Was Katherine of Aragon a virgin? | Page 2 | The Six Wives | Forum

Avatar

Please consider registering
guest

sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register

Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search

— Forum Scope —




— Match —





— Forum Options —





Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

sp_Feed Topic RSS sp_TopicIcon
Was Katherine of Aragon a virgin?
August 17, 2010
11:11 am
Avatar
DuchessofBrittany
Canada
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 847
Member Since:
June 7, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

This is a tricky and complicated issue. I'm of two minds here. If Katherine of Aragon was a devout as she was clamied to be, then I cannot believe she lied. The same is true for when Anne Boleyn asserts her innocence in the Tower during Mass. Religion was a big deal in the 16th century, and I cannot image KOA destroying her immortal soul over a lie. However, it was in the best interests of her father, Henry VII, and Henry VIII to have Katherine around. She brought with her a huge dowry and political allegience. So, does power and politics trump virginity and immortal souls? Probably, and potentially at the hands of some very powerful people.

Another issue I didn't consider until recently was the use of the word forsan (maybe) into the Henry and Katherine's dispensation to marry. The issue centred around Katherine virginity, and really does make me question, why? Did Katherine really not know about sex, or was Arthur really sick enough to not consummate the marriage? Of course, at the time of Henry and Katherine's marriage, forsan was good enough for a young king enamoured of his bride. It is only when Katherine becomes a obstacle to Anne Boleyn does the issuse of her virginity come into play. Yes, there were concerns about Katherine's first marriage at the time, but a dispensation should have removed all the obstacles to a union. But, Henry being the shrewd politician he was used the issue of Katherine's virginity against her. I do not blame Katherine at all. If her virginity was such a huge issue by the late 1520's, it should have been settled in the ealry 1510's, but alas, like many of Henry's women, Katherine's past was used against her.

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

August 19, 2010
5:00 am
Avatar
ipaud
Ireland
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 213
Member Since:
June 19, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

For Henry and Katherine's intimate details to be trotted out for all to hear, Henry (and for that matter Katherine) must have been desperate for any straw to hang on to. For Katherine, it would have meant end of game, maybe Henry was putting his wager on Katherine giving in to his demands for Divorce? If so, she called his bluff! She was well able to handle herself as she proved, running Henry's kingdom for him while he was away playing war games, even putting down insurrections. A very capable girl indeed.

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

October 4, 2010
6:07 pm
Avatar
Anne
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 92
Member Since:
September 22, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Katherine was a devout Catholic,one who feared God and respected the Pope.So,I don’t believe she lied.She didn’t have a reason after all.She didn’t know for sure if she was to marry Henry,in fact until the very last moment it was doubtfull.When she claimed that she was still a virgin,what did she gain?A dark future,poverty,she was kind of imprisoned by Henry VII.I f she had said otherwise,then she would either returned to her family after a few months passed,to ensure she wasn’t pregnant and if not,to remarry.Or,in case the king didn’t want to return her dowry(he didn’t),she could be the Dowager Princess,a member of the royal dynasty,given a fe estates and have a quiet lfe(like AoC did).So why this woman would lie and endanger her immortal soul?Katherine would never lie to the Pope,in front of God in order to live in sin with her husband’s brother.

October 4, 2010
9:57 pm
Avatar
Jasmine
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 161
Member Since:
December 30, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

It was in Katherine’s interests, after Arthur’s death, to say she was a virgin.  It increased her chances in the marriage stakes – either Henry or another Prince somewhere else.

Yes, Katherine was a devout Catholic, but she was also a Spanish Princess with dynastic ambitions.  Both her parents were highly political operators and it would be unreasonable to assume that Katherine had not absorbed some of this during her childhood.

