Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon – Part 1

Posted By on August 21, 2009

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon

Over my next few blog posts, I’m going to consider Anne Boleyn’s role in Henry VIII’s ill treatment of Catherine of Aragon, his daughter Mary, Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas More – thanks to Matterhorn for inspiring me with his comment on my last post!

People of the time, Anne’s enemies, those writing about Anne during the reign of Mary I, some historians and even “The Tudors” show imply that Anne Boleyn was very much responsible for the ill treatment of these Tudor characters, and some even outwardly accuse her of poisoning Catherine of Aragon! Now, whilst most of us agree that Anne Boleyn was no saint (well, according to John Foxe she was a saint!), was she really guilty of the awful treatment that these people had at the hands of the King?

The first character that I’m going to look at is Catherine of Aragon, but before I consider Anne’s supposed ill treatment of her I think we first need to look at Catherine’s feelings and behaviour towards the King and Anne Boleyn.

Catherine of Aragon

You can’t help but feel sorry for this woman who was Henry’s wife for nearly 24 years and who never stopped believing that she was Henry’s one and only true wife.

Catherine of Aragon was a dignified and religious woman, who turned a blind eye to her husband’s constant infidelity and coped with pregnancy after pregnancy, miscarriages and still births. She was a traditional Queen who accepted her “lot in life” and her role as Queen of England. She knew that a king was expected to have mistresses and she also knew that her job was to ignore it and to carry on trying to provide the longed for male heir. How heartbroken she must have been when it became obvious that this was not going to happen, but how this heartbreak must have been magnified when she realised that her own lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn, was more than a mistress to the King! Catherine could never have anticipated this turn of events.

So how did Catherine treat Anne Boleyn?

There is no definitive answer to this question. George Cavendish, in his biography of Wolsey (cited in Eric Ives’ biography), would have us believe that Katherine’s behaviour towards her lady-in -waiting was impeccable and that she:

“shewed([neither] to Mistress Anne, ne to the king) any spark or kind of grudge or displeasure…dissembled the same, having Mistress Anne in more estimation for the king’s sake”.

Wow, a true saint, but perhaps she was convinced at this stage that Anne was just another in a long line of royal mistresses and that she was no threat to a Queen with real royal blood. Other mistresses had come and gone, even ones like Elizabeth Blount who had actually provided the king with a son, so why would Anne be any different?

According to George Wyatt (cited in Eric Ives), Catherine actually tried to help Anne to resist Henry’s advances and Anne remained loyal to her queen. Wyatt also talks of card games that Catherine instigated with Anne, in an apparent attempt to make Anne show her deformed finger (if you believe she had one!), and Catherine’s famous remark to Anne:

“My lady Anne, you have good hap to stop at a king, but you are not like others, you will have all or none”.

It is said that when of her ladies started talking ill of Anne Boleyn, Catherine told her off saying:

“Pray for her because the time would come when you shall pity and lament her case.”

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon

It seems that Catherine only realised the true threat that Anne was to her when she was made aware of Henry’s secret plans for an annulment. In a letter to her nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles, she begs Charles to plead her case to Pope Clement VII so that her marriage to Henry would be upheld and calls Anne Boleyn “the great scandal of Christendom”. This is the first time we hear of Catherine saying a harsh word of Anne.

Catherine of Aragon was obviously distressed by the turn of events and showed dignity and strength of character in the way that she handled things. She was adamnant that she was Henry’s true wife and that her marriage to Henry’s brother, Prince Arthur, had never been consummated and that Leviticus 20 v 21 therefore did not apply. She fought tooth and nail for her marriage and the legitimacy of her daughter, seemingly without ever slandering Henry’s new love.

Catherine and the Legatine Court

In May 1529, a legatine court was convened at Blackfriars in London to determine whether or not Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was lawful. This was Catherine’s finest hour, in my opinion. On the 18th June, Catherine was called and instead of answering she dramatically approached the King, falling on her knees before him and making the following impassioned speech:

“Sir, I beseech you, for all the loves that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice and right. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman and stranger born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friend, and much less indifferent counsel. I flee to you as the head of justice within this realm.

Alas, Sir, where have I offended you? Or what occasion have you of displeasure, that you intend to put me from you? I take God and all the world to witness that I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever conformable to your will and pleasure. I have been pleased and contented with all the things wherein you had delight and dalliance. I never grudged a word or countenance, or showed a spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years and more I have been your true wife, and by me ye have had divers children, though it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no fault in me. And when ye had me at the first, I take God to be my judge, I was true maid, without touch of man; and whether it be true or no, you put it to your conscience.

[ A pause. Then:] If there be any just cause by the law that you can allege against me, either of dishonesty or any other impediment, to put me from you, I am well content to depart, to my shame and dishonour. If there be none, I must lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate and receive justice at your princely hands.

The King your father was accounted in his day as a second Solomon for wisdom, and my father Ferdinand and was esteemed one of the wisest kinds that had ever reigned in Spain. It is not about them as was thought fit by their high discretion. Also, there were in those days as wise, as learned man, as there are at this present time in both realms, who thought then the marriage between you and me good and lawful.

It is a wonder to hear what new inventions are invented against me, who never intended but honesty, that cause me to stand to the order and judgement of this new court, wherein you may do me much wrong, if you intend any cruelty. For ye may condemn me for lack of sufficient answer, having no indifferent counsel. Ye must understand that they cannot be indifferent counsellors which be your subjects, and taken out of your Council beforehand, and dare not, for your displeasure, disobey your will and intent.

Therefore, most humbly do I require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God, to spare me the extremity of this court, until I may be advertised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause.”

(Source: Alison Weir’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”.)

After her speech, Catherine rose and left the hall.

I know I for one would have used this opportunity to lash out at the King, to publicise his adultery and his intentions to marry Anne Boleyn, but, instead, Catherine showed her dignity and good breeding and acted the true Queen and wife by only speaking out against what Henry was basing his annulment on, the fact that there marriage was not valid (in his eyes). Never did she mention Anne and the betrayal she must have felt from both her husband and her lady-in-waiting.

A Marriage Over

Even after the marriage was annulled and Henry eventually married a pregnant Anne in 1533, we have no record of Catherine speaking ill of Anne. We can only imagine how Catherine must have felt when she was stripped of the title “Queen” and given the title “Princess Dowager of Wales”, expelled from court and commanded never to see her beloved daughter.

How awful her last three years of life must have been living a lonely life far from court, with a diminishing number of servants and in a state of poverty, when compared to her previous life. Catherine became increasingly more pious, spending ever increasing time in prayer and she died just three years after Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. Some still believe that she died of a broken heart, although the official cause of death is thought to have been cancer (or a heart condition), and it is evident from Catherine’s final letter to the King, written just before her death, that she never stopped loving him and that she still considered herself as his wife:-

“My most dear lord, king and husband,
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles.

For my part, I pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.
Katharine the Quene.”


