On this day in 1536, the death of Queen Katherine of Aragon.
|Romanticized drawing of Katherine of Aragon at the time of her death|
On the 25th of June 1503, she was formally betrothed to the king's second son, Henry, now prince of Wales, and a papal dispensation for the alliance was obtained. They were married on 19 June 1509 and Katherine was crowned queen on the 24th.
Katherine's marriage to Henry was joyful and happy for more than a few years; but after "her" failure to produce a male heir, Henry started to stray from his wife. On 15 June 1519, Henry's mistress Bessie Blount had given birth to the King's illegitimate child; a boy also named Henry. As the King acknowledged the child he was given the surname Fitzroy (meaning son of a king) and was given numerous titles and estates. For awhile there was talk that Fitzroy might become the heir to the throne, but Henry already had an heir by his wife Katherine; a girl named Mary. By 1526, Katherine's health deteriorated and it was generally accepted that she could not have any more children. [for more info on this topic, click -- Childbearing; A Tale of Katherine of Aragon]
Fast forward, Henry has more affairs and falls in love with an English commoner named Anne Boleyn. Anne was the sister of Henry's former mistress Mary. Henry would go to hell and back just to divorce Katherine and marry Anne. This whole ordeal created friction at the court and abroad; Katherine's nephew was now Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Long story short -- after a trial it was determined that Katherine and Henry had been living in sin and the marriage was null and void.
|Tomb of Queen Katherine of Aragon, Peterborough Cathedral|
Before her death, Katherine wrote a final letter to her husband the King.
Last Letter to Henry VIII, January 7, 1536
Written shortly before her death, Katherine of Aragon's last letter to the man she still considered her husband was more a tender farewell than a bitter recrimination.
M y most dear lord, king and husband,
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles. For my part, I pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.
Katharine the Quene.
- Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, vol. X, no. 190
- Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, vol. X, no. 59
- Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, vol. X, no. 230
- Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, vol. X, no. 200
- Warnicke, p. 187.
- Warnicke, p. 188.
- Lofts, p.139.
© 7 January 2012