Catherine’s court has a reputation of excesses, especially frivolity. She’s by far the youngest Queen with the poorest education, and it shows. She would be soundly dismissed as the silliest girl at court and put in her place by a more senior woman, if only Henry didn’t see her as the very image of perfection. The older members would be keen for the court to have some ambitions and religious convictions given her proven ability to provide heirs, but that doesn’t seem like much fun.
Queen Catherine Howard
Henry’s ‘rose without thorns’, his new favourite and fifth wife. Niece of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and former maid-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves. A simple, modestly educated country noble, often somewhat dismissed by the court as a silly girl enjoying dress-up in pretty clothes. But for all that, she is the only wife to enjoy enough of Henry’s favour to regularly have healthy pregnancies in the last few years. She has two daughters Princesses Agnes, 3, and Cecily, 4 and is currently pregnant.
Agnes Howard, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk
The highest ranked woman in court outside of the royal family. Stepmother to Duke Thomas Howard, step-grandmother to both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Catherine Howard and Joan Bulmer were raised in her household. She has come to court to ensure that Queen Catherine’s tender nature and modest values are not taken advantage of by the worldly and conniving ladies of the court. An excellent repository of court gossip and rumours.
Jane Boleyn, Dowager Viscountess of Rochford
Widow of George Boleyn (deceased) who was executed for treasonous incest with his own sister, on Jane’s testimony. Anne Boleyn has later escaped this charge, returning to be a power at court. Only Thomas Howard’s patronage has kept Jane Boleyn safe from Anne. Queen Catherine finds her indispensable and has made her her chief lady in waiting. Appears to be enamoured of a much younger man – James Basset, causing much gossip at court.
Maid in waiting to Queen Catherine. A childhood companion, also brought up in the household of Agnes Howard. Brought to court and promoted when her friend became Queen. Interested in poetry and keen to get into the set of well educated ladies who collect it, however her lack of education makes this challenging.
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk
72, male. Privy Councillor. Military.
The most senior Statesman in Henry’s court in every way and oldest man present. Head of the Conservative faction on the Privy Council and Lord High Treasurer. He has managed to put two of his nieces onto the throne and unknown numbers of them into the King’s bed. Unimpressed and uncomfortable with the so-called ‘new men’ at court who have come up from the lower classes. Not good at staying loyal to family when it’s going to cost him influence, he famously abandoned Anne Boleyn once her political influence was waning. Every time a great political rival has come up against him, the other man has fallen. Close friend of Bishop Gardiner
21, male. Parliamentarian.
Brother of Queen Catherine, Nephew of Thomas Howard, also brought up by Agnes Howard. His best qualities are his aspiration, enthusiasm and the classic Howard good looks. Other brothers of Queens have risen as high to the privy council and only his lack of education, military experience and talent are holding him back – surely he’s just one good marriage away from a top job. Surprisingly popular at court among the women for his ability to uphold the ideals of courtly romance through soulful recitation of poetry.