On this day in history, 11th June 1509, just over seven weeks after he’d become king, seventeen-year-old Henry VIII married twenty-three-year-old Catherine of Aragon (Catalina de Aragón), daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, in the queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace.

The wedding ceremony was a private and low-key affair as the king was in the middle of planning a lavish joint coronation for himself and Catherine. The coronation was due to take place on 24th June, the Feast of St John and also Midsummer’s Day, at Westminster Abbey.

Catherine of Aragon was, of course, the first of six wives for Henry VIII. Henry was her second husband; she’d previously been married to Henry’s brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, but he had died six months into their marriage and she’d been a widow for seven years. Henry VIII went on to have his marriage to Catherine annulled in 1533 after a six year quest for an annulment.

Click here to read more about Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and their wedding.

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33 thoughts on “11 June 1509 – Wife number 1 for Henry VIII: Catherine of Aragon”
  1. How exciting this must have been for the people of England. Their new queen was going to be the daughter of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon. When Arthur died I’m sure most thought that possibility had passed. Now the brother was going to wed the daughter of the distinguished and well known Catholic monarchs. What a coup for the country. No one could have suspected what would begin to happen within the next twenty years.

  2. Henry couldn’t wait to marry Katherine of Aragon and she must have been desperate to marry him, her long betrothed. He may have renounced the union but that was his father’s doing and as we know young Henry was only fifteen at the time and under his father’s thumb. Now the seventeen year old handsome young King quickly made arrangements to settle anything outstanding on the treaty and settled everything so he could marry the woman he professed to love. To Katherine he was a gallant and attentive husband and this time there could be no doubt that the marriage was consummated, most likely on the wedding night.

    Henry made no secret of the fact that he was satisfied with Katherine and he worshipped and adored her. Katherine loved the masquerade and she was delighted when Henry surprised her and dressed up as Robin Hood or King Arthur and he dedicated many tournaments to her. It was recently noted in a documentary that Katherine of Aragon was the woman who taught Henry how to be a King. He wrote to his father in law about how fine a wife he had and he would choose her above all others. There can be no doubt that for almost twenty years the couple shared everything, were close and were devoted to each other. Katherine was more of a partner to Henry than any other wife, she was one of the best educated and most illustrious of his wives, she was a warrior, she was determined and obstinate, she was pious but also loved merry entertainment and Henry was often dependent on her help and support. Sadly, however, the couple lost six children and not even his pearl and best jewell, the child he adored for so long, Princess Mary could fill the desire he felt most keenly as a deep anxiety hit him, the need for a male heir.

    It was this one thing which would put a curse on this once happy marriage because Henry was deeply worried that his Kingdom would not be safe unless he had a son to succeed him. Henry is often criticised for being overly obsessed by such a need, but to be fair, in the sixteenth century most men didn’t think women were capable of ruling and Henry didn’t have any sons to invest his future in. It was even worse for him as manhood was very important for masculine honour and his rivals all had male children. Francis I had at least three sons and Charles V had two. Henry had one son who lived for 52 days and that was it. He had six more children with Katherine and only one, Mary, lived. Katherine suffered early menopause and by 1524_it was clear she could have no more children. What was he as a King and guardian of his people meant to do? Henry had a duty to provide a secure future for his line and his people and now he had no way of doing either. He had a difficult choice: make Princess Mary his heir or marry again.

    However, all of this sadness and mayhem was in the future and on this glorious day in June 1509, Henry and Katherine looked forward to a wonderful future. Henry and Katherine would have the rare glory of a joint coronation. The 24th June, Mid Summers Day would be a carnival of joy and peace and love and wild celebrations and of colour and happiness. Congratulations Katherine and Henry on your marriage.

  3. Katherine From Aragon, the first queen of Henry V111 and by far the most successful and longest wed and most loved amongst her subjects, as a young infanta of Spain she was betrothed to marry the heir to the English crown, Prince Arthur and both her parents and Arthur’s were eager for the union, the English King was pleased to have mighty Spain as an ally and Katherine made the long overseas journey which carried her round the stormy seas of the Bay of Biscay, from the sunny shores of her homeland she arrived in a country noted for her inclement weather, as she rode through the cobbled streets of its capital she inspired affection in all who saw her, it was an affection that was to last till her dying day and was proof of the loyalty she inspired in many, she was Henry V111’s first love no doubt he saw her with a young man’s idealism and she brought out the chivalric side of him, he could well have had a schoolboy crush on her and been envious that her brother was to be her husband, he was entranced with this exotic young lady with a strange lilting tongue who peeped out at him from under her lace mantilla, the very portraits of Katherine bear out the very flattering remarks Sir.Thomas More made about her, she has Madonna like features with a dazzling complexion and long rippling auburn hair, no doubt she inherited her colouring from her English ancestry and everyone who saw her commented how pleasing she was, both in countenance and manner, she was married to the ailing Prince Arthur and then tragedy struck, it is a mystery as to what Arthur actually suffered from but he was dead after catching what could have been the sweat and died suddenly, his wife also was ill but recovered, alone in a strange land at the mercy of her mean old father in law and facing an uncertain future she was in a precarious position, but fortune favoured her and her young brother in law married her when he ascended the throne, both Katherine and Henry loved each other and they must have seemed like a fairytale King and queen, the golden couple to their subjects, they were married in a quiet little ceremony in Henrys favourite palace of Greenwich this was because the coming coronation was to be a sumptuous affair, they both pledged to each other their vows it is interesting the words they both uttered concerned the dispensation from the pope, Henry many years later was to dismiss that but Katherine always remembered and so did the witnesses who were there that day, the sunny days of their union heralded a new start for the country and England looked forward to the birth of a prince, sadly they were fated never to be blessed with a single living son to grow to adulthood but on their wedding day they were overjoyed to be together, the new young king who epitomised everything a King should be was eager to be seen as a generous and benevolent monarch, and he was eager to go to war with France, he had Cardinal Wolsley to run the administrative sides of government and he was free to enjoy himself with his bride, there were feasts and tournaments and much merrymaking, meanwhile somewhere in the quiet Kentish fields ran a little girl at play, unimportant except to her family she would grow up to be Katherines downfall who would some day wreck her world apart, and shake the country to its foundations, as she ran laughing down the country lanes she herself was quite unaware of the impact she would have on Katherines husband and of the dreadful implications it would hold for her.

