Tag Archives: Katherine of Aragon

On this day in 1553 – Lady Mary Tudor declared herself Queen

After King Edward VI’s death the country was left unsure of its future, the young King had declared just days before his death that he wished his cousin Lady Jane Grey to succeed to the throne upon his death, however, this contradicted his fathers, King Henry VIII, Third Act of Succession which declared if Edward died with no children then the throne would go to the Lady Mary, Henry’s daughter with Katherine of Aragon.

Mary had been informed of her half brother’s death on 7th July 1553 at Euston Hall, Thetford where she was staying with Lady Burgh. Mary travelled to her home at Kenninghall, Norfolk and declared to her household that the King had died and therefore “the right to the crown of England had therefore descended to her by divine and by human law.” Her household proclaimed Mary Queen of England, unaware of what Edward had done to alter the line of succession.

With the belief that Mary was the rightful Queen she wrote to the Privy Council informing them that she was to be recognised as Queen and to “casue our right and title to the crown and government of this realm to be proclaimed in our city of London and other places as your wisdom shall seem good.”

Little did Mary know that she would have to fight for her crown over the coming days.

Mary IQueen Mary I

On this day in 1533 – William Blount instructed to deliver to Katherine of Aragon her new title of Princess Dowager

On 3rd July 1533 Katherine of Aragon’s chamberlain William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, received instructions from Thomas Cromwell to instruct Katherine that she should no longer be referred to as Queen and instead should go by the title of ‘Princess Dowager’, her status upon the death of her first husband, Prince Arthur.

The instructions came after Archbishop Cranmer declared the marriage between Katherine and King Henry VIII as invalid and that Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was legitimate.

William Blount received a letter from Thomas Cromwell on behalf of the King’s council that read;

“As the King cannot have two wives he cannot permit the Dowager to persist in calling herself by the name of Queen, especially considering how benignantly and honourably she has been treated in the realm. She is to satisfy herself with the name of Dowager, as prescribed by the Act of Parliament, and must beware of the danger if she attempt to contravene it, which will only irritate the feelins of the people against her. If she be not persuaded by these arguments to avoid the King’s indignation, and relent from her vehement arrogancy, the King will be compelled to punish her servants, and withdraw her affection from his daughter. Finally, that as the marriage is irrevocable, and has passed the consent of Parliament, nothing that she can do will annul it, and she will only incur the displeasure of Almighty God and of the King.”

Blount along with Sir Robert Dymok, Thomas Vaulx, John Tyrell and Gryffith Richards visited Katherine at Ampthill to deliver the news and reported back to Cromwell and the council;

To the effect that on Thursday, 3 July, they found her lying on a pallet, as she had pricked her foot with a pin, and could not stand, and was also sore annoyed with a cough. On our declaring that our instructions were to her as Princess Dowager, she took exception to the name, persisting that she was the King’s true wife, and her children were legitimate, which she would claim to be true during her life. To our assertion that the marriage with Anne Boleyn had been adjudged lawful by the universities, the Lords and Commons, she said the King might do in his realm by his royal power what he would; that the cause was not theirs but the Pope’s to judge, as she had already answered the duke of Norfolk. To other arguments, that she might damage her daughter and servants, she replied she would not damn her own soul on any consideration, or for any promised the King might make her. She did not defend her cause upon obstinacy, nor to create any dissension in the realm, but to save her own rights; and as for the withdrawing of the King’s affection from her, she would daily pray for the preservation of his estate; but as she sues by his licence, she trusts in so doing to lose no part of his favour. In fine, she will not abandon the title till such time as a sentence is given to the contrary by the Pope. She asked for a copy of these instructions, which she would translate into Spanish, and send to Rome.”

Katherine until her dying day refused to be referred to anything but Queen and Henry’s lawful wife.

Katherine of AragonKatherine of Aragon

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 https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/on-this-day-in-1509-king-henry-viii-married-katherine-of-aragon/

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 1536 – Lady Mary submitted to the King.

