Sunday, May 2, 2021

The True Age of Catherine Howard

From Royal History Geeks:

According to historian Gareth Russell, Catherine’s most recent biographer, there is more to this debate than meets the eye.

“The idea that Catherine was born in 1525 is based on a misreading of her grandparents’ wills,” Gareth explains. “It’s an understandable mistake. But it is unambiguously a mistake.”

“The most compelling evidence for Catherine’s year of birth comes from Charles de Marillac, French ambassador to Henry VIII’s court. He knew Catherine well. They went on long hunting trips in the summers of 1540 and 1541. And he was paid to make these kinds of things his business.

“de Marillac reported that Catherine was 18 when she debuted at court at the tail end of 1539. While he may have been basing this on her appearance, four years is too big a mistake to make.

“Some argue that de Marillac had poor form when it came to age guessing. They point out that he estimated 24-year-old Anne of Cleves’s age at 30. But this is a misunderstanding. He doesn’t get Anne’s age wrong. He says that if you saw her, you would guess her age at 30, meaning that she looked older than she was. He’s making an unchivalrous comment, not – at least from a biographical point of view – an inaccurate one.

“There’s also a widely-held view that 14 was deemed an acceptable age to marry in Tudor England. But it’s a bit more nuanced than that. Many believed that a 14-year-old would struggle to bring a child to term. Given the primary role of a Queen was to bear heirs, if Henry had taken a wife as young as that, it would have been more widely remarked upon.

“Given this evidence, a birthdate of circa 1521/22 emerges as the most likely.” (Read more.)


My review of Gareth Russell's bio of Catherine Howard, HERE.


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