On this day in Tudor history, 14th November and the Feast of St Erkenwald, there may have been two royal Tudor weddings.

We know that Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, married Arthur, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, on 14th November 1501 at St Paul’s Cathedral in London (Old St Paul’s), but chronicler Edward Hall gives 14th November 1532 as the date of a secret wedding for King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Marquess of Pembroke, in Dover. So two royal weddings on this day in Tudor history!

In today’s “on this day in Tudor history”, I tell you what we known from contemporary sources about the weddings of Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor, and Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

If you prefer reading to videos, then you can find out all the details in articles here on the Anne Boleyn Files – click here – and if you prefer audio, you can listen to my podcast here.

If you like to get a daily Tudor fix, then please do subscribe to the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube Channel or my podcast as I do daily “on this day” talks.

Also on this day in history, 14th November 1541, an inventory was taken “of the goods and chattels, lands and fees of Thos. Culpeper, the younger”, the alleged lover of Queen Catherine Howard – click here to read more.

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16 thoughts on “14 November – A wedding anniversary for Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn?”
  1. When I think about how Katherine of Aragon was treated by Henry later in their marriage it really makes me curious wondering how much better her life may have been had Arthur Tudor lived.

    1. Yes I have often thought that and possibly so did Katherine, when they were engaged they wrote to each and they must have both felt quite excited and nervous about finally meeting each other in the flesh, Katherine was pretty though short she was slender, and in her early portraits she resembles a Botticelli angel, her glorious hair was auburn and abundant and fell down to her waist, apart from an attractive visage she had a kind eager to please nature which endeared people to her, Arthur must have been pleased with his shy young bride and so were his parents, letters had been sent across the seas between Spain and England and both sets of monarchs were pleased with this match, so far Arthur had been healthy enough but he caught something which ailed him and it eas
      something he could not shake off, several theories have been put forward but on their wedding day some of Katherines entourage expressed concern over his pallor, maybe he found the festivities too much and was overtired, but after their wedding night he was boasting about being in the midst of Spain, his thoughtless words were to reverberate down the years and were to be used against his young bride as a reason for ending her second marriage, Katherine was to always say nothing had ever passed between them, they were only young there was no need to consummate the marriage, in the flower of their youth it was easy to suppose they both had many years left to them, this young couple were feasted and feted and the bells rung out of old St Paul’s, the marriage bed was blessed and the bride was supposed to be bonny in bed and board, but Arthur died in his prime leaving a bereft young widow facing an uncertain future, had Arthur lived what sort of king would he have made? His portraits show a resemblance to his brother and yet it was Prince Henry who people seemed to dote on as if he were the more attractive, that he was charismatic is obvious and many song his praises from an early age, Arthur maybe was of a quieter more retiring personality, Henry excelled at many things he was also a show of and loved admiration, he is said to have taken after his equally charismatic grandfather Edward 1V, Arthur maybe was more Tudor than Plantagenet and resembled his father’s rather dour nature, they both settled down to married life and then they both fell ill, it could have been a flu virus but it weakened Arthur considerably and he died, both his parents were devastated and it placed young Prince Henry in direct line of succession to the throne, a role for which he had no schooling, two young peoples lives were changed dramatically, within months Katherine had replaced her bridal veil for widows weeds and she must have felt stricken and lost, alone in a strange country where she had yet to learn the language she was at the mercy of her father in law, Henry V11 does not appear to have been particularly approachable and throughout her widowhood Katherine was said to have suffered from an eating disorder which is generally caused by anxiety, Elizabeth of York must have been a kind mother figure to her but we can understand Katherine’s distress at this pivotal moment in her life, she must have been homesick and longed for her own mother, her misery would have been exacerbated by an uncertain future, she had her companions to talk to and for guidance but she must have felt at times very alone, Arthur could well have been a fine king, his death left the way for the most fascinating king we have ever known, the sumptuousness of their wedding feast where as Claire says the wine always flows freely at such events, contrasted sombrely with the solemn funeral cortège of the young Prince as it wound its way to its final resting place, the black clad pall bearers and the horses must have brought tears to many a persons eyes, none more so than Katherine who must have felt cheated, she had travelled all this way from her fathers grandiose palaces where the palm trees swayed in the warm breeze, to this chilly island where the dampness seeped into ones bones and it’s people looked at her in sympathy, did she ever think of her first husband when years later, being rejected and put aside she sat in her lonely residence having been stripped of her title and reduced to that as mere widowed princess of Wales? Her life would have been so different had he lived, she had known great joy with Henry he had rescued her and they had been married and crowned in a lavish ceremony, but he had brought her much sadness to, it was Arthur’s untimely death that instilled in Henry V111 an urgent need for sons and it was to obsess him through his entire reign and six marriages, Prince Arthur fades into history whilst his brother made an indelible mark on it, but would he have made a better king and ultimately a much better husband for Katherine, possibly he seems to me a gentle lad who would have been a more kinder tolerant and thoughtful king than Henry, I think he esteemed Katherine more and had he no sons, I doubt he would have gone down the same road his brother took.

