Category Archives: Henry VIII

On this day in 1521 – Pope Leo X received a copy of Henry VIII’s The Defence of the Seven Sacraments

The Defence of the Seven Sacraments also known as Assertio Septem Sacramentorum was a theological treatise written in 1521 and was officially attributed to King Henry VIII. Henry began writing it in 1519 whilst he was reading Martin Luther’s attack on indulgences and denounced the Papal system. By June 1519 Henry had shown his work to Cardinal Wolsey, Wolsey would be the only to read it for the next three years.

The original manuscript would become the first two chapters of Assertio Septem Sacramentorum with the rest of the treatise being made up of new material that related to Luther’s De Captivitate Babylonica, many believe that Sir Thomas More was involved in the working of this piece.

Henry ended his treatise by saying to readers that they should not be influenced by the likes of Luther and other heretics. He wrote;

Do not listen to the Insults and Detractions against the Vicar of Christ which the Fury of the little Monk spews up against the Pope; nor contaminate Breasts sacred to Christ with impious Heresies, for if one sews these he has no Charity, swells with vain Glory, loses his Reason, and burns with Envy. Finally with what Feelings they would stand together against the Turks, against the Saracens, against anything Infidel anywhere, with the same Feelings they should stand together against this one little Monk weak in Strength, but in Temper more harmful than all Turks, all Saracens, all Infidels anywhere.”

Henry dedicated the treatise to Pope Leo X who received a copy on 2nd October 1521 who upon reading it rewarded Henry with the title of Fidei Defensor – Defender of the Faith on 11th October. Although the title was officially revoked following Henry’s break with Rome and the Catholic Church.

There has been some debate whether Henry did indeed write the book himself or whether it was written by someone such as Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More or Bishop Fisher and it was published under the King’s name in order to give it more substance.

Rare books  collection, photos for a book about the collection. Assertio Septem Sacramentorum Aduerfus Mart. Lutherum Henrico VIII Angliae Rege auctore 1562 In latin but featuring inserted hebrew on some pages.

On this day in 1541 – King Henry VIII and Catherine Howard arrived in York on royal progress

In 1541 King Henry VIII set of on royal progress to the north of England with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. On 16th September 1541 Henry and his travelling court entered the city of York through Walmgate Bar where they were met by the mayor and aldermen of the city who would beg forgiveness from the King for the Pilgrimage of Grace, when the north rebelled against the King in 1536. The King and his wife were then presented with a gold cup that were both filled with gold coins as a token of welcome.

The royal progress was normally a grand affair and this one was no different Henry had not long been married to his young bride and wanted to show to the country that the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves was not his fault. The progress made many stops on their way to York after leaving London on 30th June. They arrived in Lincoln on 9th August and visiting Pontefract on 23rd August before arriving in York on 16th September via Cawood, Wressle, Leconfield and Hull. Henry had also arranged to meet King James V of Scotland at York to discuss the prospect of peace between the two countries. However, King James did not show to the meeting.
Chronicler Edward Hall wrote about King Henry’s progress of 1541;

This Sommer the Kyng kepte his progresse to Yorke, and passed through Lyncolne Shire, where was made to hym an humble submission by he temporaltie, confessing their offence, and thankyngthe kyng for his pardon: and the Toune of Staunforde gaue the Kynd twentie pounde, and Lyncolne presented fourtie pounde, & Boston fiftie pound that parte whiche is called Lynsey gaue three hundred pounde, and Kestren and the Churche of Lyncolne gaue fifte pounde. And when he entered into Yorke Shire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coates of Veluet, and foure thousande tall yornen, and seruyng men, well horsed: whiche on their knees made a submission, by the mouthe of sir Robert Bowes, and gaue to the Kyng nyne hundred pounde. And on Barnesdale met the Kyng, the Archebishoppe of Yorke, with three hundred Priestes and more, and made a like submission, and gaue the kyng sixe hundred pounde. Like submission was made by the Maior of Yorke, Newe Castle and Hull, and eche of theim gaue to the Kynd an hundred pounde. When the Kyng had been at York twelue daies, he came to Hull, and deuised there certain fortificacions, and passed ouer the water of Homber, and so through Lyncolne Shire, and at Halontidee came to Hampton Court.”

It was also on this royal progress that Catherine Howard had become involved with Thomas Culpepper, an affair that was discovered shortly after their return to London and seal the young Queen’s fate.

