18 June 1529 – Catherine of Aragon’s First Appearance at the Legatine Court

Posted By on June 18, 2014

Catherine of AragonOn 31st May 1529, a legatine court had opened at Blackfriars in London following Pope Clement VII’s papal bull of April 1528 empowering Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, as the Pope’s viceregent, “to take cognisance of all matters concerning the King’s divorce” along with Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio, who had been made papal legate in June 1528.

Campeggio had arrived in London in December 1528, but there had been months of delay due to him not being given full authority to hear the case, really a papal stalling tactic, and negotiations taking place between Campeggio and Catherine of Aragon. Campeggio had tried to convince Catherine to take the veil and retreat to a convent, making the annulment easier, but Catherine refused. Finally, the court opened on 31st May and Catherine and Henry VIII were summoned to appear on Friday 18th June.

Henry VIII sent proxies but Catherine surprised everyone by appearing in person with her ladies and with four bishops, who were to act as her counsel. Catherine then read out the appeal she had lodged in writing on 16th June. Her grounds for appeal were:

  • That the place was hostile
  • That the judges were prejudiced, being closely associated to the King
  • That the court proceedings should not be taking place while the case was still pending at Rome.

After the judges confirmed that her protestation would be answered in proceedings on 21st June, Catherine departed. Catherine was going to fight for her marriage and her position, and that of her daughter. How different things would have been if she had joined a convent.

You can read more about the Legatine Court in my article Cardinal Campeggio and the Legatine Court.

Also on this day in history…

  • 18 June 1546 – Anne Askew, Protestant martyr and poet, was arraigned for heresy at London’s Guildhall along with Nicholas Shaxton, Nicholas White and John Hadlam (Adlams or Adams). They were all found guilty and condemned to death. Click here to read more about her.

Notes and Sources

  • Mattingly, Garrett (1944). Catherine of Aragon, p229-230

14 thoughts on “18 June 1529 – Catherine of Aragon’s First Appearance at the Legatine Court”

  1. Globerose says:

    David Starkey has called the young Catherine ‘belligerent’ and here she is nothing short of magnificent in her royal refusal to give in to injustice, as she saw it. Here’s a quick question – had Princess Mary been a strapping healthy child instead of a short, puny, sickly one, how different would things have been for them all?

    1. Sandy says:

      I’m not sure it would have mattered to Henry at all even if Mary had been as “perfectly formed & healthy” as Elizabeth was. He wanted Anne Boleyn, and the king always gets what he wants. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Mary had been a boy or if Catherine had produced a son. Would Anne have been forced to become the king’s mistress, or would Henry still want to make Anne his queen and put away his older wife. That we will never know.

      1. Esther says:

        IMO, there is no way that Henry would have put away Catherine if they had a surviving son. First, Henry’s reason for believing that the marriage was invalid as cursed by G-d was the lack of a surviving male heir; if they did have a healthy son, a sign that G-d approved of their marriage, Henry may well have never thought that there was any invalidity. Second, putting away Catherine could have jeopardized that son’s legitimacy and right to inherit … I don’t think that Henry would have done that.

        1. margaret says:

          I agree with you esther ,also the fact that henry had been married to Catherine for a long time says a lot about his fondness ,love or whatever he felt about her.

        2. Dawn 1st says:

          I agree Esther. The annulment was on the grounds of there being no sons, so
          for Henry to divorce Katherine if there had been a son the grounds would have had to be different so as not to compromise the Prince’s succession, like Charles and Diana with there two sons.
          Fate and events would have taken a completely different course if Katherine and Henry had a son I think, and maybe his infatuation/love for Anne would not have grown as it did. I personally think he would have lived his time out with her, and considering the poor lady was not of good health later in life and worn out with all the pregnancies,the age gap too, and Henry still in his ‘prime’, odds on that Katherine would have passed away first… his chance to take a new wife and hopefully produce more sons, men don’t seem to have a ‘sell-by date’ in that department 🙂

  2. Anne Barnhill says:

    I admire the heck out of Catherine at this moment. She did show grace, guts and dignity as she fought for her marriage and her daughter’s future. What a woman!

