On the day of the burial of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, at Peterborough Abbey, Queen Anne Boleyn miscarried “a male child which she had not borne 3½ months” at Greenwich Palace.

It is an event which has become surrounded by myths, with some claiming that Anne Boleyn miscarried a monstrous baby – click here to read more about the miscarriage.

As I said, this day in 1536 was also the day of Catherine of Aragon’s funeral. She had requested that she should be buried in a Chapel of her beloved order, the Observant Friars, but Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries meant that there were none left. You can click here to read more about her burial.

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7 thoughts on “29 January 1536 – A sad day”
  1. A sad day indeed for both of Henry VIII’s first two queens. However, Katherine of Aragon’s memory was to be revered by her adoring subjects and she quickly became viewed as a saint, a martyr for the true faith and women, in particular, championed Katherine’s cause. If the queen of England could be thrown aside, simply because she had aged and had lost her good looks, simply because she had not given birth to a son, then was any wife safe? Could any wife be totally secure, or could anyone be cast aside if the husband fell in love with another?

    Regarding Anne Boleyn’s miscarriage, I do not believe it set in motion the events that led to her downfall, but it made her highly vulnerable. After Katherine’s death, Anne was still not recognised by most of Europe and her own subjects as queen. Instead, she continued to be seen as Henry’s mistress and, if he was so inclined, he could marry again. There are many dark stories about this final miscarriage; it has been argued that Anne gave birth to a horribly malformed foetus, thus convincing Henry that he had married a witch in league with the devil. It has been suggested that Anne caught her husband with Jane Seymour on his knee and flew into a rage, thus leading to the miscarriage.

    By all accounts, however, Anne’s miscarriage was a conventional one, but her husband harshly and cruelly upbraided her. Anne was understandably upset and reportedly chastised him for his behaviour with Jane. Perhaps the miscarriage led Henry to doubt whether his wife could provide him with a son. He was also intrigued by Jane, whether he was in love with her is open to question, and it was Anne’s inability to provide a son, coupled with this new passion, that made the queen vulnerable and meant that she could be set aside. How different things could have been if that child had been born healthy. We might not have had an Elizabeth I, instead Henry and Anne’s son might have reigned as king. Anne might have died in her bed, blessed and adored by her subjects; instead, she died alone and shamed on a spring morning in the Tower of London.

    1. Agree! Henry’s genetic problem caused repeated issues for most of his unborn children. But to be able to rid himself of 2 wives within 3 years, Anne had to be at fault. That is why she was accused of witchcraft and incest as well as the standard old adultery. By the time the English public heard about Jane Seymour, they were beginning to question if it was the wives or was it really Henry?

      1. Anne was never accused of witchcraft, it wasn’t in any of the indictments against her it was a comment Henry made about being seduced by sorcery which gave rise to the rumours of her practising the dark arts, when you consider the charge of witchcraft was not needed to bring her down, Cromwell had cleverly orchestrated enough damning charges against her chief it these were plotting the Kings death and sleeping with her own brother, also we do not know if Henry actually did have genetic problems, he certainly had no trouble getting his wives pregnant it was unfortunate that in all he is recorded as only having four children who survived, one by a mistress and all his other children died in infancy, then the miscarriages that they both had and this final one by Anne Boleyn, it is thought now that his first two wives could have been unable to carry their babies full term, indeed tragically Anne is said to have been of the rhesus blood group which would have meant she could never have had another child, as after the first one is born, the body’s own defences then attack the second pregnancy believing it to be an enemy, Katherines family was fertile yet she did fast even during pregnancy and go on long pilgrimages to pray for the safe birth of her child, she would rise at midnight to pray and then a few hours later, she had a punishing schedule and is said to have had an eating disorder when young, she could therefore have unwittingly contributed to the miscarriages she suffered and out of all her pregnancys only one child survived who made it to adulthood, Henrys wives fertility problems and the fact that all four of his children were not very strong has led to the theory that it was he who was at fault, but it could have been the other way round, he didn’t fancy Anne of Cleves but he was besotted with his fifth wife and I feel she never got pregnant because she could well have practiced contraception, he was meeting with another man and I think she was sleeping with him so she wouldn’t risk a pregnancy, and I think when it came to his sixth wife he just couldn’t be bothered, ill health and tiredness made him prefer to sleep through the nite I should imagine.

        1. I have always suspected thatt Anne was poisoned in a way that led to her miscarriages. She was so hated and plotted against by Catherine and Co (Emperor, Vatican, Duke of Bedford, Sir Thomas Moore and eventually Cromwell). There was the man that was sent to Court by the Pope to take her out who was a ma- servant of Henry. and attended at meals. I think they knew that if they could secure that she miscarried her male children she would be very vulnerable and eventually abandoned/betrayed by Henry.

  2. As Norah Lofts says in the book”The Concubine’ on a farm if a cow miscarries who’s fault is it . try the cow with another bull and the bull with another cow. The bad breeder is fixed and the other is beef. I always thought it was Henry who was the bad breeder and got rid of Anne so he could try again

  3. Very sad day, thinking of Katherine all this weekend. It was also sad for Anne, to lose her baby boy at this time. I don’t accept some of the more extreme views about this being down to misdeeds as suggested by Gregory on a documentary about the fall of Anne Boleyn or witchcraft. I don’t think this was the end for Anne, but it left her more vulnerable and her enemies saw opportunities to bring her down and replace her. We can never know what caused her miscarriage but the recent fall by the King, followed by finding hubby with another woman probably sent her into distress and shock.

    Back to Katherine, it was a sad leave for a previous Queen of England for 24_years and in the eyes of almost the rest of the world still was. Yes, everything was done well, her body prepared, various masses said, mourning velvet, the King heard Mass for her soul and representatives from the crown and court, high born female mourners, Chapyus attended, but her daughter was kept from attending. Henry would not have attended, anyway, that was protocol but would have normally have a service elsewhere. I am not certain if she ever had a box tomb on top of her vault in the then Benedictine Abbey aka Peterborough Cathedral, but if she did it vanished and it was the Victorians who put up the beautiful brass railings and Katherine the Quene, giving her back her royal dignity. I also love that now there are coats of arms with information plaques from the Spanish and British royal families and often flowers there. It shows she is still loved and honoured.

    I feel I am expected to talk more about Katherine and Mary or Henry here but I think it has all been said previously. Katherine is a true Queen in my heart and I feel really sorry for Mary now, but Anne also as her loss was tragic for her and made her afraid for her future. She and Henry were deeply distressed, but it caused an angry rift between them. There is evidence that they appear to reconcile some weeks later, but after her angry exchange over who was to blame, Anne must have felt really scared, distressed and vulnerable. Mary was left alone from the person she had loved best, her mother, among strangers and without even a word of comfort from her father. It must have been terribly distressing to receive her mother’s last letter and fur collar, all there was left to remember her by, a few precious things. I feel for her and our two Queens.

    Katherine, Queen of Hearts Rest in peace. Anne Boleyn rest in peace. Mary rest in peace. Amen.

  4. As superstitious as the Tudors were, I can only imagine what people thought when Anne miscarried a male child the same day Catherine was buried.

    How sad for Anne.

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