Catherine Howard portrait Henry Hans Holbein 1537

On this day in 1540 – Henry VIII and Catherine Howard were married

On the 28th July 1540 as his former Lord Privy Seal and Principal Secretary Thomas Cromwell was being executed King Henry VIII was marrying his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Catherine Howard was the maid of Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves and was approximately 20 years old when she married the aged King who was fast approaching 50.

The couple were desperate to marry as Henry believed that his new bride to be was pregnant and Henry wanted any new children to be legitimate as although he had Prince Edward as well as the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth Henry still wished for another son. Henry knew all too well how important it was to have a second son, as he himself was not initially the heir to the throne until his elder brother Arthur died at the age of 15.

Henry and Catherine married in a private ceremony at Oatlands Palace, Surrey and it was conducted by Bishop Bonner. The marriage was days after Henry’s annulment to Anne of Cleves and this marriage was kept secret for ten days. Catherine appeared for the first time as Queen Consort on 8th August 1540 at Hampton Court Palace before the newlyweds headed to Windsor for a short honeymoon.

Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was so expensive and expected to last the royal treasury was depleted and so there was no money available for Henry to give Catherine either a marriage feast or a coronation. However, just less than a year later the marriage was over after Henry had been informed that Catherine had been unfaithful and not only that she was not as innocent as believed as she had relationships with men before her marriage to the King.

Henry was devasted that his new bride was not what she seemed and ordered her execution; she was beheaded at the Tower of London on 13th February 1542.

Catherine HowardCatherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife

On this day in 1543 – Henry VIII married Katherine Parr

On 12th July 1543 King Henry VIII married his sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr at Hampton Court Palace. The ceremony was a private matter that took place in the Queen’s Closet within the Chapel Royal.

As a private ceremony approximately 20 people attended this included the King’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, Margaret Douglas, Henry niece, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, Viscountess Lisle, Countess of Hertford as well as Katherine’s sister and her husband, Anne and William Herbert.

The ceremony was presided over by Bishop Stephen Gardiner and following the ceremony was a lavish breakfast where Katherine was proclaimed Queen, the first of Henry’s wives to be proclaimed Queen on her wedding day unlike Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn who had coronations to proclaim their right to be called Queen.

Henry’s principle clerk of a court, Richard Watkins, recorded an official record of the marriage and wrote;

“Notarial instrument witnessing that, on 12 July 1543, 35 Hen. VIII., in an upper oratory called “the Quynes Pruevey closet” within the honour of Hampton Court, Westm. dioc., in presence of the noble and gentle persons named at the foot of this instrument and of me, Ric. Watkins, the King’s prothonotary, the King and lady Katharine Latymer alias Parr being met there for the purpose of solemnising matrimony between them, Stephen bp. Of Winchester proclaimed in English that they were met to join in marriage the said King and Lady Katharine, and if anyone knew any impediment thereto he should declare it. The licence for the marriage without publication of banns, sealed by Thos. abp. Of Canterbury and dated 10 July 1543, being then brought in, and none opposing but all applauding the marriage, the said bp. of Winchester put the questions to which the King, hilari vult, replied “Yea” and the lady Katharine also replied that it was her wish; and then the King taking her right hand, repeated after the Bishop the words, “I, Henry, take thee, Katharine to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” Then, releasing and again clasping hands, the lady Katharine likewise said “I, Katharine, take thee Henry to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonayr and buxome in bed and at board, till death us depart, and thereto I plight unto thee my troth.” The putting on of the wedding ring and proffer of gold and silver followed; and the Bishop, after prayer, pronounced a benediction. The King then commanded the prothonotary to make a public instrument of the premises.

Present: John lord Russell, K.G., keeper of the Privy Seal, Sir Ant. Browne, K.G., captain of the King’s pensioners, and Thos. Henage, Edw Seymer, Hen. Knyvet, Ric. Long, Thos. Darcy, Edw. Beynton, and Thos. Speke, knights, and Ant. Denny and Wm. Herbert, esquires, also the ladies Mary and Elizabeth the King’s children, Margaret Douglas his niece, Katharine duchess of Suffolk, Anne countess of Hertford, and Joan lady Dudley and Anne Herbert.”

The week after their wedding the newly married couple set off on their first summer Progress and husband and wife.

Henry and KatherineKing Henry VIII and Katherine Parr

On this day in 1540 – the marriage between King Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was declared annulled.