      1. You call Arthur’s words ‘thoughtless’. That may be the result but not the intent. I was a 15 year old boy and to lie about that to other males is perfectly normal. I will be the first to admit that at that age most boys are jerks. I definitely believe Katharine over Arthur about their wedding night.

        1. Yes lads do boast it’s a peer thing, also princes especially had to be seen to be virile, he did not want anyone to think he had not been hot blooded enough to do the deed, the next dynasty depended on him, it’s very sad his words were used by his young brother years later to try to annul his marriage to Katherine, it was noted Katherine was quiet and pensive the morning after, maybe she had wanted Arthur to grab her with animal passion maybe she had asked him for a cuddle and been rejected, girls are contrary and don’t always know what they want at that age, whilst fearing the sex act she could have felt rejected if nothing did happen, which does nothing for ones self esteem, Arthur obviously did boast because he had his reputation to think about, but Katherines bed sheets were examined and there was no virginal blood staining the sheets, years later she risked her very soul in purgatory to declare she had never consummated her marriage with her briefly married husband, a woman as devout as Katherine would not lie therefore I too, believe this forsaken queen over Prince Arthur.

  2. I know canon law allowed you to have an exchange of vows or a promise, with or without a witness or priest and then to consummate the union for this to be made into a marriage but it was certainly not a great idea because it often caused problems, especially among the nobility and the royal family. Henry VIII thought he was free to marry, but he wasn’t. Even he needed the English Church aka Archbishop of Canterbury to get together a Court and fix things for him and Anne and also to dissolve his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. We really don’t know for certain if this was a marriage as in wedding or a bethrothal but in any event a marriage of this nature could be seen as invalid. It was more likely to be questioned. Canon law allowed such a marriage, but Court Records show Church Courts were full of cases of parents saying darling daughter x had married stable boy y and they wanted it broken up because she was promised to Lord soandso who had paid the appropriate fees and a contract had been signed between the two families. Daughter x would then plead with stable boy y to back her up and hopefully he did, the Church would impose a penance as they tried to have marriage done properly as a sacrament, first at the Church door and then at the alter before the whole community, three Sundays of bans having been published, but people didn’t wait and these marriage entanglements were very common. If the couple agreed they had exchanged vows and slept together, if they had a priest or witness or even without, the marriage was held as good and lawful and a blessing followed. If there was a dispute, sometimes the wedding was held as good, sometimes not. Pressure was often applied from parents to the young lovers to agree they were not married, but this was frowned upon as consent was needed as well as freedom to marry, for it to be lawful. All kinds of stuff happened, including possibly corporal punishment and enforcement of separation and parents even threatened starvation or reduced diets to get their disobedient offspring to see reason before the hearing. Young lovers were often questioned away from their parents in order for the local Bishop to get to the truth and if coercion was found, the guilty parties were fined at least. Interference with the justice of these independent Church Courts was taken very seriously. In cases were people had married with witnesses and by a priest it was impossible to dissolve it although we do have cases when the state interfered and somehow had the marriage declared null and void. In the case of Catherine Grey and her husband, she was separated from him, imprisoned, her two sons declared illegitimate, she was kept under house arrest, became ill and died and Elizabeth somehow had her marriage declared illegal. Secret and small private marriages could be perfectly legitimate but they could most certainly be a nuisance.

    In a small country Church in Dover on this feast day, Anne and Henry, having already consummated their relationship, may well have had a marriage but it was at best problematic. In their case they had to get married in as public a manner as possible and now we know that Anne’s pregnancy in January 1536 made them have a proper wedding ceremony at Whitehall Palace. This was witnessed, by a priest, at least one witness each including the Kings Groom, young William Brereton and it is possible Anne’s parents attended. Obviously no bans and no public announcements were made and it was Easter before people knew officially that Anne was pregnant and wedded. Even this was immediately brought into question, the legitimacy of her child sniffed at, the King’s availability as a groom was also questioned.

