Henry VIII and His Six Wives s01e04 Episode Script

Catherine Howard & Catherine Parr

DAN JONES: Henry VIII is the most Infamous monarch in English history.
I, Katherine I, Anne, take thee, Henry, to be my husband.
I do.
SUZANNAH UPSCOMB: Famously, over his 38-year reign he married six times.
DAN: Divorced, Beheaded, Died SUZANNAH: Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
DAN: But the women Henry married were more than just six wives.
SUZANNAH: They were the six queens.
The six queens were formidable individuals.
Some were ambitious, some brave, some ruthless.
All changed history.
They shaped the man who became the monster, and in turn they shaped England itself.
But who were these women? What drove them? And what was it really like to be married to Henry VIII? In this series we'll dissect these marriages from the rival perspectives of Henry and his queens.
BABY CRIES - I will call you Henry.
DAN: We'll uncover the passions that created them, the obsessions that darkened them and the betrayals that brought them to an end.
SUZANNAH: This time, after four failed marriages Henry VIII wed the ravishing Catherine Howard the teenage wife of his dreams.
But she had a guilty secret He did kiss me.
I was a young girl.
DAN: His final wife, Catherine Parr, appeared to be more obedient but she wasn't all that she seemed.
Would she too betray the king? Speaking the words she spoke deserves death.
By 1539 Henry VIII was 48 years old.
SUZANNAH: His first three wives - Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour - were all dead.
Henry was now stuck in a loveless marriage to the German princess, Anne of Cleaves.
DAN: Henry called his new bride fat and ugly.
He claimed he was so disgusted by her face and body that he'd been unable to perform his sexual duties.
This was a big problem for Henry and his Tudor dynasty.
The king had one son but in 16th-century England child deaths were very common so one heir wasn't enough.
He needed a spare.
SUZANNAH: Just months into his marriage to Anne Henry began to look around for her replacement.
As usual, he didn't look far.
In 1539 a girl of around 17 arrived at the Tudor court.
Her name was Catherine Howard.
Catherine came from a rich and powerful noble family.
DAN: When Henry laid eyes on her.
It was love at first sight.
DAN: Catherine was everything that Anne of Cleeves wasn't.
The very thought of Catherine rejuvenated Henry.
She made him feel manly, powerful and vigorous.
But more than anything else, Henry saw Catherine as absolutely virtuous.
Young, pure and virginal, he would call her "my blushing rose without a thorn".
DAN: Within months of arriving at court.
It's believed Catherine became Henry's lover.
In the Spring of 1540, as his marriage to Anne of Cleeves was disintegrating Henry was spotted making regular trips, day and night, to Catherine's house.
Henry planned to make Catherine wife No.
SUZANNAH: That meant Anne of Cleeves had to go.
Just six months after their wedding.
Henry ditched his fourth wife.
He used her previous engagement to a French nobleman as grounds to annul their marriage.
Anne was paid off and sent away.
On July the 28th, just two weeks after his marriage to Anne was annulled Catherine became Henry's fifth queen.
SUZANNAH: For Catherine, being queen was everything she'd dreamt it would be.
Henry showered her with jewels.
In the Summer of 1540 he showed her off at a series of summer banquets and hunting expeditions.
Catherine had arrived.
DAN: Henry was in love and in lust.
Drunk with desire for his new bride the king's sexual problems disappeared instantly.
SUZANNAH: The newly-weds enjoyed a ten-day private honeymoon.
The French Ambassador wrote 'the king is so amorous of her that he cannot treat her well enough and caresses her more than he did the others.
' In other words, Henry was having the time of his life.
He thought he'd finally found his perfect bride.
But a less loved-up old man might have stopped to wonder how it was that an innocent virgin like Catherine knew her way quite so well around the bedroom.
SUZANNAH: But soon, rumours began to spread and secrets about Catherine's past were whispered around court.
On November the 2nd 1541 50-year-old Henry VIII arrived in his private chapel in Hampton Court, ready for mass.
On his seat he found a Setter.
It was written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer and what it said was sensational.
Cranmer claimed that Henry's fifth wife, Catherine Howard was not the innocent virgin she had claimed to be.
Instead she was a woman with a dark and seedy past.
SUZANNAH: It all began here at Chesworth House in Sussex.
Around 1532 when Catherine was 11 or 12 years old she was sent to live here in the household of her step-grandmother the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.
