Catherine of AragonThank you so much for all the wonderful comments that you all left on “Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon – Part 1”, I didn’t realise that I’d spark off so much discussion!

Last week I examined Catherine of Aragon and her feelings about the annulment (“The Great Matter”), her husband and Anne, and today I’m going to look at Anne and Henry’s treatment of Catherine and examine whether Anne Boleyn was responsible for the ill-treatment that Catherine received.

Whatever our opinion on the matter, we cannot deny that Catherine of Aragon was treated despicably. She was a royal princess and Queen of England who deserved to be treated as such. All Catherine did was stick to her guns, insist that she was Henry’s true wife (which she was) and refuse to be bullied by a King who wanted his own way. Catherine kept her dignity and acted in a Queenly manner and yet she was treated with cruelty.

The Treatment of Catherine of Aragon

Due to the fact that Catherine refused to accept that she was no longer queen, and refused to accept the validity of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne and the legitimacy of Princess Elizabeth, she was banished to Kimbolton Castle, a cold and remote property. Her maids were reduced to just three and her living allowance was cut drastically.

Sources suggest that she lived in just a small part of the castle, possibly just one room, and that she spent her last days wearing a hair shirt, praying for hours each day and only leaving her room to attend mass. She was forbidden from seeing, and even contacting, her daughter Mary and the last year of her life must have been one filled with heartbreak. It is no wonder that her health deteriorated rapidly and that she died  on 7th January 1536 after weeks of illness.

Who’s to Blame?

Who is to blame for this cruel treatment though?



Catherine of AragonSurely a man could not treat his wife of over 20 years in this way? Henry VIII had loved Catherine enough to rescue her from a precarious situation when her husband, Prince Arthur, had died, and their first few years of marriage seemed happy. Henry had trusted and respected Catherine enough to leave her in charge of England and fighting off the Scots while he dealt with France, and they had shared the joy of having a daughter and the heartbreak of losing child after child. Surely Henry could not be to blame!

See, it’s easy for people to blame the wicked harlot, the “concubine”, the “goggle eyed wh*re”, or the other woman for Catherine’s suffering and her ultimate demise. No wonder Anne Boleyn is often portrayed as a cunning and spiteful woman who felt threatened by Catherine of Aragon and her daughter Mary and so wanted them out of the way. It was even suggested, by the Seymour alliance when Anne fell from favour, that Anne had planned to poison Catherine of Aragon, the Lady Mary and the Duke of Richmond (Henry Fitzroy)! Chapuys, the Imperial Ambassador, who loved to think ill of Anne, wrote of Catherine’s death:-

“It was a pain in the stomach, so violent that she could retain no food. I asked her physician several times if there was any suspicion of poison. He said he was afraid it was so, for after she had drunk some Welsh beer, she had been worse and that it must have been a slow and subtle poison for he could not discover evidences of simple and pure poison.” (Source: “Thomas Cromwell” – Robert Hutchison)

and he was obviously implicating Anne in this, seeing as he had previously written of how he felt the lives of both Mary and Catherine were in danger from Anne and her followers:-

“Neither the Queen nor the Princess will be safe for a moment while the Concubine still has power; she is desperate to get rid of them.” (Alison Weir’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”)

The fact that Catherine’s heart was black, when she was cut open for embalming, also fuelled the conspiracy theories as this was taken as a sign of poisoning. We now know that it was more likely that Catherine died of cancer, although her death could well have been hastened by a “broken heart”. She was not poisoned and Anne Boleyn cannot be blamed for her death or labelled a murderess. But was Anne to blame for Catherine’s treatment? Just how much influence did Anne have over Henry and how did she feel about Catherine?

Anne’s Feelings

To be honest, I think Anne would have to be a saint not to harbour some resentment towards Catherine and Mary. We all know how it feels to go into a relationship where the ex is still lurking in the background. We would not be human if we did not want them to just disappear! Who can blame Anne for wanting Catherine and Mary to disappear into the background and pretend that they just didn’t exist?!

There is actually not much evidence to testify to how Anne felt about Catherine. In “The Tudors”, we see Anne having a fit about Catherine still making Henry’s shirts (something she is said to have carried on doing) and Ives makes the point that “Chapuys’ letters are full of her [Anne] railing against Mary and of her lurid threats to curb her ‘proud Spanish blood'” but this was probably no more than Anne ranting, after all Anne was known for her quick temper. Here was Anne trying to be recognised as Queen and trying to get her daughter recognised as heir to the throne, can we blame her for her frustration and resentment of her predecessor and of the threat to her daughter’s future throne?

It is obvious that Anne felt great relief on hearing the news of the death of Catherine of Aragon – her rival was gone, hurrah! Her relief and happiness are shown by the fact that she rewarded the messenger with a gift and that she and Henry celebrated BUT who wore yellow and what did this mean?

There are different accounts of Henry and Anne’s celebration of Catherine’s death. Ives talks of how Henry cried out:

“God be praised that we are free from all suspicion of war!”

(Source: Eric Ives’ “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”)

and that the following day, Anne and Henry were dressed head-to-toe in yellow and that they paraded their daughter, Elizabeth, triumphantly.

Retha Warnicke writes of how the chronicler, Edward Hall, reported that Anne wore yellow but that this could have actually been a misunderstanding due to Anne redecorating her confinement chamber at Eltham in yellow or it could be seen as a failure to mourn. Warnicke points out that Chapuys’ records show that it was Henry, not Anne, who wore yellow and that it was he who paraded the Princess Elizabeth so triumphantly.

Hester Chapman, in her book “The Challenge of Anne Boleyn”, reports how Chapuys records Henry VIII’s reaction to Catherine of Aragon’s death as Henry declaring:

“God be praised, the old harridan is dead, we are free from all suspicion of war!”

and that Henry was “transported with joy” and dressed himself in yellow. Anne excused this behaviour by saying that yellow was the Royal Spanish colour of m0urning.

There is much controversy about Henry and/or Anne wearing the colour yellow because in England yellow is generally linked with happiness, not mourning. I have been unable to find a definitive answer. Some suggest that yellow was a mourning colour in Spain at this time, so it is difficult to figure out the motivation behind wearing this colour. Perhaps Henry VIII knew that he would be seen as a hypocrite for wearing black when he had treated Catherine so abominably and perhaps this wearing of yellow was out of respect for her. There are reports that both Henry and Anne wept in private over Catherine’s death, but I have been unable to find solid evidence of this.

So, we have no real evidence of how Anne felt about Catherine and Catherine’s death, but we can see, with hindsight, that it was the beginning of the end for Anne. With Catherine’s death, Henry VIII was free to get rid of Anne and move on to another woman (Jane Seymour) without being forced to return to his “real” wife, Catherine. Henry could not have set Anne aside while Catherine lived.


I apologise for my ramblings but I will conclude with saying that I think that the only person responsible for Catherine’s suffering and ill-treatment was King Henry VIII.

Whether or not you believe that Anne had some magical hold or influence over him, Henry was big and bad enough to make his own decisions. He ordered Catherine to be banished from Court, he sent her away to Kimbolton and gave her rooms to Anne, he forbade her to see or contact Mary, he was ultimately responsible and it was because this woman had defied him. Catherine of Aragon had the nerve (how Henry saw it) to refuse to go quietly. She had humiliated the King at the Legatine Court with her passionate speech, she refused to accept the annulment, she carried on referring to herself as Queen and seeking advice from the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor, she had the tenacity to refuse to go to a convent and she was stirring up trouble for Henry and his new wife. Catherine had to be brought down a peg or two and shown who was boss – he, Henry, would show her!

I truly believe, whatever “The Tudors” or historical fiction would have us believe, that Henry was in ultimate control and that he is the only one to blame for Catherine’s poor treatment and death. Anne was the excuse, not the cause.