    1. Your reference to Anne, wow. That really shows how history is not linear but is happening all at once. Beautifully said.

    2. A very detailed and taking us back to the scene, so beautiful, thanks for that, Christine, your description is perfect. The memory of Anne as a child, unaware of what she would be in the future, is really poignant and shows how the two fates were intertwined.

      1. Thank you also Bq, little Anne would only have been about seven or eight at the time of the kings marriage and coronation, she may have just celebrated her birthday as it was said to have been in May and I can just picture her as the charming little creature she must have been as she played in the fields with her governess and siblings, making daisy chains and the fairytale castle of Hever nearby, an innocent little creature maybe already showing a flair for style and bossing her baby brother George about, and with the vivacity she was known for running rings around her sister Mary, some say our fate is mapped out for us and thankfully we are blissfully unwaware of what it is, unless we are cursed like the Trojan princess Cassandra who was granted the gift of prophecy, her tragedy was she was never to be believed, Anne at this moment in time was a million miles away from the eventful day when the Kings eyes first fell upon her, and from then on the whole religious structure of England was changed forever.

        1. The final scene in the Tudors Season Two with Anne as she kneels just before her head falls from her shoulder shows a dreamlike flashback to the gardens in Hever, with Thomas Boleyn calling his children and Anne and George are playing hide and seek. Anne gives herself away and Thomas licks her up and swings her around and around. There is sunshine and flowers and a lot of laughter. It is a happy time. Just then a flock of birds distract Anne and we are yanked sharply back to the presence and are caught in mid air as the fatal blow hits home. It was beautifully shot and the haunting music and song being lightly played in the background is like an accompaniment of angels. It was one of the most moving representations of Anne’s execution I have ever seen. The innocent child of those carefree days warms the heart in the midst of her family, at the very moment fate takes her last breathe. I wonder had that intelligent, bright seven year old seen the future, would she have taken a different path or would she do it all again? As one future takes place in London, another cannot even be guessed at in a sleepy sunny garden in Kent: yet they will be forever bound.

  4. Yes whilst deploring the Tudors for its many diversions from the truth I must admit, I thought Annes execution scene was very good and then the complete contrast which showed Henry guzzling at a swan and the joy on his face was evident to see, in Wolf Hall also Annes execution was very good very realistic, one thing though that puzzled me in the Tudors we never saw Annes mother only Thomas with his children, maybe the producers decided she had died early – another diversion from the truth, I do so hate that I have always believed that if the movie industry and television decides to depict a historical event, then they should get it right, it does not make the drama anymore exciting.

  5. I’m a big fan of historical movies and dramas. All genres. I understand when the writers may combine characters and compress timelines to make things fit into a decent running time but what I absolutely loath is when historical fact is changed to make the story more ‘exciting’. Due to my work schedule at the time I never watched ‘The Tudors’. From everything I’ve read and heard I am so glad that I didn’t or I would have been yelling at my TV.

    1. It was the bedroom scenes that made me laugh, it even showed Henry after their divorce trying it on with Anne of Cleves, and succeeding! it had Buckinghams daughter( if he ever had one) in bed with Suffolk, it showed Catherine Howard’s alleged lover Culpeper sleeping with Lady Rochford and Henrys sister Margaret murduring her husband the King of Portugal and then marrying Suffolk, instead it was the princess Mary who was married to Suffolk as we all know, and Margaret was up in bonnie Scotland, so god knows where the King of Portugal came in! And it had that most holy of persons, gods voice on Earth the Pope hinting that some one should bump Anne of, the whole series was a joke from beginning to end, and Henry seemed to only put on a whole pound through the entire two series, they got one thing right though, he walked with a limp!

      1. Wow, just reading your description I feel like I’ve seen enough. Very glad I missed it. Sadly many who saw probably btake it for historical fact. Thank heavens for this website.:-)

        1. I loved the Tudors mainly because it was entertaining. Edward Stafford had a sister and she was said to have slept with the King and this is given as the reason he fell out with Henry. However, if that was true it is a bit odd as Stafford was certainly still in favour in 1520, when he was the highest official at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, next to the King himself, acting as his Marshal or something and in charge of every official ceremony. Buckingham was the premier noble at the time but he fell out with Wolsey and that was his undoing. If Henry did have an affair with his sister or his wife (the sources are not clear) then it was a few years earlier, but apparently it did cause some big stink. Buckingham was a powerful, popular and confident man and he didn’t hesitate to give his opinion and he had confronted the King, but he was obviously quickly on the rise again. He was under suspicion in 1518 but again he came back into favour. The affair was also believed to be at that time. Queen Katherine lost her last child then as well and Henry went on a visit to Penthurst which he took a liking to. It was also flamboyantly decorated with Royal symbols, which Buckingham was entitled to bear, also noted by the King. Henry was noted to form a degree of paranoid behaviour in 1518 and expressed concerns about the future of the Dynasty and his own marriage. He didn’t seriously doubt the validity of his marriage until he stopped sleeping with Katherine six years later, but he was insecure and suspicious of those around him.

          The sex scenes in the Tudors really were ridiculous. They certainly were not wandering around jumping in and out of bed every five minutes and the Tudors used it and bad language to get the ratings. However, some outstanding things were done very well, handled with sensitivity such as Anne’s execution and Henry’s reactions behind the scenes were spot on, very well done. The Chateaux de Vert was also very well done with Anne making her debut at Court as was the death of Queen Katherine. The way she imagined she saw Mary was very moving. The meeting in France in 1532 was also very visual. The use of sex, though to fill in time was obviously over tye top as it had been reduced in the second season. Natalie Dormer complained that Anne Boleyn was merely being shown as a temptress in season one and as a result Michael Hurst changed the role to reflect reality. This was the very first time any amount of time had been spent exploring Anne’s role as a reformer and active Queen. Dormer was fantastic and the scene at the end were she confronted Henry in the gardens just before her arrest with little Elizabeth brought a lump to my throat. It was so passionate and realistic and so soul destroying when Anne falls to her knees as Henry walks away, desperately begging for a new start. Anne is so dedicated to her marriage, it is a really strong and powerful scene.

