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Katherine Howard: A New History [Paperback]

Claire Ridgway , Conor Byrne
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Aug 2014
In this new full-length biography of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, Conor Byrne reconsiders Katherine's brief reign and the circumstances of her life, striping away the complex layers of myths and misconceptions to reveal a credible portrait of this tragic queen. By reinterpreting her life in the context of cultural customs and expectations surrounding sexuality, fertility and family honour, Byrne exposes the limitations of conceptualising Katherine as either 'whore' or 'victim'. His more rounded view of the circumstances in which she found herself and the expectations of her society allows the historical Katherine to emerge. Katherine has long been condemned by historians for being a promiscuous and frivolous consort who partied away her days and revelled in male attention, but Byrne's reassessment conveys the mature and thoughtful ways in which Katherine approached her queenship. It was a tragedy that her life was controlled by predators seeking to advance themselves at her expense, whatever the cost.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing (12 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8493746460
  • ISBN-13: 978-8493746469
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Conor Byrne, author of Katherine Howard: A New History is a British undergraduate studying History at the University of Exeter.

Conor has been fascinated by the Tudors, medieval and early modern history from the age of eleven, particularly the lives of European kings and queens. His research into Katherine Howard, fifth consort of Henry VIII of England, began in 2011-12, and his first extended essay on her, related to the subject of her downfall in 1541-2, was written for an Oxford University competition. Since then Conor has embarked on a full-length study of queen Katharine's career, encompassing original research and drawing on extended reading into sixteenth-century gender, sexuality and honour. Some of the conclusions reached are controversial and likely to spark considerable debate, but Conor hopes for a thorough reassessment of Katherine Howard's life.

Conor runs a historical blog which explores a diverse range of historical topics and issues. He is also interested in modern European, Russian, and African history, and, more broadly, researches the lives of medieval queens, including current research into the defamed 'she-wolf' bride of Edward II, Isabella of France.

Product Description

About the Author

Conor Byrne, author of “Katherine Howard: A New History” is a British undergraduate studying History at the University of Exeter. Conor has been fascinated by the Tudors, medieval and early modern history from the age of eleven, particularly the lives of European kings and queens. His research into Katherine Howard, fifth consort of Henry VIII of England, began in 2011-12, and his first extended essay on her, related to the subject of her downfall in 1541-2, was written for an Oxford University competition. Since then Conor has embarked on a full-length study of qyeen Katharine’s career, encompassing original research and drawing on extended reading into sixteenth-century gender, sexuality and honour. Some of the conclusions reached are controversial and likely to spark considerable debate, but Conor hopes for a thorough reassessment of Katherine Howard’s life. Conor runs a historical blog which explores a diverse range of historical topics and issues. He is also interested in modern European, Russian, and African history, and, more broadly, researches the lives of medieval queens, including current research into the defamed ‘she-wolf’ bride of Edward II, Isabella of France.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book presents us with a much more realistic view of Katherine Howard, but some of the theories presented in the book do not stand up to scrutiny in the light of 16th century morality or expectations of womanhood. Conor claims that Katherine was sexually abused as a child and this accounts for and gives us the reasons for her later behaviour. While this senario can be made for her relationship with Mannox her music teacher, it does not have the same validity when applied to her other relationships. Whether or not you believe that Katherine was abused or consented to a fully aware sexual relationship with her cousin Francis Dereham and others in the household of her grandmother, Agnes, 2nd Duchess of Norfolk in Horsham; depends on how old you believe Katherine to have been at the time. David Loades has stated in his fine and masterly account of Katherine written a few years ago that she was born between 1518 and 1524. He does however state that the evidence pushes towards her being most likely born in 1522. You also have to be aware that the age of consent was 14 and that girls as well as boys were considered to be mature enough at this age to marry and to consummate the marriage; it was seen as an ideal age between 14-16. However, contrary to popular belief most women did not marry at this age and many even waited until their mid or late 20s before doing so. Lawrence Stone in his many fine works on the family in this era has shone that well over half of women and men married after the age of 17. Joanne Denny, however, concludes that evidence in the will of her father Edmund Howard, one of the many younger brothers of the Duke of Norfolk, suggests that Katherine was born in 1524 or 1525; this puts her sexual behaviour in a new light and suggests she is a victim of child sexual abuse. Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective 20 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book on Kindle initially because I have an interest in one of the minor characters in Katherine's life. As there is so little recorded about her, it can be extremely hard to make out her personality and reasons for her actions. Whatever you believe about Katherine, innocent or guilty, this book contains many facts taken from primary sources that previous authors seem to have missed. This is a very good book to make you think long and hard, not only about Katherine but also about how women were viewed at the time and how they could be destroyed because of supposed male infallibility - whatever went wrong in childbed was the woman's fault.

All in all I enjoyed this new perspective, and think anyone who has an interest in Tudor times will too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant study. 28 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Katherine Howard that emerges in ‘Katherine Howard: A New History’ is very different from the juvenile delinquent of film or the empty-headed young girl of post-Elton Tudor biography. Of the four biographies I have read on her, and the treatments she has received in journals or ‘Six Wives’ books, I feel at last some of the fog has been lifted. Here we perceive, in these pages, an authentic woman who was a victim of both her times and ill-preparation for a role fate thrust on her. Whilst an earlier reviewer raises doubts as to whether she should be seen as having been sexually abused, perhaps with some justification, the author's theories cannot be dismissed. Regardless of different time periods such events will without doubt have had some effect.

What Byrne also says regarding Katherine's confession, and how is seldom given the same significance as Anne Boleyn's, itself really does highlight history's desire to dismiss this figure unfairly.

A brilliant study.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One point in favour, two against 12 Sep 2014
By Helen
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The point in favour is that the author tries to discard previous interpretations of the known facts and to understand them in the light of what people believed in the Tudor period. That must be the only sensible way to understand why people did what they did. In this way the author raises some valuable insights.

One of the points against is that the writing is very clumsy. It reads as if the author had a heap of notes on index cards and simply copied them out one after the other. In some instances words are used with an incorrect meaning. I only specifically noted one, which was that jewels were described as "covetous". There were various others - perhaps this is just bad editing.

But what made me most uneasy was that the author started by saying that we had very little hard information and that historians had all projected the assumptions and prejudices of their own period on the historic characters. He proceeded, in the absence of hard information, to make his own interpretations. He then became so convinced by them that he became moralistic in a new way. Instead of the Victorian view that Katherine was a sex mad teenager, he was convinced she was an abused child. This led to a large number of remarks along the lines of (not actuall quotes) " XYX is understandable in the light of Katherine's abused childhood" "Katherine's traumatic experience led her to do ABC". The text contained large numbers of judgmental remarks of this sort which showed a lack of historical detachment and in my opinion detracted from what might have been an interesting suggestion.
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