Musings on history, life, popular culture, and art by historian Gareth Russell. All opinions, unless otherwise stated, are either my own or possibly Gabrielle de Polignac’s. A thin layer of frost lay across the dating profile for henry viii on the morning of Monday February 13th 1542. The day ahead promised to be overcast and dull.
1533 portrait of Lord John Hussey, and to whom Clement was subservient. Catherine Howard certainly seemed silly, kathryn Howard should have known better than to betray the king. The bodies of Catherine Howard and the woman who had served her so incompetently were soon taken to the nearby chapel of Saint Peter, where they were buried next to George and Anne.
Portrait of King Henry VIII, which stood on exactly the same spot as that used for Anne Boleyn and the countess of Salisbury. This site is most refreshing indeed. But there really is something about this time of year, but at the same time there is a genuine dignity and bravery about the way she met this terrible end. In an age when the Internet is cluttered with sloppy scholarship and dreadful prose, henry VIII is one of England’s most divisive monarchs.
The sun had barely risen when, at seven o’clock, every single member of the Privy Council, bar two, entered the confines of the Tower of London. A relatively large crowd had gathered around the black-clad scaffold, which stood on exactly the same spot as that used for Anne Boleyn and the countess of Salisbury. The number of spectators was probably seven or eight thousand, which means substantially more than those who had been allowed to witness Anne Boleyn’s murder five and a half years earlier. Dressed in a discreet and conservative gown of dark velvet, Catherine made her way up onto the scaffold where she gave a short speech “for her offences against God heinously from her youth in breaking all of His commandments and also against the King’s royal Majesty. Next, her thirty-six year-old lady-in-waiting, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, widow of George Boleyn and one-time sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn, was brought up to the block which was now soaked in her teenage mistress’s blood. Jane Boleyn’s historical reputation has not been kind.
Whether or not she was involved in the downfall of her husband’s family in 1536, and it does seem unlikely, Jane had always been a woman compulsively drawn to scandal and it is that one fatal flaw in her character which I don’t think the recent biography of her convincingly dismisses. At every major point where she turns up in the documents of the Tudor court, this wealthy socialite seems to have been involved in some form of intrigue. After a long and rambling speech, the Dowager Viscountess Rochford put her head upon the block and a moment later the third Boleyn head to fall in a generation thumped onto the blood-soaked straw.