Here she learnt everything that was necessary for a girl to know at court but she also learnt one or two things that she'd have been better off not knowing.
It was alleged that while Catherine lived at Chesworth House men would visit her dormitory late at night and she engaged in illicit sex.
DAN: Archbishop Cranmer expected Henry to fly into a rage when he read the allegations but to his surprise, the king simply refused to believe them.
Someone is trying to blacken the name of my wife.
Sir, I too thought this was vile gossip but I think it would be wise to investigate.
There's no other way? - I fear not.
Any investigation must be conducted in secret.
This must not spark any scandal against the queen.
Yes, Your Majesty.
DAN: Henry's reaction wasn't what Cranmer expected at all.
Instead of flying into a rage the king dismissed the claims as gossip and lies and that might seem like a strange reaction for someone as notoriously bad-tempered as Henry but maybe, after the mess with Anne Boleyn Henry refused to believe that another one of his wives could be tainted in the same way.
Surely no one's luck was that bad.
DAN: But Cranmer knew that there had been immoral living at Chesworth House.
He knew because there was a witness.
SUZANNAH: Her name was Margaret Bennett.
She was immediately brought in for questioning.
I looked; there was a hole in the door.
I looked through.
Margaret said that she saw Catherine with a young gentleman called Francis Dereham.
I saw him get Catherine's clothes above her navel.
He saw her naked body.
Dereham said to Catherine that although he used the company of women he would not get her pregnant.
Catherine replied, a woman may meddle with a man and not conceive.
DAN: Margaret Bennett's evidence was all Cranmer needed.
DOOR CLICKS SHU He now had proof that Catherine was no virgin when she married the king.
This was a very dangerous situation.
THEY LAUGH It was absolutely essential that any previously unwed woman who married the king should be a virgin, or at the very least disclose her true sexual history.
The reason was a fear of illegitimacy.
If the queen fell pregnant there should be absolutely no doubt who the father of the baby was.
DAN: Cranmer now had to tell Henry the truth about his wife's sordid past.
It utterly devastated the king.
He broke down in tears.
HENRY SOBS When we think of Henry we think of this big macho king hands on hips, legs astride; the very picture of masculinity.
You'd never imagine he'd show emotion, let alone vulnerability.
SUZANNAH: Catherine had no idea her sexual secrets were being dragged out of the shadows but then on November the 7th, a little over a year into her marriage Cranmer confronted Catherine.
Well, what's going on? Queen Catherine, you are accused of committing adultery with Francis Dereham.
What? I never would never Oh DAN: Cranmer knew she was lying but to get a confession, he offered her mercy.
Tell me everything truthfully.
I'm sure the king will look favourably upon you.
He did kiss me and he did lie with me.
Sometimes in his doublet and hose and two or three times naked.
I didn't consider how much of a fault it was to conceal my youthful mistakes.
SUZANNAH: Catherine knew a sex scandal could cost her life just as it had Anne Boleyn.
To avoid the executioner's block.
Catherine wrote a full confession throwing herself off on Henry's mercy.
It was an act of utter desperation, but would it work? DAN: When Henry read Catherine's words, his heart thawed.
He wanted her punished but he would spare her life.
For now.
Remove her from the queen's household to the nunnery at Sion.
She's to remain there in modest chambers until this matter is fully resolved.
In many ways I think Henry was relieved.
He loved Catherine.
He didn't want to believe she'd done this and frankly, he couldn't take any more blows to his masculinity.
Above all, he genuinely couldn't bear to lose her so he was able to reason, to himself at least that all of these incidents took place long before he even met his wife.
SUZANNAH: But if Henry was satisfied with Catherine's confession, Cranmer wasn't.
He didn't believe the queen's affair with Dereham was a thing of the past and he was determined to find the truth by any means necessary.
In November, Dereham was arrested and brought here, to the Tower of London to answer some more difficult questions.
To help loosen his tongue, he was tortured.
DEREHAM WHIMPERS SUZANNAH: Despite horrific torture Dereham denied that he was still having sex with Catherine but incredibly, he said he did know who was.
You have something to tell me.
DEREHAM WHIMPERS His name is Culpepper.
Thomas Culpepper.
DAN: Dereham's confession was explosive stuff.
Thomas Culpepper was one of Henry VIII 's most trusted advisors.
