7th January 1536 – Death of Catherine of Aragon

Katherine of AragonAt two o’clock in the afternoon of the 7th January 1536, Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, died at Kimbolton Castle after taking communion and giving her last confession to her confessor Jorge de Athequa, Bishop of Llandaff. She slipped away whilst praying to her Father in Heaven.

Her death was not unexpected as Catherine had been ill for a few months and her condition had worsened the previous month after she had consumed some Welsh beer. This fact, combined with the embalmer’s report of her blackened heart, caused the rumour mill to go mad with rumours that the Dowager Princess of Wales, as she was to be called, had been poisoned. Of course, these were just rumours and the embalmer was a candle-maker, not a medical expert! Catherine’s biographer, Giles Tremlett, believes that it is more likely that she died of cancer.

You can read all the details about Catherine of Aragon’s last days in my article “The Death of Catherine of Aragon”.

RIP Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England.

Catherine of Aragon’s Resting Place

Catherine of Aragon was laid to rest on the 29th January 1536 at Peterborough Abbey, which still stands today and is now known as Peterborough Cathedral. Although she was buried as the Dowager Princess of Wales, the Cathedral have marked her grave “Katharine Queen of England” and commemorate her death and burial, and celebrate her life, with a special programme of events known as the Katharine of Aragon Festival. This year’s events include:-

  • Friday 27th January 10.30am – Katharine of Aragon Commemoration Service
  • Friday 27th January 5pm – Sung vespers featuring music from the Tudor period
  • Saturday 28th January 10am-3pm – Tudor Living History Day
  • Saturday 28th January 10am and 2pm – Cathedral Tower Tours
  • Saturday 28th January 10am and 2pm – Children’s tours with ‘Old Scarlett’, the Cathedral’s famous gravedigger
  • Saturday 28th January 7.30pm – Talk on Lady Margaret Beaufort by Stuart Orme of Peterborough Museum
  • Sunday 29th January 2pm – Tudor Walk of Peterborough guided by Stuart Orme

You can dowload the full programme of events at http://www.peterborough-cathedral.org.uk/tl_files/resources/Leaflet-KofA-2012.pdf

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19 thoughts on “7th January 1536 – Death of Catherine of Aragon”
  1. Such an ignominious end to such a great lady.

    Henry was a TOTAL jerk, and that is putting it VERY mildly, namely because I don’t think you want posters using the words that actually come to mind, Claire.

    1. Miladyblue, I agree Henry was’nt the the nicest guy in towne,he ither liked you or he did’nt,but there were far worse Kings then him Edward 1rst was a cruel King.Ifeel sorry for the women in his life and the children, they sufferd the most,I really don’t think Henry was mixed to well in the head. Kind Regards Baroness Von Reis

    2. Why Miladyblue… you mean to tell me you dislike an immature, self-serving, narcissistic, tyrant king? Yeah… I’m with you.

      Wish I lived in England. I would just love to go to some of the events listed. I can only imagine warming ones soul with “Music from the Tudor Period”…how wonderful to listen to on a cool, January evening. For those of you who can attend, have a spectacular time.

      As for celebrating the life of Catherine of Aragon… the people of England loved her almost 500 years ago… and she is still admired around the world today. That is a true testament to ones life.

  2. Catherine was a remarkable and intriguing women. May she rest in peace. Thanks for the information about the services Claire I always mean to go to these and forget.

  3. RIP Great and true Queen of England! May you forever be remembered ad the gentle kind soul. Sleep well great lady!

  4. Thank you Claire for another great post! And for the tremendous effort and labor of love that you put in to TABF and TAB fellowship. It is such an invaluable resource for all who come here; a belated happy and healthy new year to and yours. I look forward to more great stuff in 2012 as well as hope that I can make it to England finally, this year. Finances are tough so I will be going on my own.

    I have a lot of admiration for KOA… She suffered so much when she was handed over to the Tudors. Her grace and dignity have left us an enduring and-to me-intriguing legacy and am very heartened that her tomb is labeled Queen Of England. Henry must be turning in his grave, lol! I still see Annette Crosbie in the BBC production of The Six
    Wives Of Henry VIII…she was magnificent.

    Are you aware of any online courses on the Tudors and/ or British Monarchy? I found one from U of Oxford or Cambridge, I believe, but am not sure… Any information is appreciated, thanks!

  5. I think it’s fair to say that Katherine of Aragon was the most popular of Henry VIII’s wives and perhaps nowadays universally still is. She was certainly courageous and never stopped fighting for a cause she believed in, the Cathedral is correct to identify her as a queen much beloved by the English people.

  6. I am always torn between Katharine (I understand this is the true spelling of her name), and Anne Boleyn, as I believe, even during her trial when Henry would not deny that she was a virgin when she married him in 1509. I am an Anne Boleyn supporter to the furthest degree, but she did not deserve to be forbiden to see her daughter, Mary, and that influenced Mary with her Catholic supporters, to become even more defiant of the Church of England. But she did die a Queen as was her station when Henry VII accepted her dowry, and betrohed her to Henry, in order to keep it.

    Both Katharine (youngest daughter of “The Catholic Kings” of Spain, those being Ferdinand and isabella) deserved her title.

