free to wed. Catalina wrote to her father, Ferdinand, that she did not wish to marry Henry, but she would obey his orders. At home, in Spain, her mother was dying and her father was in a state to please England.
For the next seven years, Catalina lived in poverty. All of her expenses had to be paid by the Spanish ambassador, as Henry VII refused to pay for his daughter-in-law. Eventually, Henry VII even went as far as to break the contract between Henry and Catalina. He even forced 14-year-old Henry to repudiate the contract, saying it was made without his knowledge.
      In 1509, King Henry VII died. Eighteen-year-old Henry was now King Henry VIII and the first thing he did as king was marry Catalina. They two were married, and then celebrated a joint coronation as king and queen of England on June 24, 1509.
     Shortly after their marriage, Catalina became pregnant. In January of 1510, she gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Not soon after, Catalina gave birth to a son, Henry, on January 1, 1511. He was christened on the 5th of January, but died 52 days after his birth. Catalina suffered yet another miscarriage and then gave birth to a son who lived not long. Finally in February of 1516, she gave birth to a healthy child. But she was a girl, Mary. Disappointed with the losses of sons, Henry began to grow frustrated. Two more pregnancies followed Mary, the last in 1518. Neither of the children lived. Henry, who had once loved Catalina, now saw her as an enemy. He blamed the loss of children on the fact that he married his brother's widow, which is forbidden in the Bible. He began to take mistresses; the first one was Bessie Blount, who gave birth to a son, named Henry Fitzroy, born in 1519. The second mistress he took was a young girl named Mary Boleyn. Mary was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard. The Howards were reputed to be more powerful than the reigning Tudors, and Thomas Boleyn wished to rise high at court, which he did thanks to his daughter Mary. Mary had two other siblings. George Boleyn, who was the oldest of the children. And Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn
     Anne Boleyn was born in 1501 (though some historians put it at 1507) to Thomas Boleyn and Elizabeth Howard. She was a healthy child, but she had two strange deficiencies: a mole on her neck and a 6th finger. When Anne was 12, she accompanied King Henry VIII's sister, Mary Tudor, on her voyage to France to marry King Louis XII, as a 'fille d'honneur'. Anne's sister, Mary, was also in Mary Tudor's retinue. In France, Anne learned her many useful skills that made her rise in England. She learned French and she adopted the culture of France. For one, she adopted the clothes. During her stay in France, she even began to make her own clothes, which were copied throughout the court. Anne loved clothes, but the main reason she made her own clothes was because she needed to make dresses with long sleeves, to cover her 6th finger, a symbol of witchcraft. She also hid her mole with a black band decorated with the initials A.B.
     King Louis XII died in 1515, after only a few years of marriage to Mary Tudor. They never had children, and the prince Francois, along with his wife Claude, became the king and queen of France. Mary Boleyn returned to England, but Anne stayed in France to be Queen Claude's lady-in-waiting. Anne stayed in France for the next 6 or 7 years, and during that time she was present at the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold ceremony between King Henry VIII and the king of France.
     She was said to be not the most beautiful girl at court, with pale skin, long black hair, large dark eyes, and small breasts, but she captured everyone. Her love of French art, poetry, and music made her irresistible, and in 1521, Anne had to return to England. Her father was planning her wedding.
     Anne returned home shocked. Her father was planning to marry her to the heir of Ormonde. Anne, a woman of grandeur and beauty, was to be damned to Ireland forever if this marriage went through. Ireland was a primitive country at the time, full of bogs and desolate tribes and villages. To occupy herself from this horrible future, Anne went to court. On March 1, 1522, Anne attended a masque at court. This is when Henry VIII first noticed Anne. However, Anne had not noticed him. Instead she began a secret love affair with Henry Percy, the son of the Duke of Northumberland. Anne and Henry loved each other, and they even planned to marry and had a contract signed, but somehow their love was discovered, for Henry VIII's advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, stopped the marriage. The Duke of Northumberland brought Henry Percy away from court and had him betrothed to a 'more suitable' girl. Thomas Boleyn removed Anne from court, and she was banished to the family home in Kent, Hever Castle.
     Banished from court, Anne had a love affair with her childhood friend, Sir Thomas Wyatt. It was a short affair, as Thomas was married, and Anne began to preoccupy herself with visiting her childhood friend, Thomas' sister, Mary Wyatt.
     Upon her return to court around 1526, Henry VIII began to pursuit Anne, who had become a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine. Mary, Anne's sister, had been his mistress, and so Anne could be also. However, Anne would not be reduced to a position much like that of a prostitute. Instead, she denied Henry's sexual favors and told him that either she would become queen or he would get nothing. Many thought that Henry would just make Anne his mistress, but in 1526, Henry began to seek an annulment from Queen Catherine. Henry and Anne began to write love letters to one another.
