Catherine of Aragon was a daughter of mighty kings, a Queen of greatness and loved by her subjects; a woman of courage, determination, wisdom and strong spirituality; a woman loyal to her husband, devoted to her daughter, gentle in judgment and fierce in her feelings. She was also a woman with countless virtues, and numerous weaknesses; a queen who was rejected, humiliated and hurt in rank and life; a woman who won the heart of a Kingdom but lost the heart of her King. Her story is a legend, a romantic tragedy in many way. Catherine of Aragon is remembered as the Queen of Hearts, a woman who died holding her truth and her beliefs. She never yielded; and until her last breath, she kept her love for the man that was the cause of her agony and fall close… that man, King Henry VIII of England.
Catherine of Aragon was born on December 16, 1485 in Alcala de Henares, Spain. She was the daughter of Queen Isabella of Spain and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Catherine was quite short in stature with long red hair, wide blue eyes, a round face, and a fair complexion. She was descended, on her maternal side, from the English royal house; her great-grandmother Catherine of Lancaster. Consequently, she was third cousin of her father-in-law, Henry VII of England, and fourth cousin of her mother-in-law ,Elizabeth of York.
Catherine was educated by a tutor, Alessandro Geraldini, who was a clerk in The Holy Orders. She studied religion, the classics, Latin histories, canon and civil law, heraldry and genealogy. She had a strong religious upbringing and developed a faith that would play a major role in later life. She learned to speak, read and write in Spanish and Latin, and spoke French and Greek. She was also taught domestic skills, such as needlepoint, lace-making, embroidery, music and dancing. The great scholar Erasmus would later say that Catherine “loved good literature which she had studied with success since childhood”.
Catherine was a bright child, and from the start she was seen as a perfect piece for the conquest of wealth, prestige and power. She was told since she was a little girl, that she eventually will meet and marry Prince Arthur, heir to the Throne of England. On November 4, 1501, Arthur and Catherine met for the first time. There are no records about their first impressions about each other, but Arthur did write to his parents-in-law that he would be “a true and loving husband” and told his parents that he was immensely happy to “behold the face of his lovely bride”.
Unfortunately, the couple found that they could not understand each other, since they had learned different pronunciations in Latin. Ten days later, on 14th of November, 1501, they were married at Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Once married, Arthur was sent to Ludlow Castle on the borders of Wales to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches, as was his duty as Prince of Wales, and his bride accompanied him. The couple stayed at Castle Lodge, Ludlow. It is during this period that the doubt about if the marriage was consummated or not comes at hand. Since it is supposedly recorded that Prince Arthur wasn’t ill at the time and neither was she. So, for some time, if the marriage was not consummated was for lack of love, interest, experience on the matter or indeed was consummated, and the couple were so strict on their duties or cold in their behavior to show their “love and attraction” publicly. There was also the costume, sometimes related with age and sometimes proper protocols of the time, that young royal couples spend time separated and away from “proper marriage life”. The fact is that a few months after their marriage and some public appearances, they both fell ill, probably of the sweating sickness. Arthur died on April 2, 1502, and Catherine woke up one morning recovered, but only to find out she was a widow.
Despair came to Catherine, and she was in a limbo for a while, having no idea of what her fate would be. King Henry VII was worried about losing not only the juicy dowry that Catherine brought with her, but also the prestige of a Spanish alliance. To settle the matter, it was agreed that Catherine would marry Henry VII’s second son, Henry, Duke of York, who was five years younger than she was. The death of Catherine’s mother Isabella of Castile, however, meant that her “value” in the marriage market decreased. Castile was a much larger kingdom than Aragon, and it was inherited by Catherine’s mentally unstable elder sister, Joanna, known as “the mad”. Over and over, the marriage was delayed until Henry was old enough, but King Henry VII fought so much over payment of the remainder of Catherine’s dowry that it became doubtful that the marriage would take place. She lived as a virtual prisoner at Durham House in London. Some of the letters she wrote to her father complaining of her treatment have survived. In one of these letters she tells him that “I choose what I believe, and say nothing. For I am not as simple as I may seem.” She had little money and struggled to cope, as she had to support her ladies-in-waiting as well as herself. In 1507, she served as the Spanish Ambassador to England, the first female ambassador in European history. While Henry VII and his councilors expected her to be easy to manipulate, Catherine went on to prove them wrong.