On 9th July 1540 King Henry VIII’s fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves was declared null and void. The marriage never got off to the best of starts when Henry first met Anne she did not recognise him and as a result Henry took it as an insult, things got no better from there and the despite going through with the marriage Henry never consummated the union, he was under the belief that Anne was not a virgin and therefore could not be his wife.

Shortly after their marriage Anne was sent to live at Richmond Palace where she was out of the way. During this time Bishop Gardiner had begun investigating the possibility of a pre-contract being in place between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine. On 6th July 1540 a court messenger was sent to Anne to inform her that her new husband was having trouble believing that their marriage was legitimate and wished for her consent for a church investigation. Anne agreed to the investigation, after all she had heard what had happened to Anne Boleyn and she did not want to end up in the Tower of London.

On 7th July a convocation of the clergy was held and they agreed that the marriage was in fact invalid and they put forward three reasons for it the first was the alleged pre-contract between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine, the second that Henry did not consent to the marriage in the first place and finally the union was not consummated.

With this news Anne was approached by messengers, acting on behalf of the convocation and the King, for her agreement for the marriage to be annulled. It was reported that Anne was so overcome with fright at the outcome that she fainted, after coming around Anne agreed to the annulment and signed herself no longer as Anne the Queen but Anne the daughter of Cleves.

Henry rewarded Anne for her cooperation in the annulment and along with addressing her as his ‘beloved sister’ he also awarded her £4000 per year, along with homes at Richmond and Bletchingley. She also received jewels, furniture and hangings alongside a house in Lewes and Hever Castle, the former home of Anne Boleyn.

Anne and Henry would go on to have a good relationship with Henry taking time to visit and invite Anne to court, which is more that can be said about Thomas Cromwell who lost his head for his part in the marriage negotiations.

Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerAnne of Cleves painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.

On this day in 1540 – Thomas Cromwell wrote a second letter to King Henry VIII from the Tower of London

On 30th June 1540 Thomas Cromwell wrote to King Henry VIII from the Tower of London, where he was being held prisoner, asking for mercy. Cromwell was being charged with treason and heresy but also Henry was dissatisfied with Cromwell over the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves, which Cromwell had arranged.

Thomas Cromwell’s letter was long and detailed in the hope that Henry would show some compassion to his former aide;