Anne is not mentioned but Catherine obviously feels that the King has sinned against God and is worried about his soul.

What do you think Catherine felt about Anne? Do you think that she felt, as Chapuys did, that Anne was Henry’s “concubine” and whore? Do you think that she hated Anne and blamed her for the annulment and Henry’s cruel treatment of her and her daughter? Or do you think that Catherine felt that Anne too was a victim? Did Catherine suspect that Anne would not last?

Pleas let me know!

73 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon – Part 1”

  1. Avril says:

    I think Catherine was a consummate royal. She did not want her world to change and probably could not believe that Henry would countenance putting a princess of Spain aside for a commoner.

    I think also, that we have to mark what David Starkey says with regard to her assertion that her marriage with Arthur was not consummated. Arthur was a strong boy, not the weakling he is sometimes portrayed as. He was at the age when most men were married and fathering children. Catherine herself was of an age for full married life to begin. I cannot see past the fact that they would be failing in their royal duty NOT to consummate the marriage. And both of them had been taught duty as a first tenet of their role in life. His to begat heirs to secure the dynasty and hers to give birth to such heirs. I believe that the marriage was consummated and, basically, Catherine lied. There would be very few stil alive to remember the morning after the wedding, so who would doubt her word? And for someone so encased in duty to know that heirs were necessary for the succession, I think she was all woman with none of the dutiful Queen when she asserted that they had an heir in Mary. Her role model might have been Isabella, but this was England and England thought women were put on this earth to tempt men. Even when Mary came to the throne, she thought as a woman of the times would, not as a ruler. So, her upbringing was not one suited to a Queen regnant, was it?

    As for Anne, I think she had supreme confidence that SHE would supply the boy child Henry needed and a spare, just in case. She must have wondered why, if Catherine was so humble and obedient, she didn’t accept that the country needed a male heir and just go into a nunnery. If she had, England would probably still be Catholic.

    I think that in her final years, Catherine came to realise just what a tyrant Henry was becoming. His treatment of her was very cruel and she must have known that if he could do that to a princess of a powerful foreign power, how much less safe was an English subject with no royal blood. Anne’s miscarriage in 1534 would have told her that Anne’s days were numbered. Henry would not have the patience to cope for another 20 years with no male heir. He was already over 40. Time was running out for him as well as for Anne.

  2. Claire says:

    Thanks for the comment, Avril. It’s obviously impossible to know what happened between Catherine and Arthur, and Arthur was said to have declared to his manservant on the “morning after “Willoughby, bring me a cup of ale, for I have been this night in the midst of Spain.” In the book “The matrimonial trials of Henry VIII” by Henry Ansgar Kelly, Kelly writes of how “Ferdinand’s counselor’s in England sent the bedsheets stained with Catherine’s blood to Spain as proof that it [consummation] had occurred” and that it was even said that Arthur’s death was caused by excessive intercourse! As Starkey I think mentions, Catherine never mentioned the fact that the marriage was not consumated until after Arthur’s death.

    So, did Catherine lie? It’s hard to believe that such a pious woman would lie, but perhaps she lied in an effort to protect herself and her daughter’s claim to the throne. Her lie could have been a political strategy to safeguard the marriage.

    I wonder what would have happened if Catherine had taken up the offer made to her and gone into a nunnery. I’m sure that she, and her daughter, would have been much happier.

    Thanks for the comment!

    1. kim says:

      Deuteronomy 25:5-6 states that a man must marry his brother’s widow and this is known as a levirate marriage. also, the pope gave his permission. different biblical quotes say no.

  3. Lorna Lake says:

    I completely agree with the article and also with the first comment left here. I’ve also read, Starkey I think, that Henry VII had no desire to return Catherine to Spain after Arthur’s death, particularly as he would be expected to return her substantial dowry too! So Catherine would then have found herself in a horrid position … sort of “used” goods … Henry VIII’s decision to marry her must have appeared to be a real “Godsend” and she would obviously have been aware of the Leviticus entry in the Bible (as a devout Catholic) so a little “fib” would have been a small price to pay.
    As for the “Tudors”, I have to confess that the meanderings from the real story irk me so much that I just can’t bear to watch! The old BBC productions of the 70s were, in my not-so-very-humble opinion, absolutely superb. Keith Mitchell and Glenda Jackson were definitive and so far have never been bettered.

  4. sharon says:

    I think Anne was simply a women of her time.We sometimes forget that Jane Seymour the so called goody goody was actually a cousin of Anne sharing the same great grandmother on her mothers side. Jane was obviously “having it off” with Henry well before Anne’s execution and apparently the bethrothal was announced on that very day. If Jane had not produced the longed for heir would history maybe judging her very differently today. I think they were all as calculating as each other but I still prefer Anne at least she showed her true colours unlike Jane who was just as ambitious but a little sneakier and lucky . Sharon

  5. Haven says:

    I think that Catherine did hate Anne, but also pity her a little for now being a wife of a monster. Catherine probably thought she was nothing but a whore, but she was a queen and was too good a person to say it.

  6. Gwenne says:

    I think Katherine was a proud and regal woman who put up with so much gaffe that certainly would have set off anyone else (Anne included here). What is almost amusing that in reality Katherine of Aragon has more right to rule as a monarch then her erstwhile husband ever did. Considering her royal pedigree and how far back it truly goes, it puts Henry to shame. What a tragic thing that this royal Queen was reduced to hardscrabble existence and banned from even her own child. Bloody Mary was the result of this viciousness, and the whole of the Empire paid for this tragedy.

  7. Tulipsaki says:

    I don’t think Catherine lied about Arthur. Consummation in arranged marriages can take a while. Even dogs may refuse a partner, so perhaps they just didn’t immediately fancy each other or find themselves capable? As for Arthur’s comments, he could’ve said anything to make it seem like he consummated the marriage, even if he didn’t.

  8. Roberta says:

    Great post Claire…I think that Catherine thought that Henry would come back to her and that she should not say anything against Anne that she might regret later…after all she was older and wiser than Henry and she knew that he was spoiled and that he didn’t like anyone to disagree with hom about anything. Henry was a brat and the biggest baby which made him a tirant in my opinion. He pulled the typical male mid-life crisis act when he gave up his wife of 20 years…constantly needing to feel young and having someone stroke his ego. Catherine always stroked his ego but when she got old looking and not a sexually appealing…he tossed her. Sounds like someone in this day and age…can anyone say Mel Gibson! Roberta

  9. Claire says:

    Wow, great comments everyone – thanks!

    Hi Lorna,
    I loved Keith Michell as Henry – brilliant! Yes, Catherine did have good reason to fib (if it was a fib) and I think she saw Henry as her saviour for rescuing her. I did read that Henry VII was considering marrying her too!

    Hi Sharon,
    Like you, I don’t believe that Jane was a “goody, goody” but that she was playing a game and copying what Anne did before her. I don’t think it was a plot when Anne did it just a woman trying to keep her honour, but it certainly was a plot when Jane did it.