A gentleman of the privy chamber, he was part of the king's inner circle.
Thomas Culpepper catered to Henry's most private needs.
He dressed him and undressed him.
He even slept at the foot of the royal bed.
Could he really be having an affair with the queen right under the king's nose? SUZANNAH: Culpeppers rooms were immediately searched for evidence of an affair.
Among his belongings they found a letter.
This is a copy of the original letter found in Thomas Culpepper's rooms.
It says 'Master Culpepper, I heartedly recommend me unto you praying you to send me word how that you do for I never longed so much for a thing as I do to see you and to speak with you.
' And the letter writer adds 'it makes my heart to die to think what fortune I have that I cannot be always in your company.
' It was clearly written by someone who loved Thomas Culpepper who was worried about him being sick and who missed him.
The problem is, it's signed off 'Yours as long as life endures, Catherine.
' This is Catherine Howard's signature; Henry's wife, the queen.
This is as good as a death warrant.
SUZANNAH: Being unfaithful to the king could be considered high treason, punishable by death.
Would Catherine really have risked her life for sex? SUZANNAH: Personally I think it's entirely possible that Catherine wasn't actually having a sexual affair with Thomas.
Perhaps he was simply a close friend, someone she could talk to.
But either way, it was sheer foolishness to imagine that she could write to a man in these terms who wasn't her husband especially when her husband was Henry VIII.
DAN: Thomas Culpepper was immediately arrested.
He denied having sex with the queen but he confessed to something equally as damning.
These are his exact words.
I intended and meant to do ill with the queen and likewise the queen did with me.
This was an admission that he and Queen Catherine had wanted to have sex.
DAN: Culpepper may have been hoping that by a partial admission of guilt he'd find some royal mercy.
Instead he only sealed his fate.
On December 1st Culpepper and Francis Dereham were brought to trial.
Both were found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
DAN: For Queen Catherine Henry's justice was swift.
Denied the opportunity to defend herself in court she was condemned to death by an Act of Parliament.
SUZANNAH: On the evening before she was due to be executed two servants brought a large object into her cell.
It was the executioner's block.
This wasn't cruel, psychological torture by Henry.
Catherine had requested it.
She wanted to make a good impression on the scaffold and to die with dignity.
To do that, she needed to practise.
At 7.
00 am on the frosty morning of February 13th 1542 Catherine Howard walked out into the yard of the Tower of London.
She was little more than a girl but with her dying words, Catherine Howard achieved a dignity beyond her years.
I desire all Christian people to take regard unto my worthy and just punishment.
Take example of me.
Amend your ungodly lies and gladly obey the king in all things.
As was the custom.
Catherine forgave her executioner and paid him a gold sovereign and then she knelt and did as she had practised.
DAN: Henry didn't watch the execution.
Catherine had been the latest in a long line of betrayals.
DAN: With Catherine Howard dead, Henry was free to marry again but for once he didn't have his next wife waiting in the wings.
In fact, the chances of him finding a willing bride seemed pretty remote.
His reputation was about as bad as it was possible to get but he was still the king.
He needed more sons, and above all, he wanted a wife to love him faithfully and wholeheartedly.
As usual, Henry didn't look very far.
SUZANNAH: In late 1542 a 30-year-old woman joined the household of Henry's daughter, Mary.
Her name was Catherine Parr.
SUZANNAH: Catherine was bright and attractive.
She had been married twice before, both times to older men and both had died, leaving her financially independent so Catherine was a rare woman in the 16th-century.
She didn't have to marry for security or position; she could marry for love.
SUZANNAH: And Catherine had made her choice.
Thomas Seymour was a handsome and powerful courtier.
The couple were deeply in love and planning to marry.
DAN: But Seymour had a rival for Catherine's hand - the king.
Henry had been watching Catherine and he liked what he saw.
He found himself drawn to this mature.
Intelligent and caring woman.
DAN: We often think that in pursuing Catherine Parr Henry was looking for a nursemaid.
I think he was looking for an equal.
Catherine had been married before and she was older than the giddy Catherine Howard but she was also beautiful, experienced and self-assured.
She was named after Katherine of Aragon, who was her godmother and she shared many of her qualities so in a sense here, I think we can see Henry looking back to his first marriage.
This was exactly the sort of queen he'd chosen right back at the beginning.
