24 June 1509 – The Midsummer Coronation of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon

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

24th June, Midsummer’s Day, was the day chosen for the joint coronation of Henry VIII and his new bride Catherine of Aragon. It was a day associated with fairies and magic, and it was traditional for fires to be burned on Midsummer’s Eve to give the sun strength. David Starkey writes of how the new king and queen “seemed indeed to be another Oberon and Titania: their magic spell would knit up old wounds and end ancient hatreds, and all, all would live happily ever after.”

At 8am on the 24th June, Henry and Catherine, under canopies carried by the barons of the Cinques Ports, processed behind twenty-eight bishops from the Palace of Westminster to the Abbey for the coronation ceremony. They walked on a carpet of striped cloth which was immediately torn to bits by the excited crowd who wanted a souvenir of that special day.

In the Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, presented Henry to his people who acclaimed him by calling out “Vivat, vivat rex!“, or “Long Live the King!”, four times. When asked if they would “receive, obey and take” Henry as their King, the crowd in the Abbey all cried “Yeh! Yeh!” Henry then swore the nine oaths of kingship before Warham anointed him with holy oils and crowned him. Catherine was then crowned Queen of England and the royal party processed back to Westminster Hall for a celebration banquet. The banquet was opened by a fanfare of trumpets and special procession of dishes, led by the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Steward, both on horseback.

The celebrations did not end with the banquet. There was a special tournament that night and then two days of jousting and feasting. It was the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, a new age, the reign of King Henry VIII who was to become one of England’s most infamous monarchs. In his “Coronation Ode of King Henry VIII”, Thomas More wrote “This day is the end of our slavery, the fount of our liberty; the end of sadness, the beginning of joy… Such a King will wipe the tears from every eye and put joy in the place of our long distress”. It was the end of an era. The Winter King was dead and there was hope for a glorious future.

You may 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…

Notes and Sources

  • Halls Chronicle, Edward Hall, p507-510
  • Henry: Virtuous Prince, David Starkey, p 286-296
  • Henry VIII, J J Scarisbrick, p35-36

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6 thoughts on “24 June 1509 – The Midsummer Coronation of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon”
  1. What a glorious day it must have been for young Queen Catherine, believing her future at last secure and looking forward to fulfilling her role as dutiful and loving wife.

  2. It all sounds so beautiful and magical, I envy how Catherine must have felt at this moment in time. She must have felt as though she were Queen of the world 🙂

  3. It must have been a magical day for them both! The beginning of their marriage, the beginning of their reign. They loved each other, trusted each other, and ruled together. We hardly ever remember the beginning of Henry & Catherine, because the end of their marriage, ad her life after, was so sad and drawn out. We only remember the comparisons between Catherine & Anne Boleyn, how different they were, who was going to hang onto the King, fertility, etc. We often forget how Henry was anxious to marry Catherine, he went against his grandmother’s wishes to do so. He did whatever it took to marry Catherine, so why don’t we remember that when he did whatever it took to marry Anne? I admire Catherine of Aragon, for her faith in God & her husband, and for being able to put up with more crap than I could have put up with. My biggest disappointment with Catherine is that she let Henry separate her & Mary, and kept them apart until Catherine died. I know it was a different time, but, still…

  4. What a glorious start to the reign indeed and both Katherine and Henry must have been pleased as well as happy and honoured. Golden ages are merely things of the heart and mind alas and our couple would soon find that it would fade. For 20 plus years though they did have the adoration of the people and did have a success in each other. But today was to celebrate. Vivet! Vivet Rex! Viva Viva Regina!

  5. A fantastic time for the new King and Queen and a beautiful sight for all who came to see and greet their beautiful young King and his fair and lovely young Queen. They were a handsome couple and immediately a popular couple. They hailed a new age and Sir Thomas More wrote a new poem to proclaim a time of light and liberty and hope. This was also a rare double coronation as Henry and Katherine were married just two weeks earlier. Richard iii and his wife, Anne Neville were of course crowned together as they had been married for several years, but it was a very rare occasion. The illustration above shows a man and woman, magnificent in their gowns with huge smiles on their faces and looking at each other with joy and love. They are clearly enjoying the whole thing.

    Henry and Katherine hoped that they would have many children and were constantly enjoying each other’s company. They were fond of each other and grew to love each other. They were young and healthy and merry and there was no reason to doubt all would be well. They chose the festival of the renewal of the Sun, the solstice had just passed and the fires of summer began. They chose a lusty festival to show themselves as lusty and strong monarchs and the people lapped it up. Long live King Henry and Queen Katherine.

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