    Hi Haven,
    Yes, Catherine was an honourable woman who seemed to watch what she said. I expect that she didn’t want to risk angering Henry and putting her daughter in an even worse position.

    Hi Gwenne,
    The Linda Porter book on Mary I makes the point that Mary’s later behaviour was definitely a result of her treatment by her father and seeing how her mother was treated. Henry left both his daughters damaged. mary became a doormat for Philip and Elizabeth never really trusted men and refused to give herself completely to one. So sad!

    Hi Tulipsaki,
    We’ll just never know. Even if Catherine did lie, who can blame her? She was a young woman in a really difficult and frightening situation who was being offered the chance of escape. However, she believed that she was Henry’s true wife until her dying day so perhaps she was telling the truth.

    Hi Roberta,
    Mel Gibson and Henry VIII – love it! Yes, major mid life crises for both these men. So sad that people get hurt by men needing to feel young and good about themselves again. Catherine must have felt so betrayed by Henry after she had put up with so many pregnancies and such heartache to try and give him a son.

    Thanks for such wonderful comments!

  10. Julie says:

    I find it hard to believe that Catherine could lie about her marriage to Arthur not being consummated. She absolutly was a very religious woman and the thought of her lying to the Pope, of all people, seems a little far fetched. If she was lying, can you imagine the guilt she must have felt and the confessions she must have given, especially at the time of her death.
    Catherine probably was not too threatned by Anne at first since it was a reaccurent event for Henry to have affairs. I wonder what made Henry want to marry Anne above all of the other affairs he had, including Betsy Blount, who gave him a son.

    I don’t think Anne was the evil person some made her out to be. From what I understand, she wanted nothing to do with Henry and it was he who forced the relationship. He does seem like a tyrant, someone who cares of nothing else but his own wants and would do anything to get it. (It is good to be the king!)

    I think it would not be in Catherine’s nature to have hate for someone, so I don’t feel like she hated Anne. I think that she blamed Henry more for the presence of Anne and for the way he treated she and Mary. I am sure Catherine new that Anne would find herself at the mercy of that cruel man sooner or later.

  11. Claire says:

    Hi Julia,

    I personally believe that Catherine did not lie because Catherine would have believed that she was putting her soul at risk of damnation to lie in such a way. I also do not think that Catherine hated Anne – perhaps at times but I think she would have pitied her because she knew what Anne would have to put up with and Anne did not have the support of a Holy Roman Emperor. I think Mary despised Anne and her execution of Archbishop Cranmer during her reign speaks clearly of her hatred for the woman (and all her supporters) who usurped her mother’s place.

  12. Claire says:

    I’ve just had this comment via email from “Mata Hari”:-

    “At what point did Henry EVER allow himself to be dictated to by a woman!!! They were made to understand they had one function, to give the king a male heir, a living male heir, and if they failed then on their own head be it. It suited Henry to blame Anne for what happened between Him and Catherine when Anne had equally failed to provide the all important son an heir.

    She wasnt a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but like Catherine she was fighting for he childs future.”

    Thanks for the comment, if only Henry could have seen his daughter Elizabeth rule over England!

  13. Matterhorn says:

    Thanks for this great post! I am looking forward to the next installment. I must say I find it hard to believe Catherine would lie. If she had, you would expect such a religious woman to be tormented by guilt, yet based on everything I’ve ever read of her she always seems to have had an inner serenity coming from considering herself in the right and having a clear conscience.

    “And when ye had me at the first, I take God to be my judge, I was true maid, without touch of man; and whether it be true or no, you put it to your conscience.” Did Henry ever actually deny this?

  14. I do not believe that Anne was the total cause of Catherine’s treatment by Henry. They lived seperately for a while, and he couldn’t stay faithful to her if he tried. Even if their son Henry had lived, I don’t think he would remain faithful to her.

    Anne was the only woman he truly fell in love with. He would do anything to get her, and if that meant getting her out of the way, then he would do it. Although he was doubting the marriage before this, I believe he saw Anne as the reason to end it. It is always the woman’s fault for things ending badly. Henry never believed himself at fault, which is quite infuriating.

    Anne and Catherine were both formidable women in their own right. Anne with her intelligence and wit, Catherine with her royal presence and strength. I don’t think that Anne would purposely try to make her life hell just for kicks. Henry did what he did to try and break her, and it didn’t work. He was going to do what he wanted, regardless of who he hurt along the way. Anne did not need to encourage him, he was doing well enough on his own.

    I admire both women, and find it sad that these two women have been pitted against each other for centuries. Maybe in a different light, they might have been able to get along. Neither deserved the treatment they received from the man they loved.

  15. Sharon Miner says:

    I think Catherine may have lied about her marriage to Arthur, after she realized that Henry intended to set her aside. After all, a mother, no matter how religious, will do anything to protect her child. She needed to protect Mary’s right to the throne.
    As for hating Anne, she prpbably did, but had too much dignity and pride to let it show. Queens were not suposed to show any feeling about their husbands mistresses. They accepted it as a fact of life and dealt with it.
    I think she truly love Henry and hoped he would return to her.But she also knew that kingdoms need heirs and that she was beyond the point of providing one.
    I have always wondered what would have happened if she had been able to provide Henry with a male heir. Would he have stayed with her and just kept a mistress?
    Or what if she had accepted the fact the England needed an heir and stepped aside for Anne? Would Henry have treated her and Mary with digbity and respect?

  16. Emma says:

    I think Henry would have treated Catherine very well if she had steped aside and even found a way to keep Mary legitimate (offspring of anulled marriages where the couple had married in good faith were often allowed to keep thier legitmate status). As far as I can remember Henry only turned on people if they didn’t supply him with what he wanted be it a son, loyalty or a pretty bride. I think Catherine hated Anne but was too clever a politican to show it. By refusing to attack Anne her image as a saintly wronged woman was enhanced.

  17. Sarah says:

    Would Mary still have been in line for the throne if Catherine had gone into a convent?

    I wonder if she knew how far Henry would go with the Church of England. To be such a religious person and a mother must have been hard with the choices she had to make. Keep her daughter legitimate or watch helplessly as the Church of England came into being. Maybe she thought (or prayed) that Henry wouldn’t go that far.

    It is interesting to wonder what would have happened had Catherine given in to Henry. Would the reformation still had gone on?

  18. Cynthia says:

    I think that Henry already had it in mind to rid himself of Catherine before Anne came on the scene, and so knowing his propensity for being a tyrant do not think his conduct toward Catherine can be laid at the feet of anyone else.

    I personally do believe Catherine lied about her marriage to Arthur not being consummated, otherwise Henry would have been unable to get so far with his attempt at annulment for marrying the virginal bride of his brother. Would Catherine’s religious beliefs have kept her from lying? Not necessarily. It’s been my experience with some religious people that they either lie (as we are all prone do) for self-protection or lie in the knowledge that the lie might serve a higher purpose. So, if Catherine truly believed herself to be the anointed wife of Henry, she might have found it venial to lie about her sexual experiences with Arthur. Also, consider that a papal decree was obtained so that Henry might marry Catherine in the first place–this would not have been necessary if the marriage had remained unconsummated.

