7 January 1536 – Catherine of Aragon dies at Kimbolton Castle

On this day in history, 7th January 1536, at two o’clock in the afternoon, Catherine of Aragon died at Kimbolton Castle.

Catherine had been ill for several months but felt worse after drinking a draught of Welsh beer in December 1535 and this, combined with the embalmer’s report that all of her organs were healthy apart from her heart, “which was quit black and hideous to look at”, gave rise to rumours that Catherine had been poisoned. However, the embalmer, who Giles Tremlett points out was a chandler (a candle maker) and not a medical expert, also found a black body attached to Catherine’s heart, and Tremlett concludes that “a secondary melanotic sarcoma was almost certainly to blame”, a secondary heart tumour caused by cancer in another part of the body.

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Catherine of Aragon was laid to rest in Peterborough Abbey, now Peterborough Cathedral, on 29th January 1536 and the cathedral holds an annual Katherine of Aragon Festival to commemorate Catherine’s life. Click here to download the leaflet about the festival and here are the main events:

  • Thursday 26th January – 5.30pm, Sung Eucharist in commemoration of Katharine of Aragon.
  • Friday 27th January – 8.30am, Mass at Peterborough Cathedral.
  • Friday 27th January – 10.30am Service of Commemoration at Peterborough Cathedral.
  • Friday 27th January – 2.00pm Guided tour of Peterborough Cathedral.
  • Friday 27th January – 6.00pm Tudor-style Pottage and Ale Supper – SOLD OUT.
  • Friday 27th January – 7.30pm Festival Lecture: Character and Conscience: a Dynasty of Catholic Queens with Dr Suzannah Lipscomb.
  • Saturday 28th January – 10.00am–5.00pm At Home with the Tudors at Peterborough Museum.
  • Saturday 28th January – 10.30am – 3.30pm A Royal Audience and ‘monarch makes’ in the Knights’ Chamber.
  • Saturday 28th January – 2.00pm, Guided tour of Peterborough Cathedral.
  • Saturday 28th January – 5.30pm Choral Evensong.
  • Saturday 28th January – 7.30pm Katharine and her Ambassadors – A talk by historian and author Lauren Mackay, at Peterborough Museum.
  • Sunday 29th January – 10.00am–5.00pm, At home with the Tudors at Peterborough Museum.
  • Sunday 29th January – 10.30am – 3.30pm A Royal Audience and ‘monarch makes’ in the Knights’ Chamber.
  • Sunday 29th January – 2.00pm, Tudor Peterborough Walk starting at Peterborough Museum.
  • Sunday 29th January – 3.30pm, Choral Evensong at Peterborough Cathedral.

There is also an exhibition running throughout the weekend at Peterborough Museum called “Tremendous Tudors”.

You can find out about all the above events and buy tickets etc. at http://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/home/katharine-2017.aspx.

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10 thoughts on “7 January 1536 – Catherine of Aragon dies at Kimbolton Castle”
  1. Rest in peace, dear Queen Katherine, true wife of Henry Viii. I wish s thousand if onlies that could have made your life better, but now you are a Queen in Heaven and in numerous hearts.

  2. If you could ask the Queen one question, what would it be? I know what I’d like to know.
    My question would probably be something like … Katharine, Princess of Spain, Queen of England, why would you not lead a rebellion against your heretic husband, in tandem with the Princess Mary, Bishop Fisher & Thomas Moore? Did you ever consider it? Is that two questions? Well, I would love to hear her answer.

    1. I think I know the answer to that one, she considered it shocking being a loyal wife to raise up arms against her husband, and she didn’t want blood spilled on her behalf, I think that’s what she would possibly say but yes it is interesting to ponder on what questions you would ask these long dead people, I would love to ask Anne Boleyn if she really loved Henry or was it just the crown she was always after, I would probably get a sarcastic rebuke but it’s interesting to consider.

      1. I would want to ask Katherine why she was able to still love Henry after all he did to her. Her concern may seem to be for his soul but she also desires to see him one more time and commends their daughter to him. Katherine never blamed Henry for anything. It is his advisers, Wolsey, Anne, Cromwell, he has lost his mind….so on. I would think she would want to hit him with a rolling pin, but no, she just wants him to see sense and come home to her. She may just want to say farewell as he deserted her without saying goodbye. I would just love to know what she would have said to him at that final meeting, had he come to her bedside. Would he have asked forgiveness? Would he regret anything? Would he have stood firm? Would he find he still had feelings for her? Katherine still loved Henry, but what within her, other than duty and faith, allowed her to endure in that love? I don’t believe she was being silly or blind, but genuinely devoted as a wife and woman, queen and mother….she loved him and nothing had killed that love. Sometimes, I believe Henry regretted his separation from Katherine, recalled happier times and may have some love left. He definitely compared Anne and Jane to her, complaining that Katherine never spoke to him disrespectfully as Anne sometimes did. He even at times upset Anne as he showed preference for Mary and her future than he did Elizabeth. Katharine being alive made Anne feel insecure. Any mention of her by Henry must have been difficult to take. I think Henry would have had both women if the Church allowed it. He definitely found himself stuck between them. Katharine and Anne offered Henry a number of equal qualities, intelligent, education, sophisticated, love of entertainment, joust, hunting, dancing, understanding of political goings on, shrewd thinking, strength, the ability to rule, to help and support him, but they also shared the same tragic loss of their male children. Both Anne and Katharine were his equal. No wonder they both stood their ground and gave him a run for his money. Two formidable ladies, one formidable King…it might make good history, it does not make for happy living.

