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August 8, 1540 – Marriage to Catherine Howard Made Public

Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, aquatint engraving by w. H. Pyne published as plate 33 of The History of the Royal Residences; via Wikimedia Commons
Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, aquatint engraving by W. H. Pyne published as Plate 33 of The History of the Royal Residences; via Wikimedia Commons

Henry VIII married Catherine Howard on July 28 at Oatlands Palace in Surrey. The wedding, officiated by Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, took place only nineteen days after the dissolution of the King’s marriage to Anne of Cleves – and on the same day as the execution of Thomas Cromwell, whose lands were awarded to Catherine as part of her marriage portion. Whether for these reasons, or purely personal ones, this new union was kept quiet for a time.

It was finally announced as most of the King’s other marriages had been: by having the bride “shown openly” at court and prayed for at mass around the country. As with Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, the King chose to attend the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court (for Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, he used Greenwich Palace). There were no reports of people walking out during the mass (that happened the Sunday when people were suddenly asked to pray for “the King and his wife, Queen Anne” rather than “the King and his wife, Queen Catherine”) but there were quiet grumblings – the English people vastly preferred Anne of Cleves as a proper queen for their king rather than this new young thing though they were not prepared to fight for the idea.

After the announcement, the couple left on a honeymoon progress – an extended hunting trip through Surrey into Berkshire. They stayed at Reading before moving north to Ewelme, Rycote, Notley, Buckingham, and Grafton. On the way back down, they spent some time at the Moore with members of his council (requiring letters and papers to be carefully described as emanating from or addressed to the “Council at Court” or the “Council in London”). During the progress, the King adopted a new rule of living (the French ambassador guessed that it was to lose weight), rising between 5 and 6, hearing mass at 7, riding out early to hunt, then returning at 10 for dinner and business all afternoon. By the time the court returned to Windsor in October, the King claimed to be “a new man” and that his leg had stopped paining him. Unfortunately for Henry, this new condition wouldn’t last long….

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