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Katherine of Aragon- Something I was thinking about.
December 31, 2012
8:20 pm
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Rosie
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Okay so what I just wanted to know was your opinion on whether Katherines first marriage was consumated or what. I have just finished reading The Constant Princess, and I thought Phillipia’s theory was actually very clever. Her theory (for those who have not read the book) was that Katherine and Arthur were passionate lovers, and they spent every night together. When Arthur was on his deathbed, he made Katherine promise that she would lie and say that he was impotent so she could marry Henry and fufill her ‘destiny’ of being Queen of England. I thought it was an interesting way to look at it :-) .

It is sometimes said that Henry VII proposed marriage to Katherine. I couldnt help thinking that if she did end up marrying him, then the course of history may of changed for ever! For then Prince Henry would of married another Princess and may of had many children, and the other 5 Queens would of probably never of been where they ended up being. What do you think?

My personal opinion was that Katherines marriage was consumated; there is no doubt upon it, unless Arthur actually was impotent. However, if she did lie I am glad she did as she showed the world what a strong woman she was, and how good a Queen she was.

I hope everyone has a lovely 2013!Smile

January 1, 2013
1:36 pm
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Boleyn
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Rosie May:
A very good debate offering. The business with COA has always been a hard baked mystery.
Firstly you are right about H7 offering himself to COA as a husband after Authur’s death and of course Elizabeth of York’s death. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were outraged at the suggestion and so naturally the plan was shelved, but it would have been interesting to have seen what would have happened if H7 had of married COA. I’ve no doubt if it had COA would have a couple of children in the Nursery by the time H7 would have died in 1509. That would have certainly changed things historically and it could well have been that the decendents of the throne would have had Anglo/Spanish origin now and not Scottish/German.
As to the business of Arthur and COA’s marriage. I agree with you about consummation I believe he did try to perform as required and certainly it was reported that there was blood on the sheets of their bed, which was then of course taken as a sign that the marriage 1 had been consumated and 2 that the girl/princess was indeed a virgin. However COA maintained that she had pricked her heel and wiped the blood on the sheets to spare Arthur’s embarrassment at not being able to keep his end up. Again this is possible, Arthur wasn’t robust and certainly bear in mind there were still some who considered the Tudors as upstarts despite their royal connection via Elizabeth of York, and Margaret Beaufort, so Arthur would have been under a lot of strain to do what was expected and get the next heir in the Nursery as soon as possible..
If COA did lie after Arthur’s death in order to marry Henry, then I believe it was an honorable lie done for the best of intentions, and it could be that H7 knew the truth and told COA to lie so that he could keep the allience with Spain which at the time he needed.
As I said the Tudor Dynasty had very a shaky claim to the throne and H7 really only had the Spanish on his side to keep his throne.
The Pope certainly I feel believed that Arthur and COA’s marriage may have been consummated and the wording on the dispensation for Henry Junior and COA dispensation was as Starkey puts it a “belt and braces” affair.
Rumour has it that Arthur must have been able to do something in that department which was enough to infect COA with the pox.
What you have to look at here is COA herself. Would she knowing how devout she was lied through her teeth about her marriage to Arthur, knowing that that one honorable lie would have damned her immortal soul? I believe that yes she would. Going back to Spain as an unwanted and perhaps spoiled goods was never an option for her from the time she stepped on the boat in Spain and set sail for England. I rather think that Ferdinand had made it clear to her she wouldn’t be welcome if she returned home.
To give her credit she was an incredibly strong and capable woman, very just and fair and perhaps the best wife for Henry in the sence that she guided him through some very difficult times in the first part of his reign. It is a case of if only here, but if the Son she bore him had lived, the world would be a very different place now and perhaps still Catholic too.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 1, 2013
4:07 pm
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Louise
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I think Gregory has no idea of the strength of religious doctrines in the sixteenth century. She projects twenty-first century lack of morality on people who lived five-hundred years ago. She professes to admire Catherine but is happy to portray her as a liar and cheat who put her own pride and desire to be queen above her religious morality. Maybe she did, but if so then Catherine was a hypocrite, which makes sense really because it gives her something in common with Gregory.

