June 12 – Catherine of Aragon accuses Henry VIII of being a bad example!

On this day in Tudor history, 12th June 1530, twenty-one years and a day after they got married, Queen Catherine of Aragon got rather angry with her husband, King Henry VIII.

Catherine accused the king of leading an evil life and setting a bad example.

What led to these accusations?

What had Henry VIII done to upset Catherine?

Find out in the video or transcript below.

By the way, you can enjoy a quiz on Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon today on the Tudor Society – click here.


In yesterday’s video, I talked about the marriage of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, which took place on 11th June 1509. Today, I’m fast-forwarding 21 years to Sunday 12th June 1530, when the king got a good telling off from Catherine.

By this time, Henry was involved with Catherine’s former maid of honour, Anne Boleyn, and was trying desperately to get his marriage to Catherine annulled. Although Henry was continuing to treat Catherine with respect and appearing with her in public as man and wife, king and queen, Anne was rising in prominence and was a real threat to Catherine. Six months earlier, Chapuys had described “a grand fête in this city, to which several ladies of the Court were invited” and how Anne Boleyn took precedence over all the other ladies, who included “queen Blanche and the two duchesses of Norfolk, the dowager and the young one)”, and that she sat by the King “occupying the very place allotted to a crowned queen”. Chapuys went on to report:
“After dinner there was dancing and carousing, so that it seemed as if nothing were wanting but the priest to give away the nuptial ring and pronounce the blessing. All the time, and whilst the carousal was going on, poor queen Katharine was seven miles away from this place holding her own fête of sorrow and weeping.”

So what exactly did Catherine say to her husband on this day in 1530? Well, according to Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, Catherine exhorted her husband “to be again to her a good prince and husband, and to quit the evil life he was leading and the bad example he was setting.”
Catherine went on to tell him that even if he did not respect her, “his true and lawful wife”, that “he should at least respect God and his conscience”, and that he should not ignore the brief issued by the Pope. Catherine had applied to the Pope for this brief “for to the effect that nobody shall, under pain of excommunication, judge, allege, counsel, procure, solicit, or otherwise speak “á complacentia o gratia,” of this matter of the dissolution of matrimony between the King and Queen, unless it be as God and his conscience may dictate.”

Unfortunately, Catherine’s words had no effect on the king. Henry argued that the pope’s brief, which was urging the king to practise restraint, “was of very little consequence” and that there were plenty of people who were on his side. The king then “left the room abruptly without saying another word.”
Poor poor Catherine.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1540 . An imprisoned Thomas Cromwell wrote to King Henry VIII regarding his “most miserable state”, asking for mercy, and pleading his innocence.
  • 1567 – The death of lawyer Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich. A not-so-nice Tudor chap!

Find out more about these “on this day” events here.

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One thought on “June 12 – Catherine of Aragon accuses Henry VIII of being a bad example!”
  1. To the modern mind Katherines refusal to let Henry V111 have his annulment seems unreasonable and very foolish, because we know with the benefit of hindsight, that she spent the rest of her days in lonely banishment and separated from her beloved daughter, she did not succeed in her pleas to Henry to return to her, she did not stop the king marrying Anne Boleyn and making her Queen consort, and as we know Henry was not the only king who had applied to the pope for an annulment, but Katherine was the only queen in history to oppose it, the eternal triangle between Katherine the king and Anne Boleyn had devastating consequences for the queen, and the nation which had been Catholic with the pope as her head for a thousand years, Henry was deeply in love with Anne and nothing Katherine could say or the popes brief, the scowls of the people could do a thing, Henry was determined to marry the woman he referred to as ‘ mine own sweetheart’ and his need for a son coupled with his desire for her, drove him on with the single minded pursuit of the obsessed, one can weep for loyal Katherine who had tried to give him a son so many times, had lost so many children and must have felt time and again, a complete failure as a wife and queen, now one of her ladies had captured her dear husbands heart and she saw her as an evil ambitious woman, the snake in the garden of Eden , she thought her impure and immoral, when Henry came to visit her she upbraided him for his treatment of her, and the advice the pope had given him, Henry must have looked at her across the room and compared her to his dazzling mistress, he was bored with her, she was now plain and dumpy and wore a hair shirt next to her skin, Anne was slender and lithe and merry natured, evil living indeed! Katherine had forgotten how to be a woman and was more like a nun, is it any wonder he had stopped sleeping with her years ago? Henry V111 did respect Katherine still and he never wanted to hurt her or cause her distress, but in the end he did grow to hate her and treated her with careless indifference, to him she was being selfish in not allowing him to marry again and begat a son, to Katherine he was acting sinful and she feared their daughter was going to lose her status as her fathers heir, his reason for the annulment also had distressed her terribly for to a pious woman like herself, to declare they had lived in sin for over twenty years contrary to gods law, went against her deep moral and religious beliefs, she was also very proud to, the daughter of powerful monarchs she had been brought up to be the queen of another land, her betrothal to Prince Arthur had been arranged by her parents and the kings when she was just a child, so to ask her to agree that their marriage had never been a true one in the first place was doomed to failure, the pope at the time had given them the dispensation to marry, all the cards were in Katherines hand, yet her stance against the king caused the break from Rome and towards the end of her days, she did question wether all the turmoil need not have occurred had she acted differently, the break from Rome shocked Katherine the country and the continent, in Victorian times the historian Froude declared she was narrow minded and violent, and Chapyus also after her death said she was too quick to judge that everyone was like her, and it seems a more noble pious woman never existed, and certainly her obsession with her marriage and her queenship is akin to Henry’s obsession to marry his mistress, but there was only one winner, her story is a very sad one all the more because the woman who had caused her downfall, died just a few months after Katherines soul had passed from this world to the next, as Henry V111 lay on his own deathbed many years later, did his mind cast back to his first wife who had loved him with the kind of deep profound love that maybe he had never had with all his five other marriages, he is said to have expressed regret for sending Anne to her death, maybe just maybe he had begun to feel remorse towards his treatment of Katherine also.

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