Most mercyfull king and most gracious souerayng lorde may hit please the same to be aduetysyd that the laste tyme it pleasyd your bening doodnes, to send unto me the right honourable lorde Chaunceler the Right honourable Duke of Norffoke and the lord admyrall to examine and also to declare to me dyuers things from yowr magestye amongist the which one specyall thing they movyd and theruppon chargyd me as I woolde answer, beffor god at the dredffull daye of Judgement and also upon the extreme daunger and Dampnacyon of my sowlle and consyems to saye what I knew in the marriage and consernyng the marriage between your hinges and the queen to the which I answeryd as I knew declaring to them the partyculers as nyghe as I then coulde call to Remembraunce which when they hardde harde they in in your majestees name and upon lyke charge as they hadde gyvyn me before commaundyd me to wrytt to your highness the trewthe as moch as I knew in that matyer, which now I doo, and the veraye trewth as god shall salve me, to the uttermost of my knowlage. Fyrst after your majestye herde of the ladye Anne of Clevys arryvall at dover and that her Jerneyes were appoyntyd towards grenwiche and that She sholde be at Rochester on new yeres evyn at nyght your highness declaryd to me that ye woold pryvelye vysyt her at Rochester upon newyeres daye adding the words to norishe loue, which accordinglye your grace dide upon new yeres daye as is aboyesayd, and the next day being Frydaye your grace reternyd to grenwyche when I spake with your grace and demandyd of your magestye how ye lykyd the layde Anne your highness answeryd as me thought hevelye And not plesantlye nothing so well as She was spokyn of Saying Ferther that yf your highness hadde known asmoche before as ye then knew she shold not hav Commen within this Realme, Saying as by way of lamentacyon what remedye unto the which I answeryd and said I knew none but was veraye Sory therffore and so god knowith I was for I thought hit a harde begynnyng, the next day eater teh reccept of the said ladye and her enterye made into grenwyche and after your highness hadde brought her to her Chamber I then waytyd upon your highness into your pryuey chamber, and being ther your grace Callyd me to yow Saying to me this words or the lyke my lorde is it not as I told yow say what they will she is nothing so Fayre as she hathe bene reportyd, howbeit she is well and semelys, whereunto I answeryd Saying by my Faythe Syr ye Saye trewthe, adding therunto that yet I thought she hadde a quenlye manner, and nevertheles was sorye that your grace was no better content, and theruppon your grace commandyd me to calle to gether your Cowsayle whiche were thes by name the archebusshop of Caunterburye the Dukes of Norffolke & Suffolke my lorde Admyrall my lorde of Duresme and my selffe to Commons of thos matyers, and to know what commyssyon the Agenttes of Clevys hadde browght as well touching the perfformaunce of the Conuenunttes sent before from hens to Doctour Wotton to have bene Concludyd in Clevys, as also in the declaracyon how the matyers, stode for the Conuenauntts of Maryage between the Duke of loreyna Son and the sayd ladye Anne, wheruppon Osleger and Hogeston wer Callyd and the matyers purpossyd, wherby it playnlye apperyd that they were moche astonyed and abashed and desyryd that they might make answer in the next mornyng which was sondaye and upon sondaye in the mornyng your sayd Cownsaylors and they met Erlye and ther eftsons was purposyd unto them aswell touching the Comyssyon For the performance of the tretye and artycles Sent to maister Wooton as also touching the Contractes and Couenaunttes of mariage between the Duke of lorayns Son, and the layde Anne and what termes thay stodde in. To the whiche thinges so purposyd they answeryd as men moche perplexyd that as touching Commyssyon thay hadde none to trete consernyng the Articles sent to Mr. Wotton and as to the contractes and Conuenaunttes of mariage they cowlde Say nothing but that a reuocacyon was made, and that they were but spowsaylles, and Fynallye after moche resonyng they offeryd them selffes to Remayne prisoners vntyll suche tyme as they Sholde haue sent vnto them From Clevys the Fyrst Artycles Ratyffyed vner the Duke theyr maisters Signe and Seale, and also the copye of the reuocacyon made between the Duke of lorayns Son and the layde Anne, vppon the which answers I was sent to your highness by my lords of your said Counsayle to declare to your highnes what answere they hade made and Came to your highness by the prevey wey into your prevey Chambre and Declaryd to the same all the Cyrcumstaunces wherewith your grace was veray moch displeasyd Saying I am not well handelyd insomoche that I mought well persayue that your highness was Fully determenyd not to haue goone thorow with the maryage at that tyme Saying vnto me thes woordes or the lyke in effect that yf it were not that she is com So Farre into my realme and the great preparacyons that my states & people hathe made For her and For Fere of making of a Ruffull in the woorlde that is to meane to dryve her brother into the hands of the emperowre and Frenche kynges handes being now to gether I woolde neuer haue ne marye her, so that I myght well persayve your grace was neyther Content with the person ne yet content with the proceding of the Agenttes, and at after dynner the sayd Sondaye your grace Sent For all your Sayd Cownsaylours and in repeting how your highnes was handelyd aswell towching the said Artycles as also the sayd matyer of the Duke of loreyns Son it myght and I dowt not dyde appere to them how lothe your highness was to haue maryed at that tyme. And theruppon &vppon the consyderacyons aforsayd your grace thowght that it sholde be well done that She Sholde make a protestacyon before your sayd Cownsaylours and notaryes to be present that she was Free from all contractes which was done accordinglye, and theruppon I repayring to your highnes declaryng how that she hadde made her protestacyon, wherunto your grace answeryd in effect thes woordes or moche lyke is ther none other Remedye but that I must nedes agenst my will put my nek