    For one thing to declare his marriage null and void Henry needed an Archbishop of Canterbury and there wasn’t one, not yet at least. His first task as soon as he got home was to appoint Thomas Cranmer, whose appointment was approved of by Rome, for good measure. Then Cranmer had to call a Commission to examine the evidence and witnesses and this was done in April when the marriage to Anne was confirmed as lawful and his marriage to Katherine null and void. Not that Catholic Europe or the majority of English subjects accepted this new situation. Henry, however, had several back up plans, one being to have Anne crowned before the world in Westminster Abbey and the other to produce a legislative programme to completely transform the relationship between monarch, people, law and Rome forever. Henry would make it unlawful to give allegiance to a foreign power, including the Pope, to appeal to Rome in any matter, would make himself Head of the Church in England, would sever all ties with Rome, plant the succession in the marriage between him and Anne only and make it High Treason to disagree. This is a very simple explanation of a rush of Bills through Parliament that completely transformed England out of all recognition and transferred millions if not billions worth of revenue and payments, land and authority to the crown. One would have thought his wedding therefore would have been a bit more public.

    Henry didn’t actually do huge public weddings. However, his marriage to Katherine had been with the full ceremonies of the Catholic Church and it was private but not secret and everyone knew of it. A number of people saw it. It was followed a couple of weeks later by one of the most expensive public joint Coronations ever witnessed. Their wedding night and for several nights afterwards apparently was quite passionate. There was little doubt Katherine and Henry had consummated their marriage. Early pregnancies followed, including the son born on 1st January 1511, after the miscarriage the previous Spring, Henry, Duke of Cornwall, whose birth unleashed wild celebrations for weeks afterwards. Sadly his death, possibly a cot death as he appeared healthy otherwise, at 52_days left the royal couple devastated. It was to be a sad pattern which would lead to the events of this day in history 22 years later. But was this an actual wedding or another service? Was Henry even free to marry?

    We don’t know for certain, because Edward Hall is a reliable source, but it’s also contradicted by others who only mentioned the more commonly known about ceremony in Whitehall, somewhere, on 25th January 1533. So maybe we can give them the benefit of the doubt. However, Henry’s freedom to marry at all still comes into question as he was still legally married to Katherine and even if he was daft enough to believe he wasn’t, because he believed he was living in sin with her because of her former marriage to Arthur, his own legal system had still to make that situation legitimate. Henry and Anne still had to go through the motions of the upcoming Commission, the decision still had to be made and this marriage was too furtive for the majority of people to accept it. Henry and Anne had just committed bigamy. Henry might imagine himself free, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t. I think if he did make promises under canon law here, his second marriage to Anne made certain he had witnesses and more people knew, but canon law still had to be turned upside down and moulded to fit for this marriage to be properly legitimate.

  3. Yes for unimportant couples to exchange vows and sleep together the world was much more simple, for kings however it was not, Henry V111 made his own laws to suit his own personal agenda, hence the bill hurriedly rushed through parliament to legalise the executions of the insane, all so he could send Lady Rochford out of her mind with worry, to the scaffold, a very petty mindless act of cruelty, though we love Anne Boleyn we have to be fair to Katherine, her marriage was the true valid one, no amount of procrastinations from the king, no matter what scholars and churchmen said or Cranmer declaring it null and void actually made it so, Henry V111s second marriage was as worthless as yesterday’s newspaper, and it has been the subject of debate ever since, he also lied to the priest who at the ceremony got fidgety and wanted to see the dispensation from the pope, Henry I believe was acting out of desperation because his darling was pregnant and this could be a boy, he also had Anne in his ear hole and we can see how how he was torn this way and that, Anne slept with him because she trusted him to marry her as he said he would but legally it posed all sorts of problems, it was furtive and rushed and we have no idea who was present, possibly only her parents were there and her brother and his wife, the less who knew the less it would leak out, but then a few months later Anne full of smug victory started boasting she had a craving for apples, and the king told her she could be pregnant, she could not resist bragging of her victory and wanted the whole world to know, but this secret bigamous act of union was to haunt their daughter Elizabeth all her life, bastardy was a very real stain among royalty for it rendered them incapable of inheriting the crown, Henry V111 stored up a whole lot of problems for both his daughters who in each turn, were to suffer being cast aside and declared illegitimate.