January 1, 2013
5:18 pm
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Sharon
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I believe that Katherine believed she was still a virgin when she married Henry. Katherine was under the influence of Dona Elvira who told her she remained a virgin. Dona Elvira said there was no blood on the sheets. Now whether Dona Elvira was trying to hold onto her power over Katherine or whether it was true, I don’t know, but she led Katherine to believe she was still a virgin. In Spain, the king and queen were left scratching their heads trying to figure out what the heck happened.
KOA in her speech at Blackfriars said she was a maid when she went to Henry’s bed and Henry knew it. Whether it was true or not she put it to Henry’s conscience. She called the slander “new inventions” against her. Henry had apparently stated in the past that Katherine was a virgin when she came to his bed. Later, after he decided he didn’t want this marriage, he claimed he had been joking when he said those things. Joking? Really?
Katherine seemed to believe she was a virgin. She testified to that effect. Religion played a huge part in Katherine’s life and I believe she would not deliberately lie about this.
Why is it that Henry could say anything he wanted against these women and the women were called the liars? Why isn’t the blame put on Henry where it belongs? Women had no voice back then. If Henry was to rid himself of Katherine, he did not care if her reputation was ruined. We know this was a pattern Henry followed in the future. It was so easy to accuse Katherine of not being a virgin. She could deny it all she wanted, but in the end Henry would have his way. if damning Katherine to being a liar was the way to achieve his goal, so be it! Katherine didn’t have a prayer.

January 2, 2013
7:10 pm
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Boleyn
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At the Blackfriars trial COA certainly created a sensation, when instead of pleading her case to Wolsey and Campagio she appealed directly to Henry, and that swung the whole case in her favour. By appealing to Henry directly she showed him up. I must admit I feel a great deal of admiration for her on that score, Henry was detirmined to have his way and before her direct appeal to him he would have got it too.
Showing him up in the legatine court in front of Campagio was a case of “Prove it lard boy, prove to Campagio and the Pope if you can I wasn’t a virgin when we married” which of course he couldn’t. I wonder if Henry had actually known the difference between a maid and a woman anyway? Nearly all his conquest were married or had had at least one sexual relationship before he decided it was his turn for a bit of fun, the only exception to that would be Bessie Blount, who I believe was around 12 or 13 when she took his fancy, so there is a real possiblity that she was of all his woman a virgin when he bedded her. I don’t doubt either that Anne too was a virgin as well.
Remember in those days men weren’t exactly gentle when it came to sex, I wouldn’t say they were brutal in the way they went about things but neither did they take their time and consider the feelings of the female they were about to have sex with. It was a case the woman was there to have their way with. I’m not sure but I don’t think there were such things as foreplay, it was a case of get your knickers off and lay down followed by a quick 5 minute fumble.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 3, 2013
3:51 am
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Anyanka
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I’m sure KOA knew the difference between being a virgin and having had intercourse. I really don’t think that princesses and noble women were shipped around Europe as brides were completely in the dark regarding thier marital duties, if only to keep them safe from thier escorts.

Given that…I’m sure that if KOA was a virgin, though there may have been some kind of petting involved between her and Arthur.

It's always bunnies.