          Then the Tudors did what it did best, misrepresentation of the main characters yet again. Kathryn Howard sitting naked on a swing calling Henry and been found in something resembling a brothel was almost too much. I was truly shocked at the way this young Queen was portrayed. A brainless bimbo with no dress sense, no common sense and no dignity is the kindest way to put it. Yes, she was lively and loved to dance and clothing, but a ninny and a bimbo, definitely not. In another way of getting stuff wrong, although a number of the costumes they won awards for, some of the dresses, especially one in particular on Katherine Parr looked as if they were about the fall off revealing everything. As women didn’t wear knickers that would be very embarrassing. And Jonathan Ryes Myers was allowed to refuse to wear a body suit so a short, slim, dark haired Henry he remained until the last couple of episodes, and then he sounded old. Don’t get me wrong, JRM was fantastic in the role, made you believe he was Henry, but he was far from a look alike.

          Yes, movies have a duty to try to present reality, but I don’t worry if they don’t get everything right, because it is entertainment, but it would be nice to see some effort to present some history. The Tudors at least didn’t pretend to be a true realistic drama and said as much. Hirst admitted he was playing to a modern audience who want to see high drama and fantasy and don’t care if it’s accurate as kong as it makes a good story. Drama and film will always take liberties even small ones. Look at Elizabeth The Golden Age, only a true historian would realise it was mainly propaganda. Even the famous scene when she went to Tiltbury was totally ridiculous and complete fantasy. Yes, she was on horseback, yes, she had armoured clothing and yes she made a speech. No, she didn’t have long flowing hair, blowing in the breeze, on a large white stallion, and no she didn’t still look 26. The woman was fifty, her hair under a short wig and it actually rained on the date in question, so no the sunlight wasn’t behind her. Yes, she looked grand and regal and yes she gave one of the most rousing speeches in history. However, the real danger was passed and in reality there is no way a fifty year old Elizabeth would have been allowed to fight with her troops. Again, the sexual content in the two films was out of place. It was the same producer for all three, so it was little wonder they all had the same problems.

          The one person who gets me when it comes to stuff and nonsense is our favourite author, Philippa Gregory. Now, I admit many of her books are well written and they are fiction and we know this, but if the lady declared all of the weird ideas are hers alone, that would be fine. Many authors write nonsense and that is their prerogative, but few, if any actually present fictions as fact. Ms Gregory comes across as a sensitive and caring person with much empathy, but she also speaks in a way as to sound like an expert, in areas which she is mistaken. She truly believes Anne had sex with her brother, George and she is entitled to believe what she likes, but also she has a duty to say that it is her belief alone and not to present it as if it was an established truth when all historians, amateur and professional, trained and not, even Professor George Bernard, have agreed Anne didn’t sleep and would not have slept with her own brother. In the White Queen, her departure from the truth was evident from start to finish and Gregory made no effort to have anything factual in it at all. It was also poorly written, unusual for her, had one dimensional characters and was probably the first time I actually wanted to smash my television in frustration within the first five minutes of a so called historical drama. Thank goodness this wasn’t shown on BBC, because the corporation would have been doomed forever because of this.

          Sorry for my soap box but I will finish by saying I would recommend historical drama like the Shadow of the Tower about Henry Vii, Elizabeth R and the Six Wives of Henry Viii. Even Anne of 1000 Days had good acting and stuck to the basis of history, even with it’s very obvious dramatic licence and historical inaccuracies at times. If it is done for good purpose and not just to twist stuff or make some point for the modern, brainless audiences, dramatic licence can make history come to life.

  6. I thought Meyers was gorgeous and it’s a shame they didn’t dye his hair auburn and make him wear a body suit, he looked more like James Bond than Henry V111, in the film with Keith Mitchell he did look more like the traditional Henry especially as he aged, it was funny when he had just married Catherine Howard, played by the wonderful actress Lynne Frederick, sadly like the tragic queen she portrayed she died young to, Catherine was in the bedchamber and Henry walked in, he looked like a tent wearing a night cap, his face bloated as in real life he was and his beard was grey and his head was more or less bald, my sympathies were all for Catherine, about Miss Gregory I think it’s odd the way she does believe that Anne and George slept together but really she was just the victim of character assassination which was designed to make her look as vile and sexually corrupt as possible, she alone seems to think there’s some truth in it why? When we consider there was no proof of her guilt in the first place why does she think the incest charge was real, incest has always been frowned on in England and it arouses feelings of utmost revulsion this was why Cromwell had brought it against her, yet Gregory prefers to believe it which means she herself does not rate her character very highly, she possibly believes she was responsible for the poisoning of Bishop Fisher and trying to poison both Katherine and Mary as well, I bought one of her novels years ago a piece of fiction which i thoroughly enjoyed, yet the story centred around a brother and sister who were sleeping together – weird or what? as for The White Queen I watched about half hour of it and turned it over less said about that tripe the better.

    1. It’s unfortunate that the writer(s) of ‘The Tudors’ had to resort to having Katheryn Howard naked on a swing. It’s just trash to attract and titillate viewers.

      I miss those classy Tudor tv shows from the early 1970’s.

      1. Yes, the Six Wives of Henry Viii and Elizabeth R would be a nice treat now and Shadow of the Tower.

        With all the original sources available on the web, with so much being discovered all of the time, it really still astounds me how many film makers completely ignore the real history for some nonsense written decades later, just because it’s ‘good drama”. I really loved fiction many years ago, but now few novels even resemble the history. I don’t mind some dramatic license but really, some of the novel should be true.

  7. Hi BQ, Christine & Roland. No apologies needed. You are far more tolerant than I am. The more I find out about ‘The Tudors’ the more I realize I didn’t miss anything. As you know from previous posts I completely agree with you about Philippa Gregory. I like her as a person. She comes across as very friendly but she shouldn’t call herself an historian.

    I have seen most of the programs you mentioned. ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ was my intro to this subject over 30yrs ago. In my opinion Kieth Mitchell’s portrayal of Henry was the most accurate and Glenda Jackson’s Elizabeth was spot on.

    I think we can all agree that Tudor history does not need to be tweaked to be enjoyable or exciting. It was at the time equal to any modern soap opera

  8. And as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction, the Tudors were an extrodinary family who lived in frightening times were life was cheap, there really is no need to add anything extra to titillate the viewers.

