Catherine of Arragon (DNB00)
|←Catherine of Valois||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 09
Catherine of Arragon
CATHERINE of Arragon (1485–1536), first queen of Henry VIII, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, was born at Alcala de Henares on 15 or 16 Dec. 1485. She was the youngest of a family of one son and four daughters, and at her birth her parents had already done much to consolidate their united kingdoms by victories over the Moors. Henry VII of England, who had obtained possession by conquest of an insecure throne in the very year she was born, naturally sought the alliance of sovereigns whose affairs seemed so prosperous, and his eldest son Arthur, born in September 1486, could hardly have been much more than a year old when he was proposed by his father as a future husband for their youngest daughter. They sent commissioners to England to negotiate as early as 1488. A return embassy sent by Henry VII to Spain met with a magnificent reception at Medina del Campo; but for many years nothing was positively concluded, as it was Ferdinand's object to bind the king of England to make war in his behalf against France without incurring any corresponding obligation himself. In truth, Ferdinand was not well enough assured of the stability of Henry's throne to be willing to commit himself irrevocably.
Catherine was in her fifth year when her sister Isabel was betrothed at Seville to Don Alfonso of Portugal on 18 April 1490. She and her other sisters, Juana and Mary, were present at the ceremony (Bernaldez, i. 279, 280; Mariana, ed. 1780, ii. 587).
In 1492, when the Moors were driven out of Granada, she entered the city with her parents, and it became her home. From Granada came the device of the pomegranate so well known afterwards in England in connection with her. Her education, especially in Latin, was personally superintended by her mother, and in later years Erasmus bore witness to her scholarship. All difficulties as to the match with Arthur had been finally cleared away in 1500, when the bridegroom had completed his fourteenth year. She left Granada on 21 May 1501, and embarked at Corunna on 17 Aug. After many delays from contrary winds she reached Plymouth on 2 Oct.
Great preparations had been made for her reception. Lord Broke, steward of the king's household, was despatched into the west to provide for her retinue; and afterwards the Earl of Surrey and the Duchess of Norfolk were sent to attend her. The king himself on 4 Nov. removed from Richmond to go and meet her, but, owing to bad weather and doubtless equally bad roads, he was compelled the first night to find a lodging at Chertsey. Next day his son, Prince Arthur, met him at Easthampstead, and proceeded in his father's company to meet his bride. The meeting took place at Dogmersfield in Hampshire, where the prince and his father conversed with her through the medium of two Spanish hishops, who interpreted 'the speeches of both countries' by means of Latin. A formal betrothal then took place, and the whole party returned towards London, which Catherine entered on 12 Nov. On Sunday the 14th the marriage was celebrated at St. Paul's, and jousts were held on the Thursday after, at Westminster, in honour of the event.
It was necessary in those days for a prince of Wales to justify his title by keeping court on the Welsh borders. Arthur had already resided at Ludlow, and written thence diplomatic love letters to Catherine in Spain (Mary A. E. Wood, Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies, i. 121); and it was decided that he should return thither next month. The king at first hesitated to send his bride along with him. The prince was still so young that cohabitation seems not to have been allowed, and some thought the princess would be less solitary in the king's court than living under her husband's roof in the Welsh marches. The point was referred to herself, but she said she would do as the king thought best; and ultimately, as we learn from a contemporary despatch, both departed together on 21 Dec. to spend their Christmas at a place described as about forty miles from London. In February following the king wrote to Ferdinand and Isabella that he had sent the young couple into Wales, not wishing them to live apart, notwithstanding the objections raised by many on account of his son's tender age, and they must regard it as a great proof of his affection for their daughter that he studied her comfort at some risk even to his own son (Duke of Manchester, Court and Society, i. 59). But that this letter was distinctly intended to convey a false impression is beyond all question; for although it is true that the young couple did go together to reside in the borders of Wales, it is clear from the solemn declarations of Catherine herself long afterwards that Prince Arthur never was her husband except in name. On 2 April following he died at Ludlow, a victim apparently to the sweating sickness, and Catherine was left a virgin widow.
When the news reached Spain, the Spanish sovereigns despatched a new ambassador to England to urge that she should be sent back to her native country, and repayment made of the one instalment of 100,000 scudos of her marriage portion. But the ambassador was further empowered to conclude a new treaty with the king of England for the marriage of Catherine to his second son Henry.
On this subject negotiations appear to have gone on for several months, when Henry VII became a widower by the death of his queen, Elizabeth of York. A suggestion was im; mediutely made of a particularly revolting character, that Catherine might become the wife of her father-in-law. It is scarcely credible that such a thing was seriously intended; but it greatly shocked Queen Isabella, who was more anxious than ever to secure, if it were possible, her daughter's return to Spain, or at least the conclusion of the marriage with the Prince of Wales. The latter at last was agreed upon, and a treaty for it was drawn up and signed by the two Spanish ambassadors on 23 June 1503. Two days later the parties were solemnly betrothed to each other 'in the Bishop of Salisbury's house in Fleet Street' (Speed, 973). The marriage was to be solemnised whenever the prince completed his fourteenth year. In consequence, however, of the close affinity between the parties, a papal dispensation was requisite, which the sovereigns of both countries bound themselves to solicit from the court of Rome. It was obtained next year mainly at the instance of Queen Isabella, for whose comfort a copy was sent into Spain just before she died. But the king of England had no intention of being too strictly bound to fulfil the marriage treaty, and, hoping to gain an advantage over King. Ferdinand in other ways, discovered 'scruples of conscience' about the match.