January 3, 2013
4:29 am
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Boleyn
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Agreed Anyanka, but was that petting heavy enough to actually attempt to consumate their union?
As you rightly say woman were aware of what the birds and bees did. (The size difference has always foxed me there and what would happen if the bird got stung half way through? LOL) They would have had that drummed into them from a fairly early age I would have thought. More especially since she COA had older sisters who were married and had children themselves.
Which in some ways makes a mockery of Anne of Cleves marriage to Henry as she gave the impression at least to her ladies in waiting she believed that kissing someone would be enough to get a girl pregnant.
Also K.H wasn’t a novice where sex was concerned either, which again makes me wonder if Henry could tell the difference between a maid and a woman as he certainly belived without a shadow of a doubt that K.H was a virgin on her wedding night with him.
Prime example of where woman/girls were clued up on what the actual word of sexual intercourse actually was, is Isabella of Angoulume, she was married to King John at the age of 12, but even before John cast his eye apon her, she had a interest in sex and used to watch the stable boys with the maids having sex and preferred to have woman around her who were sexually active and liked to hear all about the boys they had had a fumble with.
Sharon makes a point which is one I hadn’t heard before about Dona Elvira it would indeed make sence for her to command for want of a better word COA to say she was still a virgin, COA was comming to the age where a duenna wouldn’t really be neccessary anymore, and Dona Elvira’s role was to protect COA’s virginity and virtue, If Arthur did consumate his marriage with COA her job would effectively be over, she would no longer be required as a second mother if that makes sence. By getting COA to lie she would safe guard her job for the next few years at least until Henry came of age, by which time of course she would perhaps be able to wangle a better position in COA’s household maybe even a governess to COA’s children or something. Certainly I think Dona Elvira was a bit of a snake in the grass or should that be a snake in the pomegranet.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 3, 2013
8:26 pm
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Sharon
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Whether she knew about the birds and the bees beforehand or not, if everything had gone as it was supposed to go on that wedding night, Katherine would have known she was no longer a virgin. She wouldn’t have needed Elvira to tell her yea or nay.
If Katherine had doubts, that suggests to me that the deed was left undone.
Besides all that, I just don’t think Katherine would lie about this. Being the firm believer in her faith, to lie about something as serious as this would be to condemn her soul, and I just can’t believe she would do that. IMO there are a few individuals in Tudor times who truly believed til the end of there life that their souls would be in danger when they died if they lied during their time on earth. Katherine seems to be one of those rare individuals.

January 3, 2013
11:17 pm
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Boleyn
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Thinking about this one I think you are right Sharon. If COA had lied she would know from the minute she said nothing happened, her soul was forever damned, so yes in hindsight it is extremely possible that COA was still a virgin when she married Henry. Henry lets face it treated her like dirt when he made up his mind to get rid of her, and his cruelty towards her, I don’t mean in the physical sence I mean mentally, was all done to break her down. All Henry needed was just one word from her to allow him to twist the knife and her words into something that made his behaviour towards her justified.
Sending Mary away and not allowing them to see each other again except for one very breif and supervised visit in the 5 years before her death was a terrible blow to COA but she was determined not to give in under enormous pressure and in fact if my lousy memory serves the few letters that Mary was allowed from her mother always said “Obey the King your Father in all matters”, she never once said “Go kick him hard where it hurts” I also believe that the Spanish Ambassador was trying to urge COA to get her nephew to to involved somewhere along the line and each time she said “no way this is my husband and my people I will never hurt him or them” Even on her death bed she wrote Henry a love letter of sorts.
I supose looking at it from that point of view COA’s mind was as strong and razor sharp against Henry as it was from the time of Arthur’s death she overcame tremendous odd to become and Queen and she was damned determined to die as Queen too. Good on her.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 4, 2013
10:10 am
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MizLiot
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RosieMay said

Okay so what I just wanted to know was your opinion on whether Katherines first marriage was consumated or what. I have just finished reading The Constant Princess, and I thought Phillipia’s theory was actually very clever. Her theory (for those who have not read the book) was that Katherine and Arthur were passionate lovers, and they spent every night together. When Arthur was on his deathbed, he made Katherine promise that she would lie and say that he was impotent so she could marry Henry and fufill her ‘destiny’ of being Queen of England. I thought it was an interesting way to look at it :-) .
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Louise said

I think Gregory has no idea of the strength of religious doctrines in the sixteenth century. She projects twenty-first century lack of morality on people who lived five-hundred years ago. She professes to admire Catherine but is happy to portray her as a liar and cheat who put her own pride and desire to be queen above her religious morality. Maybe she did, but if so then Catherine was a hypocrite, which makes sense really because it gives her something in common with Gregory.