  3. Debra says:

    I believe that Catherine was very courageous for standing her ground,.She was not about to tuck her tail and run, so to speak. I think that not only was she standing up for Mary but herself. Catherine was a religious woman, and if she said she had not “known” Arthur I believe her. She was not about to meet her maker with a big lie surrounding her. I think any woman who ever had to go to divorce court and hear lies about her can understand what Catherine had to endure.

  4. Globerose says:

    I’m also wondering – how much do you think the betrayal of her father and of Charles affected her ability to stay in this marriage? Wasn’t there talk of a divorce earlier when Ferdinand betrayed Henry and Catherine initially? And didn’t she declare herself seriously undermined by Charles’ behaviour? No wonder she developed heart idisease!

  5. Pamela Oliver says:

    Read Susan Bordo’s book called THE CREATION Of ANNE BOLEYN. May change some perspectives on Katerina…as well as Anne. Mr. Starkey is good…but not conclusive

  6. Mary the Quene says:

    Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of warriors. Not for her the behavior of a cowed, woman scorned. Her honest appraisal of the clown court hearing caused discomfort, as well it should have.

  7. joseja says:

    catalina de aragon will always be the heroine of the henrician era in my eyes. this was a woman who faced her foes with courage, because she had Truth on her side and no earthly power could persuade her otherwise. she was never bitter, nor prideful, nor spiteful in face of unjust persecution. she was compassionate towards, and prayed for, her enemies. bright, energetic, productive, joyful in the face of trouble, she was a model of womanhood and motherhood.

  8. BanditQueen says:

    Katherine must have really taken stock and prepared her arguments with care. She was brave and courageous and a true daughter of Isabella of Castile; even Henry admitted she was a lady of great and high courage and feared her putting an army in the field against him. Lucky for Henry she was also a loyal wife; loved him beyond what he deserved; was astute to her daughters rights and needs; and was a woman of honour. Katherine was also very fond of England and her adopted subjects and she would not harm them in this quarrell. For that reason she would not give her consent to any attempts later on by the Emperor to bring over troops or arm the nobles here in her cause. I think poor Katherine was blinded by her love and devotion to Henry and although she saw his faults, she chose to dismiss them, believing he acted out of evil counsel. Our Katherine was brave; but she most certainly did not see Henry the same way others came to see him, cruel and vengeful. Nor was she stupid; the action of moving her cause to Rome and appealling the court clearly shows she was aware of the duplicity of many of Henry’s appointed officials and that Wolsey and others could not be depended upon to do anything to assist her in any way. In other words she had only confidence in the Curia in Rome.

    1. Marie says:

      Well stated, indeed. I really think of all of his wives, Queen Catherine was the one for whom the King fully respected

  9. Maryann Pitman says:

    Henry, never planned for a daughter to actually inherit. He put his daughters in the line finally because he was pressed to do so, with only one surviving son. Once he had Richmond, and he was sure Katherine was not having any more children, the backup plan failing a legitimate son by a new wife was always Richmond. This is why Anne insisted on having Elizabeth placed first in the succession.

    Katherine did not understand the English well enough to know that in the 1520’s, they would not accept a woman. In 1553, there was no choice. There was no one left but childless women. Courtenay was a mess from years of imprisonment. All they had was Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, and Mary of Scotland. Henry’s will prevailed. Pole had been an exile for decades. He was a churchman. No help there. He no longer wanted the throne, if he ever really did want it. The Plantagenets had been pretty effectively eradicated. The men must have felt themselves in a pretty pickle. Had there been any acceptable male candidate at all, I doubt Mary would have succeeded. The lack of a male heir did indeed cause civil difficulties, even if they were not as serious as Henry had feared.

    The big question is why did Henry wait so long to solve his issue of an heir? I think he was comfortable with Katherine and did not want to hurt her, or perhaps did not want to tangle with her. He had the backup plan in Richmond from 1519. He took steps to elevate him at about the time Katherine hit menopause. He may not have liked giving up a comfortable arrangement for a stranger, as he would have to do for a state marriage.

    Anne’s advent on the scene changed all of that.

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