If the treaty had been strictly fulfilled, the marriage would actually have taken place on 28 June 1505, the day the Prince of Wales completed his fourteenth year. But on the 27th the prince made a formal protest before Fox, bishop of Winchester, that the match was against his will, and the treaty was at once rendered nugatory. It was quite understood, however, that this was only a trick of state, and that the marriage might still take place if King Henry were once satisfied that he could not dispose of his son's hand elsewhere more advantageously. Ferdinand did not keep faith about the marriage portion. He intended, if possible, that the whole burden of his daughter's support should rest upon the king of England, and when King Henry disowned this responsibility, he allowed her to remain for years in debt, even for the very necessaries of life. Her maids had not the means to procure clothes. She herself complained, after she had been four and a half years in England, that she had only had two new dresses.
In the early part of 1506 she had an unexpected opportunity of meeting with her sister Juana and her husband, Philip of Austria, who had been proclaimed king and queen of Castiie. They had embarked in January to take possession of their new kingdom, but had been driven by storms upon the coast of England, and Henry had shown them much politic hospitality at Windsor. Later in the year Catherine fell ill of a fever, and Henry gave up to her use for the time a house at Fulham, which he had intended for an embassy expected from Philip after his arrival in Castile. At this time she seems to have been very miserable. She was aware that her marriage depended upon a heartless game of diplomacy, into which she was drawn herself by her own necessities. For Henry VII having made in 1507 an offer for the hand of her sister Juana, the widowed Queen of Castile (though he must have known her to be a maniac), with the view of taking the government of that kingdom out of Ferdinand's hands, Catherine affected to favour his suit, and wrote to Ferdinand in behalf of her father-in-law, advising him at least to temporise until her own marriage with the Prince of Wales could take effect. Other matches had been talked of for the prince, and Catherine was in serious dread of being abandoned altogether. She was then living in the same house with the Prince of Wales at Richmond, but was permitted to see less of him than before, and in one letter she complains that for four months she had not seen him at all.
Her misery arose from an unpleasant state of relations between King Henry and her father. Subtle and unscrupulous as Ferdinand was in the game of diplomacy, he had found a match in Henry VII, who had not only forced him at last to send to England the second instalment of Catherine's marriage portion, but declined even then to allow the marriage to take effect except upon new conditions by no means agreeable to Ferdinand, so that the latter, checkmated in his aims, wished his ambassador as a last resource to insist on Catherine being sent back to Spain. Henry had arranged a marriage of his daughter Mary with Charles, prince of Castile, which made him very independent of Ferdinand's friendship, and Catherine met with a neglect which almost drove her to despair. But relief was at hand, for just at this time Henry VII died. Her affianced bridegroom, now Henry VIII, apparently desired the union. His council, for the most part, approved the match, and on 11 June 1509, seven weeks after his accession, though he was only eighteen, the marriage was duly celebrated. On the 24th of the same month she was crowned along with him in Westminster Abbey.
There is no reason to doubt that for some years after their marriage Henry felt real affection for her, and she was a thoroughly devoted wife. 'The king, my lord, adores her, and her highness him,' was the opinion of Catherine's confessor in 1510. Ferdinand seems to have relied partly on her influence over him in procuring a league against France; and for two or three years, whether from natural impulse or from policy, Henry was a very firm ally of his father-in-law. Catherine's happiness would have been unalloyed but for some petty annoyances to which recent writers have attached altogether undue importance; but even these belonged much more to the time when she was princess than to her married life. She had a Spanish confessor who, perhaps, was rather young for such a function, and may have been a little indiscreet. The Spanish ambassador thought so, but there is no evidence that even he entertained the strange suspicions that it has pleased some persons in our day to attribute to him. Catherine had been used for years as a political agent by her father, and being a really devout woman, it was natural that she should take frequent counsel with her confessor. It was equally natural that the ambassador, under the circumstances, should find the confessor to be a nuisance, that he should write to Ferdinand to complain of him, and that Catherine should stand firmly by him.