in the yoke, and so I departyd levying your highness in a studye or pensyvenes, and yet your grace Determenyd the next mornyng to go thorow and in the mornyng which was Mondaye your mageste preparying yourself towardes the seromonye, ther was Some qyestyon who sholde lede here to churche and it was appoyntyd that the Erll of Essex disceasyd and an Erll that Came with her shold lede her to chyrche and theruppon one Cam to your highness and said unto yow that the Erll of Essex was not yet Come wheruppon your grace appoyntyd me to be on that sholde lede here and So I went vnto her Chamber to thentent to have don your Comawndment and shortlye after I Came into the Chambre the Erll of essex was Com wheruppon your Magestye avauncyd toward the galerye owt of your pryvery Chambre, and your grace being in and abowte the middes of your Chamber of presens Callyd me vnto yow Saying thes woordes or the lyke in entens my lorde yf it were not to Satysfye the woorld and my Realme I woulde not doo that I must doo this day For none erthlye thing, and ther with one brought your grace woorde that She was Commyng and theruppon your grace Repayryd into the galerye towardes the Clossett and ther pawsyd her Commyng being nothing contest that She So long taryed as I iudged then. and so consequentlye She Came, and your grace afterwardes procedyd to the Serymonyes, and they being Fynysshyd travelyde the day, as appartaynyd and the nyght after the Costome And in the mornyng on tewysday I repayryng to your Majesty in to your prevey Chambre Fynding your grace not so plesaunte as I trustyd to haue done I was so bolde to aske your grace how ye lykyd the wuene wherunto your grace Sobyrlye answeryd saying that I was not all men, Surlye my lorde as ye know I lykyd her beffor not well but now I lyke her moche woorse For quoth your highnes I haue Felte her belye and her brestes and therby as I Can Judge She Sholde be noe mayde which Strake me So to the harte when I Felt them that I hadde nother will nor Corage to procede any Fether in other matyers, Saying I haue left her as good a mayde as I Founde her whiche me thought then ye spake displesauntly which I was veraye Sorye to here. your highnes also after Candlemas and beffore Shorofftyde oons or twyse sayd that ye were in the same Case with her as ye were affore and that your hert Coulde neuer consent to medyll with her Carnallye notwithstanding your highnes alledgyd that ye For the most parte vsyd to lye with her nyghtlye or cuery second nyght, and yet your majestye euer sayd that she was as good a mayde For yow as euer her mother bare her, For any thing that ye hadde mynystred to her your highnes Shewyd me also in lent last passyd at suche tyme as your grace hadde Sume communicacyon with her of my ladye marye how that She began to wax Stoborne and wylffull euer lamenting your Fate and euer vereffyng that ye hadde neuer any Carnall knowlage with her, and also after Ester your grace lykewyse at dyuers tymes and in the whytsonweke in your gracys prevey Chamber at grenewyche excedinglye lamentyd your Fate and that your gretyst greffe was that ye sholde Surlye neuer haue any moo Chyldren For the Comffort of this Realme yf ye Sholde So Contynew, assuryng me that beffore god ye thought she was neuer your lawffull wyff at which tyme your grace knowyth what answer I madde, which was that I woolde for my parte do my vttermost to Comffort & delyuer your grace of your afflyccyon and how sorye I was bothe to Se & here your grace god knowyth your grace dyuers tymes Sethen wytsontyde declaryd the lyke to me, euer alledgyng one thing, and also Saying that ye hadde as moche done to moue the Consent of your hert and mynde as euer dyd man and that ye toke god to wytnes but euer ye sayd the obstacle Coulde neuer owt of your mynde and gracyous prynce after that ye hadde Fyrst sene her at Rochester I neuer thowght in my hert that ye were or woolde be contentyd with that maryage, and Syr I know now in what Case I Stande In which is oonlye in the mercye of god and your grace, yff I haue not to the vtterst of my Remembraunce Sayd the trowthe and the holle trowthe in this matyer god neuer helpe me I am Sewre as I think ether is no man lyvyng in this your Realme that knew more in this then I dyde your highnes onlye except and I am sure my lord admyrall Calling to his Remembraunce Can Shew your highnes and be my wyttness what I sayd vnto hym after your grace Came From Rochester, ye and also after your gracys maryage, and also now of late Sethens wytsontyde, and I dowt not but manye and dyuers of my lords of your Counsayll bothe beffore your mariage and Sthens haue Right well persayvyd that your magestye hathe not ben well pleasyd with your mariage, and as I shall answer to god I neuer thought your grace content after ye hadde ons Sene her at Rochester, and this is all that I know most gracyous and most mercyfull Souerayng lorde, beseeching almightye god who euer in all your Causes hathe euer Counsaylyd preservyd oppenyd mayntayned relevyd and deffendyd your highness so he now will witsave to Cownsayle yow preserue yow maynteyn yow remedye yow releve and deffend yow as may be most to your honor welthe prosperytye helthe and Comffort of your hertys desire For the whiche, and For the long lyffe & prosperous reighne of of your most Royall magestye I shall durying my lyffe and whylis I am here praye to almyghtye god that he of his most haboundant goodnes, will help ayde and Comffort yow and after your Contenewaunce of Nestors yeres that that most noble Impe the prynces grace your most dere Sone may succede yow to reighne long prosperouslye and Felycyouslye to goddess plesure, besechyng most humblye your grace to pardon this my Rude wrything, and to consider that I am a most wooffull prisoner redye to take the dethe when it Shall please god and your majestye and yet the Fraylle Fleshe incytythe me contynnewallye to Call to your grace For mercye and pardon For myne offencys and this Crist Salve preserue & kepe yow wrytyn at the towre this Wedensdaye the last of June with the hevye hert and tremblyng hande of your highnes most hevye and most miserable prisoner & poore slave