  9. On Philippa Gregory….. who has had quite an impact on the modern perception of Tudor stuff …it’s interesting to me that she will firstly state that she is a feminist who had a ‘Eureka’ moment finding Mary Boleyn’s letter to Cromwell and realised that the real heroine in the Boleyn story isn’t Anne but Mary. She says that Mary’s is the contrarian position, the one who makes an independent choice, a revolutionary choice, based on personal growth and happiness. SO, in comparison, Anne’s shape in the story takes the traditional and opposite role, not the 21st century icon we think we’ve come to know, but a woman of utterly unscrupulous ambition (if it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously hath ‘she’ answered it) becoming finally a victim, not a heroine.
    As ideas go, Gregory’s strikes me as more Romantic than Feminist: but her books and the films have made her pretty rich and she has done notable charity work.

    1. Yes Gregory is a romantic and as we know she seems to delight in the bodice ripper novels that are I must admit, a genre most women prefer to read, but she confuses acts of passion with rape, she has Henry V11 raping Elizabeth of York, and Henry V111 raping Anne Boleyn, both men would never resort to violence against their women who they both plainly adored, as for Anne we could say she was the first feminist icon of the age, but she got were she was through the love of a King, and it cost her her life, in the end she was a victim of her husband’s fickle and dangerous nature, but no way was she ever a traditional wife, it was her undoing that she could not conform from mistress to queen, Mary did defy her family to marry the man she loved which was brave of her, so maybe she was not quite the little docile mare that historians and writers depict her as, she was Sir Thomas’s daughter after all, and Annes sister, she must have possessed some of their wild spirit, her books probably are enjoyed by many but they do not depict the true characteristics of these two famous sisters, she says for one that Anne was so ruthless as to sleep with her brother, that’s not about being ruthless that’s about being sick in the head and both Anne and George were dedicated religious reformers, their belief in purgatory was very real, in Ancient Eygpt that would have been the norm but incest was considered perfectly legal there, it was no sin, not in Tudor England or in fact any other age was it considered normal but a very real vile loathsome sin.

  10. The last person you would sleep with in order to get pregnant when your husband can’t perform, if that’s the case, is your own brother. Most people would find it repugnant today, and, yes, it does go on, but then when they believed in being cursed and evil and sexual sin and abominable acts and hell fire, Anne and George being pillars of high society and of the Church, if you excuse the pun, being reformers, they would have found such an idea terrifying. Even then observation would put two and two together and know that a baby from such a union would be deformed or retarded. Even in Ancient Egypt you were not meant to sleep with a full sister, but a half sister was fine, even though the weird eighteenth Dynasty took little notice, which is why Tutenkhamun had two very sad little deformed babies. His mother was his father’s sister. His wife is his half sister. Anne was too acutely aware of the ramifications of such an action and even in the film, George can’t go through with it. Such an idea would have appalled both of them. Anne had held of Henry for seven years, she held a very strict upright household, she may have flirted a bit, but there was certainly no evidence of anything else. It may be convenient to sleep with someone from the family because you can make an excuse for them being around, even contrive to be alone with them, but it was highly unlikely that in European Christian Catholic society, which was very strong at this time, anyone would want to. Mary Boleyn had left court and it is highly unlikely that she would have had anything to do with such a hairbrained scheme and who was Anne going to ask otherwise? Imagine asking your mother to help with such a thing for example!!! Imagine a lady in waiting, who would be committing treason organizing this!!! The idea is totally preposterous, no matter how desperate you are for a baby. Now with the aid of a trusted maid or two and a bit of forward planning a gentleman could be entertained by the Queen and one or two managed it, but she couldn’t do it without cooperation and nobody else was ever implicated in the alleged sexual crimes of Anne Boleyn and her alleged lovers. Kathryn Howard may or may not have had any sexual contact with Thomas Culpepper, we just don’t have any evidence or testimony to support it, but she needed the aid of at least two other women to arrange her meetings with him. Lady Jane Boleyn, Vicountess Rochford was arrested and condemned as her accomplice but nobody was accused of aiding Anne. In the film and book Mary Boleyn is sought out to help them do this vile thing. The result was a miscarriage of a deformed foetus.

    The above is possibly the source of Ms Gregory’s ideas because it is a theory proposed by Professor Warnicke that Anne had a deformed baby in January 1536, which led Henry to suspect her of sorcery and sexual deviance. The Professor relied heavily on one Father Nicholas Sander who notoriously wrote such a thing in his weighty thesis on the Church in England and he really has a go at Elizabeth and her bewitching mother, Anne Boleyn who was a notorious whore covered in warts by his account with six fingers. The development of the thesis is that a miscarriage was or deformed child was viewed as being the result of sexual deviance and of the Devil. In the Sixteenth Century they literally saw the Devil not just as a force or fallen angel but as a physical being with a tail and horns and monstrous features. Such descriptions are found in Greek and Old Testament literature and in Persian and Assyrian myths. In history, the people of Jerusalem went into exile in Babylon and Persia and Assyria and you can see how the influence has passed over into the Jewish and Christian traditional thinking. Such drawings were often found in texts on Revelation and other stories in the Medieval Church which as we know was full of colour and painting and was well known to most people. Two tracts published in 1534 and 1550 were also popular at the time and both stated that deformed children were because a mother had been sexually deviant or unfaithful. Professor Warnicke takes these tracts and Sander at face value and it is believed that Gregory gets her idea here and from the speech George made when he died and the verses by Anne’s enemy George Cavendish, who talks about George and the others being homosexual. However, the work of Sander is 60 years later and no contemporary evidence says Anne had a deformed baby or that the men were gay. George and the others were asking for pardon for all of their sins as would have been conventional as they feared the Judgement of Almighty God in the next life and most people would understand that at the time. What they didn’t understand in the Sixteenth century was that a gay man might marry for that was expected as it was frowned upon but still have relationships with men, but he would be highly unlikely to sleep with other women. If George Boleyn was gay sleeping with his sister would be even less likely. Gregory takes what even Professor Warnicke doesn’t accept because she stated that Anne Boleyn and the men were innocent but made targets because of the men’s sexuality and twists it into the worst and most shocking of all sexual practices, incest. She used it in her books probably because it makes a convenient method of having Anne have a deformed foetus which she does believe and so for her the explanation is that Anne slept with her brother. It is fictional but Gregory makes it believable because she has a way of sounding authoritative when she explains it. The woman is very sympathetic to Anne in the way she was treated but she really does think this sexual deviance equals deformed foetus theory was a mainstream belief and what happened, when there is no contemporary evidence for either.