    Finally, I believe that some of Princess Mary’s attitude toward Anne was inspired by Catherine. I cannot prove this, of course, since children of divorce often are rankled by the new spouse, but I do believe Catherine was the sort of person who knows how to appear innocent without truly being so. One can say, “I pray for you because I’m worried about your eternal soul.” In saying so, one does two things–establish one’s own superiority and infer that a wrong has been done by the person one has said this to. I believe this example might signify best how I think Catherine operated.

    Let us not forget that Catherine was the daughter of the formidable Isabella, the woman who made way for the Inquisition. She’s bound to have learned a thing or two politically and religiously from her mother.

  19. Emma_pug says:

    Going off on a slight tangent here: One thing that has always surprised me with the debate over Catherine and Anne, is the idea that you must “pick” sides for one or the other (not talking about your post Claire but just history lovers in general) – it’s always seemed that way with all of his wives. Obviously Anne is my favorite, but I also truly admire Catherine’s incredible strength. When you look at her life – leaving her family at 16 knowing she would never see them again, losing her husband and living as a poor widow at only 17, her mother’s death, and most of all – the babies she lost and the marriage she fought so hard for but also lost. What an incredibly stoic woman. Her rock-solid faith is what kept her going, no doubt. Two amazing women at opposite ends of the spectrum!

  20. Allison says:

    I feel that Henry was just a spoiled rich brat as a child then as a man.
    I’m presuming that most monarchs were.
    What he wanted, every whim had to be catered to. No one said no to the King. Saying no meant treason and death, so he grew up with a completely warped sense of himself an power.

    The women around him were in my opinion pawns in a game. Each controlled by their father’s uncles, and mothers to gain favour, position and wealth within the court.
    Their lives were completely in contrast to the everyday citizens.
    Life for the court was a round of masques, banquets, jousts, hunts, and entertainment. It was all about keeping the monarch happy at whatever cost.

  21. Emma says:

    Here’s a question if anyone can help me out. Catherine said that she would only accept the Pope’s judgement on her marriage. After Charles sacked Rome and took the Pope hostage he was unable to give Henry the annulment. When Pope Clement asked her to retire to a nunnery wasn’t this strongly indicating he would have given the annulment if he could. As a catholic wasn’t Catherine supposed to do as the Pope asked ?

  22. Laura says:

    Hi, Claire –

    I’m interested in your thoughts about how Henry and Anne supposedly wore yellow and celebrated Catherine’s death, mentioned in many fiction and non-fiction books. Though it’s a TV show, I liked how ‘The Tudors’ portrayed Henry’s reaction, reading that letter at the end of your post and being overcome with emotion while he read it — no matter what, there were feelings after all those years. That’s probably not how it happened, but I liked it. What’s your take?

    Thanks for your interesting posts. 🙂

  23. Claire says:

    Hi Matterhorn,
    I don’t think Henry ever denied what Catherine said. He refused to look at her when she made her speech and just ignored what she said. I know that Catherine would do anything to protect Mary but I can’t see her lying like that and I think you’re right about her serenity coming from a clear conscience.

    Hi LadytoAnneBoleyn,
    I too admire both women, they were both strong enough to stand up to Henry and, no, neither of them deserved what happened to them.

    Hi Sharon,
    I too wonder that. I think Catherine totally amazed Henry by sticking to her guns and refusing to budge, I really think he thought she’d cave in. I think Mary would have had a better relationship with her father if Catherine had quietly gone off to a nunnery and kept Henry happy. I think if Catherine had provided Henry with a living son, he would have had more respect for her and her position would have been secure, but he would have kept on enjoying his mistresses and Catherin would have kept on turning a blind eye. There would have been companionship but no real marriage.

    Hi Emma,
    Yes, I agree with you, Henry would have been kinder to Mary and Catherine if they had played by his rules!

    Hi Sarah,
    Wow, there’s so much to think about when you “what if”. Henry would have had no reason to break with Rome like he did if Catherine had just stepped aside. I’m sure the Reformation would have happened but probably a bit later.

    Hi Cynthia,
    You’re very right about Catherine’s background, her mother was a formidable woman. I actually don’t think that Catherine lied but it’s hard to know what she would have done if she feared for her child – would she have put her daughter’s safety ahead of the “safety” of her own soul? Yes, probably, but I still don’t think she lied.
    I agree with you about Mary but I think her behaviour and feelings towards Anne came more from seeing for herself how her mother suffered and how her father treated both her and her mother, rather than Catherine’s feelings rubbing off on her, after all, she actually didn’t see that much of Catherine – very sad.

    Hi Emma_pug,
    It is weird how we’re supposed to take sides! I refuse to! Although Anne Boleyn is my primary focus because I find her a mystery (and that excites me!), I admire Catherine of Aragon immensely. Catherine was incredibly important and was Henry’s wife for over 20 years – she deserves our attention too. I really don’t think that we should have to pick – there was no war between the two of them.

    Hi Allison,
    Yes, Henry had no sense of reality really did he? He was so used to getting his own way and hearing what he wanted to hear. He must have always wondered who his true friends were and who really loved him.

    Hi Emma,

    An interesting one. I think it was Campeggio who advised her to go gracefully – to step down and enter a convent. I think it was advice, rather than a direct order from the Pope, and obviously her taking this advice would have made the situation easier for everyone. I think Catherine would have been happier too, as she was by this time very strict in her religion – wearing a hairshirt and praying for hours and hours a day etc. But, Catherine believed that her marriage was true and that she had made marriage vows before God and so she fought for what she believed. A strong woman.

    Hi Laura.
    I am actually going to look at the whole wearing yellow issue in my next post on Anne’s feelings about Catherine. I too thought Henry reading the letter in “The Tudors” was very moving. Although Catherine’s death must have been a relief in some ways for him, he had been with her for so long and had truly loved her in the beginning. They had a daughter together and had shared the heartbreak of losing children so I’m sure her death did hit him. I’ll discuss it more next week but it is said that both he and Anne wept in private (separately) after hearing of Catherine’s death.

  24. Rochie says:

    So many wonderful and thought-provoking replies! I agree that it is quite possible Arthur did not consummate his marriage – his comments being typical male bravado among fellows – ‘what a thirsty night’s work!’ and so on.

    Katherine behaved with immense dignity throughout. The worst for Katherine would have been the guilt she would have felt, a sense of failure during her final years over not bringing forth a healthy male heir. The sense that this might have led indirectly to the Reformation, in which Henry broke with Rome in order to marry Anne would have pained her terribly – as she witnessed the beginnings of the brutal destruction of her own Catholic Church in what had become her adopted homeland of England.

