This Day in History: 1541-08-23

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the youngerKing Henry VIII stayed at Pontefract Castle for several days in August 1541, whilst he was on a ‘northern progress’ seeking to ‘pacify’ the northern counties after the disturbances of the Pilgrimage of Grace. Leaving the Queen, Catherine Howard, at the castle on the 23rd August the king went to Wressle Castle and Hull, arriving at York on the 15th September, on his way back to Windsor. It was not until 1st November 1541 that the king became aware of the queen’s alleged misconduct with one of her old lovers  (Thomas Culpeper, a distant cousin) at Pontefract Castle and earlier in the Spring of that year. Catherine was interrogated by Archbishop Cranmer and a delegation of councillors at Winchester Palace on 7th November and formally stripped of her royal title on 15th November (but her marriage to Henry was never formally annulled). A True Bill was found against her by the Justices of Doncaster on Tuesday 24th November. The Grand Jury at Doncaster condemned the Queen and after a bill of attainder was passed by Parliament on 7th February 1542,  she was executed at the Tower of London on 13th February 1542.