November 30 – Henry VIII gets a dressing down from his wife and sweetheart

On this day in Tudor history, 30th November 1529, the Feast of St Andrew, Henry VIII received a dressing down from two women: his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the woman he wanted to make his wife, Anne Boleyn.

Henry VIII’s treatment of his first wife was angering her, and Catherine told him so. And the king’s sweetheart was annoyed with the king for letting Catherine get the upper hand and she didn’t hold back either. Both Catherine and Anne told the king exactly what they thought.

Find out exactly what happened between Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn on 30th November 1529, during the Great Matter, Henry VIII’s quest for an annulment of his first marriage…


Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn are angry with Henry VIII

On this day in Tudor history, 30th November 1529, the Feast of St Andrew, Henry VIII was reproached by the two women in his life: his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the woman he wanted to marry, Anne Boleyn.

An angry Catherine of Aragon confronted her husband regarding his treatment of her, which she considered “the pains of Purgatory on earth”, and then when the King sought comfort from Anne Boleyn, she reproached him for giving Catherine the “upper hand”. Oh dear!

Let me tell you a bit more about the king’s experiences that day…

According to Eustace Chapuys, the imperial ambassador, in a letter to Emperor Charles V, Catherine of Aragon complained to her husband the king “that she had long been suffering the pains of Purgatory on earth, and that she was very badly treated by his refusing to dine with and visit her in her apartments.” In answer, the king said that Catherine had no right to complain, “for she was mistress in her own household, where she could do what she pleased” and explained that he had not dined with her because he had been busy with “affairs of government”.

Regarding Catherine’s complaint about not visiting her apartments, Henry VIII said that:

“she ought to know that he was not her legitimate husband, as innumerable doctors and canonists, all men of honour and probity, and even his own almoner, Doctor Lee, who had once known her in Spain, were ready to maintain” and that “should not the Pope, in conformity with the above opinions so expressed, declare their marriage null and void, then in that case he (the King) would denounce the Pope as a heretic, and marry whom he pleased.”

Then, according to Chapuys, Catherine replied, “that he himself, without the help of doctors, knew perfectly well that the principal cause alleged for the divorce did not really exist” and said that she cared not a straw for his almoner’s opinion on the matter, saying “he is not my judge in the present case; it is for the Pope, not for him, to decide.” As for the opinions of the doctors of Paris and other universities, she reminded the king that he knew very well that the principal and best lawyers in England had written in her favour, going on to say “Indeed, if you give me permission to procure counsel’s opinion in this matter I do not hesitate to say that for each doctor or lawyer who might decide in your favour and against me, I shall find 1,000 to declare that the marriage is good and indissoluble.”

After further words on the matter, the king then “left the room suddenly” and Chapuys describes him as “very disconcerted and downcast”.

If he thought that he could find comfort in the arms of his sweetheart, Anne Boleyn, he was wrong. Chapuys reported that Anne gave him a telling off too. Here are the words Anne reprimanded him with:

“Did I not tell you that whenever you disputed with the Queen she was sure to have the upper hand? I see that some fine morning you will succumb to her reasoning, and that you will cast me off. I have been waiting long, and might in the meanwhile have contracted some advantageous marriage, out of which I might have had issue, which is the greatest consolation in this world; but alas! farewell to my time and youth spent to no purpose at all.”

Henry VIII was having a bad day, wasn’t he? It almost makes you feel sorry for him!

Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was finally annulled by Archbishop Cranmer in May 1533, shortly before his second wife, Anne Boleyn, was crowned queen.

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