3 July 1533 – Catherine of Aragon “to satisfy herself with the name of Dowager”

Posted By on July 3, 2015

Catherine of Aragon On 3rd July 1533, William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy and Catherine of Aragon’s Chamberlain, was instructed to inform Catherine that she was “to satisfy herself with the name of Dowager” and to stop calling herself ‘Queen’.

In his instructions to Mountjoy, Cromwell wrote that if Catherine carried on using the title of queen then “the King will be compelled to punish her servants, and withdraw her affection from his daughter” and that she would “incur the displeasure of Almighty God and of the King.”

Catherine refused to comply and whenever she saw her new title written in letters, she crossed it out with a pen.

You can read Cromwell’s letter to Mountjoy and an account of what happened when Mountjoy delivered these instructions to Catherine in my article 3 July 1533 – Catherine of Aragon Told to Stop Calling Herself Queen.

9 thoughts on “3 July 1533 – Catherine of Aragon “to satisfy herself with the name of Dowager””

  1. Globerose says:

    What kind of jeopardy did Catherine put herself (and her daughter) in at this point in time? She is warned to ‘beware of the danger’ but she defies them all and waits upon the Pope’s decree and only then will she relinquish the title of Queen. Was she ever in any real ‘danger’, given her mighty connections? What do you think?

  2. Esther says:

    Given Katherine’s powerful relations, she would not have been in danger of any official action from any normal ruler. Considering that Henry VIII firmly believed that G-d’s will and his will were one and the same. I am not sure that he was a normal ruler. Furthermore, even if Henry was normal, it means only that Katherine’s mighty connections would protect her from official, public actions (such as trial and punishment for treason) … those connections may not be enough to protect her from unofficial action (such as what Elizabeth proposed for Mary Queen of Scots)

  3. Lisa H says:

    I don’t think Katherine’s life was ever in any real danger. Henry knew that neither the Pope nor the Emperor would have stood by if she were. Consider his words after she died – that now they were free of threat from the Emperor – Henry was well aware of the possible consequences if Katherine died from anything other than natural causes.

    By the same token, I think Katherine remained so stubborn and steadfast because she *didn’t* understand Henry’s motivation. She held onto the idea that if she just waited it out, the whole thing would eventually resolve. Whether by Papal decree, Imperial invasion, or Henry tiring of Anne and seeing the light so to speak, she never accepted that her changed position was final.

    She also thought that Henry’s separation from Rome was solely motivated by his desire for Anne. She likely thought that faced with opposition from both within and without, England the Continent, that surely he would waver in his own resolve and repent his actions. All she had to do was stand her ground and wait for that time.

    One cannot help but wonder what would have happened to Anne if Katherine had lived longer. Would Anne have been able to birth a son given more time? Catherine’s death was as much a tragedy for Anne as for anyone else, removing the one thing that would keep Henry tied to her. How interwoven our Fates can be!

  4. Michael Eng says:

    I don’t think that Katherine ever believed that she was ever in any real danger. Don’t forget that she lived and slept with the King for years and knew him well. She was also a Spanish princess and much loved woman by all around her. Henry just wanted a divorce, that is all. If she had submitted, she could have spent the rest of her life in luxury and be well cared for along with her daughter who probably would have been in line for the succession anyways. Henry only resorted to wholesale murder of many people after his divorce from Katherine. The princess Mary was never in any real danger because Henry wouldn’t have killed his own daughter. Henry had real worries about a civil war if he didn’t produce a male heir considering he was born right after the war of the roses.

    1. Hannele says:

      Katherine told Mary that she should rather die rather than sign the oath. That shows clearly that Katherine thought that death was an option.

      Also Chapuys who was a skilled diplomat certainly thought that both Katherine and Mary were in real danger.

      One can never be sure beforehand what a person can or cannot do. And one cannot say afterwards that because he did not do something, there was never a danger at all.

      If Henry could kill his friend More and two wives, why would he have spared Mary if she had not submitted?

  5. Banditqueen says:

    Henry would not have killed Katherine or Mary, he could not take the chance, but Katherine was of great courage and willing to die rather than give up her right as Queen, her faith and the inheritance rights of her daughter. Yes, I believe that she knew the danger but took the risk willingly. Perhaps she also had a belief that Henry would not harm her, she did not fully blame him for his actions, thinking him influenced by other people. Katherine saw a deep goodness in her husband until she died, that is how much she loved him. Mary also deluded herself that her father was not behind the mistreatment she received until she was confronted by it after Anne’s execution. I don’t believe that Katherine was wrong to take this stance and applaud her courage.

    1. Hannele says:

      To BanditQueen

      In this matter I admire Chapuys who put Mary’s life first whereas Katherine put her position first. It should have been better to Mary to submit earlier.

      Unlike Katherine, Thomas More gave his family freedom to chose according their conscience and did not put pressure on them to make the same choice as he.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Hi Hannele, yes, I think of Chapyus as almost taking on the role of a surrogate father in his concern for Mary. He appears from his letters to have a real loving concern for Mary, he is genuinely frightened for her safety, health, and treatment. He has heard rumours that Anne was expressing a wish to order her death, and, even though this was Anne’s ramblings, not an intent to act, Chapyus was rightly frightened that the threats to Katherine and Mary were real, especially in the immediate period following Katherine`s death, which he thought to be from poison. His letters home and to Granville show distress and little restraint in expressing his belief, followed by desperate expression of fear about Mary. He took it upon himself to look out for her interest, taking letters to and from mother to daughter and from Katherine to Henry begging to be allowed to see her daughter, to nurse her when she was ill. Henry refused of course, being paranoid that Mary and Katherine would plot against him, but he did send a doctor. Chapyus was good at reading the changing political reality, he played a part in persuading Mary to save her life and sign the submission to Henry. This could not have been easy for her, denying all that she was, her birth right, her legitimacy, her faith, her mother’s rights as lawful queen and wife, but she accepted, she had no choice. Royal children were the property of the state, they were not free to choose their personal beliefs, they could only keep them privately. Chapyus could see the situation was hopeless, he gave Mary wise advice. He remained a protective friend and father figure, in whom Mary had confidence for the rest of his time in England.

        1. Christine says:

          Yes I agree Chapyus appears to have been kind as well as wise, he could see that Mary had no choice but to submit to Henry and I’m sure her mother would have understood but Katherine was too rigid in her belief I think, she told Mary to obey her father in all things but her conscience, that was the wrong thing to say as she was more or less telling Mary to defy Henry, given that she was influenced by her mother more than her father but Chapyus was there to give her advice and I think he was like a father figure to her, in the Tudors soppy though it was it shows Mary weeping when Chapyus tells her was going to retire and that could well have happened, it’s nice to know that Mary had him to look out for her during the years when she was banished from seeing her mother, he was a good friend to have around.

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