Katherine Howard: A New History
by Conor Byrne
MadeGlobal Publishing, Great Britain: Amazon.com.uk, Ltd.
As an educator I support the concept of this interesting title by Conor Byrne, an undergraduate student. Unfortunately, the author appears to have made many leaps in the historical record to reach assumptions that, although thought-provoking on one level–are too provoking on another level. All historical figures deserve to have their histories revisited as new information comes to light, but historians do need to keep away from placing any present-day mores and ethics onto the era under question. To suggest that Katherine Howard’s life involved blackmail, sexual abuse and Machiavellian political manipulation is not necessarily out of the realm of possibilities, but more proof needs to be given to give merit to what is otherwise assumptions.
An interesting premise was the reasoning behind the disputed portraits of Katherine and the author’s projection that the one in possession by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is indeed one of her. Portraiture is so hard to verify and any theories should be considered.
Perhaps this title would have been better served as an article as the writing became very repetitive (an example is the exact same quote on facing pages) and took on the flavor of a piece needing to reach a certain page limit. Also, the author needed to keep consistent and persistent when discussing the various Earls, Dukes, Thomases, etc. He needed to pick a title and/or name and stick to it especially in paragraphs discussing multiple titled people.
As an aside, almost at the same time that I had finished this book, on November 28, 2015 The Daily Mail published an article with such tantalizing phrases as ‘secret love nest,’ ‘hidden staircase,’ and ‘trysts.’ All to the fact that there is an apartment for sale on the estate, Preston Hall, where some of Katherine Howard’s secret meetings with Thomas Culpeper allegedly took place. While the synchronicity was appreciated, it proved to this blogger how cemented titillating nuggets from history become and the upward battle revisionist historians do have—for that Byrne deserves credit.