Even with her strength, the situation for Catherine was still overwhelming and complicated. Her future marriage depended on a dispensation provided by the Pope, since it was against the Canon Law that a man takes his brother’s wife. That statement would give Catherine more heartache in the future. Catherine of Aragon walked forward and faced the matter with strong determination. She swore under the Sacred Name of God that her marriage with Prince Arthur was not consummated, and that she was still intact and pure as she came from the womb of her mother. Catherine’s chaperone was interrogated, and she also swore that her mistress was still a virgin. Finally, the Pope gave the most expected dispensation, and the marriage of The Dowager Princess of Wales, Catherine of Aragon, and Henry, Duke of York, took place on June 11th 1509 in a private ceremony at Greenwich Church. She was 23 years of age. and Henry was just days short of his 18th birthday. Plus, he just ascended to the throne, since his father died earlier the same year.
On June 23; King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon were crowned and anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey, with the joy of the realm and the luxury, honors and extravagances of the event. The hopes of England were upon their shoulders, and they looked happy, content with each other. They were young, strong and determined to lead England in to a Golden Age.
Catherine was happy with her marriage, and the King was pleased, but soon, things were close to change. The young Queen was happy with the news that she was expecting her first child and so was the King. Hopes for a Prince were on the scale and the realm was praying for that. Sadly, on January 1510, Catherine delivered a stillborn girl. It is considered that her sadness and the symptoms after a miscarriage of that grade made the queen believe she was still pregnant with a second child. In fact, her belly remained swollen for a long time after the miscarriage, and her physicians also believed in the idea of a second child still alive inside her. The thought that she was expecting twins filled her mind with optimism but, nothing happened. There was no second child, and the hopes on the moment were lost. The King was positive still. Catherine was a healthy woman and more children would come, sons for sure.
Once again, Queen Catherine was pregnant, and delivered a son on New Year’s Day 1511 to the joy of the King and the pride of the realm. He seemed healthy and strong to survive; and he was christened as Henry, Duke of Cornwall. Jousts and banquets were celebrated in honor of the Prince’s birth, but the happy event would not last. Soon the darkness of mourning invaded their lives, and the Prince died suddenly, 52 days after his birth. The royal couple was devastated. The Queen mourned for her dead son as any mother would do, and for a while the royal couple seemed to concentrate in their duties more that in being in mourning for their loss or trying to conceive again.
By 1513, Queen Catherine was pregnant again, and in June, Henry appointed her Regent while he was in France in a military campaign. Catherine took her charge seriously, and was very busy making standards, banners, and badges at Richmond Palace. The Scots invaded and on 3 September, and she ordered Thomas Lovell to raise an army in the midland counties.
Catherine rode north in full armor to address the troops, despite being heavily pregnant at the time. From Woburn Abbey she sent a letter to Henry along with a piece of the bloodied coat of King James IV of Scotland, who died in the battle, for Henry to use as a banner at the siege of Tournai. But the glorious victory claimed a price. Catherine gave birth to a stillborn son that same year, and despair covered their lives again. In 1514, the Queen lost another child, a son who lived only a few hours after birth. The King was not only sad — he started to be distant and cold with his once beloved wife. Catherine knew he was disappointed, but her faith and her love gave her hopes that soon she will please her King with a healthy son.
February 18th 1516, the Queen once again was in labor, and she delivered a healthy girl; no the prince expected but at least, the Princess seemed to be very strong, and well enough to survive infancy. She was baptized with all the honors, and named Mary. For Catherine her daughter was a blessing; for Henry, she was a sign that all was not lost, hopefully a brother will follow her arrival.
After the birth of Princess Mary, things in the Kingdom changed as well for the royal couple. The Queen became deeply interested in increasing her religious studies, and she was always part in the development and education of her daughter. Instead Henry was having the luxurious life of a still very young King — jousting, playing tennis, partying and in many occasions, enjoying the living beauties of his court. As a well educated noble woman, Catherine knew that this behavior was expected from men, especially from Kings, so she learned to endure the rumors and the facts. After all, she was his true and legitimate wife, anointed Queen of England… for her, nothing could change that.
