The disaster of the Wars of the Roses, between the rival royal houses of Lancaster and York, between the years of 1455 and 1487 were still fresh in people's minds. In 1520, Catherine's nephew Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, paid a state visit to England, and she urged Henry to enter into an alliance with Charles rather than with France. Immediately after his departure, she accompanied Henry to France on the celebrated visit to Francis I, within 2 years war was declared against France and the Emperor was once again welcome in England, where plans were being made to betroth him to Catherine's daughter Mary. By 1525 when Henry VIII was falling in love with Anne Boleyn Catherine wasn't able to undergo any more pregnancies. Henry actually began to believe his marriage to Catherine was cursed and sought confirmation from the Bible,which stated that if a man marries his brother's wife, the couple will be childless. If Catherine had lied when she said her marriage to Arthur (Prince of Wales and eldest son of Henry VII of England and heir to the throne due to her overwhelmingly English ancestry, inherited from her mother Queen Isabella I of Castile), it meant that their marriage was wrong in the eyes of God.
It is possible that the idea of annulment had been suggested to Henry much earlier and it is very likely that it was motivated by his desire for a male heir. Soon it became an obsession for Henry VIII to secure an annulment. Catherine was not happy when it was suggested that she retire to a nunnery, saying "God never called me to a nunnery I am the King's true and legitimate wife." Henry had hopes that the Holy See, would act separately from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, who didn't know anything about Henry's plans. The King's secretary, William Knight, was sent to Pope Clement VII to sue for an annulment. The pope, however, was a prisoner of Catherine's nephew Emperor Charles V, after the Sack of Rome in 1527-so needless to say, Knight had great difficulty trying to get an audience with him! William Knight returned to England without accomplishing much. Now Henry's hand was forced-he had to appeal to Cardinal Wolsey. Indeed, Wolsey ended up doing all he could to get a decision in Henry's favor. He convened an ecclesiastical court in England with a representative of the Pope presiding. Both Henry and Catherine were in attendance. Shakespeare's play, The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth, paints a remarkable picture of Catherine's eloquence. Catherine clearly made the case that she was being treated unfairly by Henry.
The Pope recalled his legate. It is not clear how much the pope was influenced by Charles V, but it is clear that Henry thought that the Pope was unlikely to give him an annulment from the Emperor's aunt. The Pope forbade Henry to marry again before a decision was reached in Rome. Cardinal Wolsey had failed and was dismissed from office in 1529. Wolsey began a secret plot to force Anne Boleyn into exile and began communicating with the pope about this matter. The unfortunate Wolsey's plot was discovered and Henry ordered Wolsey's arrest. If Wolsey had not died from illness in 1530, he might have been executed for treason. A year later Catherine was banished from court and her old rooms were given to Anne Boleyn. When Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham died, the Boleyn family's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer was appointed to the vacant position. When Henry decided to annul his marriage to Catherine, John Fisher became her most trusted confidante and one of her main supporters. He appeared in the legates' court on her behalf, where he shocked people with the sharpness of his language. Fisher declared that, like John the Baptist, he was ready to die on behalf of the indissolubility of marriage.
Henry was enraged and wrote a long Latin address to the legates in answer to Fisher's speech. The removal of the cause to Rome ended Fisher's role in the matter, but Henry never forgave him. When Henry returned to Dover from a meeting with King Francis I of France in Calais, he married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony. Anne was already pregnant by this time. Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry to Catherine illegal on 23 May 1533, and 5 days later declared the marriage of Henry and Anne valid. Catherine insisted that she was Henry's only lawful wife until the end of her life and England's only legitimate queen. Catherine's faithful servants continued to address her by that title, and most of Europe agreed that Catherine was the Queen and Anne Boleyn just a concubine and her daughter a bastard. Henry refused Catherine the right to any title but "Dowager Princess of Wales," in recognition of her position as his brother's widow. In 1535 Catherine was transferred to the decaying and remote Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire. She confined herself to one room and left it only to attend Mass. She fasted most of the time and even wore the hair shirt of the Order of St. Francis. She was permitted to receive occasional visitors, but was forbidden to see her daughter, Mary. They were also forbidden to communicate-but discreet sympathizers acted as an underground postal service for the two.
Henry offered them both better quarters and each other's company if they would acknowledge Anne Boleyn as his Queen, but they refused to do this. In late December 1535, Catherine sensed the end was near and made her will. She also wrote to her nephew, The Emperor Charles V, asking him to protect her daughter Mary. Catherine then wrote one final letter to Henry, her "most dear lord, king and husband," The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles. For my part, I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofor desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make the vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things. Katherine the Quene.Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle, on 7 January 1536. The news reached Henry and Anne the following day. Anne wore yellow for the mourning which has been interpreted in different ways; some taking it as a sign she didn't mourn. However, Chapuys reported that it was actually King Henry who wore yellow and celebrated the news and made a show of his and Anne's daughter, Elizabeth, to his courtiers. This was seen as distasteful and vulgar by many. Rumors then began that Catherine had been poisoned by one or both of them. The rumors began after a discovery during her embalming that there was a black growth on her heart that could have been caused by poisoning. However, modern medical experts agree that the discoloration was not due to poisoning but cancer, a disease not understood at the time. Another belief, is that the dressing in yellow was out of respect for the late queen/princess dowager as yellow was the Spanish color of mourning. Definitely, later in the day it is reported that Henry and Anne both individually and privately wept for her death. Catherine was buried in Peterborough Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England with the ceremony due to a Dowager Princess of Wales, not a queen. Henry did not attend the funeral and refused to allow Mary to attend also.
The image at the top is of Catherine of Aragon as a Queen of England-I am going to try to add another image of Catherine of Aragon as a younger woman in here also somewhere in the post. I hope I didn't go unnecessarily too far back in time to explain the world of Queen Elizabeth I, Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley. The more I kept looking at things the more I thought I should add-this may indeed be a long series and the next article may be historical in nature as well-not sure yet. I hope to get caught up with everyone tomorrow. Peace and be well anyone stopping by or passing through-& thanks so much again for your continued wonderful, thought-provoking and intelligent comments!