    Would she have blamed herself for this? I think it is possible. It would have troubled her terribly, far more than her marriage being annulled. She ended her days a very penitent woman – attending endless masses and even, it is said, wearing a hair shirt – guilt on a monumental scale. Poor lady!

  25. Bassania says:

    If Catherine did lie about consummating the marriage to Arthur, i would think that it was to her benefit, she was determined to become the queen of england and if she had to lie in order to do that, well then, thats what she did. Personally i think the marriage was consummated, because as mentioned in earlier posts, they both knew that it was their duty to consumate the marriage. But yes being a catholic, te guilt probably would have eaten away at her conscience. However, i also believe that given their age and Arthur’s virile manliness, that if they had actually consumated the marriage, Catherine would have gotten pregnant

  26. lana says:

    iI think it is very normal for catherine to hate Lady Anne for she took her husband but i also think she somehow knew deep down that it was going to happen eventually.Anne was only a victim as well ,,although i can’t deny that Henry loved her but also he mistreated her in the end.i’m sorry “Catherine admirers” but i feel deeply connected to Anne boleyn and my heart always aches when i remember the outcome of her life after all the love King Henry had for her.i think what people never take into consideration is that the problem doesn’t lie in the women of Henry but in Henry himself,he was sick and Anne Bolyn deserved to be cherished.Again in my opinion,,lol

    1. Andromeda says:

      Hiya, Lana!!! As a Catherine admirer, please don’t feel the need to apologise. I love all six of the queens, and I can understand your connection to Anne. She really was interesting. I wonder what would have happened if she had married Harry Percy. instead of Henry VIII.
      I actually find myself most connected to Catherine Howard! I feel awful for her.
      Henry definitely was a messed up little man, wasn’t he?

  27. Julz says:

    I respect and pity both women greatly. Catherine, for her unwavering belief that she was Henry’s wife, Anne for holding off for so long (six years). It must have been a reat sexual relief for her when she finally gave in. I like to give an the benefit of the doubt and say that she did not send poison to Catherine and Mary, but who knows. I always feel teary when I read Catherine’s last letter to Henry. It is very touching. I wonder how he felt when he read it. I hope he felt a bit guilty.

    I know that in Tudor times, it was lawful for a man to beat his wife. Did Elizabeth support women’s rights not to be beaten and to be given a proper education?

  28. JUNE DECK says:

    I t has always seemed to me that her marriage to Arthur was consummated, in those days I have read they pretty well stood in the bed chamber with curtains drawn to attest to the fact the deed was done. If not then it comes down to a question of semmantics, somewhat like ole slick willy saying ‘I did not have sex with that woman’, it would seem some sort of sexual behavior went on in that bedchamber.He was a boy in our eyes, now, but we know without doubt that boys his age are quite capable. Of course that makes her a liar, or just unschooled in the ways of sexual behavior, but she herself was in a precarious position after Arthurs death and was neither a Royal or a commoner, she was in court as a sort of nothing, alone in a strange country, she must have felt she needed to deny sex with Arthur in order to be safe and marry Henry who undoubtably loved her,or lusted for her, and who she felt she could deal with as a husband. As for her feelings about Anne, she must have hated her, just as she would have hated all of Henry’s daliances. When she percieved Anne to be a formidable threat we will never know, but it is safe to say she hated her long before she knew Anne wasn’t going the way of his other mistresses. Saint, I think not, she ended up a religious zealot, unable to waver in thought or deed. I have read her biographies, but I have never felt sorry for her end, I feel she brought much of it on herself and saw herself as a martyr, in the end, she died alone.

  29. Aimee says:

    I’m doubtful Catherine of Aragon hated Anne Boleyn, BUT I DO think hate for the miserable situation may have led to aversion for her. Catherine was an intelligent woman, and had lived a lengthy marriage with Henry VIII. I think she knew her man and knew what he was capable of. I think she knew Anne had no power, rank, or legitimate protection from the King’s pursuit of her.

    She may have resented Anne, but I don’t think it was a personal thing. More along the lines of “Why DOES he have his mind SET on this girl? It’s making him crazy.”

    I also find it very plausible Catherine pitied Anne. If the King could throw his wife of 20+ off without much grief — a Spanish princess HIGHLY popular with her English subjects — she probably knew better than anyone how he was capable of mistreating Anne if she didn’t provide the requisite male heir. You can’t live with someone that long in an intimate relationship and not be aware of all their “warts.” She knew about the other badly treated ex-mistresses (lesser gentlewomen, like Anne.)

  30. Claire says:

    I’m so grateful for all the wonderful comments. I love hearing other people’s points of view and debating history, that’s what makes history so much fun! Thank you all for taking the time to comment.

  31. Claire says:

    Hi Rochie,
    I really do feel for Catherine. What an end to her life! To go from beloved Queen, with all the respect and trappings that the title brought her, to ending up living in one room and wearing a hair shirt. Did she blame herself for not preventing Henry’s atrocities? I wonder.

    Hi Bassania,
    You would think that Catherine would have become pregnant if the marriage had been consummated as she did not seem to have trouble conceiving. Perhaps Arthur’s comments were simply male bravado, as Rochie said, perhaps Arthur had problems…who knows? And the only person that did know for sure was Catherine.

    Hi Lana,
    Yes, the problem lay with Henry, not his women.

    Hi Julz,
    I’m not sure that Elizabeth I did anything really to stop wife beating or for women’s rights, apart from obviously showing that she did not need a man to help her rule effectively. I too find Catherine’s letter very moving, she obviously loved Henry with all her heart.

    Hi June,
    I wonder when Catherine realised that Anne was more than just one of Henry’s mistresses. She had no reason to suspect that things would turn out the way they did. What a shock!
    We cannot know what happened between Catherine and Arthur but if the marriage was consummated then Catherine’s lie is understandable. She was a young widow in need of help.

    Hi Aimee,
    I too think Catherine would have pitied Anne. If Catherine, with her royal blood and connections, had not been able to keep the King then how could lowly Anne? Catherine knew Henry like nobody else, they’d been married for so long, she knew what he was like and what he was capable of.

    1. kimberly says:

      “Boys mature at about 15 or 16.” arthur died at 15.5. this could easily explain why she couldn’t conceive. they’d been married for 1/2 a year, but how long were they sick for? also, “Both early and late puberty can run in families. There can be other causes, too.”

  32. Lady says:

    I don’t think Catherine lied about Arthur. She said the truth, her inmortal soul was more important for her than anything on earth. And concernig Anne, I think she thought Anne was not the King’s true wife.

  33. Gina says:

    HI, I have read alot of biagraphic and fictional books on the characters as well. They almost always pain Catherine as a saint!! However,we must remember that her mother and father were both soldiers! and she herself waged a large bloody battle in Scotland. I can say I honestly think that she hated Anne! However, like a general she was planning her defense against the enemy. I think she kept her feelings about her, close to the vest so to speak.
    I honestly do feel sorry for her but I also feel sorry for Anne, who was painted into such a corner by Henry’s advances. It’s obvious by some of the love letters that I have read from Henry that she tried to “hold him off” thiking (just like Catherine did, I am sure) that he would soon tire of the chase and move on to someone else!! However, when it was obvious that he would not, she played the cards to her advantage. Good for her, in a time when women were disposable (even a queen or princess) Unfortunately, her victory in becoming queen was short lived. The same ambitions that caused her risel also caused her downfall!

