On the 28th July 1540 as his former Lord Privy Seal and Principal Secretary Thomas Cromwell was being executed King Henry VIII was marrying his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.
Catherine Howard was the maid of Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves and was approximately 20 years old when she married the aged King who was fast approaching 50.
The couple were desperate to marry as Henry believed that his new bride to be was pregnant and Henry wanted any new children to be legitimate as although he had Prince Edward as well as the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth Henry still wished for another son. Henry knew all too well how important it was to have a second son, as he himself was not initially the heir to the throne until his elder brother Arthur died at the age of 15.
Henry and Catherine married in a private ceremony at Oatlands Palace, Surrey and it was conducted by Bishop Bonner. The marriage was days after Henry’s annulment to Anne of Cleves and this marriage was kept secret for ten days. Catherine appeared for the first time as Queen Consort on 8th August 1540 at Hampton Court Palace before the newlyweds headed to Windsor for a short honeymoon.
Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was so expensive and expected to last the royal treasury was depleted and so there was no money available for Henry to give Catherine either a marriage feast or a coronation. However, just less than a year later the marriage was over after Henry had been informed that Catherine had been unfaithful and not only that she was not as innocent as believed as she had relationships with men before her marriage to the King.
Henry was devasted that his new bride was not what she seemed and ordered her execution; she was beheaded at the Tower of London on 13th February 1542.