Catherine of Aragon’s Funeral – 29 January 1536

Posted By on January 29, 2012

Katherine of Aragon's tomb

Photo by Clare Hancock

On the 29th January 1536, Catherine of Aragon was buried in Peterborough Abbey, now known as Peterborough Cathedral. In her last days she had requested to be buried in a Chapel of her beloved order, The Observant Friars, but the recent dissolution of the monasteries meant that there were none left.

This strong woman who had refused to recognise the annulment of her marriage to Henry VIII and who still saw herself as Queen of England was buried at Peterborough as Princess Dowager, referring to her marriage to Prince Arthur, the Prince of Wales, and the Bishop of Rochester even said in his sermon at her funeral that “in the hour of death she acknowledged she had not been Queen of England”! Henry VIII was using his first wife’s funeral as propaganda and I don’t blame the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, who comforted Catherine in her last days, for not attending and choosing to remember her in his own way.

Catherine of Aragon’s tomb can still be visited today and Peterborough Cathedral have marked her tomb with the words “Katharine Queen of England”. The Cathedral also commemorate her life and death by holding a special programme of events every year at the end of January – The Katharine of Aragon Festival – and I think it is a fitting tribute to this wonderful woman. RIP Queen Catherine of Aragon.

You can read more about Catherine of Aragon’s last days and death in my article “The Death of Catherine of Aragon”

15 thoughts on “Catherine of Aragon’s Funeral – 29 January 1536”

  1. Emma says:

    I attended the church service on Friday morning and it was both enjoyable and moving. Three groups of school children sang Tudor songs, a lady in Tudor dress read out Catherine’s last letter to Henry and someone read out a passage from the bible praising good wives in Spanish. Afterwards I visited the tomb were two beautiful wreaths and several pomegrantes had been laid out. Flanking the grave two tall white candles with a Pomegrante design on burned. The whole thing was done in a simple elegant way which was appropriate for such a pious yet elegant Queen. The clergman reading the service said how pleased Catherine would have been to see so many people come to remember her and pay their respects and I think that just sums it up. Rest in Peace Catherine.

    1. Claire says:

      Emma, how wonderful that you were able to go, I really want to make it one year. I admire Catherine of Aragon so much, she was such a strong and dignified lady and I would love to go and pay my respects. I always think about her over the winter/Christmas period when pomegranates are in season here in Spain. I think she would feel very humbled to know that she is still remembered by people all over the world today.

      1. Cyndee Reynolds says:

        Emma how fortunate for you to be able to attend such a wonderful service for a fine queen. Thank you for posting details that allowed some of us to attend in our own way and celebrate such a noble woman, Katherine Queen of England!

        1. Cyndee Reynolds says:

          Sorry! Correction to spelling! Queen Catherine. I know better. 😉

    2. Eliza says:

      I am so happy that people remember her and that this service took place to honour her memory. RIP Katherine.

  2. Dawn 1st says:

    The lady may not have got the support, respect and reverence she deserved in life, but she certainly does now, and quite rightly too, I hope she is at peace.

  3. WilesWales says:

    I don’t want to feel like a traitor to Anne as the other message stated, in that I have always felt that Katharine was telling the truth that she was a virgin when she married Henry, and that she was done very badly by him. On the other hand, England would have eventually left Rome anyhow with all the German States turning Lutheran, and Scotland being overrun by John Knox and Calvinism and Presbyterianism during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth would most likely would have named James VI of Scotland as her successor as well. Now where would England have gone without Elizabeth? Thus, then without Anne? Thank you! WilesWales

  4. Baroness Von Reis says:

    Queen Catherine was truely a great Queen,how sad her last days to be sent away from court, once again a very tragic end for this Queen. R I P Queen Catherine

  5. Rachel says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t see Catherine of Aragon as some saintly angel? Yes, she was his true wife, and yes, she was treated horribly during the divorce disaster and everything else.

    But. She claimed over and again that she cared for his happiness above everything else. Really? He no longer wanted her, and instead was in love with Anne..whether it was right or wrong for him to be with Anne while still married, it happened and his happiness, his pleasure was to be with Anne, not Catherine.

    I think it might have been far more dignified had she simply stepped down and went away quietly instead of the spectacle she made of herself in what could only be the most futile endeavor ever.

    She claimed to care about him so much, and yet..she was a Queen. They were supposed to bear sons. Henry desperately needed a son. She could not give him one, and had more than a fair chance to do so (Yes, I realize it was not actually her fault). She had already reached menopause and therefore it was absolutely impossible for her to give him any further children at all.

    A Queen who truly loved her husband and kingdom and cared about the future of both might have realized that another woman had a chance to provide the important heir that she could not. She does not seem to have cared a damn. She wanted to maintain her position, and to be right, and that was about it.

