Friday, December 30, 2016

Katherine Howard: A Victim of Child Abuse?

I have always thought so. From The Telegraph:
It’s all very well to describe her “easy charm”, and her “abundant store of good nature”, but it is questionable to do so about a girl who, from the age of 11 or 12 onwards, had older men coming into her bedroom. Especially when Manox was placed in a position of responsibility towards Katherine as her music teacher.

Regardless, you might argue, there’s still the damning ‘love letter’ that she wrote to Thomas Culpepper after her marriage: surely to take such a risk as queen is evidence, if not of adultery, of stupidity?  

But when you consider the personal politics of abusive relationships, you have to suspect that all is not as it seems. Thomas Culpepper, a favourite of Henry’s, was a thoroughly unpleasant character. He’d been accused of raping a woman, although the king had excused him. He too was associated with Katherine’s grandmother’s household, and knew what had gone on here.

Imagine, then, Culpepper using his knowledge of Katherine’s past against her. It is quite understandable that a woman in her position would say or do anything at all to try to placate or mollify such a dangerous blackmailer. We know today that’s not impossible for a ‘love letter’ to be motivated entirely by fear.

With this in mind, think again of Katherine’s last journey by boat to the Tower of London. Think again of her asking, the night before her execution, as we know that she did, if she could please practise the laying of her head upon the block in order to do it properly. Her final requests were that the king spare her family vengeance, and that he should give gifts to her attendants. (Read more.)

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