24 June 1509 – Coronation of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine

The Coronation of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, taken from A Joyfull Medytacyon to All Englande by Stephen Hawes (1509)

Following his accession to the throne on 21st April and his marriage to Catherine of Aragon on 11th June, Henry VIII and his new bride were crowned King and Queen at Westminster Abbey on 24th June 1509, Midsummer’s Day and the feast day of St John the Baptist.

At 8am, the King and Queen processed from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey under canopies held by the barons of the Cinques Ports. When they entered the abbey, William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, presented Henry to the people who cried out “Vivat, vivat rex!” (Long Live the King!” four times. When asked if they would “receive, obey and take” Henry as their King, the people all cried “Yeh! Yeh!”. The King swore the nine oaths of kingship and was then anointed with holy oils and crowned. His consort was then crowned Queen of England and the royal party processed back to Westminster Hall for the coronation banquet. The feast was opened with a fanfare of trumpets and a special procession of dishes, led by the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Steward, both on horseback.

The midsummer coronation celebrations did not stop there. It was followed by a special tournament and then two days of merriment, jousting and feasting. England had a new King and Queen, and, as Thomas Penn put it in the recent programme on Henry VII, it was a new spring following a winter of repression. There was hope. In his epigram, “Coronation Ode of King Henry VIII”, Thomas More wrote of England’s hope and joy:

“The Coronation Suite” by Thomas More

“If ever there was a day, England, if ever there was
a time for you to give thanks to those above,
this is that happy day, one to be marked with a pure
white stone and put in your calendar.
This day is the [end] of our slavery, the beginning of
our freedom, the end of sadness, the source of joy,
for this day consecrates a young man who is the everlast-
ing glory of our time and makes him your king-
a king who is worthy not merely to govern a single
people but singly to rule the whole world-
such a king as will wipe the tears from every eye
and put joy in the place of our long distress.
Every heart smiles to see its cares dispelled, as the day
Shines bright when clouds are scattered.
Now the people, freed, run before their king with bright
faces. Their joy is almost beyond their own
They rejoice, they exult, they leap for joy and celebrate
their having such a king. “The King” is all that any
mouth can say.”

More went on to describe the seventeen year-old King:

“Among a thousand noble companions he stands out taller
than any. And he has strength worthy of his regal
His hand, too, is as skilled as his heart is brave, whether
there is an issue to be settled by the naked sword,
or an eager charge with leveled lances, or an arrow
aimed to strike a target.
There is fiery power in his eyes, [Venus] in his face, and
such color in his cheeks as is typical of twin roses.
In fact, that face, admirable for its animated strength,
could belong to either a young girl or a man.”

and his bride:

“She it is who could vanquish the ancient Sabine women
in devotion, and in dignity the holy, half-divine
heroines of Greece.
She could equal the unselfish love of Alcestis or, in her
unfailing judgment, outdo Tanaquil.
In her expression, in her countenance, there is a remark-
able beauty uniquely appropriate for one so great and
The well-spoken Cornelia would yield to her in elo-
quence; she is like Penelope in loyalty to a husband.”

You can read all about the lead-up to the coronation, with the procession from the Tower of London to Westminster, in my article 24 June 1509 – Coronation of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

You may also be interested in reading the poet Stephen Hawes’ “A Joyfull Medytacyon to All Englande of the coronacyon of our moost naturall soverayne lorde kynge henry the eyght” which was written in celebration of Henry VIII’s coronation. It can be read online at archive.org.

Also on this day in history…

  • 1532 or 1533 – Birth of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and favourite of Elizabeth I. Dudley was the fifth son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his wife, Jane. Dudley served Elizabeth I as Privy Councillor and Governor-General of the Netherlands. See 24 June – Birth of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Notes and Sources

  • Halls Chronicle, Edward Hall, p507-510
  • Coronation Ode of King Henry VIII, Epigram 19, by Thomas More
  • Second image taken from a page of Thomas More’s “Coronation Suite”, a collection of poems in Latin written especially for Henry VIII’s coronation. This manuscript can be found in the British Library.

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7 thoughts on “24 June 1509 – Coronation of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine”
  1. Today is also my late nanna’s birthday! That aside: it was a great day for England when Henry VIII was crowned: or at least I am sure it was like that on the day. What promise he must have shown and he did show it for 20 years of so. Then the sad loss of Katherine and his children, his fear for the return to the civil wars of the previous C15th.; his need and desire for a heathy male heir, the sincere doubts about his marriage as Henry was a devout man and had a tender conscience on this matter at least; all combined to change all of that and end that promise.