What do you think?

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51 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon – Part 2”
  1. Just had this emailed from Julia:

    “Can I just contradict you on one point, Catherine died on January 8th not 7th.
    As for the Tudors, I would not set too much store by that, their leading man is too vain to play the part properly, by the time Henry married Anne he was already over wheight,and the research is poor, in the beginning, in the write up, they put in that Margaret Tudor had been offered to the king of portugal, which is rubbish, Mary Rose was married off to Louis of France.
    If you are looking for Tudor drama, try and download The six wives of Henry VIII starring keith michell and the wonderful Annette Crosbie as Catherine of Aragon, that way anything you are unsure of will come to light.”


  2. Hi Julia,

    Thanks so much for the comment, I always enjoy hearing from you.

    Eric Ives has Catherine’s death as January 7th as do Wikipedia and Retha Warnicke – where did you find 8th January? I’d be interested to know.

    I actually don’t set any store by “The Tudors”, I was in fact using it as an example of how stories are “proliferated”. I love it as entertainment but di not rely on it as evidence. I love the Keith Michell series, I watched it as a girl, brilliantly done, but I must say I prefer my books – bit of a book worm!

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. I haven’t watched The Tudors, thankfully as it turns out because Starkey, the acknowledged Henry expert refers to it as “bonkerama”. I think we must not forget the legacy of Wolsey in the way Catherine was treated. It was Wolsey who taught Henry, not just how to be a king, but that his will was absolute.

    As I might already have mentioned, I am writing an alternative Tudor history detective story, in which Anne did not miscarry the boy child in 1534. My detective is an apothecary, so I have had to do extensive research to make the setting all the more authentic. All the Tudors liked soothsayers. In her essay, “King Henry VIII’s Medical World”, Elizabeth Hurren quotes Henry’s birth chart as revealing someone who had “excessive personality traits. He would be short-tempered, over-sensitive to criticism, drink too much, eat to excess, be very restless…”

    Take a person with these traits and then mix them with a persuasive teacher like Wolsey who assures that person that whatever they will shall be the law. Then add to the blend Anne who had cause to hate Wolsey and who helped engineer his downfall. Now there is nobody to apply a reasoning brake to Henry when he wants anything, however ill-advised. Can you wonder at his reaction when he is crossed? Mix that again with his indoctrinated obsession about a son. Then add in a wife beyond child-bearing who won’t step aside so that he can have the woman he wants and get a son by her. Cook for 6 years and you have the perfect recipe for a rapacious, cruel despot. Catherine was lucky she was a princess of Spain. Her execution would have made her a martyr and created war with most of Europe against England. Blandishments didn’t work with her, reasoning didn’t work. So the only thing left was close confinement in an unhealthy environment. So yes, Henry was mainly to blame, but don’t forget Wolsey’s role in making him what he was.

  4. I have often wondered if Anne ever regretted showing Henry the book about Christian kings and the break with Rome that made Henry absolute ruler of everything. Power corrupts, and absolute power sure did make Henry a more corrupt ruler! I think “The Tudors” is good at portraying the uncertainty of court life and how no one was ever really safe from the king – JRM does not resemble the king in any way but I think he has a good grasp of the essence of Henry’s personality. I was impressed with Natalis Dormer for also showing the inner turmoil that Anne must have gone through during her time with Henry. The show is full of errors, much as HBO’s “Rome” was but it does capture an idea of how turbulent and uncertain Tudor life was – sorry for rambling a bit!

  5. I have to stick up for the Tudors abit here, yes its abit ott, all the actors are beautiful and they make some big mistakes however I do not doubt for a moment that they are totally unaware that they have made these mistakes and for every error there is a reason behind it.
    Remember it is a tv show afterall and needs to please a large audience, every episode needs to include abit of sex, violence, a drama etc. If you look at the small things they have included then the facts are spot on (Just perhaps in the right order etc), for example I went to the British Library a few weeks ago and was amazed to find out Henry did nearly die in a pond like he does in the Tudors. Maybe not the correct date in the Tudors, like I said it has to fit around a tv schedule. However it’s the first time i’ve ever seen it in a programme about Henry and his Wives. In the Library it mentioned it was quite an important event for Henry regarding not having a male heir.
    Anyway back to the post….! I can’t believe Anne would have hated Catherine so much to have made her live in such terrible conditions, maybe she did help persuade Henry to send her away from court, afterall she did seem to have some good methods of persuation… However there was no need for Henry to be so cruel. I think he did that all on his own, afterall he was king and a man and had no need to do anything he didn’t want to!

  6. First of all, being new to this site, I just wanted to say that I enjoy pouring over all the different topics and reading the responses. It’s great to see that I’m in great company with my obsession of Anne Boleyn!

    In response to this post, I agree with the fact that The Tudors is strictly fictional and “Henry” is definitely protrayed in a powerful way, however obviously many things are inaccurate. That’s how things go though! I do enjoy JRM’s performance in the show and Natalie Dormer I feel did a great job and really brought to life Anne and her turmoil through the years that she was being courted by Henry and then while she was married to him as well.

    As far as who was to blame for Catherine’s suffering and mistreatment, I agree that Henry had alot to do with it. He had such a strong personality and thinking back that he wasn’t even supposed to be king in the first place puts a perspective on his behavior. He wasn’t groomed to be king, so he was able to be somewhat “babied” and was free to do things that he wanted. Being that he was used to getting what he wanted and that he was spoiled, it’s natural that when he was embarressed during the trials of “The Great Matter,” he never forgot that. He wanted Anne and would do anything to get to her–even if it did mean that he had to be cruel to the wife who loved him right up until the day she died. I think Catherine’s behavior when she refused to go to a convent obviously angered Henry because she was being defiant and things were not developing for Henry like he wanted. I do have to wonder though, where was Henry’s conscience? Surely he had one and surely he had to have felt bad about what he did to her and not only her, but all the executions and torturing that went on while he was king. I just don’t see why he wouldn’t feel bad deep down inside. The episode in the Tudors when Catherine does die and Henry is shown crying about it is how maybe I like to think about him reacting to her death. I know it probably didn’t happen, but I would like to imagine that Henry had at least a little compassion.

    As far as Anne, I really don’t think she had alot to do with the mistreatment, but perhaps in an indirect way she is to blame. By that I mean that Henry did everything to Catherine because of Anne. So really, if it had been another woman in Anne’s place, we may be sitting here trying to figure out if THAT woman was to blame. I think the hold she had over Henry had alot to do with it because of the great passion Henry had for Anne and the great need he had to be with her. So in the end, I think Henry was pretty much fully to blame. He didn’t have to do what he did to Catherine, yet he did.

  7. Without a doubt Henry is accoutable for Catherine’s ill treatment…as I said earlier…he was having a midlife crisis and needed younger women to make him feel viril.
    One point no one brings up here is “where the heck was the Emporer” in Catherine’s plight? Now-a-days…when one gets divorced or turned-out the woman or man are on their own…some of us get alimony…some not. So since Catherine was a Spanish Princess and the emporer was her nephew…then why the heck didn’t they provide for her or bring her back to Spain…believe me Henry wouldn’t have stopped her…hasta la vista senorita! Watching the Tudors is pure entertainment…that’s all…JRM’s performance as Henry is rediculous…tired of the bulging eyes and pants…lol Showtime is doing a good job of portraying Henry as the true pig he turned out to be…I’m surprised England ran so smoothly at all…with the disruption in the court and the church. No ANNE is not responsible for Catherine’s treatment…both Henry, the English and the Spanish courts with all their POWER mongers are to blame. And finally…Catherine is to blame…she gave up and became the martyr…for such a strong young woman who endured being torn from her homeland to marry Prince Arthur (whom I do think she bedded) then hang on for several years until Henry married her. Then she commands an army to defend England from a Scotland uproar…bears several children and loses too many. Only to let Henry put her aside after 20 years…come on woman…giving up is just not the answer…

  8. Even if Anne was as cruel as depicted in the Tudors, I can’t really blame her. Yes, Catherine was treated despicably, but we also have to think that Catherine herself played a role in that. She humiliated her narcissistic husband at Blackfriars and ACTUALLY COMMITTED TREASON with her hope that Charles V would invade England on her behalf. Anne was executed on the flimsiest of premises, but Catherine actually committed an executable offense. The fact that she did have Charles, her royal blood, and the hearts of the people to back her up saved her from worse than she got. Ironically, had she acquiesced and gone into a convent, things would have been much better for her daughter Mary and England may well have remained Catholic. Her stubbornness cost her the very things she wanted most.