     In 1527, Anne began her long rise at court. She and Henry were seen more and more together. Henry began to spend enormous sums of money on Anne, showering her with clothes and jewels. She was lodged in apartments near to him and she and Henry began to seek out how to get rid of Queen Catherine so Henry could marry Anne. However, Catherine was very popular with the English people, and Anne was not. Henry worked with Cardinal Wolsey to get the marriage annulled, but when he continuously failed at seeking the pope's approval, Anne had him banished from court and his enormous York House was taken from him, to be given to Henry. Wolsey died not much later. Without Wolsey, Henry fell into despair, not just at losing hope for the marriage but also from loosing his lifelong friend. Nonetheless, he and Anne would not give up. In September of 1532, Anne was given the title Marquess of Pembroke. A month later she held a position of honor at Calais during the meeting of King Henry VIII and King Francois I.
     The more powerful Anne became, the less popular she got. At one point, Anne was visiting a family friend and was forced to flee when a huge mob broke out threatening to kill her. She had to escape in the dead of night, taking a boat across the Thames to safety at Greenwich Palace.
     In November of 1532, Anne became pregnant. Panicked, Henry was forced to take action. On January 25, 1533, Anne and Henry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry's marriage to Catherine was never absolved, but according to Henry the marriage never took place and he and Anne became husband and wife. In May 1533, the Archbishop officially declared that Catherine and Henry's marriage was invalid.
     With their marriage declared invalid, Henry banished Catherine to Kimbolton Castle, a remote and dank manor. Separated from her daughter, Mary, who was perhaps Anne's greatest hater of all, she spent most of her time in prayer and wrote letters to Mary, which had to be smuggled by loyal friends such as Reginald Pole, who had loved Mary for some time. Catherine's health detiorated as result to the dank castle she was living in and the air and bogs around it. As much as she wished to see her daughter one last time, Henry refused to let them see one another for fear the two would plot against him and Anne.
     Anne was crowned Queen of England in her own ceremony. She rode down the Thames to the Tower of London and stayed there for the night. On June 1, she left the Tower of London for Westminster Abbey, where she was crowned by Thomas Cranmer. Although the people hated her, they still showed up for this joyous event.
     In August, preparations began for the birth of a son. Edward and Henry were among the names chosen and proclamations had already been written celebrating the birth of a prince. On August 25, 1533, Anne took to her bed and on September 7, 1533, Anne gave birth to a baby girl, Elizabeth. The documents celebrating a prince had to have two s' added. Disappointed, Henry began to lose favor for Anne around this time.
     Henry still loved his daughter, and named her the Princess of Wales, the title of his older daughter, Mary. Mary had always hated Anne, and she was enraged that her title be taken away. Elizabeth was taken to be cared for by Anne's cousins and Mary was reduced to the position of Elizabeth's maid. Humiliated, Mary vowed that she would see the end to Anne Boleyn and was only too happy to hear of the news that Anne and Henry's love had fallen apart.     
     In January of 1534, Anne gave birth to a stillborn. In 1535, she was pregnant and suffered a miscarriage in the end of January. Anne was upset and blamed the miscarriage on being distressed upon hearing Henry had fallen during a joust. However, around this time she also caught Henry and Jane together intimately and this could have enraged her and shocked her as much as being distressed over Henry's fall. She knew by then that she had lost Henry and the only way left to go was down.
     On January 7, 1536, Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle. Although the two had begun to have loud and deadly fights with one another, Anne and Henry had something to celebrate together: the death of Anne's enemy.     
      Henry had begun to fancy Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn. He needed an heir, and if Anne couldn't give him one maybe Jane Seymour could. He set out to destroy Anne, but he found the only way he could do so was to accuse her of treason. And then she would be executed.
During a joust in spring of 1536, Anne dropped her handkerchief just as Thomas Wyatt was coming by on his horse. Normally that symbol meant that Anne had favor for Thomas, but Anne claimed she had simply dropped it by accident. Nonetheless, Henry began the arrests. Beginning on April 30, he had Sir Thomas Wyatt, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris, William Brereton, George Boleyn, and Anne Boleyn arrested.
     Anne was brought to the Tower of London on the same route of her coronation and stayed in the same rooms as she had in her coronation. On May 12, 1536, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, Henry Norris, and Sir Thomas Wyatt were put on trial in Westminster Hall. All of the men pleaded innocent of the crimes they had been accused: adultery with the queen and plotting to kill the king. Except for Mark Smeaton. He admitted that he had been hidden in Anne's cabinets after lessons and she would call him out to her bed, which was a lie. Mark had believed if he had pleaded guilty he would be released. All the men were found guilty and were executed. All were hanged, cut down while still alive, disemboweled, and quartered.