    1. Thank goodness my comment was bookmarked as I had a right old time with my Kindle last night and when it vanished into cyberspace I thought I would have to put all that again. Phew! Actually I am surprised it hasn’t gone into Spanish or German as my stupid device was putting everything else into both languages, anything but English. I think it was suffering from the heat. It really is a stupid device. lol.

      At least we managed to book our holiday, going to the Vale of Evesham at next weekend, staying between Evesham and Stratford on Avon and putting Warwick and Kennilworth on the to do list and Coughton Hall. Tewkesbury is not far either so looking forward to seeing the Abbey. Can’t wait to go back to Stratford, it must be 20. years. They have opened up a Tudor World and found New Place since then and you can visit Arden Farm now as well, and of course the grave and birthplace of the Bard.

      1. I hope you have a lovely time Bq, I have seen photos of Tewkesbury and it looks so beautiful, I remember watching a wildlife programme years ago and in the distance were the ruins of an old abbey, it looked so beautiful and haunting, it must have been one of those that perished in the dissolution, I love old abbeys and cathedrals there is always an air of tranquility about them, and of course the ancient past.

    2. I cannot understand Warnickes theories about the so called deformed foetus either, all that rubbish we can thank Nicholas Sander for who as we all know, never even met Anne or anyone who knew her, writing fifty years after her death and a Catholic recusant to boot! His vitriol was aimed at her daughter who was then on the throne and by attacking the mother, he also attacked the daughter, Warnicke is a respected historian a professor and very intelligent therefore why does she take at face value the words of one who was well known for being an enemy of the reformer Queen Anne? Everyone however is entitled to their opinions and she maybe thinking there’s no smoke without fire, but no sources state that Annes baby was deformed and there would have been some evidence surely, considering their bitter argument was observed after Henry went to visit his wife after the sad loss of their infant, Chapyus who prided himself on being the eyes and ears of the Emperor also would surely have found out if the baby had anything wrong with it, instead he wrote in his despatches that it had the appearance of a male, where does the deformed baby fit in? She believes Anne and her alleged lovers were brought down because they were all sexual deviants and as you say Bq, the result was a poor misshapen baby, but she is unique in thinking this, the medieval and Tudor world was a superstitious one, a menstruating woman was not allowed to handle a churn of milk in case she turned it sour, no intercourse was allowed and religious days were rigidly observed, old wives tales abounded and the King and his courtiers were no less superstitious than the milkmaid in the dairy and the farmer with his cows, however witchcraft did not really become a problem till James ascended the throne in 1603 and he was determined to route it out, then old women were hounded simply because they had a few warts here and there, many were done to death out of superstion and ignorance, wise women who most villages had who did nothing more than cure a few ills with herbs were hanged, if they had a cat especially if it was black, then that meant they were also a witch, hundreds were hung in this religious persecution which was really a blot on James 1sts reign, but in Henry V111’s day he was more bothered about heretics not witches, and Sander describes Anne as having a large mole on her neck, again a sign of witchcraft but so do many dark skinned people, and a projecting tooth yet George Wyatt, grandson of the famous poet who had known her for many years never mentioned a projecting tooth
      and he had described her as having a fresh and clear complexion, Henry said no doubt in anger he had been seduced by witchcraft, but no charges of sorcery were ever brought against Anne and it was possibly just a remark made to explain the strange hold she had over him, for many years he had been so besotted by her that he himself when his love for her had begun to fade thought how had it ever happened, he probably felt foolish for what he had done for her and all he had to show for it was another daughter, but this does not mean he thought she actually was a witch and neither were the charges of sodomy brought against the men, but a lot of evidence was destroyed as Cromwell himself later said, some of the evidence was just too ribald too vile to speak of in court, Weir says he could just be saying that but it is known that Elizabeth 1st had many documents destroyed as well she would, her mothers name had been defamed enough therefore no more must be left lying around to sully her already blackened reputation, over the years rumours abounded and from a normal attractive woman who could sing and dance gracefully, a woman who was highly intelligent and could discuss political topics, and heavens forbid a woman who had caused the King to break from Rome, a woman who was known for being a reformer, she was thus changed into a warty looking figure with vile sexual appetites who satisfied her lusts with several men of the court, some her husband’s friends and a lowly musician, she had several miscarriages and a deformed baby, proof that she had indulged in unnatural sexual practices, thus she was condemned to die and the almighty had forsaken her, and Professor Warnicke actually believes that Anne was brought down because of this, other historians dismiss this theory believing it to be far of the mark and whilst she agrees a coup was responsible, she thinks Henry believed his wife and the men were guilty of sexual deviance, remarking on the speech the men made at their executions were they spoke of their great sins, but to the Tudors a sin could be anything like failing to observe fasting at Lent, maybe getting drunk and disorderly on the sabbath, their speeches were customary, they admitted their sins and were prepared to die and so on, no condemned man would ever dare criticise the Kings judgement in sending them to their deaths, it was treason and it meant their lands would be forfeited and their families suffer because of it, as one of them ‘if ye judge judge the best’, no bitter recriminations they were about to face divine judgement which they knew Henry himself would face one day, to suggest they were homosexual’s and may have indulged in buggery is a slur on their names and in fact does Miss. Warnicke no credit as a historian, in that daft series The Tudors it showed George Boleyn and Smearon indulging in an affair, as soon as that programme aired all you saw for the first five minutes were naked rear ends and ample bosoms, Boleyn was also shown raping his wife Jane, these men were used simply to get rid of an unwanted queen, there was most likely nothing different about them than other men at the court, they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, part of Annes circle of friends, apart from William Brereton he had irked Cromwell in the past and he had been no saint but he was no foppish courtier and he was middle aged, Norris’s servant said if any of those men were innocent it was he, apart from Smeaton who was still young possibly no more than nineteen, the others were married maybe happily and had children, I have never read Warnickes book on Anne and I don’t intend to simply because of her daft theories but as I have said, everyone is entitled to their opinions, I just think it’s very very sad that this queen who was wronged so dreadfully long ago and perished on the scaffold along with five innocent men, is still having her name sullied and also trashed quite unbelievablely in Miss Gregory’s books, this author depicts Annes baby as being born with a huge misshapen head and several flailing limbs, it has tufts of red hair and Anne is screaming hysterically to get rid of it, I agree she is probably a very nice person and her charity work is commendable, and she can argue that her books are not to be taken seriously but anyone who likes reading historical fiction do not realise that they are more fiction than fact, she also has Henry raping Anne which is shown in the equally ludicrous movie and that certainly never happened either, that movie keeps coming round every few weeks and I think ‘here we go again’, I wish they would show ‘Anne Of The Thousand Days’, that was much more near to accuracy.