On 22nd June 1536 Lady Mary Tudor finally submitted to her father, King Henry VIII, and accepted him as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and the invalidity of his marriage to her mother, Katherine of Aragon. Mary was a staunch Catholic and to recognise Henry’s split from Rome and the head of a new church would have been something that Mary had struggled with. However, a visit from Henry’s council just a week earlier where they threatened her must have weighed heavy on her mind and combined with council from the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, Mary came to her decision and wrote to her father;

“Moste humbly prostrate before the feete of Your most excellent Majestie, your most homble, faythefull, and obediente subjecte, which hath so extremely offended Your most gratyous Highnes, that my heavie and fearfull hert dare not presume to calle you Father, ne Your Majesty hathe any cause by my desertes, saving the benignetye of your most blessed nature dothe surmounte all evelles offences and trespasses, and is ever mercyfulle and redy to accepte the penytente callynge for grace, in any convenyente tyme. Havinge received this Thursdaye, at nighte, certene letteresfrom Mr. Secreatary, aswell advisying me to make my homble submyssyone immedyatly to your selfe, which because I durste not, without your gravyous licence, presume to doe befor, I latly sente unto him, as sygnefyenge that your moste mercyfull harte and fatherly pyttye had graunted me your blessyng, with condissyone that I should persevere in that I had commenced and begoone; and that I should not eftsones offend Your Majesty by the denyall or reffusalle of any suche articles and commaundementes, as it maye please Your Highenes to addresse unto me, for the perfite trial of myne harte and inward affectyone, for the parfait declaration of the bottome of my herte and stomake.

 

Fyrste, I knowledge my selft to have most unkyndly and unnaturally offended Your most excellent Highenes, in that I have not submitted myselfe to your moste juste and virtuous laws; and for myne offence thearin, which I must confesse wear in me a thousand folde more grievous, then they could be in any other lyving creature, I put myselfe holly and entirely to your gratyous mercy; at whos hands I cannot receave that punishment for the same, that I have derserved.


Secondly, to opene my herte to Your Grace, in theis thinges, which I have heartofore refused to condiscend unto, and have nowe writtene with myne owne hand, sending the same to Your Highenes hearwith; I shall never beseeche Your Grace to have pyttye and compassion of me, yf ever you shall perceave that I shall prively or appertly, vary or alter from one pece of that I have writtene and subscribed, or refuse to confyrme, ratefy, or declare the same, wher Your Majesty shall appointe me.

 

Thurdly, as I have and shall, knowinge your excelent learnynge, vertue, wisdom, and knoledge, put my soulle into your directyone; and, by the same, hathe and will, in all thinges, from hence foarthe directe my consyence, or my body I do holly commyte to your mercye and fatherlye pyttye; desiringe no state, no condissyone, nor no mannore degre of lyvinge, but suche as Your Grace shall appoynte unto me; knoledging and confessynge, that my state cane not be so ville, as ether the extremity of justice wold appoynte unto me, or as myne offences have required and deserved. And what soever Your Grace shall comaunde me to doe, touching any of theyse pointes, ethere for thinges paste, presente, or to come, I shall as gladly doe the same, as Your Majestie cane comaund me. Moste homblye, therefor, beseeching your mercy, most gratyous Soveraine Lord and benign Father, to have pyttye and compassion of your myserable and sorrowfull child; and, with the aboundance of your inestymable goodnes, so to overcome my iniquitie towards God, Your Grace, and your holle realme, as I maye feele some sensyble tokene of reconsyllyation; which, God is my judge, I onely desyre, without other respect, to whome I shall dayly praye for the preservation of Your Highenes, with the Queenes Grace, and that it may please him to send you issue. From Hownsdon, this Thursdaye, at 11 of the clocke at nighte.

 

Your Graces moste humble and obedient Daughter and Handmayd,

Marye.”

Marys letterRemains of Lady Mary’s letter to King Henry VIII

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

On this day in 1536 – Henry VIII’s councillors sent to bully Lady Mary into accepting Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church.

After the death of Anne Boleyn King Henry VIII pressed ahead with the Reformation and insisted to be the Supreme Head of the Church. One person that was still reluctant to acknowledge this along with Henry’s insistence that his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon was not legal was his daughter Mary. By acknowledging these demands Mary would be condemning the memory of her mother and also her own illegitimacy.

On 15th June 1536 member of Henry’s Privy Council led by the Duke of Norfolk arrived at Mary’s home in Hunsdon to coerce Mary to agree to Henry’s demands and was promised with reconciliation with her father if she did.

Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador and close to Mary and her late mother, wrote to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V about the visit;

To induce her to obey his commands and accede to his wishes, the King sent to her a deputation composed of the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Sussex, the bishop of Chester, and several others, whom she literally confounded by her very wise and prudent answers to their intimation. Upon which, finding that they could not persuade her, one of them said that since she was such an unnatural daughter as to disobey completely the King’s injunctions, he could hardly believe thatshe was the King’s own bastard daughter. Were she his or any other man’s daughter, he would beat her to death, or strike her head against the wall until he made it as soft as a boiled apple; in short that she was a traitress, and would be punished as such. Many other threats of the same sort did the said deputies utter on the occasion, assisted in their task by the Princess’ governess, who happens to be the same as before, having then and there received orders not to allow the Princess to speak a word to any one, and to watch over her so that she should never be left alone by night or day.”

Chapuys went on to say that he advised Mary to submit to her father’s demands;

I have written to her fully and in detail, advising, among other things, that, should the King, her father, obstinately persist in his determination should she herself hear from friends at Court or elsewhere that her life was really in danger through ill-treatment or in some other way, my opinion was that she ought to obey her father’s commands, assuring her at the same time that such was Your Majesty’s advice and wish. That in order to save her own life, on which the tranquillity of this kingdom and the reform of the many great disorders and abuses by which it is troubled entirely depended, it was necessary that she should make all manner of sacrifices, and dissemble for some time to come, the more so that the protest previously signed and the cruel violence used were quite sufficient to preserve her inviolable right, and at same time relieve her conscience, inasmuch as there was nothing in it against God nor against the articles of Faith. That God looked more into the intentions than into the deeds of men, and now she had a better opportunity than when the King’s concubine was alive, since there was a question of depriving the bastard and making her heir to the Crown. I was certain that, should she go to Court, she might by her prudence and wisdom be able to lead the King, her father, to the right path, availing herself of Your Majesty’s valuable intercession after your probable reconciliation with him. Many other similar things have I written and inculcated upon the Princess in order to persuade her that the best course for her to pursue in case of unusual violence is to yield for the present to the King’s wishes.

Thank God that the judges, notwithstanding all manner of threats were unwilling to take a resolution in the affair, and advised that a paper should be sent to the Princess for her to sign, and if she still refused that legal proceedings should then be instituted against her; otherwise I do not know what might have happened. At last the Princess, hearing from several reliable quarters how matters stood, signed the paper without reading it, which will be in future one of the best excuses she can offer. I need scarcely tell Your Majesty that I had beforehand sent her the formula of the protest for her to write down, and sign separately. I had likewise warned her to make sure first that by complying with her father’s wishes she will be quickly restored to his grace and favour; that I should never have advised her to sign the paper in question save with the perfect understanding that she was not acting against God and her conscience, or again that she could very well promise not to contravene the statutes without in anywise granting them her approval. I do not know yet how the Princess has come out of the difficulty, but whatever has been done I am confident that she has not disregarded my advice. Indeed had she allowed this opportunity to pass there would have been no remedy in her case. As soon as it was known that the Princess had actually signed the paper, there was incredible joy throughout the Court, save in the case of the earl of Essex, who said to the King, “That is a sort of game the playing of which will in time cost me my head, were it for no other reason than the injurious words I addressed to her on the occasion.” Innumerable people, moreover, have sent me their congratulations at the reconciliation of the Princess with the King, her father.”

Chapuys went on to add at the end of his report;

It appears, however, that after signing the paper as above said, the Princess fell suddenly into a state of despondency and sorrow; but I have since removed all her conscientious scruples by assuring her that not only will the Pope not condemn her action, but will highly approve of it under the circumstances.”

Mary was being asked to go against everything she believed in in order to be reconciled with her father.

Chapuys signatureEustace Chapuys signature

On this day in 1509 – King Henry VIII married Katherine of Aragon

Following the death of Prince Arthur Tudor Katherine of Aragon returned to London and her future was left undecided. Henry VII did not want to send her home to Spain but equally he did not want her to remarry, Henry was still arguing with Katherine’s father, Ferdinand, over Katherine’s dowry and did not intend to return it. After 14 months Henry VII decided that Katherine could marry his other son, Prince Henry but they would have to wait until Henry was old enough to marry.

On 23rd June 1503 a marriage treaty was signed and the two were officially betrothed on 25th June. It was decided that the couple would marry on Henry’s 15th birthday on 28th June 1506 giving the two countries enough time to get the papal dispensation required as Katherine and Henry were related in the first degree of affinity. In 1504 the Pope was willing to grant the required dispensation and sent it to Katherine’s mother, Isabella, in Spain but she died shortly after receiving it.