I have to agree with Louise in this case. When looking at the 16th century, you have to try and look at it through the eyes of the people who lived at that time. You can’t look at it with 21st century eyes, because it’ll mess with your mind :P

Philippa Gregory writes fiction. I know that she does do research into the people she makes up stories about, but in the case of Katherine of Aragon it is almost as if she completely disregarded the character of Katherine of Aragon. She is a law unto herself, really.

Time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff.

January 26, 2013
4:56 pm
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Jasmine
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There was a similar thread some time ago. I said then, and I still believe it now, that KOA was not just a princess and a catholic, but she was also something of a politician. It was important to Spain to have a marriage link with England. After Arthur’s death, KOA was in an awkward position. She had (I guess) three choices. 1. Return to Spain and face another royal marriage somewhere. 2. Retire to a convent. 3. Marry another English prince.

I think she and Ferdinand wanted a marriage with Henry. To that end, it was necessary to say her first marriage had not been consumated. So she did.

I don’t necessarily believe that.

Remember, young Arthur calling for wine the day after his wedding, because it was hot and he ‘….had been in Spain all night…..’

It was in Henry VII’s interest for the marriage to be consumated as it would be more difficult to break and Henry needed the alliance with Spain. Remember he had executed Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick as part of preliminaries. Arthur would have been told what was expected of him and so would Katherine. Imagine the consternation if the next morning, the sheets didn’t show ‘something’ had happened. Royal marriages between 15/16 year olds were quite common and the expectation was they would be consummated. It was different where the bride was, say, 12 or 13, but at 16 Katherine would have been regarded as a woman.

January 26, 2013
9:54 pm
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KellyMarie
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If the marriage was indeed consumated, I undertand why she felt the need to lie once the validity of her marriage was being questioned all those yaers later. However if the marriage had been consumated, why would she lie originally? She had already seen her sisters share a husband so surely she would have continued with the example already set and presumed that she would be eligible to marry Henry, virgin or not. Also didn’t the papal dispensation allow for the fact the marriage had been consumated, leaving her free to marry Henry regardless of what happened? Therefore there would be no need to lie from the beginning. This is why I believe it wasn’t consumated. Apologies if my information is wrong.

Also, I could almost get my head around a devout Catholic lying about something like that when put in such circumstances, however I can’t get my head arond the daughter of Isabella lying on oath….not with the upbringing she had been given in regards to religion.

Woohoo I'm normal...gotta go tell the cat!

January 27, 2013
11:56 am
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Boleyn
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I believe some attempt at consumation between Arthur and COA was made, but was unsuccessful. Arthur’s statement about “hot work being in Spain”
was perhaps nothing more than a lie to spare his embarrassment about his failure with COA. No young buck who has just married a beautiful woman (and COA was quite beautiful when she was younger) is going to admit that he couldn’t perform. In that sence COA was tactful and said nothing, so it was assumed by Arthur’s lackeys that he had indeed done what was expected.
Poor Arthur must have felt devestated by this fact so how to spare his failure, he bragged he had done the job.
Henry was much the same we know that he was having problems sexually when he married AOC he said that he wasn’t able to perform his duties with her, but he had, had many nocturnal polutions (wet dreams) which he used as part as his divorce proceedings. The same could be said with K.H although there are records that they had loud and noisy sex, is that actually true? or was it just said by Henry and perhaps K.H to prevent blushes and embarrassment. Did he and K.P actually have sex?
I suppose that Bothe Arthur and older Henry should be grateful that the practise for having people around the bed watching whilst you perform for the first time was abolished or at least not practised in England anymore, as that must have been the ultimate in floppy failure, not to mention once the deed was done you would have the crowd clapping and cheering.
If I have remembered this rightly (I don’t understand the Catholic Doctorine too well) Catholics are more concerned about their spirital life rather than their earthly life, and what they do with their earthly life reflects on how God will judge them when they are called from this life. COA may have lied about her marriage with Arthur, but I don’t think so, her soul was too precious to her to lie.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 28, 2013
10:11 pm
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Gill
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I guess we’ll never really know whether the marriage was consummated or not – if people at the time were arguing about it, what chance do we stand of finding the truth? But one thing about KoA’s behaviour always puzzled me…after Arthur’s death, there was a pause whilst everyone waited to see if she was pregnant or not before discussing her future. If Katherine knew she was still a virgin, why didn’t she speak up? A simple “no need to wait – I can’t possibly be pregnant because…” would have saved everyone the anxious wait. She clearly wasn’t bothered about saving face for Arthur, because sometime later she started claiming she was still a virgin, but only after fresh discussions for her remarriage began and her value would be seriously diminished if she was ‘used goods’.

