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November 6, 1541 – Henry Abandons Catherine Howard at Hampton Court

The Haunted Gallery, from Hampton Court Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace
The Haunted Gallery, from Hampton Court Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace

Just a short recap – on November 2, Henry learned about Catherine’s past (you can read about that here). To his credit, he did not believe the report – though he did have her locked in her apartments while formal investigations were made.

The truth of the rumors was quickly established – Catherine herself confirmed them (though she argued that Dereham had forced her). Henry was devastated in a way he had not been when Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery (anyone want to guess why?), and ran off to drown his sorrows at Oatlands Palace, a choice full of self-torture. Specifically, Oatlands is where he had married her, where they had honeymooned in a giant, specially-commissioned, ornately pearled bed. Of course I played this up in The Path to Somerset – with the bed glowing in the middle of the room while Henry sat in a corner in his bathrobe (a rumpled silk night robe with a black jennet lining). I had the visual in my head of him eating ice cream from the carton but apparently the Tudor equivalent of that involved whale blubber and that didn’t translate well… 

Anyway. At this point, Henry was primarily feeling self-pity…which I say because many believed that Henry might actually forgive Catherine – unless of course she had continued her wayward behavior after the marriage.

Catherine herself had opened suspicions on this possibility: she appointed Dereham as her personal secretary, though only because he blackmailed her. If he had not wanted so badly to be part of court life (truly, to be part of HER life), he would not have noticed the developing relationship between her and Thomas Culpeper….and would not have tried to save himself by naming the man who had “supplanted” him in Catherine’s affections. Everything changed when the investigators searched Culpeper’s rooms and found a letter Catherine had written herself. Two quotes sealed the fates of all involved: “Come to me when my Lady Rochford is here for then I shall be best at leisure to be at your commandment,” and “Yours as long as life endures.”

Sigh.

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