  4. Katherine and Arthur also got married on this day in a grand public ceremony in Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral, they were seen by the entire public and it was a magnificent day. They had been promised through a contract between England and Spain many years earlier and now that promise was being publicly fulfilled. No doubt the young couple had gotten to know each other, through letters and a few meetings in England, they knew something about one another, but they were not in love, that would have to grow. This was an arrangement nothing more and the couple had become somewhat fond of each other but in reality they hardly knew each other. It is entirely plausible they may have developed more affection and become a successful couple but the marriage began on a note of failure. There are two versions: literally he said, she said. Arthur apparently was under the impression he had consummated his marriage because the still semi drunk young man, only a teenager, boasting about being in the midst of Spain, declared the same to a gallery of waiting courtiers and called for ale. Sex is thirsty work, obviously! However, everything wasn’t as people believed. Katherine wasn’t so enthusiastic about her wedding night. According to witnesses on her side, she was upset and her ladies comforted her and gossip was going on. Arthur most probably had not put it in the right place and was clumsy, poor lad on the night and for several other nights afterwards. The couple were actually separated immediately afterwards in the bedroom sense while it was debated about the safety of them continuing to have intercourse. Remember, they were a very young and inexperienced couple. Arthur was fifteen and Katherine almost sixteen and both had led sheltered and protected lives. Health was always an issue with young couples as well as their maturity and development. These issues were discussed for some time and after a couple of weeks it was noted that the Prince and Princess got on well, appeared content around each other, were healthy and it was decided to allow them to live together and let nature take it’s course. We can’t ever know if it did or not but one of the causes of death suggested by Sean Cunningham in his biography of Prince Arthur is cancer of the scrotum and testicles. This may well have contributed to a lack of sexual activity or penetration or ability. However, Katherine and Arthur did continue to appear to grow together so there was obviously no reason to doubt that everything was fine and that the couple would fulfil their mission sooner rather than later. However, Katherine swore on her immortal soul in confession that the marriage wasn’t consummated and never wavered and even challenged Henry in public to deny that she was a virgin on their own wedding night. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve her as a matter of public honesty or private honesty. She would not condemn her soul to Hell, which was something she believed, no matter what Henry wanted. Henry was famous for his conscience being troubled, well this was the defence of Katherine and her conscience. Illness hit within weeks of their move to Ludlow and Arthur was dead by April 1502. Now ironically Henry was apparently marrying Anne Boleyn on the same date that Arthur married Katherine, 22_years later.

    Henry and Katherine were a great match and I really don’t see how her life would have been any better married to Prince Arthur. While speculation is good, we can’t know what sort of person Arthur was going to be. In 1502 Prince Henry was ten and charming. In 1509 he was still charming and passionate and charismatic, probably more so than his late brother. Henry literally rushed Katherine off her feet and there is no doubt they had a good time sexually. They were attracted to each other, they complemented each other, they had a good life together for many years. It was a realistic need for a son and heir that ended that marriage, not a lack of suitability, affection or anything else between Henry and Katherine. How can anyone possibly know if Arthur himself was even fertile? How can anyone know if his own reproductive health would have not been similar to that of Henry Viii? Much of what we know later with Henry and Katherine is as a result of many years of disappointment, a lack of heirs, personality flaws that developed out of those long years of the annulment and defiance and Henry’s religious and political changes are a direct result of the former things. We simply cannot say Arthur and Katherine would have been better for each other based on our knowledge of Henry Viii because such a view is biased based on later history and hindsight. Arthur and Henry didn’t have radically different personalities, although being the second son exposed Henry to more athletic sports. Henry grew up to manhood, Arthur didn’t get that chance and by good luck he escaped the Tudor family curse, that of TB, so he was able to take advantage of robust health. Arthur wasn’t a sickly child, as myth would have us believe, but it seems Henry was the more energetic and the one who became the jousting champion. He dressed up for Katherine and he adored her for many years. I simply don’t believe Arthur would have been that wild. We judge Henry’s treatment of Katherine as if it was something he planned all along, forgetting more than eighteen years as a true power couple. Henry’s rejection of Katherine and her banishment came because of her refusal to accept his will, not her fault, but that was how Henry saw it. Katherine had every right to fight and Henry alone should bare responsibility for her treatment. However, nobody knows what would have happened had Arthur been her husband. Maybe he would have treated her better, perhaps they might have been lucky and blessed with a son and everything turned out fine. Had Katherine and Henry been blessed with sons the same things would have happened: Katherine would have been Queen until her death and Anne Boleyn a reforming scholar somewhere in Kent, driving some poor Earl round the bend as she preaches to him and their kids from a Tyndale Bible. Maybe she would have been a royal mistress for a short period but certainly not the person of influence and history as she was as Queen. Arthur probably would have made a good husband and King, he may also have bored Katherine senseless. While I am open to speculation, I don’t think we can say that Katherine would have been better or worse off married to Prince Arthur, but she did experience passion and power with Henry, even though it all ended in banishment and reduced circumstances.