DAN: For the next few months.
Henry watched Catherine at court.
By the Spring of 1543, his mind was made up and he asked Catherine to marry him.
SUZANNAH: For Catherine, this was a disaster.
She loved Thomas Seymour and she had no ambition to be queen or to lose her head.
SUZANNAH: Catherine could have refused Henry's offer but it was pretty unthinkable.
A proposal from the king was the equivalent of a royal command.
Catherine didn't know what to do so she turned to God for guidance.
And the answer came back loud and clear.
On the 12th of July 1543 in a small private ceremony at Hampton Court, Catherine married.
The man she chose was Henry VIII.
Do you wish to have this man as a husband and to forsake all other men? I do.
But why would Catherine marry Henry when she loved Thomas Seymour? Do you wish to have this woman as a wife and to forsake all other women? I do.
Catherine wasn't marrying for love or for the Crown.
She was marrying Henry because she believed God wanted her to be queen for a reason.
DAN: A decade earlier.
In order to divorce Katherine of Aragon Henry had split the English Church from Home.
You're making a fool of yourself.
Get up! This explosive act was the start of the Reformation but before it was completed, the king had hesitated.
Now England was caught in a two-man's land between the Protestant and Catholic faiths.
Catherine Parr was a devout Protestant and wanted Henry to finish the job he had started.
SUZANNAH: We know just how passionate Catherine was because, remarkably, she wrote and published two religious books.
The originals are kept here at Sudeley Castle.
It's a real thrill to be able to see these.
This is Catherine's own copy of her book, Prayers and Meditations and you can see, it's beautifully bound.
It was the first work to be written by a woman and published under her own name but it's really an inoffensive collection of snippets from other holy works.
This, however, is completely different.
This is Catherine's spiritual autobiography.
In this book Catherine attacks what she saw as a superstitious Roman Catholic Church.
She describes the Bishop of Home, the Pope as 'a persecutor of the gospel, a setter forth of all superstition and counterfeit holiness bringing many souls to hell.
' Catherine believed it was her God-given mission to convince Henry to finish his Protestant reforms and finally rid England of Catholicism.
I now pronounce you man and wife.
DAN: Henry had no idea of Catherine's religious convictions.
It was just as well.
Extreme Protestant reformers were considered heretics in Henry's England and the punishment for that was death.
SUZANNAH: The new queen's beliefs would have to remain a secret, at least for now.
Despite Catherine's initial misgivings, the new marriage was a great success.
Catherine had experience looking after temperamental old men.
She was a kind-hearted woman who nursed Henry's badly ulcerated leg.
Before long the old king began to regain his strength.
DAN: The marriage seemed to reinvigorate Henry.
He was happier than he had been for a long time and glimpses of the old, chivalrous knight began to reappear.
In 1544, when he was well enough he once again attacked England's old enemy, France and while he was away, he left Catherine as Regent.
Now that alone tells us just how much trust he placed in his new queen.
But was that trust misplaced? 'Make haste, oh God, to deliver me, make haste to help me.
' SUZANNAH: With Henry away at war, Catherine became emboldened.
She held prayer meetings in her private quarters and spread the Protestant gospel.
Let them for their reward be soon brought to shame, that cry over me there.
DAN: But Catherine was making enemies.
CATHERINE: And put to confusion Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester, was one of Henry's closest advisors.
Gardiner hated Catherine's Protestant ideas.
He wanted Henry to return England to its Catholic past.
To do that he would have to destroy Queen Catherine.
By the summer of 1546 Henry was back from fighting in France and Catherine saw her opportunity.
Sire, you have to the glory of God begun a good and a godly work in banishing that monstrous idol of Home.
You should thoroughly finish the job.
Cleanse your Church, clean it of the dregs and purge it of the superstition.
DAN: But Catherine had gone too far.
SUZANNAH: Henry thought he'd cleansed the Church of superstition and he didn't like being told he hadn't done things properly and he didn't want to be pushed into further reform.
Henry hated all sorts of extremism.
He was mortally offended by Catherine's words and this was an age when words could be treasonous so why did Catherine say it? Perhaps she thought she could sway the king while he was sick and weak.
Whatever her reasoning, it was an intensely risky strategy.
Farewell sweetheart.
DAN: Unfortunately for Catherine, her words were overheard by Bishop Gardiner.