Most gravyous prynce

I Crye for mercye mercye mercye




With this letter it was Cromwell’s last chance to appeal to Henry and save his life, however, the letter did not work and Cromwell would not get to speak to Henry again.

Cromwell's handwritingAn example of Thomas Cromwell’s handwriting

On this day in 1491 – King Henry VIII was born

On 28th June 1491 the future King Henry VIII was born in the manor house of Placentia, Greenwich. A small country manor house within the vicinity of Greenwich Palace. It was a far less significant birth to his older brother, Arthur, who was the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne. Henry’s birth was largely less important as he was viewed as ‘the spare’

Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, would have gone into confinement after hearing a mass at the beginning of June. Her confinement would have been arranged down to the finest detail. Elizabeth’s chamber would have been highly decorated with intricate tapestries hanging from the walls, bed and windows they would be rich in colour and heavy. There would have also been hangings and cloth across the chamber. It would have been Elizabeth’s first confinement to take place in the height of summer and with the room plunged into darkness it would have been hotter than usual.

On 28th June Elizabeth gave birth to her second son. Henry would have been taken by his nurses and bathed in various substances including milk, sweet butter and barley water amongst others in the hope of preventing death before the infant was baptised.

Henry’s birth was less significant compared to his elder brother and sister. Very few records exist of Henry’s birth and even his paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, only wrote a small note in her Book of Hours when she had wrote dates and times for Arthur. Henry was destining for a quiet life as the spare.

Henry was baptised in Greenwich Church of the Observant Friars where Richard Foxe, Bishop of Exeter presided over the service. The church was lavishly decorated with tapestries, damask and cloth of gold and a wooden stage was built where the Canterbury silver font was placed. Now baptised Henry would soon be sent to Eltham where he would join his sister in the royal nursery. Just 11 years later Henry would suddenly find himself the new heir to the throne after the unexpected death of his older brother and with that Henry was catapulted into a life that would lead him to be King.

Henry VIII childThis bust is believed to be Henry VIII as a child

On this day in 1503 Prince Henry Tudor and Katherine of Aragon were formally betrothed

Following the premature death of her husband, Prince Arthur Tudor, Katherine of Aragon found herself widowed at the age of 17. Both King Henry VII and King Ferdinand of Aragon and his wife Queen Isabella of Castile were keen not to lose the alliance that was formed between England and Spain. Therefore on 10th May 1502 negotiations began for the new heir to the English throne, Prince Henry, to be married to his brother’s widow.

Dr De Puebla was nominated by the Spanish to be their ambassador and representative during the negotiations. De Puebla began meeting daily with the English council to work out an agreement that would benefit both countries.

On 23rd June 1503 a treaty was signed between the two nations and a formal betrothal took place two days later on 25th June 1503.

It was agreed that the newly betrothed couple would marry before Henry’s 15th birthday on 28th June 1506. This allowed enough time for a Papal dispensation to be obtained by both England and Spain. The dispensation allowed the marriage to proceed despite the fact that Katherine had been married to Henry’s brother. It also covered Katherine if the first marriage had been consummated, something that Katherine denied for her whole life and in court when Henry began proceedings to annul his marriage on the moral and religious grounds that by marrying his brother’s wife he was breaking the word of the bible.

With the death of Queen Isabella in November 1504, King Henry VII saw his son’s match with Katherine as weakened as without Castile Katherine’s inheritance significantly weakened. With this King Henry VII began to encourage his son to abandon the match.

On 27th June 1505, the day before the intended wedding day and Prince Henry’s birthday Henry declared that he no longer wished to marry Katherine and with this the betrothal was broken.

Katherine was left uncertain of her future. Henry VII was unwilling to allow her to return to Spain as it would mean that he would have to return her dowry from her marriage to Arthur. This was another reason why Henry persuaded his son to not go through with the marriage as King Ferdinand had only fulfilled half of the dowry and was stalling on paying the rest.

With no money or allowance from the King, Katherine was forced to live in poverty and had to resort to selling her personal belongings to survive along with her maids. By reducing her income Henry VII was hoping to force Ferdinand into paying the second half of the dowry owed when Ferdinand heard the conditions Katherine was living in. However, this never came to happen.