  34. Gina says:

    Ooh I also agree that Catherine was a royal through and through and would have considered the consumation of the marriage with Arthur her duty. Also, after he died I believe they were watching her very closely for signs of pregnancy!

  35. Nur says:

    I am sure Catherine of Aragon felt betrayed and used but I think she was rational enough to realize who was actually to blame . Her supposed husband Henry VIII. With Catherine’s breeding and education she would never dump all the blame on Anne. But Catherine with all her goodness was only human so she realized that blaming Henry was o way to ensure a secure future for herself and more importantly her beloved daughter- Mary. I think that is why she concentrated more on showing Henry the validity of their marriage then on playing the blame game. Bottom line Catherine was simply the victim of her husband’s inability to control his lust!

  36. Jill says:

    Wouldn’t it be an interesting script if someone were to come up with a scenario where Henry VIII, The Duke of Norfolk, and Thomas Cromwell were tried before a jury of their peers such as Anne and George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, Sir Thomas More, and Wolsey to find them guilty of their crimes. But without these incidents would we have had Charles II that basically transformed England to a country where Catholics and Protestants could worship in their own way. We would not evolved into a country wherein people could practice their faith as their consciences dictated.

  37. Jill says:

    I would like to believe that Catherine felt a certain kinship with Anne in that what the King had done to her for political reasons, would surely be done to Anne. For Anne to have excused Henry knowing full well that he had been her downfall prior to execution tells me that she too was a lady to be reckoned with given that Henry had summond a French executioner before she was even tried or found guilty. The only issue I have is that if these people had nothing to lose since they were being sent to their death, why not accuse Henry, Cromwell and the others responsible for their deaths and accuse them of murder.

  38. Claire says:

    Hi Jill,
    Yes, I’d like to believe that too and I think Catherine knew that Anne would suffer like she had done.
    People did not speak out at their executions because of the worry that the people they left behind would suffer for their words. Anne needed to ensure that Elizabeth would be safe and the men wanted to protect their loved ones from the wrath of the King. Leanda de Lisle, in her book “The Sisters Who Would be Queen” writes:
    “Public executions were carefully choreographed and the rituals of a beheading followed a strict code. Prisoners gave a last speech in which they would pronounce themselves judged guilty by the laws of the land, and content to die, as prescribed by the law. It was a final act of obedience, one that acknowledged the supreme importance to society of the rule of the law. They would then hold themselves up as examples of the fate of all those who sinned against God and King. If they were innocent of the crime for which they were convicted, they knew that God was punishing them for something, and also that, on some level, they had failed the society into which they had been born. They did not doubt that they deserved to die. Their speeches concluded with a request for forgiveness and the hope that their sovereign would reign long and happily.”
    As you can see from the speeches that Anne and the men gave, they were all following this expected formula and the belief in original sin meant that they all believed they were sinners who deserved to die. What strength of character they showed!

  39. june says:

    I am reading about Katherine right now and my earlier comment sounds a little hateful, but, I cannot help but feel that Katherine held some of the cards in her own hands and chose to be what she was in the end. Katherine was a devout woman, that is a fact, but I feel stubbornness played a big part in her decisions. I like to think as I read about her that it was Mary that kept her from giving in to Henry, but even at that she did her daughter no favors, as Mary grew to be bitter and even hateful, which was perhaps not neccessary.

  40. Claire says:

    Hi June,
    I don’t think you come across as hateful at all. I think Catherine was in an awful position and with hindsight we can see that it probably would have been betetr for everyone concerned if she had gone into a convent but she was worried for her daughter’s future and did not want to give up the man she loved. Mary did grow up to be bitter and twisted and Catherine’s actions did have a lot to do with it but Henry was the puppeteer, he was the one in control and only he can be blamed. Poor Mary and poor Catherine. Did anyone get away from Henry without being hurt or danaged in some way??

  41. Matt says:

    I think that Anne didnt and doesnt get enough reconission. Dont get me wrong i feel for Katherine i do but lets not forget how much Anne had accomplished. She did something that changed history. With her strong will she mde the king break ties with Rome and not to forget she is the mother of one of the greatest rulers in the monarchy. She wanted more and hse went for it can we really put her down for that??? But like i said i do feel very sad for Katherine id but i dont forget what Annes strong did. Though the ending was bad. But does anyone agree that she was strong and so much different for that time???

  42. cheryl says:

    Let’s not forget, if Wolsey had not nixed the marriage to Percy all this would be moot.

  43. Great info, thanks for the post!

  44. Lis says:

    In regards to Catherine not being able to lie or omitted some truths, she outright lied at least in a couple of important occasions. From “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” by Starkey:

    “So Catherine had lied to her father. And earlier, she had deceived her husband about her phantom pregnancy … In both cases she had acted out of fear and desperation.”

    I think it is likely that regarding her first marriage with Arthur, it had happened so many years before and perhaps involved such little sexual contact, that Catherine might have convinced herself that nothing between them had taken place. Or at least, not anything that would not permit her from being Henry’s wife.

  45. Ana says:

    I don’t think the two women necessarily hated each other, but each felt their own claim on Henry was proper and justified. Catherine’s marriage to Henry was something she’d waited on desperately for seven years after the death of Arthur. As to whether or not this first marriage was consummated, I frankly don’t think it was. I think they were both young and that some contact took place, but I don’t think she would have lied in court and before God and husband that it had been. Her letters to Ferdinand are a separate situation for she had many reasons to be cautious and prevaricate in her communications to him (the deliverance of her dowry, his treatment of her older sister Juana after the death of her mother Isabella, his ever-shifting alliance to her adopted country, etc.). There was much deception in the house of Trastamara. Catherine lying to her father comes as no surprise.

    Catherine had suffered and waited for Henry. She’d also been married to him for twenty years, bore his children tragically, and ruled as his regent triumphantly when he waged war on France (she was successful against Scotland; he won only a minor victory) If she hated anyone, I imagine her greatest animosity was towards Wolsey who she wrongly believed had placed this idea of annulment in Henry’s mind and stated publicly that the King had been badly advised. How ironic that the man she viewed as the enemy to her marital condition should be brought asunder by the woman who was publicly thought to be the sole cause of the King’s Great Matter.

    Catherine was the daughter of a warrior king and queen. Anne’s Boleyn and Howard ancestors were no less shrewd, intelligent and ambitious. These were two female Titans.

  46. Esther Sorkin says:

    I’m not sure why Catherine would have to lie about consummating her marriage with Arthur. Deuteronomy 25:5-7 creates an exception to Leviticus and says that if a man dies childless, his brother must marry the widow, so the dead man’s name is not lost. Arthur died childless … so the exception should apply, even if the marriage was consummated.