In 1518, the news of the Queen being pregnant filled the realm with hopes and wishes of the arrival of a Prince. Their majesties were rejoiced; once again they spend almost all the time together, in private and in public. The young lion was pacified, his desire for a son was greater than the pleasures of his court, and he was determined to keep Catherine calmed and happy. On November 10th, the Queen delivered a girl, so weak, that only survived for six days. This was the last time the Queen conceived and delivered a child. Nothing would be the same after the dead of this unnamed little child.
This loss marked the heart of Queen Catherine. Her marriage was as cold as ice as rumors of the King taking mistresses increased. Her attempts to recover the King’s love and attention were in vain. In public they were King and Queen, while in private, they were like strangers. He stopped visiting her bedchamber and rarely dined with her. The Queen’s only comfort and joy was her daughter Mary. Catherine was proud of her, and the bond between them was deep and strong. Henry adored Mary, but as King, he knew she was not a strong rock for the future of his realm and his lineage.
Henry wanted a son with all his heart, and fate gave him the chance; but not with Catherine. It was his mistress, Lady Elizabeth Blount who gave him a son. He recognized the child and named him, Henry Fitzroy and gave him the title of Duke of Richmond and Somerset; also the title of Earl of Nottingham. Technically this would place him above Princess Mary in the line of succession, considering the fact that England would not accept a female upon the throne of England. Catherine felt not only betrayed, but also insulted and humiliated. She constantly blamed Cardinal Wolsey for the King’s actions. They were almost natural enemies due to the fact that Wolsey’s only interest was to please the King in the desire of increase his own wealth and power in the realm — and for Catherine’s bad luck, it was working.
Many at court, especially higher rank men were noticing the King’s distance from the Queen, and they were ready to take advantage from it. The absence of a male heir rose the desires of the Duke of Buckingham to claim the throne and eventually lead him to his downfall and execution. The proud and strong Howard-Boleyn faction immediately moved their pieces in the game to win the favors of the King. First, Mary Boleyn was used to lure the King in the path to the Boleyn’s rise and the Howard’s increase of power. The young and passionate Boleyn girl managed to grab the King’s passion and it is believed that she may have gaven him two illegitimate children. But that passion died soon and the Boleyn-Howard alliance moved in another more secure direction… their most precious jewel; the one with the skills, beauty, charm and courage to lead their needs and their greed to the higher level; the young Lady Anne Boleyn.
Anne made her début at the Chateau Vert (Green Castle) pageant in honor of the imperial ambassadors on 4 March 1522, playing “Perseverance.” There she took part in an elaborate dance accompanying Henry’s younger sister Mary, several other ladies of the court, and her sister. All wore gowns of white satin embroidered with gold thread. She quickly established herself as one of the most stylish and accomplished women at the court, and soon a number of young men were competing for her. Henry was lost under Anne’s spell, and she became an obsession for him. As soon as she became one of Catherine’s ladies in waiting, the persecution started. Queen Catherine learned from the past. What happened with Lady Blount was too serious to forget, and serious enough to work to avoid the same in the future. She was aware of Anne, she saw the difference in her among her ladies in waiting. She was proud, not docile or willing to be treated as a servant. At court Catherine saw the way the King looked at her, and the Queen’s most loyal servants were already filling Her Majesty with the rumors of the King’s passion for Lady Boleyn.
Catherine started to show Anne that she was the Queen, and at the same time she was trying hard to win the King’s heart once again. But all was against her, as her enemies started to favor Ann, and the fact the she no able to conceive again was her worst weakness. Slowly but surely Anne was winning ground, and Catherine was losing the battle.
In time, Catherine had to admit that Anne Boleyn was a dangerous rival, with all the weapons to destroy her. Anne was younger, and even when she was not popular at court, she had powerful allies, small but strong enough to cause her damage. In those days the joy of the King was the joy of the realm; to please him was equal to have the power so if the King wanted a new Queen… the King would achieve that whatever the cost. The King wanted Anne. He loved her, and she was his hope for a male heir. Her promises to deliver a son to him once they were married increased his desire to a level of desperation. He commanded Wolsey the task of obtain a divorce. This task would not be easy, since divorce was disallowed by the Catholic Church; and the people of England would hardly accept that, and less to see Anne Boleyn as their new Queen.