    Having said all of this, despite the bitterness of the divorce and the trauma of his life with Anne, his changing his mind on the papacy and drifing into the Henry of legend, there were still signs of the Henry of promise. Many of the things that Henry did led to deaths that could have been avoided, but the last decade also saw Henry achieve many of the things that made this country great. The navy and the naval college were achieved by this time, but the schools that would become our great grammer schools, the investments into our uninversities, the gathering around him of men of learning started from 1509 but became greater due to his need for a divorce and continued despite his domestic affairs, the Bible in English, great works of art and the building of his palaces: many now lost: the defences that saved us in the two world wars were built by Henry, the first discoveris into the New World, the further discoveries in early science and literature followed the early reforms; and the regulations of the medical offices. The first maps were made. The first bronze cannons and changes in naval technology: the first medical schools and hospitals and the first real signs of modern technology and living. Henry continued to be a hands on artist and poet and he took an interest in the government of the day. The first roads to Parliamentary reform were made after 1528, and in modern councils and government. The first Act giving rights and freedoms to Wales and to local democrary and the country was stable and peaceful. His own people did not think of him as a tryrant and it is not fair to call him one. He was no worse in his prosecution of traitors or religious dissidents as any other monarch of his day. The Tudors ended the Wars of the Roses. I could go on but it is not praise Henry day.

    Yes, as many have said before there are a number of cruel examples and his treatment of both Katherine and Anne were terrible. But with Anne remember he believed that she had plotted to kill him and had betrayed him with at least five men of his close association. But it is not here to go into this as it has all been said before.

    For on this day all believed that Henry was going to bring them a new era of greatness and a truly goldern age. In part he achieved this; but it was not to be and Thomas More as he said the words in the poem above could not have known how disappointed he was to have been.

    Today is a day to give thanks and to recall all that Henry and Katherine could have been and to go back to the start and sing in praise of a tall 17 year old charming and handsome King and his lovely queen. Happy Coronation Day Henry and Katherine. Amen.

    1. I agree with much you say on Henry, Bandit Queen, his achievements most of the time are over looked because of his marital strife and his brutal actions to achieve his favoured outcome. The executing of wives is not good a P.R. strategy.

      But as you say if you look through history there were many Rulers who were more brutal in the treatment of others, in Britain and world wide, the Romans, Genghis Khan, Hitler and his policies towards certain groups of people in the 2nd World War , and so on. I think at times it is forgotten that the Tudors need to be put into context with history before, and more importantly, after this era.
      Our modern sense of justice are offended by things that have happened through history, and rightly so, and hopefully it will prevent these things from happening again by lessons learnt.

      The King grew sick in mind and body as time past, and even though he had Absolute Power and final say in all matters, I still believe there were times he was cleverly manipulated into some of his actions by those who had their own agendas to gain power, wealth and prestige. Not excusing Henry by any means, but not completely condemning him either.

      Love him or hate him he certainly created a fascinating period in history that still attracts and sucks us in to with all it’s splendour and gory brutality. I do think people like the ‘shock’ of the dark side of times past. Look at the Horrible Histories books aimed at kids to get them interested in their heritage, all based on the gorier details of life in times past, and it works… if it was all sweetness and light history would be very flat and boring. This works all through the entertainment industry too, the more shock/horror something contains, the higher the ratings….just look at the soaps :).

      His daughter Elizabeth brought about a Golden Age, but the hard facts of unjust and brutal behaviour still travelled through her reign too. All part of our shocking, but very colourful heritage. Great to read about, but thankfully in the safely of our own time.

      I am sure there will be many who will disagree with me on cutting Henry some slack at times, as his reign wasn’t all bad, but differences of opinion make good debate.

    2. ” Yes, as many have said before there are a number of cruel examples and his treatment of both Katherine and Anne were terrible. But with Anne remember he believed that she had plotted to kill him and had betrayed him with at least five men of his close association. But it is not here to go into this as it has all been said before.”

      I don’t believe that Henry actually believed any of the charges that were brought up against Anne. In fact, I believe he was BEHIND those charges. Come on! Let’s keep it real, and not sugar it up. I know Henry did a lot of great things, but many of the things he started were improved upon and made to last by his daughter Elizabeth. But, as you say, maybe this particular article isn’t the one we should be discussing this.

  2. This day to their minds must have seemed to be the start of many great things for them both. That great vitality,surety and innocence that comes with youth. Their life together must have seemed all mapped out to them, a glorious kingdom to create, a fruitful marriage and the Tudor Dynasty well secured on that throne.

    A life of milk and honey…but life can be so cruel, even to Kings and Queens, it can turn the milk sour and the honey bitter, as it did here, so sad. But the celebrations must have been a sight to behold.

  3. Apart from his wives, what makes the reign of Henry VIII so extraordinary is the brilliant people that occupied it, Erasmus, More, Wolsey, Cromwell, Holbein, Tyndale, Anne, and others. I do wonder what Henry’s reign would have been like without these people.

    1. This is true Jed, a good point, with all those brilliant minds and characters about him his reign was bound to be more noticeable, 6 wives or no..

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