Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Week in History -- Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham

This was a bad week for Catherine Howard.  Like, the worst.  Imagine your worst week and multiply it by a thousand.

As you know, my first novel, GILT, tells the story of Catherine from the point of view of her best friend.  My goal is to be as historically accurate as possible, placing people and events as they actually were, but lacing these events through a story with a more contemporary feel -- the story of the friendship between Kitty Tylney and Cat Howard.

The White Tower in the Tower of London
But I'll run through some of the facts here on the blog over the course of the year.  On the 1st of December, 1541, two of Catherine Howard's lovers were put on trial and found guilty of high treason.

Seriously.  Can you imagine how impossible it would seem for an ex-boyfriend to be tried and convicted of treason?  As a teenager, when you fell in love, did you stop and think, "Wait, maybe I shouldn't do this in case I marry the king one day?"  No.  Neither did Catherine Howard nor Francis Dereham.  Unfortunately for them.

But Thomas Culpepper was a different story.  Catherine started the affair with him after she married the king.  And adultery was a very bad thing for a woman (though not for a man.  Especially the king.  Double standard, anyone?)  Adultery with the queen could *ahem* adulterate the royal line, placing a non-royal on the throne, which was even worse.  Treason.

So on December 1st, Catherine heard that her bedfellows were going to die.  And I wonder if she knew then that she might follow.

On December 10, the men were executed on Tower Hill.  Culpepper was beheaded -- his sentence commuted by a generous king.  Dereham was not so lucky.

Not a good week, all in all.  I certainly hope yours is better.

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