    But in the way Henry broke away from the Catholic Churhc to marry Anne, which speaks more than words can say for Anne’s family, and her own wily brains for holding out from Henry for almost a decade to be commmended. She, too, was the Queen of England in the new England, under Henry VIII, an absolute monarch, and as “The Act of Supremacy” dictated, and to which all England was subject. Anne was a woman worthy of being Queen, and back then it was not known that the man determines the sex of a child, that Anne was a could have been a great Queen (and Elizabeth proved to be just that), if she had acted as Katharine did to all of Henry’s wandering, as it were.

    Also, it has been noted that Katharine was the last hold keeping Anne secure on the throne. As Anne siad at her trial, “We will all be judged in time,” that she was truly the Queen under the new order, and should be commended as such.

    I do salute, on this day, Katharine of Aragon, for her courage and her never denying that she was Henry’s lawful wife.

    Anne was also his lawful wife under the “Act of Supremacy (sp?)” and that was how it was. No one can change history, and I would never would want to know what would have happened to England without the great Elizabeth I. Thank you, WilesWales

  7. The festival sounds a wonderful way to pay tribute to Katherine of Aragon who endured so much pain in her life, I wish I lived close enough to go as the 27th is my birthday and would have been a special treat. I am sure that she would have felt honoured and humbled by all these people that remember her and pay their respects to her memory.
    I am sure she is resting in peace, the peace she never had in life.

  8. I agree that Katherine was a pious strong woman that was mistreated by Henry VIII. She does however need to bear her burden of responsibility for the events that followed in her wake. I understand how she would fight for her marriage and position as well as that of her daughter. She was intelligent enough and lived in England long enough to realize why Henry needed a male heir. The position her mother held was an anomoly in the 15th century. If she had been successful in retaining her position and had the Duke of Richmond lived there most certainly had been a civil war in England much like there was in the time of Stephen and Matilda.
    Make no mistake… Katherine may have been sweet, gentle, kind, etc. but she had the ability to be duplicitious and shrewed if need be. Because of her actions Mary’s personality underwent damage and in the end is remembered as being more bloody than her father. She became as stubborn and Spanish as her mother. Henry became determined to win at all costs that set up a pattern for the rest of his life.. And the worst part as far as The Most Catholics Majesties’ daughter would see was the break with the Vatican.
    Henry could be merciful to those that gave in to his wishes. Anne of Cleves did not please him yet became his most loved sister who lived out a comfortable life.
    Imagine a Catholic England with Henry IX ruling, Princess Mary wed to a Spanish Prince and a religious order founded by Katherine flourishing.
    Something to think about.

  9. C of A was an amazing woman–strong, courageous and loyal. I hate the fact that she was separated from her daughter and died alone except for her priest and a visit from her friend, was is Lady Willoughby, Marina del Soles? (spelling?) It would be awesome to visit for those festivities–I think I need to spend an entire YEAR in England! 🙂
    Thanks–I hadn’t heard about her drinking Welsh beer before–interesting fact.

  10. I got a dumb question …what is welsh beer? Is it a drink they just named it that IR is it really beer? Thank you ~Jessica Rose~

    1. Hi Jessica,
      It’s just as it sounds, beer from Wales, however it was not really beer as we know it today because it was not as strong. People drank ale and wine rather than the water as the water was contaminated.

  11. i just wished to god that anne boleyn could have escaped to another country, at the very moment she had realised that she was heading into deep trouble.. or was she watched every moment of her days?? those horrible executions of those days are unbearable to even to think about them happening….anne we will always love and respect you forever, darling Qeen anne.. rest in peace x

    1. Joan, while beheading is a violent death and it’s anticipation must have been torturous, it is one of the faster and most painless deaths, if done correctly (which was in case of AB). Also remember that people were deeply religious in those times, and considered pain of death a short suffering as opposed to spending eternity in heaven.
      So while their executions were not justified, and I wish they lived, the death they suffered wasn’t the worst form. Other non-noble traitors suffered a truly horrific death!!


  13. Queen Catherine R I P,yes she was a true Queen and now she is with the King of KINGS. But Queen Anne was also a true Queen, she was forced to spend her life at court with the King, not by her choice she hated the King for that,so lets give Queen Anne a BREAK she in her own right was a true Queen aswell. May all the GREAT Queens R I P.

  14. KofA was a wonderful and loyal person. It was unfortunate that Henry VIII went hell bent on a trial for a divorce from her. I think that Anne Bolyn was hell bent on becoming Queen of England during KoA reign. Henry only become in love only because of Anne’s temptress beahvior and the Bolyn family whom became too power hungry for more power. According to the Catholic Church Katherine of Aragon was the only and legitimate wife of King Henry VIII. Becasue of Anne’s sultryness and her temptress she had henry under her spell thus making Henry VIII more and more in love with her while married to KoA. The Rise and Demise of the Tudor Dynasty is because of Anne Bolyn’s insistance of becoming Queen not a mistress. Only if Ann would agree to be his mistress and bear sons England would have been happy and wouldn’t have religious wars. I commend KoA for her stance and refusal for divorce she is the epitomy of good morality and ethics.. The down fall of society began with Anne and Henry VIII. If Henry VIII didn’t divorce KoA the world wouldn’t be so corrupt today. This is just my commentary about the Tudors.

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