      1. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much choice but to study Proffessor Warnicke, it was required reading at University. I have read it several times more recently as this topic comes up and it’s always good to remind oneself the prospective that she is coming from. She is a very difficult read and she has done a lot of research, but I am still lost after all of these years as to how Nicholas Sander is given more weight than Chapuys. Yes, we know Chapuys didn’t always get things right, he had good reason to give a biased account, he could and did gossip, but he was also remarkably accurate in the main. He is often backed up by other sources and he is always detailed. More importantly, biased or not, Chapuys was close to the inner workings of the palace and most of the time he was around when something happened. At the very least his work is contemporary. Nicholas Sander is writing several decades later and isn’t even in England. Yes, he does rely on several scholars from earlier and his work was deemed to be of a scholarly nature, but it is extremely biased even for something biased, if you know what I mean. Professor Warnicke spends considerable time explaining why she gives little credence to Chapuys and more to Sander, but I won’t bore you with that as it does take some concentration.

        The danger with Philippa Gregory of course is that she goes far beyond the good Professor and flies off into fantasy land. It is entirely plausible that a group of men may be targeted because they indulged in forbidden sexual practices, but there is no real evidence of it here. In 1536 the first piece of English legislation making sodomy and homosexuality a crime punishable by death was passed. Why not wait until it was law and use that to attack these men? Well, because then they couldn’t be accused of adultery with the Queen with any believability, could they? It is also a strange coincidence that four of those condemned are either active in the service of Anne as well as the King as Mark Smeaton was or were connected to the Boleyn faction. The odd one out was Sir William Brererton, who had many properties and official titles all over Cheshire and North Wales. He had encountered Thomas Cromwell during the carrying out of his duties, there was a rivalry for some of these positions and he had crossed him on a few occasions. It has long been theorized that Cromwell targeted him out of revenge. You certainly can’t take the Scaffold Speeches to make any case for deviant behaviour, because they were following a formula. They faced the Divine Judgement in Eternity and confession was needed to absolve them from sin. They confessed in the traditional way and asked forgiveness and set an example for others, begging their fellow human beings not to follow their poor example in life. It was all the custom and only two people have ever been recorded as defying convention on the Scaffold. The last two men killed for supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie wrote their speeches down and published them before hand as the Government threatened to censor them. In these speeches they condemned the Georgian Government and accused the King of being a usurper and having a false claim and expounded the Stuart cause. They didn’t regret anything and would do it again to rid the world of the detestable house which now hounded those loyal to the true monarchs with impunity. It didn’t go down well with the authorities but the crowd actually loved it and a riot was barely avoided. The Tudors would not have tolerated such Speeches and people were generally careful about what they said. I don’t think Gregory has a very high opinion of either Henry Vii or Viii and has both of them mistreat or rape their prospective Queen. The film took her books further but she was a consultant on it so these must be ideas she endorsed. The Tudors did a disservice to the Boleyn men and they were playing to sexual fantasy with Mark Smeaton having an affair with George Boleyn and Thomas and George plotting while Henry was injured in the joust. Again the Boleyn pimping out their women theme came up and we get no sense that George has much intelligence. They are also shown as a pair of bullies. The difference between the Tudors and Gregory is that the later presents everything as if it is fact and not fictitious and the Tudors admitted that it was all dramatic licence. A great number of people who read Philippa Gregory believe her to be writing the truth and few bother to find out otherwise. Good fiction writers normally state if they have changed history for the story, but Gregory has a way of stating this is how it really happened and she is very convincing.

  11. That is so true in the belief of heaven and hell, people’s lives were governed by the fear of purgatory if they sinned, though many did (such is human nature) in Italy the paintings of the day by the great artists Raphael Da Vinci etc, were all mostly religious themed, there is one particular one where it shows the torment of souls in hell, flames licking their bodies expressions of horror in their faces, such was the belief of divine judgement, for Anne and George as you say, both reformers, Anne was especially known for her piety and the very real belief that they would suffer eternal damnation if they slept together, that most unnatural of sins – incest goes beyond all what they believed in, the photo reconstruction of Tutankhamen shows he was a poor lad with scoliosis and walked with sticks, (there are paintings depicting him using these in the walls of his bed chamber), and that he died very young, wether he was murdured is not actually known but there are several theories, in fact since most of the Egyptian Royal families did cohabit with most of their relations they must all have been quite sickly and did not live to enjoy old age, I cannot think of one biographer of Annes or indeed Henry V111’s who believes his second queen and her brother indulged in sexual incest, Gregory is unique in that, Anne would nor risk the fires of hell for herself or her brother, the claim is so lurid as knowing Annes extreme piety as her contemporaries did, to actually even think she considered the suggestion means we do this tragic queen a deep wrong as much as the King and her judges did back in 1536, in The Tudors it showed Annes last miscarriage as a deformed baby and in Gregory’s book the poor little thing had a huge misshapen head with several limbs and tufts of auburn hair, and Anne was hysterically shrieking wildly to get rid of it, all nonsense – she gave birth to a poor little infant whose appearance looked like it was male, no extra limbs no deformity, just a little innocent baby, the sad death of her last baby sealed Annes fate and she knew in her heart there was no going back, Henry himself said ominously she would get no more sons by him, Warnicke places a lot of emphasis on the 16thc idea that deformed infants and miscarriage’s was believed to be the result of as you say unnatural sexual practices but in none of the sources we read there is no suggestion of her giving birth to such an infant, and no one at the said so either, Henry himself never said it, he made an off the cuff remark that he had been seduced into his marriage by witchcraft but he knew how pious Anne was, it was as we know just Sander who wrote about it half a century later, a Catholic who was like a 16thc News Of The World editor, writing such rubbish about Anne who he never met and made her out to have been a creature covered in warts, the tell tale sign of witches, the sinister extra nail which he called a finger on her right hand, another sign of the Devils own, a sallow faced woman with a projecting tooth, iv never heard of anyone mention a projecting tooth though bad teeth was known in Tudor times, indeed hardly surprising since dentistry was unknown then, and people went to the blacksmith to have their teeth extracted when they suffered from toothache, in George Wyatt we have the best descriptions of Anne as his grandfather had known her very well, and had she had aprojecting tooth he would have surely said so, why does Warnicke a respected professor believe her theories which were solely based on Sanders revelations fifty years later, why believe the words of a man who was an enemy of her daughter who by then was on the throne, and it was surely an attack on who he believed was a heretic bastard queen, the slur on the mother was an attack on the daughter, I fail to see why Warnicke thinks Anne had a deformed baby and her alleged lovers were all sodomites, in the daft series The Tudors there was George Boleyn sleeping with Smeaton, again she reads too much in the execution speeches the men made, they spoke of their sins but she forgets this was a very religious age, to the Tudors and before and in the several centuries after when folk were far more God fearing than we are today, a sin was something like forgetting to take part in lent, maybe drinking too freely on the sabbath eg, it does not mean these men were immoral corrupt bestial beings who were not fit to be on gods earth, they were banned from visiting brothels does this fit the picture of a woman who slept with her own brother? it is for this reason I have never read Warnickes book and do not intend to either, everyone is however entitled to their opinion, I just find it very very sad that these people and a queen were slandered in their own day and paid the ultimate price and nearly 500 years later, there are still some intelligent people who choose to believe the worst about them.

