Overly Enthusiastic History Lesson: The Wives of Henry VIII, Part Trois



On the last episode of Henry is Horrible, Henry Tudor had divorced his most recent wife, Anne of Cleves, and now called her his sister and gave her killer severance package. By now, Henry was morbidly obese, had a gaping, festering wound on his leg that would never heal, and was basically a walking pile of disease and sadism.

What more could a pretty young noblewoman of seventeen ask for in a husband?

Enter wifey number five, Kathryn Howard.

No, really, she's the teenage bombshell of her day.

No, really, she's the teenage bombshell of her day.

Now, Kathryn here is actually the cousin of Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn, in case you forgot about how inbreedy royals used to get.  Kathryn came to serve as a lady-in-waiting for Henry's previous wife, Anne of Cleves,  Kathryn was young, pretty, and lively, so naturally dirty old man Henry was all about it.  Upon his divorce from Anne, Henry married Kathryn pretty quickly, calling her his "rose without a thorn."

Except that Kathryn had taken a thorn or two before.

Back before coming to court, Kathryn was pretty much a wild child and was certainly not a virgin on her wedding night, which was a major no-no in itself.  And, surprise-surprise, apparently an obese, unhealthy man almost three times her age wasn't doing it for her.  So she took up with Thomas Culpeper, one of Henry's closest bros, with her family arranging their trysts.  WHICH WAS UNBELIEVABLY STUPID COME ON HOWARDS REALLY?

Henry found out, of course, and was utterly and completely devastated.  Because he could bang anything with a pulse but his queen certainly couldn't.  Now, Kathryn, prior to marrying Henry and back before she came to court, had a secret affair with a man named Francis Dereham, and had vowed to marry him and became his lover, which, in the eyes of the Church, made her his wife.  Had she just said that this had been the case, she'd have simply been banished from court, but allowed to live.  But Kathryn denied, denied, denied, and went the way of her cousin Anne Boleyn.

Having beheaded two of his five wives and being England's most eligible bachelor once again, Henry was pretty much wiped out.  His health was rapidly declining, and so, he was more in the market for a nurse than a wife.  Enter the sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr.

Now, Catherine was unique among Henry's wives, as she was not expected to be virginal; in fact, she'd been married twice before Henry married her.  Not only that, but she had not borne any children from those previous marriages, which leads one to assume that Henry just couldn't give fuck-all about creating any more heirs.

Nope, Catherine was there to take care of Henry in the twilight of his life.  She was largely responsible for reconciling him with his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, and restoring them in the line of succession.  Eventually, karma caught up to Henry, and he died at age 55 most likely from complications caused by his weight (type two diabetes being the likely culprit), leaving his wife of four years, Catherine, a wealthy queen dowager.

So, there you have the giant soap opera that was Henry VIII's love life.  That boyfriend that plays a few too many video games doesn't look so bad anymore, huh?