     On May 15, Anne and George were put on trial in the Great Hall at the Tower of London. Accused of incest, adultery, and plotting to kill the king, they both denied all charges against them. Anne found that her old lover, Henry Percy, was among the jurors. He had left however, for he could never find his love guilty. They were still found guilty by the remaining jurors and the proclamation, read by their uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, stated that they would either be burned at the stake or beheaded.
     On May 17, George was executed at Tower Hill. Knowing her end was near, Anne became hysterical, sobbing and then being thrown into fits of laughter. A swordsman from Calais had been summoned, for to show his appreciation of Anne, Henry decided to let her go more swiftly with the use of a sword rather than an axe.
     On May 19, Anne began her last day alive. She dressed in a crimson petticoat under a gray damask gown trimmed with fur. Her hair was pulled up under a white coif and she wore her usual headdress. She made her journey to the scaffold where she said:

"Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul. To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul."

     Her ladies then removed her headdress and tied a blindfold over her eyes. The swordsman then cut off he head with one blow. Legends circulated that when her head was cut off, the eyes still moved and she spoke. Another legend was that hares ran wild, a symbol of witchcraft. Anne's body was then removed and was put in an arrow chest along with her head and thrown into an unmarked grave at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Jane Seymour 
      The day of Anne's execution, Jane Seymour picked out her wedding dress and was officially betrothed to Henry VIII. Jane was born around 1509, the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Elizabeth Darrell. With four brothers: Edward, Thomas, Henry, John and Anthony and three sisters: Elizabeth, Dorothy, and Margery, Jane grew up at the family seat of Wolf Hall in Wiltshire, England. The Seymours were a prestigious family, an ancient one that dated back to the 13th century. Jane's father was a noble man. He had served in the Tournai campaign of 1513 and had accompanied King Henry VIII to the Field of the Cloth of Gold in Calais in 1520. Made a knight of the body, John Seymour sought to rise at court and secure places for his nine children.
     When Jane was a young teenager, she became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine. Her arrival at court remarkably was around the same time as the beginning of Anne Boleyn's rise at court. Soon after her arrival, Jane, who had come to sympathize with Catherine, as did her family, was put in Anne's household as her lady-in-waiting. Jane was the exact opposite of Anne. While Anne was loud and temperous, Jane was sweet, quiet, and serene. Anne was a dark rare beauty while Jane had a fair and pious look to her, with pale skin and light hair.
     In 1535, King Henry VIII stopped at Wolf Hall on a royal procession. His marriage to Anne Boleyn had begun its deterioration, and at his stay in Wolf Hall be noticed Jane Seymour, who was around 25 at the time. Henry did not favor Jane until the next year, for there was still some hope for Anne, until she suffered a miscarriage a few months later, and next to that Henry had taken on a mistress, Anne's cousin Madge Shelton. In February of 1536, Henry and Jane's relationship began. Henry found Jane's calm manner soothing to Anne's rambunctious and annoying behavior. Henry began to give Jane costly gifts and clothes and moved her into rooms closer to his by April of 1536.
     Unlike Anne, Jane was a more chaste woman. She refused to dine alone with the king and was always with a chaperone. Whenever Henry would get to intimate, she reminded him of her marriage. However, like Anne, Jane denied Henry's sexual favors.
     To rid himself of Anne, Henry spent more time around Jane. By the spring of 1536, he was determined to rid himself of Anne Boleyn and marry Jane. He began to publicly declare that he was bewitched by Anne, and he had her and her 'lovers' arrested in May of 1536. Anne was found guilty of incest, adultery, and plotting to kill the king, all of which she was innocent of. Henry wrote a letter to Jane to celebrate the news and Anne was executed on May 19, 1536. Jane and Henry were betrothed the same day. 11 days later, on May 30, 1536, Henry and Jane were married. Jane took on the motto 'Bound to Obey and Serve'. She was not given a coronation like Catherine and Anne, and some historians believe that she had to prove herself first. If she was barren, Henry could have the marriage annulled. This also shows how Henry had started to believe that giving an heir to England was more important than love.
On July 20, 1536, Henry VIII's only living son, an illegitimate bastard named Henry Fitzroy, died at the age of 16. Henry only had two other living children: Mary and Elizabeth. Determined to have an heir, Henry and Jane announced Jane's pregnancy towards the beginning of the New Year. In May of 1537, the London chronicler Edward Hall wrote:
'On 27 May 1537, Trinity Sunday, there was a Te Deum sung in St Paul's cathedral for joy at the queen's quickening of her child, my lord chancellor, lord privy seal and various other lords and bishops being then present; the mayor and aldermen with the best guilds of the city being there in their liveries, all giving laud and praise to God for joy about it.'