October 5, 2010
2:28 pm
Avatar
Iguazu
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 28
Member Since:
August 22, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline
Quote:  “Catherine would not have put her soul at risk for. That was one of her arguments against the divorce. I know some argue that if she confessed to the lie then that would change things for Mary, but I don’t believe that even for Mary she’d condemn her soul to hell. Remember this is a woman who was cut off from her daughter because of her beliefs, I don’t believe she’d separate herself from God for an eternity.”
I totally agree. In those days eternal damnation would have loomed, and Katherine would not have risked that. Besides, when Henry had separated from her she kept praying for HIS soul as she thought he was putting it in danger by living with his mistress and turning away from the Church. Katherine would have been the greatest religious hypocrite if she had been lying and weeping about Henry’s endangering his soul at the same time.
And Katherine would not have needed to be dishonest about her virginity  when she married Henry because the then papal dispensation covered all eventualities.
October 5, 2010
2:29 pm
Avatar
Anne
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 92
Member Since:
September 22, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Still,I don’t think that she was a woman to embrace a sinful living.Obviously,it was Henry’s(VII) and Ferdinand’s fault to allow such a doubtfull marriage but I see Katherine not as someone whose ambition didn’t stop at anything.Many things where out of her grasp but Katherine always seemmed to me as a woman who feared religion,opposing to the Pope etc.I doubt this overly religious woman would lie and endager her immortal soul(back then an oath was not a game and 16th c. is one of the darkest periods of Christianity) unless she kept up a big facade all her life.Although,I think Henry’s fight didn’t concentrate on her virginity.His claim was that the first ceremony annuled the second(the passage he used didn’t say anything about consumation)and even through she was a widow,legally she was still his sister(in law).But the whole trial concentrated on the fact whether she was a virgin at her 2nd marriage,something that Henry didn’t actually  express directly.Had he been right,then she wouldn’t have fought him back the way she did.Only the two of them could tell their intimate moments

 

(Just a question:Why Henry couldn’t say if his wifes were virgins?KoA was the first one,so perhaps he didn’t know.Anne?He doubted her too,although the first years of their marriage nothing marred her reputation.K.Howard?How awfull was that?He realised that his wife was experienced after they told him she was?After four marriages and a bunch of mistresses?And Anne of Cleves was not a virgin because of her breasts?I guess Chapuys was right,when he discussed Jane’s reputation,that it is up to Henry whether she is a virgin or not)

March 9, 2011
12:08 am
Avatar
La Belle Creole
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 109
Member Since:
March 9, 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

This is one of those interesting questions that no one can honestly know.

 

I don't find it at all implausible that Katherine and Arthur's marriage remained unconssumated.  They would hardly be the first young royal couple to delay consummation due to illness, shyness, or other miscellaneous factors.  Other couples include Grand Duke Peter and Grand Duchess Catherine (later Catherine the Great,) Marie Antoinette and Louis, Dauphin of France, Marie Stuart (Queen of Scots) and Francis (Dauphin,) and Marie Adelaide of Savoy and the Duke of Burgundy.

 

Was it politically expedient for Katherine to allege her first marriage was unconsummated?  Certainly.  However, the element bending me in Katherine's favor is her willingness to testify on the issue numerous times throughout her life.  Particularly her willingness to invoke God in her testimony.

March 14, 2011
1:13 pm
Avatar
bethany.x
England
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 100
Member Since:
December 5, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I came to my own conclusion about this a few weeks ago.

I think she was a virgin when she married Henry, purely because I don't think she'd lie before God. I just can't imagine her lying about something so important that so much depended on. I think she'd be honest about it.

Also PG writes of how she thinks the marriage was comsumated and she's wrong on most points… I've come to the conclusion that if PG decides on one side of a debate then you'll generally be right if you go with the other.

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

March 14, 2011
6:32 pm
Avatar
Impish_Impulse
US Midwest
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 599
Member Since:
August 12, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

bethany.x said:

Also PG writes of how she thinks the marriage was comsumated and she's wrong on most points… I've come to the conclusion that if PG decides on one side of a debate then you'll generally be right if you go with the other.


Very smart! Laugh

                        survivor ribbon                             

               "Don't knock at death's door. 

          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

March 15, 2011
1:05 pm
Avatar
C
California
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
March 13, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

 

 

I think she was a virgin when she married Henry, purely because I don't think she'd lie before God. I just can't imagine her lying about something so important that so much depended on. I think she'd be honest about it.

 

As you pointed out the issue of her viriginity was extremely important and there was a lot riding on it, what better motive for her to lie than that?

March 15, 2011
3:35 pm
Avatar
Sharon
Binghamton, NY
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 2115
Member Since:
February 24, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I think I have changed my mind on this subject.  I have previously stated that I believed Arthur and Katherine had consummated their marriage.  After having spent time reading about the individual that Katherine was, I am of the opinion that she would not have lied about this.  She was a devout Catholic.  It would have imperiled her immortal soul to die with a lie between her and her God.  The more I read of Henry, the more I believe he lied to get that divorce.  He didn't care how it hurt her either. Even if it wasn't true, calling her out in public like he did was absolutely cruel.