Catherine was defiant when it was suggested that she quietly retire to a nunnery, saying, “God never called me to a nunnery. I am the King’s true and legitimate wife”. He set his hopes upon an appeal to the Holy See, acting independently of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, whom he told nothing of his plans. William Knight, the King’s secretary, was sent to Pope Clement VII to sue for an annulment, on the grounds that the dispensing Bull of Pope Julius II was obtained by false pretenses. As the Pope was at that time the prisoner of Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V, following the Sack of Rome in May 1527, Knights had difficulty in obtaining access to him. In the end, Henry’s envoy had to return without accomplishing much. Henry now had no choice but to put this great matter into the hands of Thomas Wolsey, and Wolsey did all he could to secure a decision in Henry’s favor. Wolsey went so far as to convene an ecclesiastical court in England with a representative of the Pope presiding, and Henry and Catherine herself in attendance. When she was allowed to speak for herself, Catherine did the unexpected, she knelt before her lord and husband and spoke with the heart:
“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 your 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!”
She ended her speech still on her knees, though Henry had tried to raise her up twice during her speech. She then asked for the King’s permission to write to the Pope to defend her honor, which he gave. Catherine then curtseyed, and instead of walking back to her seat walked straight out of court, ignoring the crier who called for her to return to her seat. As her receiver general, Griffin Richards, told her that she was being called back, Catherine was heard to reply, “On, on. It makes no matter, for it is no impartial court for me, therefore I will not tarry. Go on.” And with that she left the court.
Over the next month, Henry VIII tried to prove that Catherine had consummated her marriage to his brother, Arthur, but Catherine had already signed protestations of her virginity and Bishop John Fisher shocked the court in his defense of Catherine’s virtue, quoting from the Book of Matthew and saying: “Quos Deus conjunxit, homo non separet. ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’ And, for as much as this marriage was made and joined by God to a good intent, I say that I know the truth; which is that it cannot be broken or loosed by the power of man.” Bishop Fisher then said that he was so convinced of Catherine’s cause that he would lay down his life for it. Henry VIII then sent Wolsey and Campeggio to see Catherine, to try and bully her into submission, but this failed miserably. In the meantime, on the 13th July, Pope Clement approved Catherine’s appeal, although Catherine was not to hear of this for some time. In desperation, Campeggio tried another stalling tactic. In July 1529, he announced that the court would adjourn until October, for a summer recess due to the fact that it was “reaping and harvesting” time in Rome, a time when courts did not sit. Henry VIII was furious but the Legatine Court was suspended, never to sit again because then the news reached England that Catherine’s appeal had been successful. It was a huge blow for Henry, who had expected the court to pass sentence and rule in his favor on the 23rd July.
Queen Catherine felt a relieve after this victory. What she did not know was that Henry was determined still to get rid of her and make Anne his Queen. Her “victory” only brought more humiliation to her, since Henry walked with Anne openly at court, dined with her and her family — the young Boleyn girl wore stunning dresses and jewels, shining like a Queen while she was in the shadows, rejected, publicly neglected, and hurt in the deepness of her heart. Time passed, Catherine remained queen of England. Anne Boleyn was getting desperate. She wanted to be Henry’s only jewel, arguing with Henry constantly. Anne made him obvious that he will not have her body while Catherine remained as Queen, or at least close enough to provoke her premature downfall in her desires to become Queen of England.
The King was in rage. Many times he tried to make Catherine leave court, but he failed. In time, he made alliances with no Catholic factions and members of the Reformist Line. Anne herself gave Henry books that filled his mind with a stronger essence of what his power could be. If he himself becomes the Head of his own Church, with no Pope to tell him what to do, the power of dominance and decision was all his — so he himself could divorce from Catherine and marry Anne freely.
One cold morning, Catherine received the visit of the rising Thomas Cromwell, alongside the Duke of Suffolk and the Duke of Norfolk. She was told that by order the King to leave White Hall Palace to Kimbolton Castle within a month. She was allowed to keep all her ladies in waiting. Catherine knew all was lost. She was also ordered to give up and return the official jewels of Queen of England — and for that order, she gave a strong replied “No, I will not give up what is rightfully mine, to adorn a woman who is the scandal of Christendom”.