    1. Out of all Henry’s wives I say she was the most successful, she was married to him the longest, she was more loved and respected by the English people than any of his other queens, and showed by her very stoicism tenacity and courage, she was the true daughter of Isabella of Castile, Henry V111 may have had a mad obsessive passion for Anne Boleyn, but like a candle it quickly guttered and died, and he may have declared that Jane Seymour was his one true queen who was so esteemed because she alone gave him a prince, he may have been dotty over his fifth queen and respected his sixth because she was calm and had skilled nursing abilities that soothed him, and he respected her intelligence, but with Katherine they had experienced a lot together, the disappointments and triumphs, he had sought her advice when a young king and he knew she was capable of caring for his kingdom when he left for foreign lands, he must have been so proud of her when she successfully ruled as regent when the Scots invaded, they certainly had a lot of history together, he had loved her and the shared grief over their dead infants would have brought them closer, but people’s feelings do change and kings are no different, Katherine was the perfect queen consort she knew her duty and always treated Henry with the respect he demanded, she had done no wrong but in one thing, she had failed to give the king a son, she knew as did every other fellow consort that it was the lot of a queen to fill the royal nursery, that was the only issue and had she been blessed with a son or two it’s true as Bq states, Henry V111 would never have sought to replace her, it would not matter if he was no longer attracted to her she had served her purpose, they had sons, he could amuse himself with his mistresses like King Francois, Katherine understood all this her own father had had mistresses, but when he told her he did not believe they had been truly married after twenty years and he wished they should separate, she was shocked dumbfounded and absolutely devastated, he mumbled about the passage from Leviticus and she probably could not believe her ears, she must have wept and pleaded with him and he must have in turn got embarrassed and angry, the lame excuses about what Arthur said after his wedding night rang about the hall in Blackfriars, these words spoken over twenty years before were now being used to destroy her marriage, she had probably not even known Arthur had spoken them and must have laughed out loud in disgust at Henry and fear to, she could not believe he was planning to discard her after, as she pleaded with him on her knees in Blackfriars ‘all the love that has been between us’, the long fight she had to retain her very title that had been given her when she married Henry, her fight to defend her daughters right as heiress to the throne of England, her resolve never broke even when she was separated from Mary and when she was banished from court, her forbearance really is remarkable and her unswerving love she still held for her husband even after he had humiliated her and humbled her, such unswerving loyalty as that certainly deserves praise even when the object of her affection was King Henry V111.

  5. Today we also had the terrible and the frightening case of the listing of goods for inventory purposes of two of those involved in the ongoing revelations about Henry’s fifth wife, Kathryn Howard. The belongings of Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford and Thomas Culpeper and both of them were now well and truly under suspicion. This was a sign that the state had evidence and you would be put on trial at least. Listing your goods didn’t mean you were guilty or they would be ceased but this was in preparation for such things. Once you were tried, found guilty, condemned to death, attained in Parliament, then the state could grab your goods and property and use it for themselves. It was illegal to seize the property before condemnation but a list was made well in advance. Some lists even list the girdles and undergarments of noble women. Goodness knows what happened to the rich dresses of women. But they were of course very valuable and that made them targets.