I questioned Katherine's honesty early on because I felt she was desparate to stay in England and fulfill her duty to Spain.  The way to do that was to marry Henry and become queen of England.  I still believe she wanted that.  It also seemed to me that she became more religious with every miscarriage. She spent most of her later years in prayer.  I'm not questioning her devotion, but I used to wonder how strong her beliefs were when she was younger?  I no longer question her faith.  She was a true believer.

March 16, 2011
2:40 am
Avatar
Sophie1536
Lincolnshire UK
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 305
Member Since:
January 17, 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I really don't know cos Katherine was so devout to her faith but then half of me thinks not because unlike today her knowledge of sex would have been nil. I'm sure her mother would have told her what to expect in the marriage bed but I think she wouldn't have really understood what that entails so could she be sure she was a virgin?

http://i255.photobucket.com/albums/hh144/nicksbabe28/Backstreet%20n%20Graffix/Image4-1.jpg

March 16, 2011
6:07 pm
Avatar
Anyanka
La Belle Province
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 2345
Member Since:
November 18, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Impish_Impulse said:

bethany.x said:

Also PG writes of how she thinks the marriage was comsumated and she's wrong on most points… I've come to the conclusion that if PG decides on one side of a debate then you'll generally be right if you go with the other.


Very smart! Laugh
 


Snorts beer, TYVM!

It's always bunnies.

March 16, 2011
10:40 pm
Avatar
La Belle Creole
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 109
Member Since:
March 9, 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

An interesting question for discussion:

Can anyone specify documentation demonstrating Katherine of Aragon's honesty or dishonesty?

I believe everyone is capable of lying, and everyone does, at times, lie (although these are normally “white lies” or “polite lies” as opposed to perjuring oneself under oath.)

Was Katherine of Aragon prone to telling lies and/or other deceitful behavior?  Are there other instances and/or frequent instances where Katherine of Aragon lied?  Or other dishonest behavior, such as cheating at games, feigning illnesses, spying or actively working against Henry or England's best interests?

Was the behavior, if it occured, frequent or habitual? 

Proof that Katherine told a lie once in a while isn't confirmation she lied about her first marriage's non-consummation.  However, if Katherine was known to habitually lie or intentionally deceive others, this might lend credence to  Henry's case that Katherine lied.

I'm unaware of Katherine being known for lying or other dishonesty.

I understand the viewpoint many posters have concerning why Katherine might have lied in order to benefit herself and Spain, but I think it's important to remember the significance of religion in Katherine's life, as well as the emphasis upon a person's reputation. 

Does it occur to anyone that Katherine stuck to her guns because she was telling the truth?  That she believed telling the truth was the right thing to do and telling the truth would protect her? 

If Katherine was telling the truth, why for the love of heaven should she have offered Henry an anullment based on a false admission (LIE) that Katherine had lied FOR OVER TWO DECADES concerning her first marriage, committing mortal sin and breaking the law?  Henry basically required Katherine not only to lie, but to dishonor herself (her reputation, her good name, her word) and degrade her children (Mary as well as her deceased children.) 

It just seems to me that if Katherine had lied in the beginning, it might have been a RELIEF to her to confess and seek absolution with Henry's goodwill. 

Henry, on the other hand, DOES have a track record for repeated lying and deceitful behavior.

It's impossible to discover convincing evidence supporting either position, but I have to say, based upon the reputations and known attitudes and behaviors of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, I would be more likely to believe Katherine of Aragon's word over Henry VIII's.

People argue Katherine of Aragon had “too much to lose not to lie.”  What did Henry stand to gain by lying?  Is it more “in character” for Katherine of Aragon to exploit situations and relationships to achieve particular goals or is that behavior more characteristic of Henry VIII?

March 17, 2011
4:06 am
Avatar
Jasmine
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 161
Member Since:
December 30, 2009
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Of course Henry had a lot to gain by lying.  But also, so did Katherine.   Originally, it was important to maintain the Spanish alliance and by marrying Henry, that alliance was maintained.  By the time the question of divorce was raised, Katherine had a daughter's position to protect.  Katherine had seen a powerful Queen Regnant in the person of her mother, Isabella, so she would be very much interested in seeing her own daughter succeed to the Crown of England.  If she agreed to the divorce, she would, in effect, be admitting that her daughter was a bastard.