    Don’t get me wrong, Catherine of Aragon was a noble lady with remarkable courage who was treated horribly by the man who was supposed to love her, but let’s not forget that this was a woman who courted martyrdom. She wanted it to look like she was being treated terribly but couldn’t exactly publicly put the blame on the King of England, so she blamed “the king’s wh*re,” “the scandal of Christendom.” She knew what kind of man Henry was and what he was capable of. She pushed and pushed him until he had no choice but to exile her, though in the letter of the law he could have had her killed. I’m damn sure had she been one of the later wives he wouldn’t have thought twice about having her beheaded.

  9. Hi, everyone. This board’s becomming quite addictive.

    To me, the main question concerning who is RESPONSIBLE for the SHODDY and UNFORGIVEABLE abuse (emotional abuse/neglect) of the Queen is simply this: who had the power?

    The simple answer, as always, is Henry VIII.

    That said, I don’t doubt Anne Boleyn would have commented unfavorably against or mocked the Queen for several reasons:

    1. Simple psychology. Most people despise people they’ve wronged. Anne was an intelligent and spiritual woman. I do not doubt in her private thoughts she experienced attacks of conscience regarding her involvement — willing or no — in the Queen’s bannishment. In order to accept her own role (as the “other woman”) Anne had to convince herself that Katherine was somehow “bad” or “flawed” and thus “deserved” the scandalous abbandonment and resultant abuse from her husband. If she accepted Katherine as a “good” woman and the “real” Queen, what did that make Anne? People rationalize incredible situations in order to be able to live with themselves, Tudor England was no different.

    2. Politics. Anne wasn’t exactly chopped liver, but she was hardly daughter of the Queen of Castile. I think Anne may more than once have experienced a healthy dose of inferiority complex in the “contest” of Anne v. Katherine. Katherine was a true Royal, born of Royalty, wed to Royalty, and Mother of Royalty. Even after Henry’s abandonment she was STILL Royal (just not Queen.) Anne was a gentlewoman of “good” family, but at one time deemed too lacking in rank to marry Percy. Anne had to know her main value to Henry as wife/queen (not lover) was breeding stock, not her attractions. So did most of the Court.

    Like any socially/professionally inferior person promoted to a rank or profession s/he hasn’t necessarily earned, Anne probably felt very insecure and threatened by the presence of “real” royals/professionals. Abuse of Katherine and Princess Mary may have been a coping mechanism for her, and she probably rationalized that, with the Queen and the Princess Royal marginalized and out of favor with the King, Anne herself might better establish herself and her own progeny as “true Royals.” If she’d exhibited deference or kindness to them, perhaps it might have been interpreted as tacit acknowledgment on Anne’s part that Katherine and Mary were the “real” wife/daughter of the King, which undermined Anne’s already precarious position.

  10. “She humiliated her narcissistic husband at Blackfriars..”

    Henry VIII humiliated himself.

    “Ironically, had she acquiesced and gone into a convent, things would have been much better for her daughter Mary and England may well have remained Catholic. Her stubbornness cost her the very things she wanted most.”

    I cannot imagine myself in Catherine of Aragon’s shoes, Princess Royal of Spain, Queen of England, mother to the Princess of Wales, aunt of the Holy Roman Emporer, and decide to “admit” my 20+ year marriage was a sham and my children, living or dead, bastards. I cannot imagine myself doing such a thing right now. Especially if I believed it was not the truth.

    Let’s put the blame where it belongs, shall we? Maybe Henry could have offered HER a more palatable “divorce settlement” to get what he wanted. Example, instead of bastardizing Princess Mary, agreeing to honor her rank as Princess of Wales and heir to the throne UNLESS, of course, a prince was born. Perhaps he could have returned her dowry (or agreed the dowry in its entireity should pass to Princess Mary.)

    Everything is negotiable. Henry just felt Katherine should give him his way because he wanted his way. He forgot he was dealing with a QUEEN.

  11. First, I love your site!

    I have to say that I disagree with your statement “Henry could not have set Anne aside while Catherine lived.”. I believe that even if Catherine was still alive when Anne had her miscarriage and was soon after in the Tower, Henry would have carried out the execution without hesitation. In his mind he was never married to Catherine anyway, so he would not have any reason to be concerned about Catherine being alive when he was getting rid of Anne.

    Just my thoughts! 😉 Again, I love your site. It’s so nice to read something new about the Tudors!

  12. Hi claire!!
    i agree with you about Anne.
    I’m mean, she humiliated Catherine,but to be honest if i was in her place, maybe i would do the same, it’s just “woman” thing, i’m not saying that was right,but i can understand,but what Catherine suffered was henry’s fault, and i think she knew that because she never said a word about Anne(at least i don’t remember),Henry wanted a YES but Catherine said NO stood her ground and never give up for nothing, that was a humiliation for a king like Henry, and he had to prove that he was in power.For the more Anne could have say to Henry, good or not about Catherine, but i believe that would have no difference,Henry was a horrable men and husband who never deserved the women besides him.

  13. BRAVO Claire,,,bravo,,very well written article with lots of sense,,i mean as if you were reading my mind,,,To me Anne was also an excuse for all of Catherine’s ill-treatment.Anne had to be jealous just like any other girl,Anne had to wish them dead coz she had her daughter to think of,and Anne {to me} knew she was going to end up killed and later regarded the prospect of death with courage and almost with levity,yet all she wanted was the king securing Elizabeth’s legitamacy to the throne,Alas she died wondering what future lies for her daughter.I’m glad Elizabeth was CONSIDERED to be the greatest monarch in English history.she made her mother proud.Anne Bolyen was the greatest thing that happened to king Henry,i feel teary everytime i remember her story.

  14. just thought of dropping another paragraph concerning the Tudors,To me it is a very entertaining show,though not accurate yet encourages one to seek more answers about the mysteries during the Todor reign,and i also don’t think Anne Boleyn was pictured cruel in the series,infact i fell in love with her character more in the show.Hats off for Nathale Dormer,she performed her character in an extraordinary way and made me wish i could change the whole course of history because of Anne Boleyn’s sad ending.

  15. Hi Avril,

    “Bonkerama” – love it! The thing is, as someone has said before, Henry’s reign was a bit of a soap opera so perhaps The Tudors is spot on in its portrayal. Yes, it is littered with inaccuracies but I’ve never seen it advertising itself as a serious look at the era and I take it as purely entertainment. Your book sounds wonderful and I wish you every success with it and, yes, you’re right, Wolsey has to take much of the blame and also Henry VII too. Quite a few people were involved in shaping Henry VIII. I’ve just started reading “The Year that Changed Henry VIII” bu Suzannah Lipscomb in an attempt to get inside the psyche of Henry.

    Hi Lisa,

    I suspect that Anne often regretted showing Henry that book! It was just the excuse he needed – now he had God’s blessing to do what he wanted!
    I agree with you about “The Tudors” portrayal of court life and also JRM’s Henry. Although JRM is physically nothing like Henry, he manages to show Henry’s charm, the depth of his personality, his mood swings, his arrogance and self-absorption.

