7 January 1536 – The Death of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife

Catherine of AragonAt 2pm on 7th January 1536, fifty year-old Catherine of Aragon died at Kimbolton Castle, Cambridgeshire, where she had resided since April 1534.

Catherine had been suffering with ill health for a number of months but her condition took a turn for the worse at Christmas 1535. Catherine suffered awful stomach pains, sickness and was unable to eat, drink or sleep properly, and by 29th December, it was thought that her life was in danger. The New Year saw an improvement in her condition, with her being able to hold down food and drink, and chat and laugh with visitors. However, on the night of the 6th January, Catherine became fidgety and in the early hours of the 7th she asked to take communion. Jorge de Athequa, Catherine’s confessor and the Bishop of Llandaff, administered communion and listened to her confession. Catherine then spent her last hours in prayer.

You can read more about her final days in my article The Death of Catherine of Aragon.

In her will, Catherine asked to be buried in a Chapel of her beloved order, The Observant Friars, but the recent dissolution of the monasteries meant that there were none left. She was laid to rest on the 29th January 1536 at Peterborough Abbey, which still stands today and is now known as Peterborough Cathedral. She was buried as the Dowager Princess of Wales but her grave is now marked “Katharine Queen of England”. Peterborough Cathedral commemorate her death and burial, and celebrate her life on an annual basis with a special programme of events known as the Katharine of Aragon Festival. Here is the programme for this year’s festival:

  • Friday 30th January – 10.30am Service of Commemoration at Peterborough Cathedral, followed by a Tudor history day for schools.
  • Friday 30th January – 2pm Guided Tour of the Cathedral.
  • Friday 30th January – 7.30pm talk by Alison Weir: The Exile of Katharine of Aragon
  • Saturday 31st January – 10.00am–5.00pm: At home with the Tudors, at Peterborough Museum
  • Saturday 31st January – 2pm Guided Tour of the Cathedral.
  • Saturday 31st January – 7.30pm Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, sung by The Sixteen at Peterborough Cathedral.
  • Sunday 1st February – 10.00am–5.00pm: At home with the Tudors, at Peterborough Museum
  • Sunday 1st February – 2pm Tudor Peterborough Walk, starts at Peterborough Museum.

See http://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/katharine-of-aragon-festival-2015.html for more details and to buy tickets.

Tudor Society members can read an article I’ve just published on the Tudor Society website “Catherine of Aragon’s Black Heart and Poison: The Primary Sources” – see www.tudorsociety.com/news/.

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15 thoughts on “7 January 1536 – The Death of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife”
  1. Rest in peace, Kate! You will always be the true Queen of England in our hearts, not your usurper successor! You were noble, chaste and honest your entire life, first woman diplomat in Europe and one of the first women generals.

    You were awesome!

    1. Yes she was a great lady who had a good innings but a very sad end !! That’s life I’m afraid good and bad times !! Poor Ann gets blamed for every thing !! Jane Seymore was not a saint the quiet demure one !! Sneaky and sly !!

      1. I agree. Anne gets blamed for a lot of things that were not on her control !

        I just read a rather nasty comment about visiting the execution site at the Tower and laughing about what happened to Anne there. I was aghast – nothing funny about it. Besides, it isn’t the actual site. What a pathetic nimrod that person is.

      1. Think ladies you will find it was Henry doing the seducing and pursuing of both Anne and Jane. Neither would give in unless a proposal of marriage came, Anne telling Henry she would give him sons and Jane dropped a hint by returning his letter and money.. But it was Henry doing the chasing, looking for a new wife who could give him a son.

  2. Henry VIII’s one and only true queen. Rest in peace dear lady. Life threw you so many bad curves and you handled them all like the great lady and true queen that you were. Katherine, Queen of England!

  3. From what is actually known about Katharine, we can gather that she valued The kingdom of heaven most highly.
    From what is actually known about Anne Boleyn we can gather she valued the queenship of her country most highly.
    Little knowledge of Jane Seymour is left behind with which to make a judgment of her actions.

  4. Taking a moment to remember Katherine for the strong woman she was. I just wish that she and Henry would have realized what their actions were doing to their daughter.

  5. Blessings to Queen Katherine, the only woman truly worthy of the title she shared with Henry. How sad that she was denied that place she had shared faithfully for over 20 years, and her right to be buried as Queen. Today Katherine is honoured with the title that she took with her, Katherine the Queen, thanks to our Victorian ancestors who placed the grill and letters that Mark her last resting place today. Peace and holy rest to a remarkable queen, mother and woman, Katherine our Queen.

  6. If Henry and his cronies could do what they did to Katherine of Aragon, the Queen of England, who reigned for 24 years, what did her successors thInk their fate would be? Likely, they had no choice in the matter as they were used as pawns (and breeding mares as it were) by their opportunistic families in the dangerous game of Henry’s reign. Long live the Queen! Queen Katherine of England!

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