As far as the religious aspect goes, yes she was very devout, but she believed it was her god given destiny to be queen of England – she had been brought up to think that way since early childhood. She may have felt that a small lie was forgiveable to achieve what she believed god wanted for her. She may even have believed that god wanted her to lie. People can convince themselves of some funny things…especially when it’s to achieve something they desperately want. How often throughout history have people convinced themselves that their wishes were also god’s will? Perhaps that Spanish priest who held so much sway over her at that time (I forget his name, too lazy to go look it up) urged the same? She wouldn’t have felt her soul was imperilled in that case. Over time she may even have started to believe it was true.

January 31, 2013
7:32 pm
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Alison
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I always think they little more than kids and on the wedding night and Arthur being small and slight in build for his age just might not have been able to take his drink and was a little worse for wear, a few clumsy fumbles and kisses and he may well have rolled over in a drunken stupor, Catherine being a young lady of her time may well have been lying there and thinking of Spain waiting for him to do what must be done. There was an old way people would try and proove a bride was a virgin and that was to show the wedding night sheet with blood, when a girl’s hymen breaks she usually bleeds these days with girls and women riding bike, doing sports, using tampons it’s likely to break before first sex. I tend to think along the lines of two fumbly teens and one of them a drunken boy after a lavish Tudor wedding, it’s highly likely she was a Virgin still when she was with Henry. I do have a right soft spot for Arthur though, rather taken with a delicate red haired boy whose bookish and precocious, rather like Edward 6th.

January 31, 2013
10:28 pm
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Gill
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Actually, the idea of Arthur being delicate or sickly is something that later generations came up with in light of the fact he died young – there is no contemporary evidence for it at all, and his family (and everyone else) fully expected him to succeed to the throne. His early death completely blindsided them. I would also point out that they were married for about six months, so the wedding night is unlikely to have been their only occasion when they slept together.

January 31, 2013
10:53 pm
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Alison
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I’d always thought he was like Edward 6th and small and delicate from what I have read or seen on documentaries, Henry was the robust one, Arthur more bookish like Edward, I think in their short marriage they didn’t get alot of time to spend together. I still go with Katherine’s insistance that she was a virgin, she was a very devout Christian so I doubt she’d lie as that’s breaking one of the ten commandments and not in keeping with such a devout lady.

January 31, 2013
11:11 pm
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Alison
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that said who knows short of being Dr Who in a tardis.Wink

February 1, 2013
6:09 pm
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Boleyn
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I think Edward despite his difficult birth (Poor Jane did go through it a bit) was actually quite robust, his Ilness when Henry went up to York to meet his nephew (A meeting that never actually took place because James V was scared) did perhaps weaken him a little, but like all kids in those days it was a case of whatever didn’t kill him may him stronger. I think it’s much more likely that the medicines they gave him when he fell ill with what was to be his final illness was probably what finished him off. I’m not too sure about this but I believe one of the medicines they gave him was arsenic, and possibly laudeum? Mercury was also used in some medicines, but Whether he was given it I don’t know. Either way poor little Eddy was badly nursed if he had had the benfits of modern medcine (I.e by today’s standards) I think he could have perhaps been as mighty as Richard the first, who if memory serves was quite sickly as a child.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

February 2, 2013
4:38 am
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Anyanka
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But a healthy Edward really takes away the whole “poor child victim of schemeing uncles and others” which is highly popular meme in historical writings.

As far as I have read, he was a healthy child up until his final illness and rather than being the hapless pawn of John Dudley, Edward was trying to re-write the succession to ensure a Protestant (male) heir would be king after him.

It's always bunnies.

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