With Spain no longer as strong as they were with the death of Isabella Henry VII believed that the alliance was not as attractive to England as a country and so began persuading Henry to declare that he did not want to marry Katherine. The evening before the marriage was meant to be solemnized Henry declared that he wanted it called off and so Prince Henry was now free to marry who he wanted and Katherine was now about to lead a life in virtual poverty.

Upon his deathbed it was said that Henry’s dying wish to his son was that he married Katherine, whether this was true or if Henry truly loved Katherine enough to marry her is debatable and so one of Henry’s first acts as King was to declare his intention to marry Katherine. On 8th June 1509 the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, issued a marriage licence.

The couple were married in a private ceremony in the chapel of the Franciscan Observants at Greenwich on 11th June 1509, there were two witnesses to the ceremony; Lord Steward Shrewsbury and groom of the privy chamber, William Thomas. Katherine was 23 years old and Henry was on the verge of turning 18.

The wording of the ceremony was;

Most illustrious Prince, is it your will to fulfil the treaty of marriage concluded by your father, the late King of England, and the parents of the Princess of Wales, the King and Queen of Spain; and, as the Pope has dispensed with this marriage, to take the Princess who is here present for you lawful wife?

The King answered: I will

Most illustrious Princess, &c. (mutatis mutandis)

The Princess answered: I will”

The couple went on to be married for 24 years before Henry divorced her to marry Anne Boleyn.Henry and Katerine

King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon

On this day in 1536 – Second Act of Succession passed by Parliament

The Second Act of Succession was passed by the English Parliament on 8th June 1536. It had two names at the time ‘An Act concerning the Succession of the Crown’ and ‘Succession to the Crown: Marriage Act 1536’.

The Act was introduced to Parliament following the execution of Anne Boleyn and the new marriage of King Henry VIII to Jane Seymour that had all happened within the previous month.

The new act replaced the First Act of Succession, which was passed in March 1534. In this act as well as Mary still being illegitimate it also declared Elizabeth to now be illegitimate and both were ruled out of the succession. Both girls lost the right to be called Princess and had to be referred to as Lady. Any children that Henry would have with his new Queen, Jane would be the rightful heir to the throne.

The Act however, left Henry with no legitimate children for the time and therefore no heir to the throne. The Act did cover this by declaring that it gave Henry ‘full and plenary power and authority’, which meant that if he still had no legitimate child when the time came to write his will then he could name his successor in letters patent or in his last will and testament.

As well as dealing with the line of succession it also made it an offence to any person who said that either of Henry’s first two marriages to Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn were valid or even if someone said Mary or Elizabeth were legitimate. It was also punishable if anyone criticised the sentence passed on Sir Thomas More who was executed for refusing to take the previous oath regarding the succession. If an offense was committed then that person could be charged with high treason and punished.

The Act also required subjects to take an oath to uphold the Act and again it was treason to refuse. Any one accused of treason was not able to seek sanctuary and therefore had nowhere to hide. If accused and convicted of treason then the death penalty could be passed.

Henry and Jane were delivered a son, Edward, in October 1537 and this act meant that he was, from birth, the rightful heir to the English throne.

Henry VIII and familyKing Henry VIII surrounded by his children.