     In October, Jane traveled to Hampton Court and took her lying in. After a long and enduring labor, Jane gave birth on October 12, 1537 to the heir that Henry VIII had been waiting for. Named Edward, he was baptized hurriedly and Mary, his half-sister, became his godmother. The birth had overwhelmed Jane and at one point she had to be given a caesarean section in order to give birth. Bleeding heavily, Jane was very weak and could barely move from her bed, hence the christening was held in the room where Edward was born on October 15, 1537, St. Edward's Day.  Two weeks after Edward's birth, Jane Seymour died, on October 24, 1537. Some believe that she had puerperal sepsis, childbed fever, but others think she died from the complications of the birth. Nevertheless, Henry had what he had been waiting for for 29 years: an heir.
     Jane's death had a deep effect on Henry. Given a solemn state funeral, she was laid to rest in Windsor Castle, which Henry was building for himself. Her chief mourner was Princess Mary, who Jane had helped reconcile with Henry VIII, Mary's father. Henry wore black for another 2 years before he decided to marry again.
Anne of Cleves
     For two years after Jane Seymour's death, Henry stayed single. Growing old and the father of three living children, Henry's advisors thought that it would be best if Henry marry politically. His first marriage was political but he and Catherine had loved each other. His next two marriages, to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, had aspired to nothing other than an heir to the throne by Jane Seymour. Now Henry was to marry as a political device. Henry ordered his ambassadors to different courts across Europe to search for a bride for him and sent out painters to bring him portraits so he could judge these women and pick his next wife. His ambassadors found two suitors: Marie de Guise, but she was soon married to King James V of Scotland, and Christina de Milan. Christina was a beautiful 16-year-old heiress, but she was also the granddaughter of Catherine of Aragon, Henry's first wife. This little fact destroyed plans of marriage to Henry VIII, who was three times her age. He sent his most famous painter, Hans Holbein the Younger, to the duchy of Cleves in 1539, a powerful German land that opposed its neighbors France and the Holy Roman Empire for their disregard to the countries that had thrown away the papal powers much like England had. While in Cleves, Hans Holbein painted the duke of Cleves' sisters: Anne and Amelia. The two sisters had another older sister, Sybille of Cleves. Sybille was famous across Europe for her natural beauty and so Hans Holbein thought that Henry would favor one of the famous beauty's sisters. When Hans Holbein returned to England, Henry favored the painting of Anne and so he decided to marry her.
     Anne of Cleves was born on September 22, 1515 in Dusseldorf, the daughter of John III, Duke of Cleves and Mary, Duchess of Julich. Her father was a Protestant leader and therefore an enemy of most of Catholic Europe. She grew up at the Dusseldorf court and learned domestic skills. She never learned an sort of musical skills and took no interest in books. She hated card games and was basically a dull girl.
     In 1539, the betrothal contract between Henry and Anne was signed and Anne was sent to England to marry the king. In December, she set out and arrived in Calais on December 11, 1539. The weather was stormy, and she was forced to wait two weeks before she could set out for Deal, on December 27. Finally she arrived in England on January 1, 1540.
     King Henry was eager to see his bride and rode out to Rochester to see her in disguise. In her apartments, Anne was looking out the window at the games going on in the courtyard. Henry went over and embraced and kissed her. She thanked him and brushed him aside, not knowing who he was. Enraged, he dropped his disguise. Anne was shocked and fell to her knees asking for forgiveness. Henry and Anne retired to a room to talk for the afternoon.
     On January 6, the two were married at Greenwich Palace. By the next day, Henry was already looking for ways out of the marriage. To Lord Cromwell he said:
'My Lord, if it were not to satisfy the world, and my Realm, I would not do that I must do this day for none earthly thing.' 
     Henry found Anne dull and ugly. She did not share his likes and Henry found her appearance repulsive, calling her 'the Flemish Mare'. Quite hypocritical of him considering he was now an old overweight man who could barely walk within the next few years. Henry had also found another love around this time, a woman named Katherine Howard, the cousin of his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
     Henry needed to find a way out of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, but first he had to punish Lord Thomas Cromwell, who was the main contender behind the marriage. He had Lord Cromwell executed on July 28, 1540, but regretted it deeply.
