Thomas Culpepper was the handsome, sexual, Yet cruel and arrogant groom of King Henry VIII as well as the lover of Katherine Howard. Born in 1514, he was executed in 1541 on the King's orders due to the discovery of his affair with Katherine.
It was unknown if Thomas ever had any real affection for Katherine, or simply lusted after her - either way, when the affair was discovered, he insisted that Katherine had come onto him, when it had been the other way round in reality.
In the series, Thomas Culpepper was portrayed by the Canadian actor, Torrance Coombs.
Season Four[edit | edit source]
Thomas Culpepper was first introduced in Season 4 as the King's groom (right-hand man). Young, strong, handsome, and seductive, he made no secret of how he was consumed with sexual lust for the beautiful, vivacious, and sensual Queen Katherine Howard. In fact, his lust was such that he raped a peasant woman to temporarily sate himself, and later even murdered her husband.
Lady Jane Rochford, who was also attracted to Thomas and eventually slept with him several times, noticed his lust and, aware of Katherine's long sexual history, offered to arrange an affair between them. Ultimately, as Henry's aging and infirmities prohibit him from indulging in sensual pleasures with Katherine (at least for short times), she and Thomas started an intense, passionate sexual affair.
Culpepper is annoyed at the appearance of her former lover Francis Dereham, and tells her he will not resume their affair until she gets rid of the man; meanwhile, Jane Rochford continues to manipulate both Culpepper and Katherine, jealous of the Queen.
Katherine continues to cheat on the King while he dotes on and spoils her as usual. Eventually however, Katherine is put under house arrest when her past history with Dereham is investigated; she escapes and tries to see Henry and Thomas, but both give her a cold stare and turn away as she is forcibly removed from the court.
Culpepper's already-precarious position is undone when Dereham, under torture, admits he learned Culpepper was the Queen's new lover. Culpepper has some noble blood and cannot be tortured, but he is interrogated in the Tower of London by the vicious Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Culpepper denies having comitted adultery, but admits he wanted to fornicate with Katherine; when Edward Seymour tells him that mere thoughts like that are treason, he tries to reverse his statement by saying Katherine came onto him (at Lady Rochford's encouragement) rather than the other way around. Katherine is questioned and responds the same way, denying adultery but blaming Culpepper and Lady Rochford for her flirtations; Lady Rochford, on being interrogated, claims she was forced to and confirms that Katherine and Culpepper almost certainly had sex. A love letter to Culpepper from the Queen is found in his chambers, proving the affair beyond all doubt.
Culpepper and Dereham both stand trial and are found guilty while Katherine remains secluded in a cathedral. They are sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn, though King Henry, oddly, commutes Culpepper's sentence to beheading. Culpepper and Dereham, bound with chains, are dragged through the streets of Tyburn (Dereham already weakened by torture) as the citizens hurl rotten vegetables and insults at them. Culpepper is killed first; his final words are "I beg you all to pray for me", and he is quickly decapitated. Moments later, Dereham endures his own, much more agonizing execution.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Culpepper was a sexually violent man who was driven by lust and raped a peasant woman and murdered her husband. He later lied about his affair with the King's wife, saying that if he did anything Katherine Howard encouraged it. However, he and Francis Derham were guilty [ if they did do what the were said to do, only Culpepper would be executed.] So the king surprisingly only changed Culpepper's sentence to beheading [ because usually if someone is found guilty of treason and is supposed to be hanged, drawn, and quartered he just changes it into beheading]but said he hated Derham more because he spoiled the queen for him. Although if Derham did he didn't do anything wrong because they were supposed to be married. He died a criminal, fittingly for such a violent and despicable man.
Backstory[edit | edit source]
Thomas Culpepper found his way to court under patronage of Arthur, Viscount Lisle, the Lord Deputy of the English settlement at Calais around about the year 1535 during the time Anne Boleyn was Queen Consort. However, he only came to prominence in 1537. Culpepper quickly advanced in the King's affections. He was somehow distantly related to the Howard family. He became one of Henry's great favourites and one of the King's most trusted attendants. He was part of the group of privileged dignitaries who greeted Henry's German bride Anne of Cleves.
Culpepper was a very aggressive person in seeking a relationship with new queen Katherine Howard. The two were in fact meeting secretly in 1541, including during the Northern progress. Culpepper tried saving himself by saying that he only met with Katherine because she was dying of love for him and would not let him end the relationship. Katherine told interrogators otherwise and said Culpepper ceaselessly begged for a meeting and she was too fearful to refuse. The Queen later confessed to meeting Culpepper, but what transpired when the meetings occured is debated by historians. There isn't conclusive proof that the two had sexual relations, but the secrecy that surrounded their meetings and the intent to decieve the King was more than enough to warrant a charge of treason. On 1 December, Culpepper was convicted for treason and beheaded at Tyburn on 10 December.
Gentility: Of noble family, connected to the Howards
Position: Page, a gentleman of the Privy Chamber in 1537, keeper of the King's armour in 1538, and keeper of the royal manor of Penshurst Place, Kent, the following year, 1539.