    Hi Gemma,
    Yes, “The Tudors” did manage to find some historical “treasures” to bung in the show and I loved that bit where H is stuck in the mud! Anyway, I agree with you about Henry, he would not let Anne walk all ove rhim and tell him how to treat Catherine, he made those decisions himself.

    Hi Jennifer,
    I love reading people’s comments too, they’re always top quality and well thought out! Yes, Henry was “the spare” and, of course, was never expected to reign so he was brought up by women whereas Arthur was raised by his father as a future king. I’m still trying to understand what made Henry “tick” and I’m not sure I ever will. He was capable of such love and affection, and yet he was also so cruel and tyrannical. It’s hard for us to judge his actions when the world we live in is so different but he really had no need to be so cruel to Catherine, although he felt she was defying him and wanted her out of the way. Poor Catherine!

    Hi Roberta,
    That’s such a good point! Here was a damsel in distress and just where was the Emperor her nephew? Chapuys kept the Emperor up to date on everything so you’d think Catherine could have been rescued. The Emperor obviously did not want to “upset the apple cart” (do you have that saying in the US?) and stir up trouble between himself and Henry. I’m not sure that Catherine ever gave up her fight, but she was just one woman fighting against a powerful King and his court.

    Hi Melissa,
    Yes, Catherine did contact Charles V and the Pope and could be accused of trying to instigate a war against the King. It’s so hard to see what else Catherine could have done. Perhaps she thought that Mary’s claim would not be secure if she gave up and went into a convent as this may be seen as her accepting the annulment and her daughter’s illegitimacy. I think Catherine was fighting for Mary, just as Anne was fighting for Elizabeth.

    Hi Aimee,
    Thanks for your comments on this and other posts. I think Catherine did what she could, she stuck to her beliefs, defended her title and defended her daughter’s inheritance. She was the Queen. Henry is to blame for her treatment and the subsequent treatment of Anne, he had the ultimate power and responsibility. Catherine was humiliated and torn down for not giving into him. Thomas More would not give in either and look what happened to him. Henry could not tolerate defiance, however silent it was!
    Anne was always in a precarious position, having no royal breeding, no protection from a royal family or Emperor. There would have been complete uproar and probably war in Europe if Henry executed Catherine but Anne? What did she matter? She must have felt a bit of an inferiority complex and she must have felt very insecure.

    Hi Ronda,
    Catherine’s death was the catalyst of Anne’s downfall, combined with Anne’s miscarriages, because her death left Henry free. General opinion is that if Henry had got rid of Anne while Catherine was still alive, he would have been forced to return to his true wife, Catherine. Leaving Anne (or executing her) would have been seen as an admittance of his mistake and he already had a wife, Catherine. He could not easily move on to a third wife. However, Catherine’s death and Anne’s execution left Henry a widower and free to do as he pleased – how nice!
    Thanks so much for your compliments! It’s great to hear feedback about the site.

    Hi Jessica,
    It is definitely a woman thing to resent your predecessor and, as Aimee said, Anne must have felt slightly inferior because Catherine had been married to the King for over 2 decades and had Royal blood. Yes, Henry had to take revenge for Catherine humiliating him, he was a vengeful man and he needed to show this woman what he was made of! I do wonder if he was ever haunted by his actions.

    Hi Lana,
    Thanks! I always wonder if I ramble because I write as I think!! It’s interesting how Anne is always blamed for the evils that Henry did, and used, as you say, as an excuse – Starkey suggests that it was Henry’s love for Anne and his relationshil with her that turned him into the monster he became, people blame her for Wolsey’s fall, for More’s execution, for the cruel treatment of Catherine and Mary, for wrecking the King’s marriage, for bewitching the King…blah, blah, blah. Why is Anne always the scapegoat? By blaming her, we’re taking away from Henry’s power and authority and giving Anne the power. She was a woman in a time where women did not have authority, Henry would not have acted on her “say so”, he made his own decisions and was responsible for his actions, not Anne. Sorry about the rant!
    However you look at it, Henry and Anne’s story is an interesting love story and it produced one of the greatest monarchs of English history. I’ve been spending lots of time researching Elizabeth too and it is amazing how she inherited a weak country which was in debt, divided and rife with trouble, and she turned it into a powerful and prosperous country. Both of her parents were highly intelligent and shrewd, and Elizabeth definitely inherited this.

    Thanks all of you for the fantastic comments!

  16. Please may I just comment on Aimee’s view about Henry giving Catherine a more civilised divorce settlment and not bastardising Mary?

    Had he done that, his whole premise – that the marriage was never a marriage – would have fallen down. It would also have created a precedent effectively making his illegitimate son by Bessie Blount Prince of Wales. If the marriage with Catherine was invalid, then Mary had to be a bastard and not in line for the throne. I can’t imagine either Catherine or Anne coping with the presence of the (healthy) Earl of Richmond in the succession. It would completely negate everything Anne was trying to do. Not sure if I’ve explained that clearly , but you all know your history enough to understand what I’m getting at.

  17. Avril, in my remarks about the divorce settlement, Henry Fitzroy is irrelevant. The issue in contention is the validity of Henry’s marriage to Catherine and the legitimacy of Princess Mary.

    Some kings HAVE legitimized bastard children, with mixed results. Louis XIV loved children and legitimized many of his bastards and married them off to various noble families.

    My point is that Henry’s demands were unreasonable. He essentially demanded the QUEEN OF ENGLAND brand herself a wh*re and her daughter a bastard so he could start over fresh with a new family. If he’d been willing to “sweeten the offer” with some compromise where Mary’s legitimacy was not impugned, offer the Queen some kind of honorable settlement (compare his treatment of Anne of Cleves) maybe he would have gotten better results.

    He was basically saying, “You’ve been my wh*re for near 30 years, I am done with you. I’m keeping your dowry, though, and I’m sending your daughter to be lady’s maid to my latest bastard.” What woman with a modicum of self-respect would accept that?

    Henry’s attitude is that of a spoilt, willful, insensitive boy. “You would if you loved me!”

  18. Actually, only half of Catherine’s dowry was ever paid; that was why Catherine remained in limbo in Henry VII’s reign. Ferdinand of Aragon did not pay the other half of the dowry because Prince Arthur had died.

    If Catherine had acceded to Henry’s demands then he would have been very generous (that was why Anne of Cleve’s settlement was so extensive). He may have well put Mary back into the succession after any legitimate heirs.

    Given the ferocity of the previous dynastic wars, one can understand why Henry VIII had to have a male heir to succeed him hence the King’s Great Matter.

  19. Lady Kateryn,

    I disagree with your position that Henry would have treated Catherine more generously had she acquiesced to his demands. It was politically expedient that she and Mary remain out of favor with the King.

    He could not afford to let the Queen return to Spain, because he would have to fear Spanish intervention on Mary’s behalf after his death. If the Queen remained at Court as a favorite/confidante to the King, that would have created greater ambivalence concerning Anne’s position and the legitimacy of Anne’s issue. It probably would also have strained the King’s new marriage.

    Catherine of Aragon and Princess Mary had become “inconvenient women.” Henry could not treat them with love and respect because that undermined his plans. He could not kill them, because that would piss off Rome, the Holy Roman Emporer, and the rest of the known world stage.

    His marriage to Anne of Cleves was much different. No children and only minor politics were involved. He could “afford” to be generous to Anne of Cleves. He had nothing to lose.

    Henry’s shameful behavior to his wife and to his daughter was almost certainly motivated by political agenda more than unforgiveness and anger.