     Meanwhile Henry and his advisors searched for a way out. They came across a document stating that Anne had been betrothed to the duke of Lorraine previously, however, the contract was never broken and so Anne was still officially betrothed to Duke Francis of Lorraine. The courtiers in Cleves, unaware of King Henry's intentions, searched their archives and found by February 26, 1540 that there was no proof of a break of the contract to Lorraine. Henry, for once in his marriage career, had found a legal way to get out of marriage.
     As all of this was going on Anne stayed to her apartments. She had almost no knowledge of English and so could not follow the rumors and gossip about her marriage to Henry. Still unconsummated, the marriage was coming to an end and Anne was still full of innocence.
     In the end, Anne was only queen of England for four months. She showed herself at the May Day celebrations before escaping to Richmond Palace from the plague. Henry panicked, recalling the support Catherine of Aragon received when he tried to annul his marriage with her and the years it took to rid him of her. However, Anne agreed to the annulment, more from fear than from support. She had heard of Henry's wrath and rage and dreaded falling victim to it. Henry sent personal envoys out to Richmond and Anne graciously signed the documents, ending her marriage to Henry. However, Anne was not discarded like Catherine and Anne Boleyn. Instead, she became a good friend of Henry's and became known as his 'sister'. She was given allowances and residences, including the old Boleyn estate in Kent, Hever Castle, and Wealden Hall. She later was a close friend of Henry's second daughter, Elizabeth. Anne died on July 17, 1557 at Chelsea, at the age of 42.
Katherine Howard
     By the time that Henry VIII had divorced Anne of Cleves he was already in love with the young Katherine Howard, the cousin of Henry's second wife Anne Boleyn. Born in 1521, the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpepper, Katherine was not raised a true Howard relative. While the Howards were powerful people at the court of Henry VIII, Katherine's family was poor. She and her 10 brothers and sisters grew up in the countryside of England and Katherine never received an education. When she was a young girl of around 12, Catherine was taken to live at the house of her grandmother, the Duchess of Norfolk, a very powerful woman in the Howard family. Katherine's life with her grandmother was very different than that of her childhood. Her grandmother had a large mansion at Lambeth, which housed her many maids and young men, who she loved to have around. Although Katherine was still a young woman, she fell in love with a man named Henry Mannox, a musician who served the duchess. She was 15 at the time, in 1536, and was in London, where her grandmother had decided to move the household after Katherine's cousin, Anne Boleyn, became the queen of England. Katherine's grandmother was constantly away from her, visiting Anne at Greenwich, and so Katherine befriended the girls she bunked with in the dormitory of Lambeth. The nightly escapades of the girls were scandalous. While the rest of the house slept, the girls would sneak boys into their rooms and the boys would stay with them all night. Katherine yearned to be part of this and one night Henry Mannox came to her. Their affair did not last long, for Katherine's grandmother discovered Katherine and Henry together one day and had them permanently separated. Not long after this discovery, which Katherine was forbidden to mention to anyone, Katherine developed an affair with another man employed by her grandmother, named Francis Dereham. They love between the two developed around 1538, by which time Henry VIII had already gone into mourning for Jane Seymour. The two were very close and undoubtedly their love was consummated, as Katherine later admitted. The two acted as if they were already married and addressed each other as husband and wife. However, Francis was called to Ireland on business the next year and although he promised when he returned Katherine and he would start a life together, Katherine's love for him had died out.
In Francis' absence Katherine met a cousin of hers named Thomas Culpepper from her mother's side of the family around 1539. Thomas, a member of the king's privy council, was visiting Lambeth one day as part of an entourage when he saw Katherine in the garden. She and Thomas had an innocent relationship at first but soon it developed into a passionate affair, and like her relationship with Francis Derham, Katherine and Thomas consummated their love. ve. Although the two planned to wed like Katherine and Francis had, Katherine was shocked in 1540 when she was informed that she would be sent to court to be a lady-in-waiting to the new queen, Anne of Cleves. After arriving in Greenwich Palace in early 1540, it was not long before Henry VIII's eyes overlooked his wife and were searching for a new woman to enter Henry's life. He found Anne of Cleves repulsive and one night invited Katherine to dine with him in the hall at Greenwich. Seated next to the king, she and him talked and interacted smoothly, and while Henry found Katherine somewhat small-minded, he found her very entertaining, beautiful, and calming. Not long after, Henry began to invite Katherine to his chambers and moved her to ones closer to his. Soon he and Katherine were everywhere together, and Anne was discarded. While Henry did not acknowledge the fact that Katherine was his second wife's cousin, the Howards, always hungry for more power, saw the marriage as an important political device, and Katherine's uncle, the duke of Norfolk, often visited Katherine and advised her on her behavior with Henry, recalling the fate of his niece Anne. Katherine did offend Henry often, but he shunned this aside as a result of her small mindness.
