On This Day: February 13, 1542. Catherine Howard Beheaded

Catherine Howard – by Hans Holbein the Younger, circa 1540

On this day in 1542, King Henry VIII of England has his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, beheaded after two years of marriage.

Henry’s historic mid-life crisis, which culminated in his marrying a teenager 30 years his junior, had given England five queens in a dozen years and three heirs that will cause religious strife in years to come.

On This Day: February 7, 1497. Bonfire of the Vanities

Portrait of Girolamo Savonarola, circa 1497-1498

On this day in 1497, Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola and his supporters burned thousands of objects that were condemned as sinful. This included mirrors, cosmetics, fine clothing, playing cards, musical instruments, books, paintings and sculpture.

This was the best known, but not the only, or even the first such burning. They were known in Italian as falò delle vanità, or bonfire of the vanities