Catherine Howard: Facts About the Fifth Wife of Henry VIII

Here are some facts about Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife.

  • Catherine’s first name was spelt in several different ways. In addition to Catherine, it was also written as Katherine, Katheryn and Kathryn. This was not unusual with names in the Tudor period – the name Shakespeare was also written in a variety of different ways.

  • Catherine Howard was probably born in the early 1520s – historians are not certain about the exact year. She was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpepper.
  • Catherine was made a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves and came to court when she was about 19. She was noticed by Henry VIII who was unhappy in his marriage to Anne of Cleves.
  • Only sixteen days after Henry’s marriage to Anne was annuled, Henry married Catherine. The ceremony took place on 28th July 1540.
  • Henry VIII was approximately thirty years older than Catherine.
  • Catherine was a cousin to Anne Boleyn, Henry’s second wife.
  • A few months into their marriage, rumours that Catherine had been being unfaithful to Henry began to be heard.
  • Henry instructed Archbishop Cranmer to investigate whether or not the rumours were true. Enough evidence was found to charge Catherine for committing treason.
  • Catherine was executed by beheading on 13th February 1542. Her body was buried in an unmarked grave in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula near to the body of her cousin, Anne Boleyn. Henry did not attend her funeral.

To find out more about Henry VIII’s other wives, click here.