Although Henry yearned to rid himself of Anne of Cleves, around the summer of 1540 he rushed the process of the annulment precariously. It is believed that Katherine Howard was pregnant and that in fear of having an illegitimate heir, Henry wanted to marry Katherine as soon as possible.
     Sixteen days after his divorce from Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII and Katherine Howard married on July 28, 1540 in Surrey. Henry himself was 49 and Katherine was merely 19. Henry had aged and was no longer a youthful handsome man. He was pained by his legs and had grown fat. Katherine brought life to his painful life and he called Katherine his 'rose without a thorn'.
     Katherine moved into her apartments as the queen and befriended Jane Rochford, the widow of George Boleyn and sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn. It is ironic that Katherine's closest friend would be the same woman who betrayed Katherine's two cousins and led them to their deaths. Katherine trusted Jane, but Jane was known to brag and gossip, although she showed some loyalty to Katherine.
     As Katherine adjusted to life as queen, her uncle and grandmother came often to visit her and give her advice. Her grandmother could no longer discipline her nor could her uncle, but they did help her achieve Henry's love and urged her to produce an heir for the sake of the Howards. This was not to be. Not too long after her marriage, Katherine's past began to come back to haunt her. Henry Mannox, the musician who Katherine had loved when she was 15, came to court as a musician. Francis Derham returned from Ireland, determined to marry Katherine as she had promised him years before. And Thomas Culpepper was often at the palace as part of the duke of Norfolk's entourage and the king's privy council. Katherine's grandmother urged her to never mention her affairs with the men, but soon the rumors leaked out. Francis Derham was open about his relationship with Katherine; unaware of the harm he was doing her. Henry Mannox seemed to keep silent, but soon he was frequently in Katherine's apartments as an entertainer. And finally there came Thomas Culpepper, who knew of the danger he and Katherine were in if the king believed the rumors, which were true. She and Thomas tried to hid their love, for it was still alive, but even the loyal Jane Rochford could not keep silent.
     As rumors and gossip spread from the court into London and the kingdom, Katherine was hysterical to find a way of escaping the king's wrath. A man named John Lascelles, the brother of Katherine's friend Mary Hall, who had lived with her at Lambeth, gathered the rumors and took them to Archbishop Cranmer. Lascelles was a Protestant and Katherine was a Catholic. To Lascelles, Katherine symbolized the Catholic faith taking over once again and the oppression f the Protestants. He spoke to Archbishop Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who then promised to speak to the king. The Archbishop Cranmer passed a letter to King Henry on All Souls' Day during Mass and after the service he was presented with evidence of Katherine's illicit behavior. Henry ordered Cranmer to begin a private investigation. Cranmer had many of Katherine's maids and ladies arrested, including Jane Rochford. Thomas Culpepper and Francis Derham were arrested and tortured until they confessed their past affairs with Katherine.
      King Henry was enraged. He blamed many people for Katherine's adulterous acts. Everyone except himself. He stated that he would like to take a sword and slay Katherine himself, a shocking statement from the man who was comforted by and loved Katherine. He left Whitehall Palace where he and Katherine had been lodging on November 12, 1541. Earlier that day Katherine had escaped from her confinements and ran down the gallery of Whitehall hysterically, aiming to seek Henry's forgiveness. But before she could reach the chapel where Henry was praying, her ladies took control of her and returned her to her rooms. She was locked there and never saw Henry again. Two days later she was escorted to Syon House.
     Archbishop Cranmer took the task of interrogating Katherine at Syon House. Katherine was hysterical, screaming that she would be executed like her cousin Anne Boleyn had been. Cranmer took pity on the reckless girl and offered her an escape from Henry's wrath, one that had been proposed to Anne Boleyn. If Katherine admitted her sins, the marriage could be annulled and Katherine would be sent away. The contract between Katherine and Francis Dereham that they had drawn up for marriage secretly years before was an excellent piece of evidence for the case. If Katherine and Francis were still bound to each other, the marriage between Katherine and Henry never took place, the same escape that Henry had used to get rid of three of his past wives. Katherine was convinced that admitting to her sins would condemn her to death, and refused to go along with Cranmer's proposal. Henry himself did not plan to spare her, and so there was no escape for Katherine Howard.
     On November 22, Katherine's title of queen of England was stripped of her. She stayed at Syon House for two more months, during which two of her lovers were executed. On December 10, Francis Dereham was hung, drawn, quartered, castrated, and disemboweled. Thomas Culpepper was executed the same day, though he was beheaded in honor of his high place at court. Their heads were placed on London Bridge, where they stayed until 1546. After the executions, Katherine became a more mature person. Her relatives were sent to the Tower of London, including her elderly grandmother. Only her uncle survived the Tower, after humbly beseeching himself before King Henry and begging for mercy.