Miserable and suffering ill health Katherine wrote to her father asking that she returned to Spain and entered into a nunnery. Instead Ferdinand granted Katherine the position of Spanish Ambassador to the English court.

Katherine would eventually marry Prince Henry but waited until 1509 when King Henry VII died. You can read about Katherine and Henry’s wedding here

Katherine of AragonKatherine of Aragon

On this day in 1509 – King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon were coronated at Westminster Abbey

24th June 1509 saw Henry Tudor and his new wife Katherine of Aragon crowned as the new king and queen of England, making Henry King Henry VIII.

The celebrations however began three days earlier on 21st June when Henry rode from Greenwich to the Tower of London where he would stay until the morning of his coronation. The following evening, at a lavish banquet Henry created new Knights of the Bath these men would carry the dishes into the feast under the premise that they would never carry dishes again with their new appointment. These men were;

“viz., Richard (sic) Radclyff lord Fitzwater, the lord Scroop of Bolton, the lord Fitzhugh, the lord Mountjoye, the lord Dawbeney, the lord Brooke, Sir Henry Clyfford, Sir Maurice Berkeley, Sir Thomas Knyvet, Sir Andrew Wyndesore, Sir Thomas Parr, Sir Thomas Boleyne, Sir Richard Wentworth, Sir Henry Owtrede, Sir Francis Cheyny, Sir Henry Wyotte, Sir George Hastynges, Sir Thomas Metham, Sir Thomas Bedyngfeld, Sir John Shelton, Sir Giles Alyngton, Sir John Trevanyon, Sir William Crowmer, Sir John Heydon, Sir Godarde Oxenbrige and Sir Henry Sacheverell.”

(Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514.)

On Saturday 23rd June at 4pm a procession began that would take Henry from the Tower of London to Westminster. It was led by the newly created Knights of the Bath who were dressed in blue gowns. They were followed by the newly created Constable of England, Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham was carrying a silver baton that showed his office and he was then followed by the soon to be King. The streets were lined with tapestries and cloths of gold.

Henry wore a cloth of gold coat that was highly decorated with gems and a collar of rubies and topped with a collar of red velvet and ermine trimmed robe. Henry’s horse was also dressed for the procession in ermine and cloth of gold. There was also a cloth of gold canopy held over him by the four barons of Cinque Ports.

Behind Henry came his master of the horse, Sir Thomas Brandon. Following Brandon came the procession for the future Queen. Katherine was escorted in a litter covered by a canopy. Katherine wore her hair loose, which was custom for a coronation procession and was dressed in ‘a rich mantle of cloth of tissue’ and a gold, pearl and silk circlet upon her head.

On 24th JuneHenry Katherine coronation at 8am following behind 28 bishops Henry and Katherine proceeded from the Palace of Westminster towards the Abbey for the ceremony. It was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham. Warham presented Henry to the crowd and called ‘Vivat ,vivat rex’ translated into English as ‘Long live the King’. Henry went on to swear the nine oaths of kingship and was anointed by Warham with the holy oils before being crowned. Katherine was then crowned Queen and the couple moved back to Westminster Hall for a splendid celebration banquet.

The chronicler, Edward Hall said of the coronation;

“The following day being a Sunday, and also Midsummer’s Day, the noble prince with his queen left the palace for Westminster Abbey at the appointed hour. The barons of the Cinq Ports held canopies over the royal couple who trod on striped cloth of ray, which was immediately cut up by the crowd when they had entered the abbey. Inside, according to sacred tradition and ancient custom, his grace and the queen were anointed and crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of other prelates of the realm and the nobility and a large number of civic dignitaries. The people were asked if they would take this most noble prince as their king and obey him. With great reverence, love and willingness they responded with the cry ‘Yea, Yea’.

When the ceremony was finished, the lords spiritual and temporal paid homage to the king and, with the queen’s permission, returned to Westminster Hall – each one beneath his canopy – where the lord marshal bearing his staff of office ushered all to their seats. Each noble and lord proceeded to his allotted place arranged earlier according to seniority. The nine-piece table being set with the king’s estate seated on the right and the queen’s estate on the left, the first course of the banquet was announced with a fanfare. At the sound the duke of Buckingham entered riding a huge charger covered with richly embroidered trappings, together with the lord steward mounted on a horse decked with cloth of gold. The two of them led in the banquet which was truly sumptuous, and as well as a great number of delicacies also included unusual heraldic devices and mottoes.