    I find her prideful and foolish, not brave and dignified..that’s just not how I see her.

    She allowed Mary to be forbidden contact with her by her continued refusals to cooperate, so she brought that on herself, as well. She clearly cared more about status, title and power/revenge on Henry than about her daughter, kingdom or husband.

    She was a strong woman…but perhaps more selfish than anyone seems to view her.

    She seems to me this mixture of strong woman/doormat/obsessively clinging to Henry in a way that was really quite pathetic..a mother who could have dropped her pride and had her daughter with her, yet stubbornly refused, caring more that her daughter retain her place in the succession. A brave, yet consistently self-serving woman.

    Not that I’m defending Henry, but I don’t blame him, either. He needed a son and heir. He stayed with Catherine for 20+ years, and she grew older..too old to give this to him. I don’t believe his conscience had a thing to do with his decision to divorce her. She was old, barren and no longer of use, and so he wanted rid of her. Using religion was just a handy way to go about it…much the same way that charging Anne falsely of adultery was easier than battling the religious powers yet again for divorce.

    All this said, I do believe Catherine was still legally married to Henry, making Anne’s marriage to him invalid. Once Catherine was dead, however..I suppose that changed things more than any court could. Elizabeth was daughter of the King, so of course she belonged in the succession..and so did Mary.

    I’m rambling now, but I just think there is a very different and considerably more ambitious/spiteful side of Catherine of Aragon.

    You may hate me now.

    1. Very good points made!

    2. Lyn Darrah says:

      Don’t hate you but disagree. We have to remember that Katharine was a royal princess born to a king and queen. Anne Boleyn was a commoner. Katharine’s marriage to Arthur was arranged as a political alliance between Spain and England as was the case in the majority of royal princess’ marriages. She came to England with a huge dowry provided by her father. After Arthur’s death there was much questioning as to what to do with her – if she was sent back to Spain, Henry VII would lose her dowry. And Henry VII needed the money. Henry VIII chose to marry her as soon as he was of legal age to reign as king. By all accounts they had a very happy marriage. When Henry realized that after 20 years of marriage he was not going to get a son he allowed himself and his advisors to convince him that a Biblical Law in Leviticus had made his marriage cursed by God – thus no son. And he truly believed this. Now, I don’t think any woman who had loved her husband, served him and bore his children for 24 years would be so willing to quietly walk away. In doing so she would acknowledge that she had never been legally married to Henry, was not the Queen of England and their daughter Mary would be labelled a bastard and lose her succession rights. That would be a pretty difficult thing to do.

      1. Nieves says:

        Dear Lyn,
        I see you have a deep knowledge of Catherine of Aragon story. Your remark is tight to the truth.

        1. Oxford University says:

          everyone’s comments are very admirable some potential historians here.

    3. scotia says:

      Your argument is totally invalid. Queen Catherine was a deeply religious woman. Henry VIII was ostensibly a deeply religious man and devout Catholics. They were both well aware of the vows they took “FOR BETTER FOR WORSE, FOR RICHER FOR POORER, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH UNTIL DEATH US DO PART” Furthermore, they were both well aware of Canon Law and the words spoken by our Lord: when He said: “Any man who putteth away his wife and take another, commits adultery against her” The same rule applies to a woman who puts away her husband and marries another. In other words Rachel, DIVORCE may be allowed in the Catholic Church but re-marriage “ain’t” and if you cannot see that Henry VIII was nothing more than a common adulterer; much the same as his Grandfather Edward IV, sexually abused (YES SEXUALLY ABUSED) women just because he was King and could command whatever he liked, then you must be rather simple.

      Lets face it, look what happened to Anne BOELYN. Henry was in fact trapped by his own law, when he said he was now the head of the Church in England and banned divorce. He married Anne under his law and when he could not produce a male heir, the only way out of his dilemma was to execute her. Yes I do believe poor Queen Catherine to be a Saint and as for her rotten scoundrel husband; the so called Defender of the Faith; is a big FRAUDSTER using a title that anything but describes his credibilty

  6. scotia says:

    So the Bishop of Rochester even said in his sermon at her funeral that “in the hour of death she acknowledged she had not been Queen of England”! This would not be the first time a clergyman has lied. I totally agree with Lyn DARRAH. Let me put it another way. Henry V111 was keen to get rid of his lawful wife alleging that he had made an error in marrying his brother’s widow. What Henry did not elaborate on was that he had an affair with Mary Boleyn and most likely with her mother. In other words he had carnally known Anne’s sister for certain and most likely Anne’s mother which would (using his argument) nullify the so called marriage to Anne Boleyn.. Lets face it, Henry was nothing more than an ADULTERER and a filthy old man, and that is proved by the fact that left so many bastards. It is hard to understand how such a saintly woman such as Elizabeth Woodville (his mother) could have produced such a foul evil person.

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