    Now we know that things were getting bad for Katherine and her accused lovers and her fellow ladies as well. Lady Jane was being held as the main conspirator because she had brought Culpeper and others to the Queen and hidden her affairs and her possible treason. However, we must remember that Jane was put into a difficult position by her mistress, Queen Kathryn and having helped her once, must have felt the pressure to do so again. Almost exclusively Kathryn entrusted the arrangements to Lady Rochford, refusing to allow anyone else to attend her most nights. Jane acted as her chaperone, so was in one sense defending her honour, watching and listening at a distance and then warning her of potential dangers, bringing Culpeper to one room or another and staying a little way from them. What she saw or heard or knew is obscure but as she was the lady most involved, the one in charge of the household, it was almost inevitable she would be punished more severely than others who received a pardon for turning state evidence. I can’t blame Lady Rochford for her foolish decision to help Kathryn Howard, because in one sense she may have felt she had little choice. Kathryn wanted to see him again and again and the alternative was to betray Kathryn to the King and report her nocturnal adventures. The knowledge and concealment of them, regardless of whether or not sexual activity was involved, however, was called misprison of treason. Jane had gone insane and was cared for by Lord and Lady Russell but in January she was eventually added to the Act of Attainder against Kathryn and jointly condemned to death.

    1. The inventory of goods was the first nail in the coffin and yet this I have always found so utterly distasteful, the accused were rounded up and therefore under suspicion, and according to the custom of the day, they all knew that whilst they were being held there were busy hands sorting out their valuable items and most treasures possessions, intimate items also like clothing, I find it abhorrent and the accused must have also that their personal possessions were being held up itemised, and scribbled down by clerks whilst they could not do a thing about it, you mention the beautiful gowns Bq and the very rich had costly jewellery in their collections also, some of these must have meant a lot to them, what did happen to them is anyone’s guess but possibly they found their way into other hands, the jewellery could have been melted down and made into other pieces, the inventory of Lady Rochford showed she possessed many items of black clothing and silver plate, that she wore black in mourning for her husband is noted and pieces of silver and gold were a sign of high status and wealth, Lady Rochford was later executed as being found guilty of misprision of treason, as she aided and abetted the queen in her nocturnal meetings with her admirer, what would we have done in her situation? Is it right to condemn her, we do not know nor ever will the whole story but it is highly likely that Catherine either became stroppy and irate with her lady in waiting, in other words bullying took place, or she tried the softly softly approach, and cried crocodile tears if Jane was not eager to help her meet with Culpeper, Jane was an experienced court lady and knew what a dangerous man the king was, possibly she pleaded with her young mistress to try to get her to see sense, it was very dangerous to meet at night with another men, it was unqueenly for one thing and she placed not only herself but her attendants in danger also, wether this was all said we can only speculate but it is reasonable to assume that Jane, having lost two members of her family to the executioner would have tried to instil in Catherine the need to act responsible, and meeting with a young gallant in the dead of night was not, also Jane and her other ladies Jane Bulmer for one would have had to stay awake whilst they met and they must have longed for sleep, creeping about the corridors in the dark it does not sound exactly thrilling to me, so I am sure that these ladies did not relish what the queen was doing and it shows how risky the situation did become, when one night, the king suddenly decided he would visit the queen whilst she was closeted with Culpeper and the latter had to hastily escape, on another occasion one of her women exclaimed how long she had been with Culpeper declaring ‘Jesu is not the queen abed yet’? It could not have been fun for these women who must have been yawning their heads off outside Catherine’s closed and locked chamber, she was not executed for adultery but for the presuming of adultery and it just goes to show how strict the queens morals had to be, there was no evidence of illicit relations between the queen and Culpeper but their secret meetings did look suspicious and really I believe something must have gone on between the two of them, they were obviously attracted to each other and Catherine we can assume was highly sexed, she was married to an ailing obese king and like all young people, must have yearned for companions her own age, she had had affairs with two young men employed in her grandmothers household, these were no doubt handsome and exciting and then she went to court, she could only be polite to the king when he courted her and could not refuse his offer of marriage, but she must have yearned for a younger model and Henry by now was not the handsome lithe god that his early queens had known, she was probably repulsed by him which sounds unkind, but her behaviour with Culpeper does suggest that she was not attracted to or satisfied with the king, and maybe the exciting midnight trysts with this dashing young man helped her endure her wifely duties in the marriage bed, she must have longed for the night and Lady Rochford either through bullying or tearful coercion assisted her, Henry V111 was furious with Jane and her name has become synonymous with that of a meddling old gossip, had this been the 19th c she would have become the butt of music hall satire and song, her reputation throughout history as the wife who betrayed her husband took another beating with her involvement in Catherine Howard’s affair, Chapyus described Jane as a bawd and one noted there was little good he could say about her, but Jane really cannot be blamed for the queens follies and lately her character has been shown to be a woman who stood by her husband when he fell from grace, and must in reality have been a devoted wife who wept at his death and tried to repair her good name and honour in the years that followed, she could have been a bit of a gossip but that does not make her out to be the bitter twisted woman of legend, a woman who had animosity towards Anne Boleyn and her husband and who accused them of incest, had she been of such a nature I doubt Catherine being Anne and George’s cousin would have felt much kindness towards her, as it was she shared her intimacies with her and trusted her enough in her affair with Culpeper, as mentioned she wore black after his death and probably wore little else, she lost her life after suffering what seems to have been a nervous collapse, Henry V111 was in no mood to pardon anyone at this time, and even had Dereham suffer the full torture of the awful hanging drawing and quartering sentence, merely because he had ‘known’ the queen in her youth, whearas Culpeper who could well have had full sex with Catherine after her marriage and was the more guilty actually got off with mere decapitation, he had even confessed that he intended to sleep with the queen and she likewise with him, Catherine’s choice of midnight companion was a poor one, for he was not wise nor prudent, he had enjoyed a promising career at court being one of the kings favourites and groom of the stool, yet he threw it all away, he had betrayed his master who had placed complete trust in him.