    1. I can’t understand anyone taking Sander seriously, because nobody takes John Rous seriously when he said Richard iii was in his mother’s womb for two years and emerged as a fully grown monstrous looking child. No other description of his birth supported this and the fact is it is not possible anyway and even then nobody would have accepted a child could be in the womb that long. They weren’t daft, they knew approximately how long a pregnancy was, it happened often enough. Rous of course has altered his earlier chronicle and this description is to please his new masters. Richard may have gone through a difficult birth, because his mother was no longer young and he was her fourteenth child. He was born normal however, his scoliosis developing in early adolescence. With Sander he is writing to defame the woman he sees as a true monster, Elizabeth who after all has caused problems for his Catholic brethren back home. He has the job of beefing up the faithful and putting down cruel Protestant Monarchies just as John Fox praised the holy bravery of Protestant martyrs under Catholic ones. Now Elizabeth is being shown as a whore, a bastard, a heretic, a cruel persecutor and apostate as an illegitimate Queen. She has to have bad influence as well from her parents. Her mother Anne is the villein not the King, her father and she is described as horrible to look at, as a witch and a whore and she who turned England away from the truth. The actions of Henry Viii, once the champion of the true Church of Rome has to fall under the spell of this wicked woman in order to set aside his dear wife, Queen Katherine, that illustrious lady and place his daughter in peril. She is shown with warts all over her as these are the Devils teets and she has bewitched the good King and turned England unfaithful to the Catholic Church. As the woman, it was her fault, not the King, who is lost but under a spell. Anne’s trial and execution gave him ammunition of course as he could portray her as a whore. He can now cast doubt on Elizabeth ‘s entitlement to the throne and encourage her enemies against her. Given the nature of Anne’s alleged crimes, a deformed baby is the obvious result. It is all intended to shock and to defame and most certainly it should not be taken as true.

      In 1536 the Tudors believed in sorcery but the statute to make it a felony punishable by death wasn’t passed in England until the 1540s and Elizabeth I extended this statute. The first collective Witch Trials were in Essex in the 1590s although convictions predated this and necromancy predated the Tudors. Using a witch to kill in treason also predates this statute. The Eleanor Cobbam case involved hiring a witch to use poisons to kill the Lord Protector and the King and to use a necramancer for this purpose. Eleanor was imprisoned and said she only brought the potion in order to get pregnant, but the poor woman who provided the potion was burned to death. The law after Henry Viii was death by hanging, which unfortunately took up to twenty minutes to kill you.

      In 1536 the majority of people believed in bewitching and no doubt Henry did, but his words regarding Anne had a different meaning. These were the words of a grieving, frustrated husband, desperate for a son and disillusioned by a marriage which was repeating the sad reproductive history of his first. Henry was forty five years old and had two children, twenty years apart, both girls. He had no son. He was a grieving father and his words referred to his marriage possibly not being valid as Anne had an unusual influence over him or that his marriage was not blessed by God. It was not literally meant that Anne had bewitched him. In fact even today it’s a common saying when men find themselves irresistibly drawn to a woman and they can’t or won’t explain it. (It’s other name is lust). “I was powerless to resist her” ” She must have bewitched me” ” I couldn’t stop myself, she had a bewitching look in her eyes” We have all heard the excuses. Henry is speaking in the same vane, because Anne was never charged with witchcraft and he could easily have forced a law through Parliament to convict her. He didn’t take his off the cuff remarks any further. Anne was still Queen five months later and the sad loss of her baby boy had very little to do with her downfall, although she was open to her enemies who just waited for an opportunity and Henry to decide it was time to act.

      Professor Warnicke used both Chapuys and Sander but she puts more emphasis on Sander on the matter of the behaviour of Anne and how it was regarded and her miscarriage. She interpreted Chapuys as comparing Anne to women who had practiced witchcraft and unholy sexual practices, but she also refers to his work being based on rumour and inside guesswork. Sander according to Warnicke built on those attributes and expanded them based on more scholarly research available in Anne’s lifetime and Italian and French experts on such matters. She sees his own research as containing flaws and as controversial but he is also a scholar and has based his work on a wide range of authorities and sources. She links all of this to back up the idea that Anne did have a deformed child and that Henry believed this proved his marriage to her was cursed and her behaviour that of an unfaithful wife. However, it’s a deeply flawed argument, which is not backed up by any contemporary evidence and although Chapuys used such descriptions of Anne he made no mention of her having anything but an ordinary miscarriage. He doesn’t even mention it until February 10th and he only says she gave birth to a child of about four months old and with the appearance of a male. Had Anne had a monstrous child, Chapuys would indeed have much to say about it and I doubt Henry would wait another four months to kill her. The time period which passed from 1536, when Sander was six until the writing of his history in 1585 was 50 years. That alone should signal caution. Chapuys may be problematic but at least he was contemporary.

