Thomas CulpepperThis is a featured page

Thomas Culpepper as played by Torrance Coombs

Born c.1514 - Executed December 10th, 1541 by order of King Henry VIII
Character's backstory: Thomas first found his way to the royal court under the patronage of Arthur, Viscount Lisle, the Lord Deputy of the English settlement at Calais, around the year 1535 during Anne Boleyn's time but only came to prominence after 1537. He advanced quickly in the king’s affections. He was distantly related to the Howard family. He became a great favourite of King Henry VIII and one of his most trusted attendants. He was part of the group of privileged dignitaries who greeted Henry's German bride Anne of Cleves.
Culpepper was certainly aggressive in seeking a relationship with the new queen Katherine Howard and the two were meeting secretly in 1541, including during the Northern Progress. In October of that year, Katherine’s pre-marital liaisons with two men had come to the attention of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, through John Lascelles brother of Mary Hall who had served at Lambeth for Agnes Tilney, dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who then informed Henry VIII. The Council then interrogated several of Katherine's maids (Joan Bulmer etc) and a former lover Francis Dereham.
Ambassador Marillac heard that 'Dereham to show his innocence [under torture most likely] said that Culpepper had succeeded him in the Queen's affections'.
Culpepper tried to save himself by arguing that he had met with Katherine only because the young queen was 'dying of love for him', and would not let him end the relationship. She argued otherwise and told her interrogators that Culpepper ceaselessly begged for a meeting and she was too fearful to refuse*. The queen later confessed to meeting with Culpepper, although exactly what transpired during the meetings is debated by historians. There is no conclusive proof that the two had sexual relations, but the secrecy which surrounded their meetings and the intention to deceive the king was more than enough to warrant a charge of treason.
Culpepper was convicted for treason on 1 December and beheaded at Tyburn on 10 December.

*See Also : Katherine Howard Controversies
for more on the possibility of Culpepper's sexual harassment of the young queen.


Gentility:From a noble family - connected to the Howards

Position: Page, becoming 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.

Personality type: He was known as a particularly unpleasant individual. Arrogant, selfish, cruel and conceited.

"...a handsome, delinquent boy and a favourite of men and women alike. ...he had a queue of female admirers. But with Katherine , it seems it was different. She was his female equivalent and there was an instant, powerful attraction between them. Soon it was rumoured they would marry. But there were quarrels and they drifted apart. 'If you heard such a report ', Katherine dismissively assured a former admirer, 'you heard more than I do know'." ~ David Starkey Six Wives

Signature look: He was described as a "beautiful youth"

Endearing trait(s):

Annoying trait(s):

"Here was the kind of young man all too easily thrown up by the Tudor Court: ambitious, ruthlessly using his personal attractions to further his career.... Culpepper was in his late twenties; his charm was an important part of his armoury. It was however the charm of Don Giovanni rather than that of Sir Lancelot. ...One might compare him to the young Charles Brandon , 30 years earlier, working his way up to wealth and a dukedom through royal favour. The difference was that , in the early years of the reign of Henry VIII, the ambitious sought to be boon companions of the King. Now it was probably more far-sighted to seek the favour of the Queen.There were rich pickings to be had there during the King's llifetime and then there was a question of what would happen next. The King's recent dangerous illness had emphasized the fact that it was no longer a question of 'if the King dies' (as might have been, for example, in 1524, or even in 1536), but 'when the King dies'.....


In the spring of 1541, Prince Edward was only three and half years old, so that the question of a regency - whose claims were the strongest, those of blood or rank? - came to dominate much secret thinking and manipulation in the 1540's. But a Dowager Queen had also by tradition a strong position; in the English past, the man who married or controlled the Dowager had often significantly improved his own fortunes. When Queen Katherine started to show Thomas Culpepper 'great favours' ... her cavalier both took the profits and looked to the future -- his future."

~ Antonia Fraser The Six Wives of Henry VIII



Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Torrance Coombs as Thomas Culpepper

Culpepper confessed that he
“ intended and meant to do ill
with the queen and that in like wise
the queen so minded to do with him.”




According to Katherine Howard,
when Culpepper refused to end their meetings,
Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford said to her:


" Little sweet fool, yet must you give men leave to look, for they will look upon you"


[source: Antonia Fraser The Six Wives of Henry VIII]

*in the series, Culpepper says this to Katherine but he adds : "There is no help for it"


Scandal:
There were two Thomas Culpeppers at King Henry VIII's court, and they were brothers. (It was fairly common for noble families to give their sons the same name circa the sixteeth century - in this period of high infant mortality, this was one way of improving the chances that a family name - in this case, Thomas - would endure). Thomas Culpepper senior was one of ThomasCromwell's minions, and Thomas Culpepper junior was a Gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber. It was the latter with whom Katherine Howard was allegedly involved.


C. 1539/40 There is some documentary evidence that one of the Culpepper brothers raped a parkkeeper's wife and murdered the man who came to her assistance - it is fairly difficult to tell which one did commit the crimes but most historical texts seem to indicate that it was Thomas Culpepper junior who did it. The King issued a pardon for the crimes, for which the penalty was usually hanging. However there is evidence that the elder brother Thomas was often getting into violent fights, but there is no record of Thomas junior having such a reputation.

Quote from : Appendix', Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542 (1900), pp. 706-712. :

"One of the parties who was first hanged and afterwards beheaded and quartered for adultery with the Queen was one of the King's Chamberlains, and two years before or less had violated a park keeper's wife, whom three or four attendants held down for him in a thicket. But for this he was pardoned by the King, and likewise for a murder committed when some villagers tried to apprehend him for the crime.
[Footnote: Thomas Culpeper, who was a gentleman of the Privy Chamber.]"

*NOTE: Culpepper was beheaded not hanged or quartered (Francis Dereham was) which makes one question if the wrong Culpepper was also identified.


CHARACTER CONNECTIONS


Family members:
Father:
Sir Alexander Culpeper of Bedgebury & Hardreshull c.1470 - 1541
Mother: Constantia Chamberlayn; c.1470 - 1542
Brother: John Culpeper of St. Stephens; c.1495 - Unknown
Sister: Catherine Culpeper; c.1496 - Unknown
Sister: Elizabeth Culpeper; c.1497 - Unknown
Sister: Johanna Culpeper; c.1498 - Unknown
Sister: Margaret Culpeper; c.1499 - Unknown
Sister: Anne Culpeper; c.1500 - Unknown
Brother: Sir Thomas Culpeper of Bedgebury; c.1501 - 13 May 1558
Step-Sister: Alice Culpeper; c.1491 - Unknown (Daughter from previous marriage to Agnes Davy

Trivia : Thomas Culpepper and Katherine Howard were 6th cousins once removed - Culpepper/Howard genealogy

Romance(s):
Queen Katherine Howard (1541)


Friends:


Enemies:

UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER QUOTES







DEFINING EPISODES | MEMORABLE SCENES






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PHOTOS

Thomas Culpepper
Still of Torrance Coombs in The Tudors
Thomas Culpepper as played by Torrance Coombs

Thomas Culpepper
Torrance Coombs as Thomas  Culpepper  with  Tamzin Merchant as   Katherine HowardThomas Culpepper  as played by Torrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs

Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance CoombsThomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance CoombsThomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance CoombsThomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs

Thomas  Culpepper
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper as played byTorrance Coombs
Thomas Culpepper...

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