The Fifth Queen

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 847

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The Fifth Queen, 1906

Katharine (Kat) Howard

Katharine (Kat) Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Devoutly Catholic, the nineteen-year-old is the most learned woman in England. Her knowledge of Greek and Latin and the moral precepts she has embraced from the ancients (along her great beauty) attract the attention of the king when she is brought to her uncle, the duke of Norfolk, at a time of riot and unrest in her home county. Named for Katharine of Aragon, Henry’s first queen, the fearless Katharine becomes lady-in-waiting to their daughter, Lady Mary. In that position, she is thrown into close association with the king while simultaneously abetting Lady Mary’s scheme to reinstate Catholicism in England.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII, the king of England. He is massive and powerful, and his ability to be gentle and his great wit inspire Katharine’s respect and love.

Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell, the Lord of the Privy Seal who arranged the marriage of Henry and Anne of Cleves to cement the Protestant alliance.

Lady Mary

Lady Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII. Aloof and bitter, Mary despises her father for having poisoned her mother and declared her to be illegitimate.

Nicholas Udal

Nicholas Udal, a tutor to Lady Mary and former tutor to Katharine Howard, a master of Greek and Latin in his time. Udal’s character is suspect.

Margot Poins

Margot Poins, a maidservant to Katharine. The large blonde woman is also Udal’s betrothed.

Thomas Culpepper

Thomas Culpepper, a cousin of Katharine. Culpepper takes Katharine to London to save her from the poverty and violence of her home. The red-haired Culpepper’s mad love for his cousin alternately saves and damns her.

The Privy Seal, 1907

Katharine (Kat) Howard

Katharine (Kat) Howard, now the beloved of the king. She is caught up in the intrigues that fill Henry’s court, but she remains the voice of conscience. Katharine’s love for Henry and her realization that she has the chance to return England to Catholicism enable her to accept his proposal of marriage once she is certain that his marriage to Anne of Cleves is unconsummated.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII, who, once assured that Cleves has abandoned the Protestant cause, divorces Anne and prepares to marry Katharine.

Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell, whose plot to keep Henry under his influence crumbles with Henry’s marriage to Katharine. Katharine’s recognition that he had the best intentions for Henry’s reign cause her to oppose his execution, but she is unsuccessful.

Nicholas Udal

Nicholas Udal, who marries an innkeeper in Paris in hopes that Catholicism will not be restored to England, nullifying the marriage.

Thomas Culpepper

Thomas Culpepper, who goes to Paris as an assassin to win his fortune so that he can wed Katharine.

The Fifth Queen Crowned, 1908

Katharine (Kat) Howard

Katharine (Kat) Howard, who lives in seeming bliss with Henry for more than a year. When her plan to reunite England with the Church of Rome and return the treasures taken over from it becomes a real possibility, the Protestant and Catholic nobles who have benefited from the separation conspire to discredit her. She is convicted of adultery and beheaded on February 13, 1542.

Henry VIII

Henry VIII, who is deeply in love with Katharine, who wishes to effect his salvation by returning him to Catholicism. Henry comes very close, even drafting a letter of reconciliation to the pope. He is, however, easily influenced. He listens to the slander against his wife and reluctantly agrees to her execution.

Nicholas Udal

Nicholas Udal, who is cast into prison when he asks the king to divorce him from the Englishwoman he married in Paris so that he can become chancellor of the realm and marry Margot Poins. Despite his less than sterling character, Udal refuses to lie about Kat’s innocence.

Lady Mary

Lady Mary, who is swayed by the purity of Katharine’s faith to reconcile with her father and marry the duke of Orleans; however, Katharine is denounced soon thereafter.

Margot Poins

Margot Poins, who faithfully serves Katharine until Udal’s marriage to the innkeeper in Paris forces her into a nunnery. When tortured to confess Katharine’s lewdness, she instead cries out that Katharine is virtuous.

Hal Poins

Hal Poins, the guard of Katharine’s chamber. He takes part in the conspiracy against Katharine because the king refused to grant Udal a divorce to marry Hal’s sister Margot.

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, influential in the break with Rome. Conscience-stricken Cranmer dons a hair shirt when reconciliation with Rome seems near.

Thomas Culpepper

Thomas Culpepper, who is caught in Kat’s chamber, drunk, when Henry returns from a trip to Scotland. Although Henry recognizes the innocence of this meeting on Katharine’s part, this scene begins the scandal culminating in Katharine’s downfall.

Mary Hall

Mary Hall, a twin to Lascelles, a conspirator against Katharine. She was a maid in the home of Katharine’s grandmother when Kat was a child. Mary lies about Katharine’s youthful escapades, leading to Katharine’s beheading.

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