  20. I agree with you Aimee that Henry’s behaviour toward Catherine and Mary was motivated by political agenda.

    One very great fear that Henry held about Catherine was her popularity with the common English people. Even had she accepted retirement to a nunnery – her life
    would always have been in danger. Plots to restore her would probably have come thick and fast – regardless of whether or not she instigated them. As long as Catherine lived, she was a magnet for Popish insurrection – no wonder he housed her at the ends of the earth.

    It is hard to understand on an emotional level is why he would deny her and her daughter each others company – even for a very short time. However, each of them would have understood very well their place and the totalitarian control he had over each of their lives and that emotion played very little role. Their position was to live with his decisions, however difficult, and the only avenue open to them was prayer and devotion.

    On a personal note, I do find that Catherine’s suffering represents an interesting conundrum. Like many Tudor Catholics, Catherine would have aspired to be closer to God beyond almost anything else and she would have probably held to the belief that the greater her suffering, the better her proximity to the divine and the greater her worthiness to receive that communion. So although she suffered, I would like to believe that she also found great comfort and derived some fortitude in what it represented to her.

    Catherine also lived in the belief that her reward was in the next life and I believe that she fought Henry against the divorce and the subsequent bastardization of her daughter because she felt it would have diminished her in God’s eyes, rather than how it might look to the public at large. She always looked to God and it was his approval she sought at all costs.

    Did Henry mistreat Catherine? – in the context of Tudor familial hierarchy, probably not.
    He was lord and master – period. Her story is a poignant one and any of us can understand and harbour incredulity at his behaviour, but I don’t think Henry thought about it in that way. She was his to do with as he wished and thus he acted accordingly and in a way that was acceptable as husband and father.

    It is interesting to note that Henry gave Catherine a Royal funeral – one that was appropriate for a Dowager Princess, but a Royal sendoff none-the-less. This might be seen as evidence of Henry’s adherence to pre-determined rules regarding the handling of the various levels of Peerage/Royalty. I don’t think this extended to treating her with kindness – just to treating her appropriately for her position. It bolsters the argument
    that his behaviour represented political expediency rather than personal depravity.

    Henry was a devoutly religious man. His upbringing was for the Church and so his perspective was always to be one in alignment with her teachings. I do believe that some aspects of his actions were previcated byfear of being cast out by God for his behaviour. He was as ‘cast about’ in the ocean as the jewel that depicted the maiden on ship on rough seas that Anne sent to him. He too was standing on that precarious ledge with Anne -what they had embarked on was cataclysmic, I don’t think he could take this lightly.

    Whilst is appears that when Anne was in her ascendancy she behaved in an overtly aggressive and possessive manner – one could be forgiven for perceiving her behaviour as being borne out of fear. The Boleyns were not popular and like Catherine, once her usefulness was worn thin, she too met her end in a way that was completely controlled by Henry and in keeping with her original family standing.

    Henry behaved in no way different that any other head of house. The only difference is
    that his story has been illuminated by the myriad of reports that have been passed down to us as history.

    Anne was not cruel to Catherine, she simply did what ever she could to fulfill the political aspirations of her family whilst holding a tiger by the tail…and for a while she succeeded.


  21. For a start, if Catherine had recognised her position as Princess Dowager then she would have benefitted from the lands, income and status this entailed. ( As Tricia points out, Henry buried her with full honours as Princess Dowager and she actually was placed in a grand tomb).

    There was no suggestion at any time that Catherine or Mary return to Spain. Spain was now part of the Holy Roman Empire and a different country from Catherine’s youth.

    Why would Catherine be the King’s confidante/favourite as court? Her marriage to Henry was well over by 1526 and Henry had long given up listening to her political advice.

    That’s an interesting point that Tricia makes about Catherine and Mary believing suffering would bring them closer to God. David Loades in “Henry VIII and his Queens” states: ” There was an element of masochistic satisfaction about the way in which both these ladies endeavoured to increase the persecution which they were suffering but there may also have been an element of shrewd calculation.”

  22. It was certainly in Henry’s power to provide Queen Catherine with income in keeping with her “new” status, whether or no the Queen acknowledged said status.

    Old habits die hard. Henry and Catherine were married for a very long time, loved each other, and had a lengthy history of romance, tragedy, and SUCCESS (both as a family and as a political unit, excepting for childbearing.) If Catherine acquiesced to Henry’s demands, it seems likely to me Henry would have retained her at Court and might have continued to relate to her more as his wife. Particularly since Henry/Anne burned out literally within three years of their marriage.

    As to Queen Catherine and Princess Mary being “shrewd and calculating” about “increasing their persecution,” nothing they did was intended to result in their persecution in the first place. All they did was what they’d always done, accept their rank and birthright and decline to adjust that acceptance to accomodate Henry’s itch.

    To quote Knightley from Jane Austen’s “Emma:” “There is one thing a man is always free to do as he pleases, and that is his duty.”

    The Queen and the Princess Royal did not ask or expect anything MORE from the King (husband to the Queen, father to Princess Royal) than what honor and duty required of him and what duty and honor required of them. Their behavior is not subject to criticism; Henry’s is. Henry chose to abbandon his duty.

    People point out, “Catherine could have been more biddable and Henry would have treated her so much better.” I’d like to point out Henry could have been patient and might very well have found himself blessed in a new marriage with more children had he acted honorably toward his wife. He was younger than Catherine and healthier. In all probability he would have outlived her (particularly if the med reports are correct and Catherine perished of cancer.) He might have had his new wife and family anyway…without the shame, disgrace, and notoriety his abusive behavior provoked.

  23. The idea that Catherine would continue to remain at court is a non-starter. At the beginning of the Great Matter, the suggestion was that she retire to the country or alternatively, Campeggio suggested she retired to a nunnery. There were two Royal households – that of the King and that of the Queen. Why would Henry expect to support another Royal household permanently at court? That was why Anne of Cleves lived permanently away from court.

    (Incidentally, Mary was never Princess Royal so I’m not quite sure why you are calling her this.) Henry could equally point out that it was Catherine’s and Mary’s duty to obey him as King of England. Mary, of course, eventually gave in anyway and recognised that her mother’s marriage was invalid and she was illegitimate.

  24. Thank you so much for all these great comments, Avril, Aimee, Tricia, Lady Kateryn! You are so knowledgeable and thanks for sharing your knowledge. Don’t worry I’m not stopping the flow, just wanted to say how much I appreciate your comments. I hope you’ve joined the forum!

  25. I love Queen Anne Boleyn an i think that she did nothing wrong. She was a great woman and i think that she died tragically. i get so sad when i think of what happened to her.

    1. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Anne did nothing wrong. But like Katharine she was an abused wife and the blame needs to be on Henry.

  26. OOPs. You’re right, my bad, U.K. hadn’t started using the title “Princess Royal” in Tudor England. My bad.

    I don’t pretend to know Henry VIII’s mind, but it seems unlikely to me that he and Queen Katherine would have remained separated for long. To put it plainly, Henry was accustomed to Katherine. He was comfortable with her. The discussions of her retiring to religious life are immaterial (note that suggestion was NOT Henry’s suggestion, but a compromise proffered by the Church in attempt to mediate the situation.)

    If she’d retired to the country, she could always be invited back to Court, or visited while the King sought sport in the country. Anne of Cleves may not have been a permanent resident at Court but she was frequently active in Court.

    I’m not going to argue what may or may not have been Henry’s intentions, but it seems likely to me he would have retained some relationship with Katherine and Mary (especially after Anne began to fall from favor) were it not for political expediencies.

    And yes, Mary did accede to the King’s demands after Anne’s death, possibly out of fear for her own life and presumably under the guidance of Chapuys. Her submission does not make the King’s behavior any less abusive, improper, insulting, and illegal.