      1. Yes, indeed, poor judgement all round. Henry decided to reduce the sentence for Thomas Culpeper, as a gentleman, because of his former affection for Tom Culpeper because he had served him in an intimate sense for a number of years. Francis Dereham also had a right to have the full sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering reduced to beheading due to his status, if the King wished. This wasn’t automatic and Henry had to decide if he would grant it as a more merciful death. His choice of not reducing this terrible but standard sentence for treason here is quite personal. Francis Dereham had “spoiled” Kathryn for him. It was assumed that Dereham, an angry young rogue was aiming to claim Kathryn for himself but found her already married to King Henry. He also found Kathryn didn’t want him, surprise surprise. He made trouble, so it was presumed he intended to rekindle his former relationship with Kathryn, even though as Queen was out of bounds. His denials are pretty emphatic even though he obviously did have desires for Kathryn still and he was put under extreme pressure during a number of interrogations. He had been replaced by Tom Culpeper which was why he backed off. You want to shout at him ” I was replaced by the King, the King” but he named a lover instead. Well, under pressure one is not able to think straight and out comes the truth which will condemn them all to death. Henry must have been stunned to hear about this because Tom C was a man he had great trust in and affection for. He appeared to be the person who nursed the King’s bad and smelly leg. Henry probably confided in him about how wonderful his young wife made him feel and here he was having an affair with her behind his back. Yet, despite his outrage, Henry reduced the death sentence of Tom C to beheading. Francis D was allowed to suffer the full dreadful death sentence and we all want to know why because Henry actually regularly commuted this. He didn’t for the holy monks and a number of rebels but for many others he did. Even Mark Smeaton escaped and his status would not normally lead to a reduction to beheading. However, there may be a number of factors in the fate of Francis D but we again can’t ask Henry so this is speculation.

        Francis D was more obscure to the King, he didn’t know him well enough to have the same affection he had for Tom C. If he had known him, the reports about him from the household might have gone against him in any case. Henry probably reasoned that everything was the fault of Dereham, that if he hadn’t had any relationship with his pure bride, this mess would never have arisen. His very prescence at her Court, in itself was a challenge to the King on a masculine level. The assumptions that Dereham had come to renew his relationship with Kathryn was in itself a presumption of intent to commit adultery and treason. Was his intention to claim Kathryn as his wife and did he see Henry as being in the way? This might be rather sinister an interpretation but it could also have been a factor in the mind of paranoid Tudor King. Had Culpeper not been around would Dereham have tried his luck? Rhetorical question but his behaviour around Kathryn suggests he was upset that more than friendship and service in her household were not on offer. He caused fights and boasted of the knowledge he had about Kathryn and her past and his own involvement with her. To spread gossip about the Queen was actually treason so maybe his words also came to light and he was condemned because of those words. Whatever the truth Henry was far angrier with Dereham and determined that because he had known Kathryn first and thus taken her purity away, that he should be allowed to suffer the terrible agony of a traitors death. Ironically, Dereham was probably telling the truth and his relationship with Kathryn during her marriage to King Henry didn’t go beyond vain imagination and crude talk.

