The death of a banished queen

On this day in history, 7th January 1536, Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII, died at Kimbolton Castle.

It was a sad end to the woman who’d been Henry VIII’s queen consort for well over 20 years. She’d been banished from court, separated from her daughter and demoted to Dowager Princess of Wales, a title she never accepted.

Find out more in this video:

And her daughter suffered a devasting blow on this day in 1558!

By the way, on my YouTube channel this year, I’m doing 2-3 videos per week, rather than daily. Here’s my “this week in Tudor history” covering this week.

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6 thoughts on “The death of a banished queen”
  1. Poor poor Katherine she had such a bright future mapped out for her when she was born, a Princess of Spain, land of the golden citadels hot baked sun and bougainvillea, first wife and the most longest suffering of them all of Henry V111, she had been his successful Queen consort for over twenty years, she should have died in a luxurious palace surrounded by her husband and daughter, faithful friends and servants, a period of national mourning should have been observed, instead this remarkable woman died in a mean dark castle in a remote part of England, with only a priest for company and a few women, it must have been a lonely death, her husband celebrated the news by dressing in yellow and with his usual insensitivity declared his great joy that England was free at last from the threat of war, he held a banquet and paraded his baby daughter Elizabeth around, whilst in another part of the country his eldest daughter wept and the people of England plunged themselves into mourning, remembering her who had been their queen for two decades, and whom many still thought of as their true queen still, Katherines letter if it is genuine shows the consistent true love she still held for Henry V111, there was only one note of reproach in the line where she states, ‘the many ills you have cast me in’, she recommends her women to the king and mentions their daughter Mary, beseeching him to be a good father to her, the last line is extremely poignant, ‘lastly I declare my eyes desire you above all else’, the sentence can strike a chord in the heart of every woman be they wife or lover, who has ever experienced the raw grief of unrequited love, she had been only a child when her parents had betrothed her to Prince Arthur and her destiny lay with him, yet that was changed drastically when he succumbed to an illness not long after their wedding, her future was uncertain but the young gallant Prince Henry chose to marry her himself and their wedding and coronation were both a splendid reason for celebrating, the English took her to their hearts, golden haired fair and pretty she was also dignified serene and all things a queen should be, why her children died is a mystery and is debated to this day, her sloe eyed predecessor fared no better, both lost their hold on the king because they could not give him a son who survived, miscarriages and children who died not long after birth came in quick succession, in an age where the mother was blamed for the sex and health of her child the misery must have been overwhelming, the sense of failure and the fact that for a queen, they had not done their duty in giving their husband an heir to the throne, in Katherine the stakes were more higher, because the survival of the Tudor dynasty lay with her, her last years were lonely and miserable, only her fervent belief in her faith kept her going, and her single minded pursuit that she was Henry’s true queen, she was separated from her daughter and her household was reduced, she was known not as queen anymore but dowager princess of Wales, a title she rebelled against, she became ill and her autopsy revealed a black growth attached to her heart, which was taken to be poison, this was most definitely a carcinoma which meant she must have been in some pain for some time, knowing she was dying she penned this sad last letter to the king, her tears must have stained the paper, her great friend Chapyus described her afterwards as being too quick to judge that people were all like her, and a few centuries later the historian Friedman claimed that she was violent and narrow minded, and she does to the modern mind today, appear very obstinate and the cause of much of her own sorrow, whatever her faults England held a special place in the heart for this queen who had once defended her against invasion and who had been much loved and revered, Henry V111 as a king a man and husband, was not worthy of such loyalty and esteem.

  2. Katherine through her last letter showing that she had the class not Henry and Anne Boleyn. Birth might give class but it is attitude and honesty and honour and dignity and loyalty which shows real class.
    I can’t remember whether it was something Will Shakespeare put in his mouth or not but Henry V was once asked to define nobility and asked What is nobility? “I have seen the highest in the land scream in agony at the slightest hurt and I have seen the lowliest soldier pull an arrow from his leg to comfort a dying horse”.
    Anne and Henry both had a party to celebrate the sad fact that Anne was now the only Queen. We don’t know who wore yellow, probably they both did. They both had a party. Elizabeth was paraded around and taken to Mass in triumph. Iam sorry but here I am condemning both Anne and Henry as being terrible people. They had defeated the poor lady, they didn’t need to be so smug about it.
    Later Henry must have come to his senses because he ordered her mourning and had Masses said and arranged an appropriate funeral for her. I give big kudos to Katherine because she was extremely principled and kept her dignity. Her final letter was very powerful and she prayed for Henry, rebuked him, remembering her daughter and prayed for his zoul. She added a very loving final goodbye and wished to see him once more.
    Katherine really loved him and he was an idiot not to see it.
    Henry would never have annulled his marriage to Katherine had they been blessed with living sons. They were a real power couple for more than 20 years.
    Then he fell for Anne who promised him sons and he pushed forward with the annulment. I am not saying Anne was a home wrecker because that wasn’t true, but it was his desire for her which made him act on his qualms about his marriage, sons and the succession. Anne would also fall foul of that desire for sons, now an obsession so her celebration was in vain. Sadly for Anne she would miscarry a son around the time of Katherine’s funeral.

    1. I agree, to parade around wearing bright yellow merrymaking at the death of such a much loved woman, a woman who had been Henry V111’s queen and a good queen consort at that, a queen whom Anne had once served and must have treated her with respect and kindness, is truly despicable behaviour, I can understand Katherine had been a thorn in their sides for many years, but Henry V111 had chosen to discard her, he had flouted his mistress in her face, he had bastardised their daughter, he had stripped her of her royal titles and banished her from court, separated her from her daughter, it was in extremely bad taste to express delight at her death and hold a party when, as king he should have behaved as convention decreed, expressing regret and observing a period of mourning, this he did after as you mention, he could have as he walked about the company cooing over Elizabeth bandying jokes, been aware of some disapproving glances cast his way, the murmur of voices, the next morning when he arose he must have felt quite uncomfortable, what would Spain say when they heard how he and his wh*re had behaved? And what would his daughter Mary think when she heard how her beloved father had rejoiced at the death of her beloved mother? But then he was to act similarly when he had his second queen arrested and held in the Tower, and was parading this third queen around two weeks after her death, Henry certainly did not believe in mourning for long.

  3. Catherine’s blood showed itself in her daughter when Mary I garnered support and led her supporters to London in answer to Lady Jane Grey being placed on the throne. Catherine was tough as hell and played the long game. She was a warrior, she was the daughter of a warfior, and her daughter was a warrior. Full respect for her.

    1. Yes, Katherine was leading a second army towards Flodden in 1513 and really was in special armour for her being pregnant.
      She wasn’t on the battle field but she wanted to send the head of the King of Scotland to Henry not his coat. The wimpish English men’s hearts wouldn’t allow it.
      Mary was very much her mother’s daughter, rallying her people twice. Katherine was the people’s Queen, something Henry lost sight off. A valiant lady.

      1. She truly was valiant and Mary did inherit her bravery, also her stubbornness, Henry V111 may have forgotten or chose to forget what a great queen she had been but his subjects did not forget, she held a special place in their hearts long after she was dead and her predecessor had gone to her grave, it is surely fitting that about three hundred and fifty years later the title of Queen of England which she fought so hard to keep, was granted to her again, by another queen, Mary of Teck, in the memorial above her tomb in Peterborough Cathedral, visitors lay pomegranates around, her special emblem and people come and stare at the last resting place of this daughter of Spain, who had been Henry V111’s first wife, in this she has the last victory over her rival who lies in a traitors grave and whose resting place had been unmarked for centuries, RIP Queen Katherine Henry V111’s true queen.

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