    Being a reigning sovereign does not mean Henry had the “right” to declare his marriage invalid and to bastardize his child. If he had had this “right” all the hooplah revolving around the Great Matter would not have existed in the first place. Nor were Queen Katherine and the Princess of Wales required to obey him in what was plainly an unorthodox situation. Their position and place were the results of well-established tradition accepted as “right” for centuries.

  27. Actually Henry did have the right. Under the Divine Right of Kings, the idea of theocracy or God’s grace meant that Henry as King, was God’s appointed representative on earth. His subjects therefore were bound to give him their complete obedience and loyalty.

  28. Henry was not annointed by God, he was annointed by the Church on Gold’s behalf. By all standards known at the time, Henry did not have the right to divorce his blameless wife and bastardise his daughter. If he’d had such a “right” he would not have had to appeal to Church reps in the first place. The whole break with Rome was a scheme to achieve that object.

    Nice talking to you.

  29. My post read “appointed” and not “annointed”. I am well aware it’s the Archbishop of Canterbury who annoints the sovereign and not God!

  30. I think your conclusion is absolutely correct. Henry is the common link in this entire controversy. Henry was this spoiled little brat that never really grew up. He may have had brains and plans but they was overshadowed by his selfish nature!
    Catherine and Anne were both extraordinary women, each in her own way and it is wrong to blame either of them for this mess when the real culprit is a power hungry man who refused to do the right thing. Just looking at how he treated his children proves my point. What kind of a father denies his own daughter the opportunity to see her mother? Or completely ignores the other one the minute he’s had her mother executed on some trumped up charge?

  31. I just want to make one little distinction I learned from a wonderful medieval scholar who also did some amazing research on the burning times.

    I read a paper on medieval and renassance marriages, including handfasts and the subjects of dowries–which keeps being mentioned in this discussion regarding Catherine.

    A DOWRY is the money and property a woman brings into her marriage AND KEEPS INTO HER WIDOWHOOD.

    A DOWER is the money paid by the groom’s family to the bride and was also for her support during her widowhood. This was the “bride price” paid originally to her family, but, in medieval times, to the bride herself and to her descendants when she died.

    Both dowry and dower stay with the BRIDE once paid. Neither are actually transferable to the groom or his family until she produces children to inherit them upon her death.

    This is why Arthur dying childless was such an issue for Henry VII. Once the dower was paid to Catherine, it was hers. the only way to recoup it was to transfer it to another son–two sons for the same dower price. The economy of a leverite marriage is not with the dowry which is hers forever regardless but in not needing to pay out two separate dowers for two different sons. Two sons married for the price of one.

    Henry VII was being frugal.

    And hence he unknowingly started a hornet’s nest.

    Hope this clarifies things.

    I for one greatly admire Anne. She was the smartest of Henry’s wives who had to wait the longest and in many ways had to endure the most from him. Of all of them, she had the biggest impact on England which only she can known about if her reincarnated soul were to awaken to that reality. In the end, Catherine’s biggest miscalculation was Anne’s protestantism and her ability to use Catherine’s own piety, Henry’s thirst for power, and her quest for religious reform to gain what she desired the most–for a time. I think the tragedy of Anne Boleyn is that Catherine wasted so much time that Anne’s own biological clock ran out. If Henry had gotten is divorce in the first year after Anne asked for it, I think she would have carried at least one son to term. Anne would have lived many years, not been the tragic figure that she is.

    In private, I think Catherine treated Anne like an unworthy servant girl. I believe David Starkey that Anne openly made enemies at court regarding Catherine and that there was good cause for this. Henry gave both women good reason to hate each other.

  32. If memory serves me correctly, didn’t Catherine have to sell part of her dowry – her possessions – during her lean years after Arthur died and Henry VII kept her virtually penniless? And lets not forget how he had her sign away her dowager rights as Princess of Wales when she was first betrothed to Henry, only to later have Henry call off the marriage. Her father was also battling her older sister Juana for Aragon, so she was in a vulnerable and lonely situation. Catherine was alone in so many of the battles that she fought both before and after her marriage to Henry.

    I have no doubt the women resented each other. Neither were saints and they probably expressed their impatience towards the other. The real culprit in all of this was, as has been stated many times above, Henry and his unshakeable belief that he was right and that the world had to bend to his will. What’s so sad is the lives that were wasted as he rose in tyranny to further his power and control.

  33. I have been looking so long for a site like this, and cannot believe it has taken me all these years to find this one! Thank you so much for your enthusiasm, open mindedness, and welcoming spirit that you portray on your website. In a world where, I belive, intelligence is a subjective word, I find it refreshing that people here make such wise and insightful observations, that would normally be scoffed at by the so called “experts” If you ask me these “experts” are getting more and more ridiculous and more and more egocentric… they would much rather make a name for themselves than anything else 🙂

    I have a deep love of Anne Boleyn. Some years ago, I read a historical fiction book about the boleyn sisters, and was instantly hooked. I wanted the history, not just the scandalous sexuality of the entertainments world view on the matter 🙂

    Claire you so wonderfully wrote on how much you love the mystery of Anne, and it is so true that what we can never know, is what we want to know the very most. I think this is the main draw of Anne Boleyn to the masses.

    However, in our love for her (and believe me, I do harbor that same intrigue), do we not excuse her too much in things? I think we might. I believe that the truth is yes, Anne absolutely is a main cause, whether it be indirectly or directly, of the sufferings of Catherine of Aragon.

    Henry had mistresses before, and Catherine sat quietly. Henry honored Henry Fitzroy, and Catherine sat quietly. Henry and Catherine lost their children; Henry cried foul, and Catherine sat quietly and prayed. Catherine would have endured anything Henry put her through quietly except being usurped by a woman far beneath her stature and by way of breaking with the church, and by slandering her own name. (As much as I ADORE Anne, it is true that she was far beneath Catherine’s Stature, though we may not want to recognize it sometimes for our love for her.)

    I would love to agree that Anne was not calculating, and that her rise to power was not a plot, but how can we truly deny this? She knew what she was doing the entire time. She knew what would happen to Catherine, and often wished that it would. We may say of Anne’s actions and feelings “who can blame her” Yet, does she not deserve some of the responsibility here? Most mistresses were quiet and not demanding and truly, of little importance to the queens life. Yet Anne, knowing full well, of the possible outcomes of her actions, demanded more from the King. She wanted to be married to him. She wanted to be Queen. It was not Henry who put the idea of marriage in Anne’s head. It was her alone. Her pursuit of this directly affects the outcome of Queen Catherine’s life.

    Anne held on dearly to her honor, and denied the King sexual relations. She was calculating and knew how to hold Harry’s attention for 6 years! She played the game, and won, whilst receiving the most horrible reward for it. In all of that time, she was helping him to get rid of Catherine. I am sure things along the lines of “If only we could set Catherine aside, and then truly be together and have all of our hearts desires” were said by her. Let’s not forget Anne’s love of Drama 🙂 It was she who helped him break with the church, and it is she who beratted the King much to the sufferings of his ever stroked ego.

    Henry, who so loved Anne, was still the petulant man he always was. So, of course the insults from the woman he loved could only be blamed on Catherine, and only strengthened his resolve to be rid of her and hardened his heart and manner towards her. Of course Anne was aware of that, as it was part of how she was to gain what she wanted.

    Anne is the other woman. Anne is the lady who broke a royal marriage. Whatever, Henry’s other motivations might have been (no male heir), Anne did play a part in her downfall, and her cruel treatment. Truly I do not think that Anne yearned for the ill treatment of Catherine, but she knew that whatever discredited Catherine was a credit to her own status, and thus played into it.