At the same moment, when one of Queen Katherine’s ladies began to curse Anne Boleyn, Queen Katherine commanded her instead to:
“Pray for her because the time would come when you shall pity and lament her case.”
With these words, you can openly see that Catherine learned that Henry was not the man she thought he was. The true Henry, the only man she loved and still loved with all her being, was nothing but a tyrant, a man with no sense of pity, gentleness, chivalry or compassion. She learned that he only wanted to please himself and fulfill his wish to have a son to make his name great and his legacy eternal. In her heart, Catherine felt that Anne Boleyn surely will suffer as much as she was suffering, if she dared to fail in giving the King what he wanted the most, a living son and heir.
And so it was, Queen Catherine was forced to leave her home, her throne and her life behind. The majority of her ladies in waiting were not willing to share a life short of the accommodations at court so they changed sides and asked to serve the new jewel of the palace, the Lady Anne Boleyn. The “Queen of Hearts” found herself alone, in a damp castle, with only the company of three maids, and with little money to support them. Even her best friend and companion, Lady Maria de Salinas was forbidden to make contact with her. She was also forbidden to see her beloved daughter Mary. Catherine was deeply wounded, and slowly she was fading away. The sadness, the loneliness, the humiliation and pain were carving scars in her soul and in her health. But her courage was intact, and her maternal instincts too. She wrote a letter to her daughter Mary in 1534:
I heard such tidings today that I do perceive if it be true, the time is come that Almighty God will prove you; and I am very glad of it, for I trust He doth handle you with a good love. I beseech you agree of His pleasure with a merry heart; and be sure that, without fail, He will not suffer you to perish if you beware to offend Him. I pray you, good daughter, to offer yourself to Him. If any pangs come to you, shrive yourself; first make you clean; take heed of His commandments, and keep them as near as He will give you grace to do, for then you are sure armed. And if this lady [Anne Shelton] do come to you as it is spoken, if she do bring you a letter from the King, I am sure in the self same letter you shall be commanded what you shall do. Answer with few words, obeying the King, your father, in everything, save only that you will not offend God and lose your own soul; and go no further with learning and disputation in the matter. And wheresoever, and in whatsoever company you shall come, observe the King’s commandments. Speak you few words and meddle nothing. I will send you two books in Latin; the one shall be De Vita Christi with a declaration of the Gospels, and the other the Epistles of St Jerome that he did write to Paul and Eustochium, and in them I trust you shall see good things. And sometimes for your recreation use your virginals or lute if you have any.
But one thing I especially desire you, for the love that you do owe unto God and unto me, to keep your heart with a chaste mind, and your body from all ill and wanton company, not thinking or desiring any husband for Christ’s passion; neither determine yourself to any manner of living till this troublesome time be past. For I dare make sure that you shall see a very good end, and better than you can desire. I would God, good daughter, that you did know with how good a heart I do write this letter unto you. I never did one with a better, for I perceive very well that God loveth you. I beseech Him of His goodness to continue it; and if it fortune that you shall have nobody with you of your acquaintance, I think it best you keep your keys yourself, for howsoever it is, so shall be done as shall please them.
And now you shall begin, and by likelihood I shall follow. I set not a rush by it; for when they have done the uttermost they can, than I am sure of the amendment. I pray you, recommend me unto my good lady of Salisbury, and pray her to have a good heart, for we never come to the kingdom of Heaven but by troubles.
Daughter, whatsoever you come, take no pain to send unto me, for if I may, I will send to you.
Your loving mother,
Katharine the Queen.
These are the words of a loving mother, but also the words of a wise Queen. She is giving her daughter the skills to deal with the war that her father caused. Mary was no longer a Princess, and Anne Boleyn was a dark figure in her life. Also, she knew that Henry was capable of many things to get what he wants, so she must make sure her daughter will keep her soul and mind intact, but at the same time, her safety too.
