Married at eighteen, beheaded at twenty, Katheryn Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII, paid a high price for her passionate nature.
Although she lived five hundred years ago, Katheryn’s teenage desires – the longing for love, sexual excitement and independence are emotions shared by young adults today. Not as well known (or exploited) as her famous cousin, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn’s story is every bit as exciting and dangerous. It is a piece of history that has the power to stimulate our imagination five hundred years later.
Beautiful, buxom and flirtatious, Katheryn learned early on in life that her sexuality was her power. The 16th century was a time when women were sold like chattel to wealthy families to insure bloodlines, patronage, and even peace between nations. Many knew that Katheryn was no longer a virgin, and to deceive the King into thinking she was could be punished by death. But, when Henry’s roving eye turned her way, her family didn’t hesitate to encourage the union.
Her passionate affair with the King’s courtier, Thomas Culpeper, and the foolish act of bringing her previous love, Francis Derehem, into her service once she was Queen, sealed her fate. Intrigue, betrayal, sex and lies were young Katheryn’s undoing. Her final words before she knelt at the executioner’s feet were: “I die the Queen of England but I would rather have died the wife of Thomas Culpeper.”