How can I describe the abundance of fine and delicate fare prepared for this magnificent and lordly feast, produced both abroad and in the many and various parts of this realm to which God has granted his bounty. Or indeed the exemplary execution of the service of the meal itself, the clean handling and distribution of the food and the efficient ordering of the course, such that no person of any estate lacked for anything.”

Hall goes on to describe the events of the days that followed that included two days of jousting and even more banquets.

“The following day the aforementioned defending team, lady Palla’s scholars, presented themselves before the king ready for the tourney. All on horseback and armed from head to foot they each had one side of their armour-skirts and horse-trappings made of white velvet embroidered with gold roses and other devices, and the other made of green velvet embroidered with gold pomegranates. On their headpieces each wore a plume of gold damask.


At the same time the other side rode in, the aforementioned eight knights fully armed and dressed, like their mounts, in green satin embroidered with fine golden bramble branches. Following them, blowing horns, came a number of men dressed as foresters or gamekeepers in green cloth, with caps and hose to match, who arranged a set like a park with white and green fencing around it. Inside this paddock were fallow deer and artificial trees; bushes, ferns, and so forth. Once set up before the queen the paddock gates were unlocked and the deer ran out into the palace grounds. Greyhounds were then let loose which killed the deer, the bodies of which were then presented to the queen and then assembled ladies by the above-mentioned knights.


Crocheman, who had brought in the golden lance the previous day, then declared that his knights were the servants of the goddess Diana and whilst they had been indulged in their pastime of hunting had received news that lady Pallas’s knights had come into these parts to perform feats of arms. Thereupon they had left off the chase and come hither to encounter these knights and to fight with them for the love of the ladies.

He added that if lady Pallas’s knights vanquished them or forced them to leave the field of battle then they would receive the deer that had been killed and the greyhounds that slew them. But if Diana’s knights overpowers their opponents they were to be given the swords of those knights and nothing more.


Hearing this, the queen and her ladies asked the king for his advice on the matter. The king, thinking that perhaps there was some grudge between the two parties and believing that to grant the request might lead to some unpleasantness, decided not to consent to the terms. Instead, to defuse the situation, it was decided that both parties should fight the tourney but that only a limited number of strokes would be permitted.


This was done and the two sides then left the field. The jousts then came to an end and the prizes were awarded to each man according to his deserts.”

parliamentary rollThe Parliamentary roll of King Henry VIII coronation procession

On this day in 1529 – Katherine of Aragon appeared in front of the Legatine Court.

King Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce his wife, Katherine of Aragon had caused great controversy not only throughout his kingdom but across Europe. With Henry putting increasing pressure on the Pope to annul the marriage the Pope was also facing pressure from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, to ensure the marriage was saved. Charles V also happened to be the nephew of Katherine and therefore had a personal interest in saving the marriage.

Matters had gone as far as they could before the Pope had no choice but to send a representative to England to preside over the divorce hearing before a decision could be made. Cardinal Campeggio was sent to England with the hope of delaying Henry’s desires for as long as they could.

On 21st June 1529, a Papal Legatine court was held in Blackfriars where Cardinal Campeggio and Cardinal Wolsey began to hear the evidence regarding Henry’s request for his marriage to be annulled. Henry protested that by marrying his brother’s widow he had done wrong in the eyes of God and that is why he had not been blessed with a son. Katherine maintained that her first husband, Arthur, and she had never lay as man and wife and their marriage was never consummated.

As the proceedings began for the day both Henry and Katherine were present to give their testimonies regarding the matter. As Katherine was asked to make her case known she went and knelt in front of her husband and spoke directly to him by saying;

“Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger born out of dominion. I have here no assured friends and much less impartial counsel…

Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I deserved?,,,I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did any thing to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no default in me…

When ye had me at first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause by the law that ye can allege against me either of dishonesty or any other impediment to banish and put me from you, I am well content to depart to my great shame and dishonour. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate… Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God – who is the just judge – to spare me the extremity of this new court, until I may be advised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much impartial favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause!”

With her plea over Katherine stood up, curtseyed to her husband and walked out of the courtroom. There were many attempts to get Katherine to return that went ignored until she responded “On, on, it makes no matter, for it is no impartial court for me, therefore I will not tarry. Go on.”

Katherine did not return to the Legatine Court almost as if she knew her cause would go unanswered.

Catherine_Aragon_Henri_VIII_by_Henry_Nelson_ONeilKatherine pleading her case in front of Henry VIII and the Legatine Court

Painted by Henry Nelson O’Neil