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Profile of the Day: Catherine Howard

Profile of the Day: Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard

On this day in 1542, Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, was executed on the grounds of treason for committing adultery. She was queen for only 16 months before her death at the Tower of London.

Howard was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper. She was also the first cousin of Anne Boleyn, who was King Henry VIII’s second wife and mother of Elizabeth I. Boleyn was executed on May 19, 1536 for treason and adultery.

Before her marriage to the King, Howard served as a lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. She immediately caught the King’s eye and they married shortly after his fourth marriage was annulled in 1540. However, a little over a year into the marriage, rumors spread of Howard’s affairs before and after her marriage to the King. Although he did not believe the accusations at first, Henry VIII became enraged as more evidence was presented and had Howard imprisoned. On February 7, 1542, Parliament passed a bill of attainder that declared it high treason for the queen consort to conceal her sexual history from the king or to incite someone to commit adultery with her. Following this, Howard was executed on February 13, 1542 for her acts of treason.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons


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