Thomas Culpepper was the arrogant, selfish groom of King Henry VIII and lover of Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of the King. He was born in 1514 and was executed in 1541 by order of the King due to the discovery of his affair with Katherine Howard.
It is unknown whether Culpepper ever had any real affection for Katherine or simply used her for some reason- either way, Culpepper did not take the blame when the affair was found out and instead lied that Katherine had come onto him, when truthfully, he came onto her.In the series, Thomas Culpepper was played by Canadian actor Torrance Coombs.
Thomas Culpepper is the King's groom (right hand man). At first we aren't led to believe that he and Katherine know each other that well, but later on we discover Katherine has had a string of lovers that almost rival Henry's, despite the King being told she was pure before entering his bed.Culpepper is almost immediately consumed with sexual lust for the Queen at the start of Season Four; Lady Jane Rochford, who appears attracted to Culpepper, notices this and eventually sleeps with him several times. She learns of Katherine's long sexual history and offers to Culpepper to arrange an affair between the two of them. Eventually, Katherine and Culpepper begin a 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. Eventually, 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 Hartford. Culpepper denies having comitted adultery, but admits he wanted to fornicate with Catherine; 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.
Culpepper was an unpleasant individual. He was arrogant, selfish, cruel and conceited, impulsively killing a farmer whose wife he raped when the man threatened to report him to the sherriff. If he had any real affection for Katherine, he didn't show it and he turned the blame on her, stating it was her who came on to him, when truthfully it was the other way around. Culpepper was not a very nice person and it can be inferred that not many people enjoyed being around him. Throughout his time on the show, he is shown with a sense of being accountable to no one except himself, even literally getting away with murder. Although never charged for actions against commoners, he ultimately pays for his sins at his execution.
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.