    David Starkey suggested testicular cancer as a cause for Arthur’s death. If so, I would think that might interfere with full consummation of the marriage. I’ve often thought that Arthur tried, but perhaps did not complete full penetration … and Catherine really didn’t know what she was missing until marriage to Henry.

    After all, if Catherine’s marriage to Arthur was consummated, then why do you think Henry kept silent when Catherine said something along the lines of “and whether I was a true maid or not, I put it to your conscience.” Henry was certainly vocal enough about Anne of Cleves!

  47. JulieG says:

    Just out of curiosity…someone stated in reply to one of the other comments that a papal decree had been obtained to enable Katherine to marry Henry, and that wouldn’t have been necessary if the marriage had not been consummated.

    Do we know exactly what the decree said? I’m just wondering if there was anything in the decree that could be taken as renewing Katherine’s state as a maid. As a devout Catholic she would have believed that the Pope was relaying God’s orders to the world, so in effect a decree from the Pope stating she was still a virgin would be a command from God himself. If that was the case she could truly say, whatever the physical facts, that she was a virgin when she married Henry and feel it was the truth.. I’m probably barking up the wrong tree completely there, but it just occurred to me…

    I think that Catherine didn’t hate Anne initially. Given her upbringing, her religion and the fact she’d been Queen for a pretty long time, I’m sure she thought Anne was just another mistress at first. Realising that Henry wanted Anne to provide heirs as she was no longer capable must have been pretty horrible, but my belief is that she thought he would reconsider. Mary was healthy, and could co-reign with a King as her mother Isabella had done..what was the problem? I think she thought that once either her relatives in Spain or the Pope, or both, got involved, Henry would back down, stop his stupidity, and that Anne would continue as his mistress for a while. Mary would be named as his heir, a suitable alliiance would be found for her, and that would be that. Henry’s refusal to acknowledge the Pope must have hit her in a number of ways..humiliation that he was so desparate to be rid of her, fury at the possible loss of her position, fear for her reputation and also for Henry’s immortal soul, grief for the loss of her husband and her realisation that her daughter might well never be queen…it must have represented the loss of pretty much everything she had. I don’t think she would have been human if she didn’t hate Anne after that.

    1. Violet says:

      Henry probably brought up the fact that up until that point, England had only been ruled by one English Queen, Matilda, and it was a failed attempt.

    2. Tee says:

      Katherine and Henry were within prohibited degrees of cosanguinty t (they were close cousins). Katherine was also considered Henry’s sister because of her marriage to Arthur. Marriage to a close cousin had to be excused by the Pope. The Pope was also needed to sort out Henry’s proposed marriage to his “sister”.

  48. tansyuduri says:

    I don’t think they where consummated at all. Personally I think Caroline Meyer’s take on it in her historical fiction book about Catherine seems the most likely.

  49. Cynthia Layne says:

    I don’t think the marriage of Catherine and Arthur was consummated for one reason: it would have been completely out of character for a devout Catholic like Catherine to lie to her parents, Henry, the Pope, and finally to God about so important an issue. She would certainly have known that she would have been putting her soul in danger to have lied about such a serious matter, and I don’t think she did.

  50. Catalina Anne says:

    I admire both Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon. I feel that Katherine was a strong woman. I believe that she did not consummate her marriage with Arthur. I also believe that if Anne could have helped Katherine she would have. Plus I think the whole “Team Aragon” and “Team Boleyn” thing is stupid, they were both admirable women and they both deserve credit as queen.

  51. Steven says:

    I read about Catherine and Author when I was in my early teens. It is refreshing to come across the same story again while I was browsing around the internet today. Me too thinks Catherine knows Anne would suffer.

  52. kim says:

    i think that catherine would’ve really resented/hated anne but believed that anne would meet her doom because that would’ve made her feel better. i think that she didn’t mention anne because she would’ve wanted henry to do what she requested including finishing her letter. she probably would’ve suspected that henry still liked/loved anne. her comment about anne was probably a side-swipe.

  53. Kaz says:

    After 20+ years of marriage, Queen Catherine would have known how her King was and behaved – and she did the right thing by turning a blind eye to his weird ways.

    I think Queen Catherine also had a beautiful heart in that yep, she knew her marriage was not just purely based on love but also politics, and it is obvious that her heart did fall in love with the King in a pure manner.

    I don’t think this had anything to do with Anne personally, because I doubt she was the first lady-in-waiting to have an affair with henry. I can totally understand how this is a huge deal because this particular affair is making the King so obsessed with a lady-in-waiting – enough to throw his Queen out in the cold, even though she truly loved him. I can feel Queen Catherine was trying to put some sense into this narcissist, but to no avail (as usual). I guess it’s like a wife being dumped for the office secretary type scenario, when the wife knows it’s not the first time that the husband has played with the secretaries.

    At the end of it all you just accept everything with dignity, lo que sera, sera. There was no better person to do this than Queen Catherine 🙂

  54. Kaz says:

    PS and the biggest thing of all in the end, I can’t remember where, but even Henry himself admits that if his first marriage was a good one (with a son), that Queen Catherine would by far be his wife. So to top ALL of this history off, henry himself admitted that Queen Catherine was a top class lady, which is the best compliment in the whole world 🙂

  55. Violet says:

    I think that Catherine may have felt like she had to treat Anne well, because the alternative would have alienated her from Henry, her one true love and sole means of support. It may not have been a choice for her. Anne was in favor and Henry wanted Anne. To lash out at Anne would have brought disfavor on Catherine. As it was, Catherine’s refusal to cooperate with Henry’s demands brought isolation and separation from Mary. I have dealt with ‘the other woman,’ and admire Catherine.

  56. Anastasia says:

    Great post and so many wonderful comments that give you a great deal of stuff to think about! I have nothing to add here since nothing I had in my mind has been left unsaid, I just felt like saying how much I enjoy this website in general.

  57. Royal Marigold says:

    Hi I have just joined this forum and I am enthralled. I would like to make this comment if I may. I believe that KOA was a very devout and religious woman, BUT was she that devout when a new bride and much younger?

    Maybe she did have sex with Arthur, however as in those days they believed your soul was cleansed by going to confession, therefore maybe this is how she dealt with it. As far as Henry goes, he was not that adept at knowing if any of his wives were virgins.

    1. Trish says:

      One’s sin may be forgiven after an honest confession, and penance, but that only applies to the sin that is confessed. If she’d had sex with Arthur, then lied about it 20 years later, each lie to each person, including lies to the pope himself, would be a separate new sin. At the time the question of the legitimacy of the marriage was raised in connection to annulment, Catherine was not a young girl, she was a mature and very pious woman.

  58. Clarknt67 says:

    It is interesting to hear a contemporary woman say of Catherine’s trumial testimony, “Well, I would have ripped my cheating husband and his whore a new one.”