Catherine’s health was weak. She barely left her bed but she kept herself in the comfort of her prayers. She wrote another letter in 1535 to one of her supporters, Ambassador Eustace Chapuys. Her daughter Mary was ill at that time, and she, as any normal mother, wanted to see her and take care of her, even when she herself, was in more delicate condition:
Mine especial friend,
You have greatly bound me with the pains that you have taken in speaking with the king my lord concerning the coming of my daughter unto me. The reward you shall trust to have of God; for (as you know) in me there is no power to gratify what you have done, but only with my goodwill. As touching the answer which has been made you, that his highness is contented to send her to some place nigh me, so as I do not see her, I pray you vouchsafe to give unto his highness mine effectual thanks for the goodness which he shows to his daughter and mine, and for the comfort that I have thereby received; as as to my seeing of her, you shall certify that, if she were within one mile of me, I would not see her. For the time permitteth not that I should go about sights, and be it that I would I could not, because I lack provision therefore.
Howbeit, you shall always say unto his highness that the thing which I desired was to send her where I am; being assured that a little comfort and mirth, which she should take with me, should undoubtedly be half a health to her. I have proved the like by experience, being diseased of the same infirmity, and know how much good it may do that I say. And, since I desired a thing so just and reasonable, and that so much touched the honor and conscience of the king my lord, I thought not it should have been denied me.
Let not, for my love, to do what you may that this may yet be done. Here have I, among others, heard that he had some suspicion of the surety of her. I cannot believe that a thing so far from reason should pass from the royal heart of his highness; neither can I think that he hath so little confidence in me. If any such matter chance to be communed of, I pray you say unto his highness that I am determined to die (without doubt) in this realm; and that I, from henceforth, offer mine own person for surety, to the intent that, if any such thing should be attempted, that then he do justice of me, as of the most evil woman that ever was born.
The residue I remit to your good wisdom and judgment as unto a trusty friend, to whom I pray God give health.
Katharine the Queen.
Her desire was never fulfilled, but her illness was persistent. Over and over her long time friend, Lady Maria de Salinas wanted to see her, and she was forbidden to do so. Lady Maria finally managed to force her entrance to Kimbolton Castle and got what she wanted, to be close to her mistress and friend, in her most needed time. She was present when Catherine dictated her last letter to the man she loved and respected since the moment she joined her life to his in Holy Matrimony; her lord and husband, King Henry:
7th January, 1536
My 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 the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles. For my part, I 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 heretofore 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 this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.
Katharine the Quene.
Until her last breath, Catherine acted as Queen of England, a wife and a mother. She never lost that pride, that essence, that courage and determination to keep what she was; to protect her rights and her dignity in her own way. In her heart she never stopped being the Queen of England. In her soul Mary would always be the Princess and only heir to the throne. In her mind, the people will always remember her as the true wife of the King. She never lost her faith, as God was her only judge, comfort and companion in the hardest moments of her life. She died in pain, but in peace, in the arms of her friend, Lady Maria de Salinas, who cried openly for the death of her friend and true mistress.
The Lady Mary, now a servant in the household of her sister, the Princess Elizabeth, received the news and grieved alone — a cold blow to her already deeply wounded soul. She had to suffer in silence the death of her mother. Mary’s heart developed bitterness towards the main element in the disgrace of her mother –Anne Boleyn, and the Reformist curse that provoked the dissolution of the Holy Union between the Kingdom of England and Rome. Mary was now on her own, with no idea of what her fate would be.
Catherine of Aragon died in misery, but her legacy, her determination, her piety, dignity, strength and pride will always be remembered. She left this world with many satisfactions, even when they were mixed with losses and tribulations; in her times of despair she found support. Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher died defending not only her marriage, but also her beloved faith, for her that was a proof not only of loyalty, also of friendship, something that was rare to find on those days. She was a Queen not only in rank, but also in actions. She was the “Queen of Hearts” – a Queen who determined until her death, that she was a Queen and like a Queen, she would die.
This was written by King Henry VIII, in the early and loving years of his marriage… to Queen Catherine of Aragon.
As the holly grows green
With ivy all alone,
When flowers can not be seen
And greenwood leaves be gone.
Now unto my lady
Promise to her I make:
From all other, only
to her, I me betake.
Adieu, my own lady.
Adieu, my special
Who hath my heart truly,
Be sure, and ever shall.