It is a good hearing when women become teachers and a fine thing to come in my old days, to be taught by my wife.
I think the queen forgets herself.
It's an unseemly thing for any of His Majesty's subjects to reason or argue with you.
Gardiner knew just how to manipulate Henry.
He filled the king's already paranoid mind with thoughts of Catherine 's disloyalty.
The religion of the queen not only goes against the policy of your government it teaches the people that all should be equal.
It is a dangerous and perilous thing for a prince to suffer such insolent words.
Gardiner then went in for the kill.
Speaking the words she spoke and defending those arguments by law deserves death.
Twice before, when Henry thought he'd been betrayed his queen had lost her head.
Catherine Parr now faced the same fate and she didn't suspect a thing.
Henry decided Catherine Parr should be arrested.
SUZANNAH: But before her arrest, Catherine received a tip-off.
Catherine was utterly shocked by what she found out.
She had no clue that Henry was planning to have her arrested.
She knew only too well what had happened to previous wives when they were taken to the Tower.
But Catherine had something her predecessors hadn't - warning.
She was now faced with the decision - either stay true to her beliefs and die a martyr or deny her faith and live.
Catherine went to Henry.
My Lord.
She knew her life depended on her next words.
Finish what you started the other day.
It seems you have clear ideas on matters of religion.
DAN: Henry was setting a trap.
He expected Catherine to repeat her radical views and sign her own death warrant.
But she wouldn't fall into his trap.
Why would you require my opinion? God has appointed you the Supreme Head and governor here on earth.
No, not so, Kate.
You instruct me and are no longer instructed by me.
Your Majesty has very much mistaken me.
I think it preposterous and unseemly for a woman to try to instruct or teach her husband.
SUZANNAH: Catherine acted the meek and submissive wife.
Is this true, sweetheart? I spoke not to push my own opinion but to hear yours.
She claimed she had only said radical things in order to hear the truth from Henry.
It was a bold lie but would it be enough to save her life? It does me good to hear these words from your mouth.
Perfect friends we are again.
Catherine had denied her beliefs but she had escaped with her life.
SUZANNAH: Catherine Parr was Henry's final wife but she showed she knew him best of all.
What Henry needed was obedience.
For Catherine this meant a massive personal sacrifice.
Religious reform was her life but she knew she couldn't carry out that reform if she went to the executioner's block.
SUZANNAH: So she hid her true beliefs and survived to fight another day.
Catherine Parr chose to live.
DAN: Catherine 's words had a powerful effect on the aging king.
DAN: Here was a man who had been betrayed so many times by his best friend, by countless advisers, by the wives he'd loved and lost.
To find out that one person had been true to him all along meant everything.
For once there was no betrayal.
For once he'd chosen the right woman to marry.
DAN: Henry believed he had finally found his perfect wife but he didn't live long enough to enjoy her.
On the 28th of January 1547.
Three and a half years into his final marriage bloated and riddled with disease, the 55-year-old king died.
SUZANNAH: Four months after Henry's death Catherine finally married the man she loved, Thomas Seymour.
SUZANNAH: With her fourth husband Catherine's wait was over.
She had finally married for love and to add to the new couple's happiness the 35-year-old Catherine suddenly and unexpectedly became pregnant for the first time.
In August 1548 she gave birth to a baby girl named Mary but the joy was not to last.
Within days Catherine fell ill with a fever.
Her condition quickly worsened and six days later, she died.
Catherine is known as the queen who survived Henry but she only outlived him by eighteen months.
This is Catherine's tomb here at Sudeley.
She'd waited her whole life for contentment but there was to be no happy ending for Henry's final queen.
DAN: Henry's death brought to an end an extraordinary 38-year quest to find the perfect queen You are not my wife.
Wand a longed-for son and heir.
Henry had gone from a young and passionate lover to a paranoid tyrant consumed by obsession Get up! and finally, to a bitter and sick old man, haunted by betrayal.
Stop this marriage! SUZANNAH: And it was all thanks to his six extraordinary queens.
The six women who got tangled up in Henry's hopes were very different.
None of them got the glorious marriage a queen might expect and yet there was something they all achieved.
The queens created Henry by pursuing them, rejecting them, even destroying them.
The character of the king was forged and that had the greatest consequences which are still with us today.
English history was made by Henry.
And Henry was made by his six queens.