     Meanwhile, courtiers were still trying to figure out what exactly Katherine was guilty of. She had been betrothed to Francis Derham and since the contract was never broken she had not legally married Henry and therefore had not committed adultery or treason against him. She was plainly innocent. However, King Henry fought that Katherine had intended to commit treason, which was against the Act of Attainder. Henry sealed Katherine's fate as an adulterer with a 'abominable, base, carnal, voluptuous and vicious life'.
     On February 10, 1542, the duke of Suffolk escorted Katherine to the Tower of London. Hysterical, she tried to resist but was forced onto the barge that would take her up the river Thames. Dressed in black, she was lodged in the Queen's Apartments although the title had been stripped from her more than four months beforehand. On the night of February 12, 1542, Katherine was told that she would be executed the following day. Katherine's only request was that the block that would be used in her execution be brought to her so that she could 'practice'.
     The next day, February 13, 1542, Katherine was escorted to Tower Green at 7 in the morning by the king's privy councilors save her uncle, the duke of Norfolk. Weak and frightened, Katherine had to be helped up the stairs to the scaffold. In a small quiet speech she stated that her execution was just and worthy and asked for God's forgiveness and Henry's preservation. After the execution, Katherine was laid to rest in the chapel of Saint Peter ad Vincula. Not too long after Katherine's execution, Jane Rochford also made the trip to Tower Green, a fitting end to the life of a woman who had brought about the deaths of her brother and sister-in-law and had betrayed Katherine Howard.
      Katherine was only queen for 18 months and never bore any heirs. She may not have had a deep impact on the history of Henry VIII's reign but she is sympathized as a silly girl thirty years younger than her husband who did not understand life at court, which brought about her downfall.
Catherine Parr
     Catherine Parr, the last of Henry's six wives, was born in 1512 to Sir Thomas Parr and Lady Maud Parr at Blackfriars. A Northamptonshire heiress, Lady Maud married Thomas Parr of Kendal, who claimed lineage to King Edward III, while she was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. The couple had a daughter, speculated to be named after the queen, named Catherine. Catherine had two siblings, a brother named William and a sister named Anne. When Catherine was only 5 in 1517, her father died, leaving her 22-year-old mother a widow. Her mother was a learned woman and refused to let her stature as a widow demean her at court. Catherine and her siblings were educated at the court of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. According to many accounts, Catherine Parr was educated alongside Mary Tudor, the only living child of King Henry and Catherine of Aragon, who was five years younger than Catherine Parr. Catherine's mother refused to let her daughter be married off young and focused on educating young Catherine. Catherine learned French from her fluent mother, Italian, Latin, and Greek. Besides a wide range of languages, Catherine was educated in history, art, and religion. A Catholic, Catherine was taught to see 'the hands of God' in all matters.
     Lady Maud Parr began the search for Catherine's first husband when Catherine was only nine. Betrothed to the Lord Scrope's son, the marriage contract was broken when the betrothal did not live up to the demands set in Sir Thomas Parr's will. Catherine was then betrothed to Edward, Lord Borough of Gainsborough. Catherine did not go to live with Edward until she was 15 as Edward was in his late fifties and Catherine's mother was not about to send a 12-year-old to the marriage bed of an elderly man. Catherine went to live with Edward at Gainsborough in 1527, but within two years he was dead. Catherine left Gainsborough to go back to live at court.
Catherine met her second husband around the time that Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. John Neville, Lord of Latimer, was the father of two children, aged seven and ten. He and Catherine married in January of 1531. Catherine was 19 while John Neville was 49. The couple moved to Snape Hall in Yorkshire, a large estate that was put under the management of young Catherine. The two preferred their estate to court life but in 1536, Catherine and John became caught up in the scandals of Anne and Henry's annulment. At one point their lives were endangered by Archbishop Cranmer, but they escaped imprisonment.
     Catherine and John Neville were married until 1542. By that time Anne Boleyn had been executed, Jane Seymour had died in childbirth, Anne of Cleves was discarded, and Katherine Howard was executed. Four queens under Henry VIII gone in less than 6 years.