 

Presumably at the time of her proposed marriage to Henry, she would have been asked about the consumation of her marriage.  As it was in her own interests, as well as Spain's for the new marriage to go ahead, I cannot believe she would admit it, if it had been consummated.

 

Having told that lie then, Katherine could not admit the opposite later.  She would have to maintain that lie for the rest of her life.  I am not a Catholic, but presumably she had a Spanish Confessor – in that case, she could have confessed the original lie  (which was in Spain's interests)  and having been given a penance to perform, her sin in lying would have been wiped out.

March 17, 2011
6:18 am
Avatar
Anyanka
La Belle Province
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 2345
Member Since:
November 18, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

La Belle Creole said:

 

Can anyone specify documentation demonstrating Katherine of Aragon's honesty or dishonesty?

(snip)

Was Katherine of Aragon prone to telling lies and/or other deceitful behavior?  Are there other instances and/or frequent instances where Katherine of Aragon lied?  Or other dishonest behavior, such as cheating at games, feigning illnesses, spying or actively working against Henry or England's best interests?

(snip)
I'm unaware of Katherine being known for lying or other dishonesty.


She was certainly capable of lying to her father about her first miscarriage. From David Starkey's Six Wives The Queens of Henry VIII

 

Her fathercould not of course be left entirely in the dark and on 27 May she wrote him a letter. “Some days before” she had miscarried of a daughter. ” That her child was still born is considered a misfortune  in England. Hence the delay in her letter and hence the fact that she would allow no one else to write.

 

Clearly this version of events was severly edited. Catherine post-dates her miscarriage by almost four months. And she make no mention of her subsequent false pregnancy nor of the fact she had taken to her chamber. Yet there can be no doubt that these events had happened. For, behind her back and to cover theirs, Fray Diego and Caroz sent full accounts to Spain. THeir motives were different. Fray Diego wrote to exonerate Catherine; Caroz to undermine Fray Diego. Nevertheless their accounts are mutally complementary. They are also confirmed by the English records of the preparations for Catherine's lying-in.

 

Pages 115-118 discribe the events. The quote is from page 119.

 

It's always bunnies.

March 17, 2011
2:51 pm
Avatar
Bella44
New Zealand
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 934
Member Since:
January 9, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

That's a good point Anyanka.  Katherine was certainly capable of lying, to her own father about her first pregnancy and possibly to Henry too.  Giles Tremlett in his book on Katherine goes into detail about it.  But perhaps on that occasion it was done more out of confusion, though I've always wondered about how far Katherine would go in maintaining something that she implicitly knew not to be true.  She was after all the daughter of two incredibly wily politicians….

Having said that, I believe Katherine told the truth when it came to the subject of her virginity.  She was far more mature then, had a better understanding of Henry and England and was far more aware of imperiling her immortal soul by lying. 

March 17, 2011
3:31 pm
Avatar
La Belle Creole
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 109
Member Since:
March 9, 2011
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Jasmine said:

Of course Henry had a lot to gain by lying.  But also, so did Katherine.   Originally, it was important to maintain the Spanish alliance and by marrying Henry, that alliance was maintained.  By the time the question of divorce was raised, Katherine had a daughter's position to protect.  Katherine had seen a powerful Queen Regnant in the person of her mother, Isabella, so she would be very much interested in seeing her own daughter succeed to the Crown of England.  If she agreed to the divorce, she would, in effect, be admitting that her daughter was a bastard.

 

Presumably at the time of her proposed marriage to Henry, she would have been asked about the consumation of her marriage.  As it was in her own interests, as well as Spain's for the new marriage to go ahead, I cannot believe she would admit it, if it had been consummated.

 

Having told that lie then, Katherine could not admit the opposite later.  She would have to maintain that lie for the rest of her life.  I am not a Catholic, but presumably she had a Spanish Confessor – in that case, she could have confessed the original lie  (which was in Spain's interests)  and having been given a penance to perform, her sin in lying would have been wiped out.


OK, so let's say for the sake of discussion the young Katherine lied concerning her first marriage's consummation, confessed her fault, received absolution from her confessor, and continued about her business.  Did that pennance excuse her for repeating the same lie continuously in later years?  I don't believe the process of absolution works like that, I thnk the repentant sinner is expected to make ammends and sin no more. 