  12. Thank goodness my comment was bookmarked as I had a right old time with my Kindle last night and when it vanished into cyberspace I thought I would have to put all that again. Phew! Actually I am surprised it hasn’t gone into Spanish or German as my stupid device was putting everything else into both languages, anything but English. I think it was suffering from the heat. It really is a stupid device. lol.

    At least we managed to book our holiday, going to the Vale of Evesham at next weekend, staying between Evesham and Stratford on Avon and putting Warwick and Kennilworth on the to do list and Coughton Hall. Tewkesbury is not far either so looking forward to seeing the Abbey. Can’t wait to go back to Stratford, it must be 20. years. They have opened up a Tudor World and found New Place since then and you can visit Arden Farm now as well, and of course the grave and birthplace of the Bard.

  13. One thing that did strike me more than anything in the description of the marriage and celebrations is not so much the dedicated description of Katherine but the many descriptions of how beautiful Henry was, with his lovely legs and manly bearing and great height and how handsome he is. Today we might laugh at men writing such lush stuff about other men but it was quite the thing to praise the beauty and manly attributes of high born men and Kings in Europe at this time. Henry was almost a great Adonis and he performed like one as well in the tournament, delighting his goddess, his Dianna, his Venus, his Ariadne and the crowd of adoring ladies in the joust, the tennis and dressing up. Katherine must of thought he was perfect as well as charming and handsome and gracious and the various Ambassadors certainly thought so and flattered him accordingly. We know that everything turned out differently, but to be honest at that moment, if asked, I would have married such a King.

  14. Many thanks BQ for giving us some of the ramifications of the PG problem. I wonder if you think Mary Boleyn is actually a better role model for 21st century women than is Anne?

    1. First, thanks, Globerose, for your kind words.

      I don’t really think of either Anne or Mary as role models for the twenty first century because they both lived in the Sixteenth and were both women of that would. Anne was the more independent because she refused to be married off and she had the better prospects but Mary did marry her second husband as her own choice. However, Mary paid for her marriage to William Stafford with being disowned by her father and left in a financial pickle. She was dismissed from Court, but I guess she didn’t care as she wanted to live quietly and saw herself as having achieved something. We really know so little about Mary it is very hard to decide what she wanted. Anne got the big prize and as a result was able to take on the establishment. She had a modern education as in learning every advanced classic of the day, although I doubt she learned Mathematical Science or Astronomy. She wasn’t advanced in Latin or Greek either, although she probably knew these fairly well. She studied and developed a proper interest in theology and had the whit and understanding to converse in this effectively and with confidence. She clearly read and understood reformed texts and knew other women who both translated and even wrote such texts, such as Margueuerite, sister of King Francis and Queen Claude and a number of others who had advanced ideas for the time. Anne made her own destiny in one sense, although the King’s interest in her was powerful and ongoing and she was bombarded with love letters. She must have made a choice at some point to allow Henry to Court her and a proper relationship resulted. Henry admired Anne for her intelligence and she used it well to support his move towards an annulment. Personally I believe Anne put the idea of marriage into his head because she refused to sleep with him and once they both set forth on that path they worked well together and it was mutual decision not to have a sexual relationship and risk an illegitimate child. I am certain Henry actually had other sexual partners but kept them quiet. I am also certain both of them got fed up waiting so long at various points and Anne expressed that as well. It can’t be proved that Anne gave Henry a copy of Tyndale but there is a tale of her finding a servant reading it and somehow it found its way to Henry after Wolsey confiscated it. However, Henry read it and hey presto he could get his own annulment by being Head of the Church. Anne may well have had a hand in this. Anne was not a shrinking violet and because of this people see a modern woman in her, but I would urge caution. Anne didn’t command the King, she influenced him. Henry respected Anne, but when they were married he expected her to be more submissive and she was anything but that. Mary had made an independent decision to marry, but was more conventional because she begged her family to forgive her and submitted to authority. Anne had an active role as Queen but we can see her at times going too far. She gambled and replaced a very popular Queen for whom she cared not and also ordered her stepdaughter about. However, at the end of the day, even Anne could do nothing but accept the will of the King as her husband and Lord. A modern woman can leave such a man, Anne could not. Anne was helpless when the King was turned against her. She also believed that she had failed in her one duty, to give Henry a son, contrary to her own promise. The woman was blamed and Anne didn’t see Elizabeth as being Queen in the future, but heir at the time being. Henry wanted, demanded, needed a son and Anne also knew this. Her last miscarriage was not the cause of her downfall, but it left her vulnerable. Once Henry had decided to marry again and a new faction rose to challenge Anne, there was little she could do to stop the inevitable. She could become pregnant, but for some reason, she didn’t. Henry looked elsewhere, Cromwell did his work and as they didn’t want another Katherine of Aragon, knowing Anne would not go quietly but would be obstinate as her predecessor had been, Anne was now targeted as being in the way. For all of her old influence over Henry, Anne couldn’t do anything against his power. She was an innocent victim of his brutal decision to get her out of the way and there was nothing she could do. Henry wanted a proper sixteenth century wife and that was Jane Seymour.

      I think Mary would actually have been a similar wife to Jane Seymour, perhaps without the almost fanatical mission to bring his daughter, Princess Mary back to Court. Mary may not have cared about the consequences, but her marriage to William Stafford left her independent but broke and without family support. A few young women today could probably relate to that.

  15. I do so profit from your comments, BQ and thanks for taking the time to reply.

    You have a far more nuanced, tender and reflective way of handling the past and the long gone folk who lived in it, than Gregory and it’s a shame she probably won’t read your response.

    1. Thanks Globerose, that is very kind of you to say. I am also very nuanced when watching football but nothing of that can be published lol. Philippa Gregory believes what she writes and I respect that, but it is confusing as it goes against every piece of evidence and historians generally don’t accept her theories, but I suppose she has opened up a valuable debate.

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