  6. I don’t believe Katherine of Aragon did lie about her virginity, but I also don’t agree that she would not lie because she was very devout. Her illustrious parents, their Most Catholic Majesties, were also very devout, but Ferdinand in particular could be notoriously duplicitous when it suited – you only have to look at how he diddled poor Juana out of the kingdom of Castile, and the wrangling between him and Henry VII over Katherine’s marriage (insisting on poor Warwick’s head as the price) dowry. He and Henry VII made a good pair, or a pair of bad ‘uns more like.

    But yes, on balance, much as I love Anne, I have to agree that Katherine was in the right and was also Henry VIII’s most successful Queen. Beautiful, high spirited, intelligent and courageous, her later treatment was a disgrace. We will never know whether or not Prince Arthur would have made a better husband – I suspect that the paranoia that plagued the Tudors about their somewhat dubious claim to the throne might have surfaced eventually., and made him difficult to live with. Especially if Katherine had an unfortunate time in childbed and there was no son.

      1. Well she did survive Henry V111 yes and she was compensated well for agreeing to have her marriage to the king annulled, the fine houses and lands and riches she had heaped on her, also the added bonus of being called the kings sister with all the privileges that brought, but she did at the outset had to face the humiliation of knowing she was rejected, and she must have seen in the kings eyes the dislike he had for her, not actual dislike but it was her person he was repelled by, she also had to endure seeing her husband marry one of her ladies in waiting and enjoy all the glories that should rightly have been hers, Henry had in a sense humiliated her unintentionally or no, it was disgusting that a woman had to travel a long and arduous journey over the seas to marry a foreign king, a contract had been made and should be honoured, but no Henry threw a tantrum and nearly caused a diplomatic crisis when he declared he wanted a way out of this marriage, just because he did not find her attractive, attraction did not come into it, state marriages were about diplomacy and forging important alliances, Henry was almost childlike in his behaviour he did not like her so she had to go, here we see him acting his petulant best, Anne signed the document agreeing to the annulment and Henry celebrated by calling the bans on his fifth marriage, we cannot say if Anne regretted losing her title as queen and maybe we should not presume she was happy with her position as being the kings sister, possibly the reality was she felt hard done by as after Catherine Howard’s death she hoped the king would take her back, that proves she was disappointed with her lot, in fact she could well have been quite devastated at losing Henry, it could not have been easy for her, she had travelled a long way to be queen of another country, only to find she had been rejected by the king of that country, she did not live very long either but both her stepdaughters were fond of her and she had a grand funeral, she did live a peaceful life which had she stayed married to Henry V111 she may not have enjoyed.

  7. I sincerely believe she was telling the truth, that could have been the reason behind her sombre mood the morning after her wedding night, Arthur and Katherine were only young and she must have been the first woman he was intimate with, we can safely say Katherine herself would have had no sexual partners prior to her wedding night, the first time if it happened would have been embarrassed fumblings and there’s a possibility that Arthur may not have tried to have sex anyway, he may have been tired he could have been suffering from cancer as Bq suggests, which after all the ordeal of the nuptial celebrations would have exhausted him, cancer does cause lethargy, I have also heard that theory, I have heard another theory that he may have suffered from and died of cystic fibrosis, yer he had been born without complications and was not a sickly lad, on the wedding night he may have just kissed his young bride and groped her a little, the first time is never pleasant and Katherine appears disappointed, the reality is never what you expect and she may not have been really attracted to Arthur at all, he boasted afterwards he had been in the midst of Spain, it was a young lads boast nothing more, I used to work with some boys years ago and the way they talked you would think they were love gods, only Arthur and Katherine knew what really passed between them and she was to swear on the peril of her soul her first marriage had never been consummated, as she said to him in the embarrassing trial at Blackfriars years later, their first time together he knew she had been a virgin, and she followed with the words ‘I put it to your conscience’, very clever since Henry was always harping on about his conscience, he always swore he would choose Katherine time and again and he just feared god was displeased because he had uncovered his brothers nakedness in bedding his wife, it was not Katherines fault etc, old fashioned honesty is always the best and everyone knew how taken he was with one of her ladies in waiting, everyone knew how much he had tried to bed her and so apart from his need for a son it was a little bit too much of a coincidence that he was involved with a much younger sexier woman, maybe Henry was genuine about the line from Leviticus and feared his marriage was cursed as he had no sons, but it served him very well as an excuse for an annulment, the problem was he did not realise nor did Anne how much Katherine would fight and fight she did to the bitter end, if Henry wanted an annulment she would not make it easy for him.

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