Katherine would not “admit her daughter (and her other children) were bastards” because they were not bastards.  Katherine's children were born in lawful wedlock, a marriage upheld by the church authority who originally sanctionned it.  Mary's bastardization was the direct result of Henry VIII usurping the role of Rome and positioning loyal clergy to achieve his goals.  I would not call that the work of a honest, honorable man, husband, and father, much less a king.  

When considering the known facts of this situation, my opinion rests mainly upon the insufficient evidence and the character/reputation of the individuals involved.  Henry, as plaintiff, alleged that: 1) Katherine was not a virgin when they wed, and 2) the proof of Katherine's dishonesty was the couple's childless state, and 3) Katherine was actually his sister due to her first marriage.

It is the plaintiff's duty to prove his/her case.  Proving a woman's virginity 24 years after her defloration is a bit of a challenge.  Offering hearsay, rumor, and speculation is not proof.  Unless a witness could testify to viewing Katherine and Arthur copulating, any “evidence” offered is suspect.  Katherine claimed numerous times she and Arthur did not consummate their marriage.  Could she have been lying?  Maybe, but it fell to Henry (plaintiff) to prove she lied and he could not do that.

As everyone already knows, the royal couple was not childless, and had one living child, Princess Mary, at the time Henry cited Levitcus as “evidence” of his bogus marriage.  Henry and Katherine were hardly the only married couple to experience high infant mortality or the absence of surviving male children. 

Whether or not Katherine was Henry's sister depended upon whether her first marriage was consummated (an unproved allegation.)  Even so, the Pope issued dispensation for Katherine and Henry's marriage to take place.  After lengthy consideration of the King's Great Matter, Rome upheld the original decision and retained its opinion Henry and Katherine's marriage was valid and legally binding. 

In brief, Henry could not prove his case through appropriate legal channels.  This does not prove Katherine lied or did not lie.  It means Henry could not prove the allegations against Katherine.  Since he could not prove his case, however, it must be accepted that, unless proved otherwise (unlikely at this point) Katherine's version concerning her first marriage is the truth to the best of our understanding.

As for Katherine of Aragon's “desperation to be Queen of England,” I think she might have been just as happy to go home.  Henry VII ill-treated her and forced her to live in embarassing poverty.

 

March 17, 2011
7:12 pm
Avatar
Anyanka
La Belle Province
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 2345
Member Since:
November 18, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Bella44 said:

That's a good point Anyanka.  Katherine was certainly capable of lying, to her own father about her first pregnancy and possibly to Henry too.  Giles Tremlett in his book on Katherine goes into detail about it.  But perhaps on that occasion it was done more out of confusion, though I've always wondered about how far Katherine would go in maintaining something that she implicitly knew not to be true.  She was after all the daughter of two incredibly wily politicians….

Having said that, I believe Katherine told the truth when it came to the subject of her virginity.  She was far more mature then, had a better understanding of Henry and England and was far more aware of imperiling her immortal soul by lying. 


And KoA spent some time as Ferdinand's ambassador to H7.

 

Despite the reports of the blood-stained sheets being sent to Isabella and Ferdinand( trying to find the cite! I've had a long day…) , I think KoA was a virgin too.

AFAIK, she never claimed to have been pregnant by Arthur which would have been easy to disprove, and although Arthur's body servant  William Thomas said Arthur had gone frequently to her bed, there is no evidence they did the deed. Sometimes sleeping together means just that!

Arthur had a lot to prove regarding his performance as a husband. His pride was on the line as was the future of the Tudor dynasty.

It's always bunnies.

March 17, 2011
7:20 pm
Avatar
Bella44
New Zealand
Member
Members
Forum Posts: 934
Member Since:
January 9, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I don't think I've heard about bedsheets being sent to Isabella and Ferdinand…. I didn't think that was a particularly common thing that was done in England?

Forum Timezone: Europe/London

Most Users Ever Online: 70

Currently Online:
12 Guest(s)

Top Posters:

Anyanka: 2345

Boleyn: 2285

Sharon: 2115

Bella44: 934

DuchessofBrittany: 847

Mya Elise: 782

Member Stats:

Guest Posters: 0

Members: 426038

Moderators: 0

Admins: 1

Forum Stats:

Groups: 1

Forums: 13

Topics: 1679

Posts: 23600

Newest Members:

ashleyro2, franklingo18, HorinadR, estherqw4, enriquebo2, Delaquand

Administrators: Claire: 998