    I love Anne. She is no innocent Saint, in spite of what some may want to believe, but she is fascinating. She would stop at nothing to achieve her goals. A woman who did not sit in the corner and let men dictate who she was. She was her own person in her own right. Amazing that a non-royal girl could achieve what she did. I appreciate her for everything that she is, both positive and negative. We love to mitigate the flaws in our heros. yet I don’t think its neccessary with Queen Anne. Her human flaws are just as exciting as her fascinating attributes.

  34. Sorry, one more thing and I promise I will not ramble at all anymore!!!!!!!

    “Here was Anne trying to be recognised as Queen and trying to get her daughter recognised as heir to the throne, can we blame her for her frustration and resentment of her predecessor and of the threat to her daughter’s future throne?”

    Let’s remember that Anne and Henry opened this door. Catherine was rightfully a Queen and Henry’s wife. It should not have come to a surprise to Anne that Catherine would fight just as hard as she did 🙂 So truly, yes Anne and Henry are absolutely to blame for their own frustrations of their making. But nontheless, we can be sympathetic towards Anne’s cause, and root for her successes

    1. “Here was Anne trying to be recognised as Queen and trying to get her daughter recognised as heir to the throne, can we blame her for her frustration and resentment of her predecessor and of the threat to her daughter’s future throne?”

      Anne was not trying to be recognised as Queen. She was USURPING the title and position of England’s annointed, recognized, and very popular Queen Consort. Anne was not trying to get her daughter recognised as heir to the throne, she was attempting to USURP Mary’s title/position (Princess of Wales) for her own daughter.

      Please remember, that is what happened. Anne had no rational right to resent Catherine of Aragon or Mary Tudor. Catherine of Aragon and Mary did nothing to Anne. Anne was the one attempting to impact THEIR lives and DEPRIVE THEM of their respective positions.

      If Anne felt frustrated or resentful, that is her own fault. What did she expect? Should Catherine and Mary graciously accepted that? Anne could have spared herself all the frustration and resentment by opting NOT to marry Henry. Anne was not royal, she was the Queen’s lady-in-waiting and sister to the King’s former mistress. That she expected Royals to respectfully make way for her and her daughter is absurdity.

      1. “Anne could have spared herself all the frustration and resentment by opting NOT to marry Henry.”
        But there’s the rub, Anne had no choice, she could not opt not to marry him. What Anne did was make the most of what happened to her and fight for her position and daughter like Catherine did. Neither women had any choice in what happened to them, they were women. Henry had ruled that his first marriage was not valid and that it had never existed, therefore Anne was his valid wife and queen and Elizabeth his legitimate daughter, that was what the King ruled and everyone was expected to go along with it, whatever their own thoughts, after all, Henry VIII was God’s anointed and appointed monarch.

        1. She could have opted not to marry Henry, by doing what her sister did and becoming his mistress. Instead Anne was ambitious and refused to be with him unless he made her his wife. Therefore, she was, as Katie was arguing, usurping Catherine and Mary’s position. Anne stepped out of the bounds of normal female political activity, and to me at least it seemed that Anne reaped what she sowed. She proved a Queen could be overthrown and showed Henry that he could be a tyrant and that his will was law. Therefore, Anne paved the way for Jane Seymour and Edward to take her’s and Elizabeth’s place, just like she took Catherine’s and Mary’s.

        2. Why should she become his mistress? In Tudor times it was imperative that you guarded your virtue and how could she ever have known that saying “no” to Henry would have led to him wanting to marry her, he would have been more likely to have moved on to an easier conquest. She retreated to Hever Castle, her home, to get away from him and his letters to her show that he pursued her relentlessly and that he offered her marriage rather than her demanding it.

  35. Also love the website-have been looking or something like this for a while.

    Although what Henry did to Catherine sounds cruel to us, you have to remember that Catherine was the daughter of Queen Isabella of Spain. Isabella and Ferdinand were co regents. isabella was strong in here own right. She had also ridden and fought in several wars. Catherine had demonstrated she was definitely isabella’s daughter in 1513. Henry went off to fight the French (again). Just in case the Scots decided to take advantage of the situation, he made Catherine his regent while he was gone. This gave her the authority to raise and command an army. Sure enough, James IV decided to invade. She could rouse the troops to fight. She sucessfully fought the invasion and even sent Henry part of James’ bloody coat-armour as a trophy. Catherine was still very popular with the people. Maybe he was afraid that she could still raise an army, depose him and put Mary on the throne. Mary was also HER own mother’s daughter. By keeping Catherine from Mary-it was divide and conquer.

  36. Although it is evident by his letters, Henry was driven by passion for Anne however, he had already determined he wanted a new wife or more precisely a new mother for the son he desperately needed when he had stopped sleeping with Katherine in 1524 (2 years before he took up with Anne). Whether he had been besotted with Anne…or Jane at that time, it would have been the same result for poor Katherine. Henry continued to treat the people, he once loved, badly …even after Anne had been discarded and beheaded. The blame for the mistreatment of Katherine of Aragon lies squarely with Henry….the same as it does for Anne, Thomas More, Princess Mary, etc etc.

    1. I agree….if Anne had not caught Henry’s eye when she did…If it hadn’t been her, it would have been someone else. That is why I do not think it is fair to put so much blame on Anne.
      I thought the treatment of Katherine was horrible, but Henry had absolute power and “what he gives, he can take away…and what he takes away, he can give back…”

  37. “Surely a man could not treat his wife of over 20 years in this way?”

    If he was a sociopath he was

  38. As much as I like Anne, I think there was no way that she had absolutely nothing to do with the way Catherine and Mary were treated. I understand why she treated Catherine the way she did, she was “the ex” after all, but it was just cruelty to treat Mary the way she did. Mary’s life had been ruined by Anne, and yet Anne showed her no sympathy or compassion, unlike later wives of Henry VIII. If Anne was so sure she could give Henry a boy, why was Mary a threat in any way? Henry had legitimised Elizabeth and turned Mary into a bastard, and he had rewritten history for Anne, so what did she have to fear? In her relationship to Mary at least, who inhabited the domestic sphere Anne found herself the head of, she was vindictive and cruel.

  39. Of course Henry is accountable. Anne is not. She did not have control of her own destiny and had only her own will over her body, she held the King’s advances off in the hope that he would move on, not thinking he would make her queen. Anne probably never even considered that possibility. She saw what happened to her sister and Bessie Blount and knew she would be ruined. When Henry became determined to marry her she made the best of her situation.
    Henry was responsible for Catherine and he should have treated her far better regardless. She was his wife, she was his queen. She gave her life to him body and spirit. Marriage was taken much more seriously in those days, and he should have done so as well.

  40. Henry was in an awkward position, and somewhat foreign territory. Divorces among royals were not exactly commonplace, and once he’d cast off his first wife, he was probably at a loss. If he showed her too much support, he’d be acting like their marriage had indeed been valid, and she was still his wife. By showing little to no support, he was behaving as a man who had never been legitimately married to her, which of course is what he claimed in his case against her.

    Too, Anne was known for her jealousy and would probably have taken it badly had he shown Catherine too much courtesy. She wanted Mary to acknowledge her as queen, but she refused, so perhaps Anne had something to do with mother and daughter being banned from contact? So very hard to say.

    Henry married Catherine because he was told to by his father, though. He didn’t ‘save’ her from a thing, and by all accounts, she was older than him, and not much to look at, so it was not a marriage of love. He does appear to have respected and cared for her, but you just don’t get the butterflies when you review the limited documents that shed any light on their relationship.

    For her part, Catherine certainly seemed devoted to being the Queen of England, and seems to have genuinely…wanted to remain Queen of England. She knew, or at least they believed..that Henry needed sons in order to have his legacy, and knowing she couldn’t provide him one, she still fought him as she did. Knowing he did not want her any longer, she still fought him as she did.

    The woman wanted to be queen, pure and simple, and wanted her daughter in line for the same.