    This however is the point of studying history. Women just had no place to do such things then. Catherine may have been a very forgiving soul. Or she very well may felt filled with rage at the injustice of it all. (And I do agree it was all terribly unjust to all the women unfortunate enough to cross Henry’s path.) But even if she was furious, she was likely smart enough to know counter attacking the King and Anne was a hopeless battle. There were no sympathetic ears to be found. That fidelity was expected of women and infidelity forgiven of men was just how the world worked then. By the standards of the time, Catherine’s “failure” to deliver a son was a tragedy every man in the court could feel sympathy for the King. They didn’t know, and it wouldn’t matter anyway, that the gender of a child is the father’s contribution to the process. Catherine had just one job as Queen: Produce a male heir. Anything and everything else was unfortunately secondary (as Anne Boleyn and all the subsequent wives eventually found out as well).

    And we can be glad that today women have many more vocations and pursuits available to them than just producing sons for their men. Whew!

  59. Clarknt67 says:

    The biggest “What if…” question for me is: What if Catherine had delivered Henry a living male heir into adulthood? And I suspect strongly none of this would have happened: the divorce, the break with the Catholic Church, the subsequent parade of new wives.

    I suspect Henry and Catherine would have remained wed (in name at least) and raised the male heir. Henry would have had many affairs as he did before the whole mess. Some fleeting, some long term. He just would have felt comfortable in his home life with a compliant wife who dutifully turned a blind eye and cared mostly about raising the next king. I suspect his desire to marry Anne (and everyone after) was as much motivated by the need to legitimize their issue as by his love. With no need to legitimize an heir, Henry would have been content to stay with Catherine and have his cake on the side.

    It is certainly fascinating to think how much of history was effected by the simple biological chance lottery that Mary was not born Martin.

  60. june deck says:

    I will always believe that so much would have been different and so many gallons of blood spared had Katherine just bent a little. She knew and she, coming from a Royal line herself was never in doubt that Henry, in his mind, coming from where he came, absolutely required a male heir. History showed him wrong, Elisabeth proved him wrong,but that is of no matter because Henry believed a male heir necessary. Why could she not have shown her grace and goodness in just retiring to a nice country house, live well, which I feel sure Henry would have made sure of and give it up? i feel that it ended up being he said she said all about whether or not she had sex with Arthur, and that was her sticking point because it made her out to be a liar. I have always thought she did go to Henry a virgin,and because or the mores of the day her word on that was of the uppermost importance. In other words Henry really messed up, he may have been able to convince her to let him go by not making her virginity the big sticking point.

  61. Abbie Allan0May says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for this blog I am using it as a source in my extended project question in year 13!! this has provided great research material!!! 🙂

    1. Claire says:

      I’m so glad it’s helped you and I wish you success with your project.

  62. Mr Mark Francis Gillan says:

    I am a direct ancestor of Ann Boleyn through her mother’s sister Alice Bulter nee Boleyn. I am an Irish citizen and a great addmire of Ann’s it’s also a family name like St Ann. I am Roman Catholic but my grand father was Anglican Welsh through my mother’s side of the family tree. They were certainly Royalist we weren’t. Funny enough Ann was a fine musician and singer and that’s what I became through my musical training and had attended music school as she would have been pleased with us crew.

    I had studied the harpsichord here at home and she was fine harpsichordist herself and artist Elizabeth Tudor played the harpsichord but was not interested in the harp as Ann was. For my first year degree course I studied the cause of Irish nationalism and the Irish harp and how the harp here at survived under Elizabeths Rule. Henry himself was a harpsichordist and lute player.

    As a great 16th century grand nephew to Ann I have been mentioned in letters and comments through out her life and I am a live and well so far with the Royal illness. Through the other Royal houses of Europe we have now problems in are present history and working on these issues. I consider myself Irish of Welsh French extraction not of German Russian as individuals had though.

    Our Russian Ambassador here at home does not think so and is a rude character on us. I have a great grand Uncle Sergei Romanov and don’t like him. If anyone no’s more about this character i’d like to know as he’s making life difficult for me personally which is not acceptable to us as a family. Nothing more going on here excepting our music making and especially for this christmas. Wish everyone luck in the near future.

    Best regards,

    Mr Mark F Gillan

  63. Bella says:

    I am fascinated by this time in history and agree with so many of you that Queen Catherine was a very smart and wise woman so regardless of how she truly felt about Queen Anne she wouldn’t made any any comments public.. I think both were great ladies..

    I however do believe that Queen Catherine did “fib” about the consummation of her marriage to Prince Arthur.. there was a Royal decreed that was send to the Pope requesting permission for the marriage regardless if there was a consummation of the previous marriage.. Queen Catherine spend many years waiting around until finally after 7 long years she Married King Henry VIII..

    There has been some cases were a female has gone many years without having sexual intercouse that when they do finally have it, it has felt sort of like loosing their virginity again, and some experience light bleeding and others a little more than that.. so, perhaps on her second wedding night she could have produce the same results as a untouched woman..

  64. Jesica Loru Koba says:

    I don’t know whether Catherine lied about her consummation with Arthur or not but I still believe that she really never lied about it.Even if she did,I don’t blame her.If I were her,I’d probably done the same thing too.Her life was at stake and she did what she could to preserve it.Besides,I feel like each one of Henry’s wife was a victim to his sin and viciousness.He was the real jerk here.I feel like out of all of Henry’s wife,Catherine is the most patient and serene one.

  65. Trish says:

    I seriously doubt that Catherine lied about the consummation of her marriage to Arthur, especially considering the fact that she knelt at Henry’s feet and said to him in front of witnesses that she was a true maid at their marriage. She was steadfast in her claim when she could have had an “out” by retreating to a convent, which might have made things easier for her and for Mary. People at the time loved and supported Catherine, whom they had known as a wise and loyal queen for many years. Not everyone who wore a hairshirt did it for penance – some did it for devotion, and Catherine was long known for her many pious acts of devotion. I think Catherine firmly maintained her status as queen since her marriage as a true maid because it was the truth. Arthur’s youthful boasts and blood on sheets (which could be obtained with the help of a chicken in pre/DNA days) are not Catherine contradicting her claim and could have been products of Arthur wanting to seem manly and the court’s desire for consummation and speedily produced heirs.

  66. Maya says:

    I think an important fact that this comment overlooks is that if Henry set his sights on them, the women couldn’t really have denied him anyway. Perhaps Catherine or Anne of Cleves might have been able to, because their families were powerful and not under Henry’s power. The rest of them, not so much. Not all of them necessarily deliberately aimed for the position.

    And although to many it would probably be worth it, one has to wonder if none of the latter wives ever had any misgivings after the way Catherine (his wife for over two decades), Anne (the woman he defied the Church for) and Jane (who gave him his desired son and was reportedly very meek and humble) were treated. Or perhaps the people at that time didn’t have access to all the information we have now and they truly believe Catherine and Anne deserved their fates and that the King treated Jane well.

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