On this day in 1520 – the Field of Cloth of Gold began

The Field of the Cloth of Gold began on 7th June 1520 and lasted for 17 days. It was a meeting between King Henry VIII of England and King Francis I of France. It was arranged to unite the two countries after the 1514 Anglo-French treaty. It was held just outside of Calais at Balinghem, an English territory. King Henry VIII and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon left Dover on 1st June 1520 and crossed the channel heading to Calais, they stayed here for six days before setting off to meet the French king. Hall’s Chronicle described the meeting as; “Thursday 8 June being Corpus Christi day, Henry and the French king Francis I, met in a valley called the Golden Dale which lay midway between Guisnes and Arde where the French king had been staying. In this valley Henry pitched his marquee made of cloth of gold near where a banquet had been prepared. His Grace was accompanied by 500 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers, and the French King had a similar number of each. When the two great princes met proclaimations were made by the herald and officers-of-arms of both parties, to the effect that everyone should stand absolutely still – the king of England and his company on one side of the valley and the king of France with his retinue on the other. They were commanded to stand thus, completely still, on pain of death whilst the two kings rode down the valley. At the bottom of the valley they embraced each other in great friendship and then, dismounting, embraced each other again, taking off their hats. Henry’s sword was held, unsheathed, by the marquess of Dorset whilst the duc de Bourbon bore the French king’s sword similarly all the while. On Friday 9 June the two kings met up at the camp where a tiltyard had been set up with a pretty green tree with damask leaves nearby. On Saturday two shields bearing the arms of the two kings were hung upon this tree and a proclamation made to the effect that anyone who intended to attend the royal jousts and compete in feats of arms – such as the running at the tilt, fighting tourneys on horseback and fighting on foot at the barriers with swords should bring their shields of arms and have their names entered into the records kept by Clarencieux and Lancaster, officers-at-arms. On Sunday 11 June the French king came to Guisnes to dine with the Queen of England and was graciously received by the Lord Cardinal, the Duke of Buckingham, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earl of Northumberland and various other noblemen, together with a large number of ladies and gentlemen all richly dressed in cloth of gold, velvet and silks. That day too the French king was himself magnificently dressed in tissue-cloth set with precious stones and pearls. When dinner was over, some time was spent dancing in the banqueting hall. Before he started to dance, the French king went from one end of the room to the other, carrying his hat in his hand and kissing all the ladies on both sides – except for four or five who were too old and ugly. He then returned to the Queen and spoke with her for a while before spending the rest of the day dancing. At the same moment King Henry was dining with the French Queen at Arde where he spent the time in a similar manner until seven o’clock in the evening when he returned to Guisnes and the French king likewise returned to Arde. On Monday 12 June both kings and their men-at-arms met at the aforementioned camp. Also present were the Queen of England and the Queen of France, wife of Francis I with her ladies-in-waiting – all riding in litters and sedan chairs covered in sumptuous embroidery. Some other ladies also arrived mounted on richly decorated palfreys. Then the two kings with their teams of challengers and their sides entered the field, every one fully armed and magnificently dressed. The French king started the jousts and did extremely well, even though the first lance was broken by King Henry, who managed to break one on each charge. The French king broke a good number of lances but not as many as Henry. Thursday 15 June saw Henry in the field again, fully armoured and challenging all comers. Opponents that day included two French noblemen with their men-at-arms, all well-mounted and finely dressed, who acquitted themselves well. On Friday 16 June there was no contest at the camp because of a tremendous gale. On Saturday both kings entered the field and King Henry’s armour-skirt and horse-trapper were decorated with 2,000 ounces of gold and 1,100 huge pearls, the price of which was incalculable, the Earl of Devonshire also appeared that day wearing cloth of gold, tissue-cloth and cloth of silver, all elaborately embroidered, with his retinue wearing the same uniform. When the French king and the Earl of Devonshire charged at each other, so fierce was their encounter that both their lances broke. In all they ran off eight times, during which the French king broke three lances while the earl broke two lances and the French king’s nose. On Saturday 23 June a large and well-appointed chapel was set up on the grounds, decorated with ornate hangings and filled with statues of saints and holy relics. Later the lord cardinal said mass in the chapel – which had been built and fitted out entirely at King Henry’s expense. During the service the chaplains of both kings took it in turns to sing the refrains, which was heavenly to listen to. The mass completed, the kings and queens, proceeded to the gallery beside the chapel to dine in great style.” Henry and Francis were always in competition with each other and the Field of the Cloth of Gold was no different each camp tried to outshine the other. In the English camp a temporary palace was erected covering nearly 12,000 square yards. The palace was separated into four blocks with a central courtyard. The base of each block was brick that stood at eight feet high and above this the walls were made of canvas or cloth attached to timber frames and painted to look like brick. Oiled cloth was painted to give the impression of a slated roof. In the central courtyard stood two fountains that flowed red wine for everyone to enjoy, it is believed that over 2800 tents were erected around the palaces for lesser visitors. The following days of the meeting saw many tournaments, banquets in each camp where the kings entertained each other’s queens. Other entertainment included wrestling, although the kings had not competed against each other due to carefully established rules Henry challenged Francis to a wrestling match but promptly lost. The Field of the Cloth of Gold came to an end on 24th June when the two kings departed the political reasons for the meeting was not resolved and in fact relations began to break down soon after.

Field of the cloth of goldField of the Cloth of Gold