        1. They had had a long and happy marriage and Katherine was a popular queen, well respected and it is a shame that Anne came along and took Henry from her, but it happens, why did Henry fall so violently for Anne, no one knew, many men found her attractive yet some thought there was nothing special about her, she appealed to something in Henry that was totally different from Katherine, she was wild and vivacious, she was sexy in a continental way and also they were both interested in the same things, a meeting of minds which is a powerful tonic, Henry was dazzled by her, added to that was her refusal to sleep with him, something which no other woman had done, they had all been willing, ( as far as we know), then typical of this fickle of men after he had tired of Anne he became attracted to her complete opposite in the quiet almost colourless Jane Seymour, Anne could have saved her marriage and her life if she had only learnt to mould herself in the traditional pattern of a queen consort, she should have kept her mouth shut and not aggravated so many people, Henry and Cromwell included, she was foolish but it’s very hard to change ones character and she was such a headstrong personality it was well nigh impossible for her, it’s like a hawk trying to be a dove, however she wanted to be queen and thought she would be perfectly suitable but the reality was totally different from what she expected, she had not the years of experience that Katherine had, she had not her quiet dignity and regal manner, Katherine after all was a princess of mighty Spain, she was no country gentlemans daughter from east anglia, she knew what it meant to be queen and that meant not berating her husband when he took mistresses, Anne quarrelled with more or less everyone at court, the people hated her and Henry found himself married to a shrew, in a mistress that was attractive but not in a queen consort, Henry found himself disliking her and there were days when they hardly spoke, she miscarried her last child and Henry was devastated, he then told her she wouldn’t have any more sons by him, it shows how his feelings for her had soured, no man likes a nag and coupled with her unpopularity and inability to bear a son sounded her death knell, she could not change and in this she was no different from Katherine, she could not give up on Henry and go quietly into a convent, she could not change how she felt and acted anymore than Anne could, we are how we are, the die is cast the minute we are conceived, both these three exceptional people made their mark in English history, Katherine and Henry by their very birthright, Katherine by her tenacity and courage, Henry by his break with Rome and matrimonial adventures, yet Anne was the only woman to make it from mistress to throne and topple a queen from her position, she is unique in that, she clawed her way up from lady in waiting, the daughter of a mere knight to practically the highest lady in the land, yet it came with a price and she must have realised that when she knelt on tower green, thus as the saying gos, ‘ the higher we climb the higher we fall’.

  3. Katherine appears to have had a rather aggressive form of cancer which is a blessing as she didn’t suffer too much, I think the ill treatment she endured was possibly the catalyst for her final illness, though know one knows what exactly triggers of this most awful of diseases, it was a sad lonely death for a very proud and regal woman who was born a princess of Spain and then became queen of England, her one true love King Henry had forsaken her and she was not even allowed to see her daughter even though he knew she was ailing, I hope when news broke of this remarkable woman’s demise every Englishman and woman lit a candle for her and said prayers, and grieved for her who had been their queen for over twenty years who had buried six children and defended their country from invasion, even though her King was cavorting around the court making merry and declaring his happiness that England was free from the threat of war, did he ever feel remorse for her I wonder, I think it was a case of out of sight out of mind with Henry, if remorse ever did touch him no doubt he told himself it was all her fault for being so obstinate over the divorce, when he fell out of love with his second queen he never showed any sympathy over her arrest and trial, she also was not allowed to see her daughter and blithely married his third queen barely two weeks after her death, this sudden detachment from both his first two wives shows that Henry was capable of a rather callous disregard for people when they fell out of favour, years of personal attachment counted for nothing it seems, Katherine had been the mother of six of his children and a most loyal wife, Anne was the mother of his daughter Elizabeth who was recognised as his heiress (though after Annes arrest he had her declared a bastard and his marriage null and void) she had also been the mother of two more of his children the latest one sadly dying before she had carried it full term, it seems he truly grieved for Jane Seymour and also grieved for the flighty Catherine Howard, but his first wife he had known since he was a teenager and therefore had a long and shared history with her, if ever he had grieved for Katherine I feel it could have been out of a certain nostalgia for his lost youth, Henry’s character in those days was of a good natured big hearted man and now he was steadily growing into a rather suspicious despot, he must have noticed the change in himself, he was fed up with Anne Boleyn and on the day his first wife was buried Anne had miscarried, maybe this most superstitious of men thought there could have been a hint of divine justice there who knows?

  4. I think that she was perhaps what would be diagnosed as obsessive, today. I think, as a proud scion of Aragon, she completely believed it was her God-ordained destiny to be Queen of England. Especially when, out of her relative destitution following the death of Arthur, she once again became elevated to a throne by her marriage to Henry.

    She must have believed her prayers were answered, & with a hot virile hubby to boot. God did elevate her to a throne.

    When the pregnancies failed, it surely drove her deeper into believing that she wasn’t devout enough: I wouldn’t doubt that she fasted during pregnancies to “prove to God” her righteousness to bear a prince for England (no proof for this, but it seems psychologically in keeping).

    (please forgive me if I have said anything wrong–my first post here)

    1. Hi Karen and welcome. Great observations, people believed and felt things a lot more deeply back then, especially as a monarch was indeed ordained to rule. Yes, Anne, Henry and Katherine, a psychologist would have been kept busy. Hope you enjoy the site. Claire is very knowledgeable and her daily posts very well researched. Nice to meet you.

    2. Of course you haven’t said anything wrong, this site is about sharing our opinions and debating on particular topics, welcome to the fold.

  5. Catherine of Aragon is supposed to have died on 7 January, 1536. With the calendar having the new year beginning on Lady Day, wouldn’t her death *actually* have happened on 7 January, 1535? Just curious . . . and thank you!

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