     At court, Catherine and her family were gaining power through Catherine's marriage to John Neville. At court, Catherine had begun an affair with the brother of Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, Thomas Seymour. Although the two planned to marry, the unmarried Henry VIII's eye caught Catherine at court one day and he fell in love with her. We must remember how he had fallen in love with his 5 previous wives and only one lived through the ordeal of marriage to Henry. As much as Thomas proposed to Catherine, she was forced to decline for it was not the matter of choosing now for Catherine but instead being chosen. Henry had chosen Catherine. The two were married on July 12, 1543, eighteen months after Katherine Howard's execution. Catherine was for fact the most educated queen since Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Many found that she resembled Catherine of Aragon more so. Instead of becoming involved with state affairs or turning the role of queen into one of decadence, Catherine turned it into a family role. At this point, King Henry VIII had three children: Mary, at age 27, Elizabeth, at age 10, and Edward, at age 6. Mary had recalled her days at court with her mother and Catherine Parr and took a liking to her new mother. Edward was a motherless child and, needing a mother figure, also took to Catherine Parr. Elizabeth was a very intelligent and suspicious young girl and it took time before Elizabeth adapted to Catherine Parr. Elizabeth had been fond of Katherine Howard, in part because Katherine was her mother's cousin. One of the things that one Elizabeth over to Catherine was that Mary and Elizabeth had both been banished from court at the time and had both been stripped of the title of 'princess'. With Catherine's help, the two sisters were brought back to court and reinstated as princesses of the kingdom. Catherine had brought the family together, which she had planned to do to show other countries England's strength. Edward was a sickly child though, and had to be moved from house to house to find a suitable climate, a sign of weakness. He best adapted to Ashridge, which became his house away from court.
     Catherine proved to be an incisive queen. She had won Henry's confidence and after his victory at Flanders in 1543, Catherine's family was deeply honored. Catherine's brother, William, became a Kinght of the Garter, Marquess of Northampton, and Earl of Essex. Catherine's sister, Anne, became a lady-in-waiting to her sister and her husband was put on the Privy Council. Sir William Parr, Catherine's uncle, became Lord Parr of Horton and Lord Chamberlain of Catherine's household. Catherine was rewarded with many households and lands and one of her best achievements was convincing Henry to put Mary and Elizabeth back in the succession line for the throne.
Catherine was almost ruined when her enemies tried to have her linked with heresy. Catherine was known as a great humanitarian and embraced many religions. Her enemies tried to link her with Protestantism and when Henry was alerted he ordered her arrest. With the help of Princess Elizabeth, Catherine ran in on Henry in the gardens at Greenwich one day and begged for his forgiveness and showed her humility to him. He forgave her and just then the victorious enemies of Catherine came to arrest her. Henry yelled in fury for them to get out of his sight and he and Catherine reconciled.
     Around the same time, Catherine took under her protection the young Jane Grey, a pious young girl, the daughter of Frances Brandon and Henry Grey; she was the same age as Edward and became his dearest friend. Jane would later become queen of England for nine days after Edward's death and was executed at the age of 16 in 1554.
     When Henry went to war in France he left Catherine as his regent and in the case of his death she would be Edward's regent until he came of age in 1555. The last time Henry had left the throne to a female regent was thirty years before when Henry left the regency to Catherine of Aragon.
In the winter of 1546, Henry became seriously ill. After his three children returned to their private estates concluding the Yuletide celebrations, Henry took to his chambers and Catherine was by his side day and night nursing him. In late January, Henry's health turned for the worst and Henry died on January 28, 1547. For three days the news was kept from the world, but soon word leaked out to England. Catherine, a widow for the third time, took up her affair with Thomas Seymour, now Lord High Admiral and Baron Seymour of  Sudeley, barely 4 months after Henry's death and the two married. This brought up rumors of Catherine being adulterous, but in fact she and Thomas had not shared a relationship while Catherine was married to King Henry VIII. Catherine moved away from court, bringing Jane Grey and Princess Elizabeth with her to live at Sudeley Castle with Thomas Seymour, her new husband. Catherine became pregnant for the first time in four marriages in early 1548. She kept to her apartments and around this time Thomas Seymour began to intimately follow Princess Elizabeth, now fourteen years old. One day, Catherine discovered Elizabeth and Thomas frolicking in the gardens of their estate. It is clear that Thomas meant to marry Elizabeth eventually, but Elizabeth's feelings were not so deep for Thomas. Nonetheless, Elizabeth was banished from Catherine's household in the summer of 1548. A few months later, Catherine went into labor and on September 7, 1548, Catherine died of complications of birth. Her daughter, Mary, had been born on August 30 but did not survive her mother by very long. Thomas was later executed on accusations of high treason for trying to marry Princess Elizabeth in 1549. Mary Seymour, Thomas and Catherine's daughter, went under the care of the duchess of Somerset. She disappears from records after the age of two. She presumably died then.
     And so ended the life of the last of King Henry VIII's six wives. Only two wives outlived him, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr. The other four fell to execution, annulment, and death by birth complications. Henry VIII completed much and contributed greatly to the English kingdom during his long reign but he is most remembered for his six wives.