    I don’t view her as the selfless, saintly creature that many do. She was a woman with her own motives and agendas, and of course, she was pressured to further the agenda of her royal Spanish family in addition.

    1. Evidence suggests that Henry VIII used the excuse of his father telling him to marry KOA, in order to justify not marry Eleanor of Austria which is what his father had wanted and intended.

      Katherine of Aragon lived as a widow in poverty for several years before her marriage to Henry VIII of England, that is what Henry VIII “saved” her from. She was 5 and a half years older than him and she was a very attractive woman in her prime. It was only after several pregnancies and age, that she lost her looks. I

      I definitely say there was affection and respect between the two which is more than I can say for some of Henry’s other marriages. And it was enough for the marriage to last until 1526/1527, which would be about 17 or 18 years. Did any other relationship of his last that long? No.

      No, Catherine wasn’t a saint, she was a human being and she had her flaws but in the annulment process, I don’t see them. The selfish one in that situation was completely Henry VIII of England with his shallow and stupid view that only a son could rule and secure England. Tell that to the six monarchs in England before him who were deposed and they were all male.

      Catherine knew better than her foolish husband, she knew a woman could rule just as well as a man, having her own mother as an example. Nothing at all with her wanting Mary to become Queen. And why should she lie and say she was Henry’s concubine just because he wanted an annulment? No, Henry is the one at fault here, and he is most certainly the selfish one.

      1. But Henry was genuinely worried about not having a male heir, if he could have seen into the future and saw the success of his daughter Elizabeth’s reign he may have acted differently, it was unthinkable that a woman should rule, we look at history thru our own modern eyes but the 16 th c was different, the Tudors were a new dynasty they hadn’t been on the throne long and had come to it by way of battle, they supplanted the Plantegenets and their claim was shaky, there were many pretenders to the throne with Plantagenet blood in them and they were seen as rivals by the Tudors, a male heir was imperative to Henry to secure his throne, the last woman who had ruled England had been a disaster Matilda, the daughter of Henry 1st it led to civil war and anarchy, this was what Henry feared would happen again if he left only girls, he was concerned for his kingdom and his people, I know Catherine was perfectly capable of ruling like her mother Isabella, but these were exceptional women, Eleanor of Aqutaine was another one and Elizabeth 1st but the majority of women aren’t like those, today we had our own Margaret Thatcher, another strong woman, Henry had only the disastrous example of Matilda to prove that it needed a son to rule England, women were just chattels in the 16 c they had no rights they were just seen as breeding creatures, housewives etc, Queen Consorts were no different, Henry was just thinking the same as every other 16c male, seen and not heard.

        1. Yes, Henry had the view of a 16th century male in regards to securing his throne with a male heir. My point was that there were cases before him that showed a woman could rule. No it wouldn’t have been ideal, and a male son would have been preferable, but it is that knowledge that should have kept him from going to the extremes that he did with KOA and then Anne Boleyn. There were other options if he didn’t want Mary ruling. One wait until KOA dies, which since she apparently had cancer would have been before him and then he could marry again. Or securing the throne through grandsons? Marry his daughter off and if she gives birth to sons, they could be next in line to the throne.

          Edit on earlier post: It should have said “There is nothing wrong with her wanting Mary to become Queen.”

  41. Both Anne and Katherine were treated badly by Henry for different reasons. Considering Henry was married to Katherine for eighteen years when he decided on an annulment he showed that he really didn’t know his wife. If Henry knew Katherine as intimately as he claimed and should have done, he must have known she wouldn’t just cave in and agree to guve him everything he wanted. Katherine was devastated when Henry told her he considered their marriage to be over and why but she recovered, sought legal help from the Church and her advisors and found that she had a solid case to defend her marriage with. Henry must have been shocked when Katherine gave a very spirited defence, appealing to Rome and using her nephew to help with pressure from Spain.

    Henry could be stubborn when he set his mind to something and once he was convinced about his marriage and he had fallen for Anne, who promised him sons, then his mind was even more set on an annulment. Anne came into the middle and was just as straightforward minded, feisty and determined as anyone in this deadly trio. Both parties truly believed in the righteousness of their cause. Anne believed she could give Henry sons but refused to be his mistress and they agreed to marry. They were in a loving and passionate relationship, were well matched, but Katherine was the proud daughter from a Spanish Royal line and had strong Plantagenet blood through her ancestors, Philippa and Catherine of Lancaster. She was the daughter of power couple Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, the Crusaders against Islam, champions of the Catholic cause and papal allies. She was the Aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, the current King of Spain, whose armies were parked on Pope Clement Vii’s doorstep. She had almost been born in the saddle during the campaign to take Granada and had led her own army to backtrack the Earl of Surrey against James iv while Regent in 1513. This battle for a son, turned into a war.

    After Henry lost patience with Katherine and broke from Rome he married Anne in any event and now it became treason not to support his new Queen. Henry was determined Katherine was going to admit her marriage was over and Katherine would not talk to anyone who didn’t address her as Queen. By standing up for her rights Katherine made Henry look a fool across England and much of Europe. He had to be master in his own home and now he had two wives, half his subjects were defying him and he had pressure from the Pope to return to Katherine or else. Henry would have treated Katherine graciously had she not been so stubborn, there is no reason for him not to do so. However, he had hardened after so many years, so although she was comfortably housed, she was not free, her movement was curtailed, she was watched, she was banished and she was banned from seeing Mary. Katherine was in a luxurious prison under house arrest. Her servants were forced to take an oath to Henry as Supreme Head of the Church, not the Pope and some were imprisoned when they refused. Henry couldn’t execute or do anything to harm Katherine and most probably didn’t want to either, due to her royal status and the fact her nephew could invade. She wasn’t as mistreated as she made out and still had 200 servants for much of her exile. One problem did add to her woes, though. Some of the houses had not been lived in by the Tudors for some time and some of the conditions allowed dampness in. Rich carpets, tiles and drapes don’t prevent damp and her health suffered.

    Henry of course didn’t treat Anne poorly until the last few months of her life. She was still high in favour during a triumphant progress in 1535. She was still dancing and having parties and was not neglected even as she miscarried her last child. It was at the end that she was treated as if Henry hated her. She had taken the place of a highly respected and well loved Queen, but Anne did her best to act as a good Queen. She was generous and had an interest in social as well as religions reform. There is some evidence that her role as a mediator for people in prison or in trouble was an active one. However, she could also be vindictive and she was not discreet with her tongue. She had made enemies and she was blamed for political deaths that resulted from her marriage but for which she possibly had nothing to do with. When Henry blamed Anne for the death of Thomas More he was the one who had pushed More, whose legislation went through Parliament, who signed the death warrant and gave the orders. Anne had genuine fears about Mary and Katherine and wished Katherine would die, but had nothing to do with her actual demise. Henry and Anne are both reported to have shown some delight at her death, although Henry ordered official mourning. In the end Anne was his victim as well when trumped up charges of adultery, conspiracy and incest were brought against her. Anne was no angel but she was entirely innocent of those heinous charges. Now whether it was Henry, Cromwell, a combination of both or of circumstances which led to her arrest and execution with five men, Anne was badly treated because Henry wanted her gone. He no longer loved her, he seems to now hate her and even if he was led to believe she really had betrayed him or not, it was his decision to abandon, discard and get rid of a woman he had loved for years.

    It is this last thing which ironically Anne and Katherine had in common. Whatever Henry had shared with them as wives and mothers, he had in the end set them aside with callous disregard. He may have tried hard to come to an agreement and settlement with Katherine, but in the end he treated her as if she was a stranger. He had a deep and enduring passion for Anne Boleyn for many years, but in the end he treated her as a criminal of the worst kind and had her beheaded without even stopping to look closely at the evidence, which truly does not stand up to scrutiny.

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