History Files


Early Modern Britain

Friends & Foes of Henry's Wives

From Channel 4's The Six Wives of Henry VIII series by Doctor David Starkey, September 2001



Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Part 4: Catherine Howard / Katherine Parr

Dowager Duchess of Norfolk

Step grandmother of Catherine Howard, the dowager duchess brought Catherine up after her mother died and her father kept falling into debt.

She probably engineered Francis Dereham's promotion to secretary at Hampton Court to buy his silence when Henry married Catherine, but when his indiscretions were uncovered, she was implicated and with the fall of Catherine, she was imprisoned in the Tower, but later released.

Francis Dereham

A handsome retainer who was popular with women, Francis Dereham was a wealthy gentleman.

He confessed to his relationship with Catherine, which had started in the days when she lived at the dowager's home and lasted until Catherine was made lady-in-waiting to Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Thomas Cranmer discovered this and the resulting confessions by Dereham and others who were implicated, including the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, led to the fall of the queen herself.

Francis died a traitor's death at the Tyburn gallows, being being hanged, drawn and quartered on 10 December 1541.

Sir Thomas Seymour

Thomas Seymour was Henry VIII's brother-in-law by virtue of his sister, Jane, Henry's third wife.

He was the son of Sir John Seymour and younger brother of Edward Seymour, who became Protector of England on Henry's death.

In 1547 he was made admiral and married the dowager Queen Katherine. After Katherine died, he set his sights on marriage to Princess Elizabeth, but was charged with treason by his brother Edward and executed in 1549.

Stephen Gardiner

Stephen Gardiner was born in 1483, becoming Thomas Wolsey's secretary and then Bishop of Winchester in 1531.

He tried to expedite Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon by visiting Rome, and agreed with the king's supremacy in the nation. But he disagreed with much of the rest of the Reformation, and under Mary I he attacked Protestants ruthlessly.

Anne Askew

Born in Grimsby, Humberside, Anne Askew converted early to Reformation ideas, and was arrested. She became a Protestant martyr after being tortured and burned to death for heresy in 1546.



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