The first three years of Henry's reign went by in feasts and pageants; but then began a succession of cruel disappointments. On 31 Jan. 1510 Catherine was prematurely delivered of a stillborn daughter. On 1 Jan. 1511 she gave birth to a son, who was christened Henry, declared prince of Wales, and had a household assigned him, but died on 22 Feb. following. In 1513 she had another son, who soon died, and in November 1514 she had again a premature delivery. At last, on 18 Feb. 1516, there came one child that lived—the Princess Mary; and in November 1518 another daughter was born, who must have died early. In the interval between the second and third confinements Henry had gone to war with France, greatly at the instigation of his father-in-law. In 1513 he invaded France in person, and James IV invaded England and was killed at Flodden on 9 Sept. 1513. Before crossing the Channel the king had appointed Catherine regent in his absence. She threw herself heartily into the business of arraying a force to oppose the Scotch. 'I am horribly busy,' she wrote, 'making standards, banners, and badges.' She harangued the troops sent forward to the north. The king, too, sent over to her his important prisoner, the Duke of Longueville, whom he had taken at the battle of Spurs, and wished Catherine to keep in her household, a responsibility which she respectfully declined. After the victory she wrote to Henry, sending him 'a piece of the king of Scots' coat,' and regretting she was unable to send the king of Scots himself alive to him as a prisoner. 'Our Englishmen's hearts,' she said,' would not suffer it.'
When the king returned from France in the end of September, he rode in post to his queen at Richmond, 'where,' says the contemporary chronicler, Hall, 'there was such a loving meeting that every creature rejoiced.' But even in the following year a rumour got abroad that Henry, disappointed at her having no children, had begun to think of a divorce, and there is reason to believe that it arose from some very real evidences of a diminution of Henry's love, even at this early period. The main cause appears to have been his continued experience of her father's treachery. Ferdinand had concluded a separate truce with France to the prejudice of his ally at the very moment when Henry's success seemed most completely assured. Henry vented his anger in reproaches of which his own wife had to bear the full bitterness, and it was owing to this, as Peter Martyr was told, that she had her second premature confinement.
The supposition of the late Mr. Rawdon Brown (Cat. State Papers, Venetian, i. pref. pp. xc, cviii) that a vague expression in Sanuto's diary, 'Fanno nuovi pensieri,' points to whispers of a divorce being circulated even in 1510, before Henry and Catherine had been quite a twelvemonth married, seems altogether unwarrantable. The words clearly have quite a different application. A vivid description is given by Hall of the way in which she and the king went a-maying to Shooter's Hill in 1515, and met in the woods Robin Hood and his merry men dressed in green. These were archers of the king's own guard, and the performance was witnessed by a vast multitude of people. Some additional particulars of it are given in letters from the Venetian embassy. The senior ambassador, Pasqualigo, then about to leave for France, had an audience afterwards with the queen, and to her great delight spoke to her in her native Spanish. The secretary of the embassy describes her as 'rather ugly than otherwise' (Rawdon Brown, Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII, i. 79-81, 90). Two years later occurred the 'Evil May day,' when the Londoners sacked the houses of foreigners. The offenders were tried by summary process, and many of them hanged within three days at their own or their masters' doors. Others remained still in prison, till Catherine threw herself on her knees before the king to intercede for them, and induced his sisters Mary and Margaret, queens dowager of France and Scotland, to do the same.
The visit of her nephew Charles V to England in 1520 gave Catherine the most lively satisfaction. She knew, however, that great preparations were then making for another meeting with which she had no great sympathy—that of Henry VIII and Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Henry was playing off the two rivals, Charles and Francis, one against the other, and it was unknown whether a French or an imperial alliance would prove the main feature of his policy. It was, in fact, to interrupt the French interview, or, at least, to prevent an Anglo-French alliance, that Charles had been induced to think seriously of visiting England. The friendship of Henry was to him of the utmost importance, and to secure it he had become a suitor for the hand of the Princess Mary, although she had already been affianced to the Dauphin. There is no doubt that the nobles and the people generally were with the queen in preferring greatly an alliance with him to the friendship of France. One day, in anticipation of the French interview, she called to her some of the lords to discuss matters, and set before them such strong arguments against its being held at all, that those present were struck with amazement. During the conference the king made his appearance and asked what it was all about, on which Catherine frankly told him, and declared the line she had taken in the matter. What answer the king made at the moment we are not informed, but the result was that both he and his council held her in higher esteem than they had ever done before (Cat. State Papers, Henry VIII, iii. 256).
The emperor landed at Dover late in the evening of Saturday, 26 May 1520, and next morning Henry conducted him to Canterbury to the queen's presence. There he remained during the few days he spent in England, and on Thursday the 31st he embarked at Sandwich for Flanders. That same day Henry and Catherine also took ship and crossed from Dover to Calais for the long projected interview with Francis. On Sunday, 10 June, each king went to dine with the other's queen, the one from Guisnes to Ardes, and the other by a different route from Ardes to Guisnes, the departure of each being announced to the other by salvoes of artillery. Three weeks were spent in these splendid courtesies, and shortly after they were concluded Henry held another meeting with the emperor at Gravelines, and brought him and his aunt, Margaret of Savoy, to Calais, where the queen received them. Two years later war was declared against France, and the emperor paid a second visit to England, when he was feasted and entertained with great magnificence at Canterbury, London, and Windsor.
In 1521, the year between the emperor's first and second visit to England, occurred the arrest and execution of the Duke of Buckingham, and it is not improbable that Shakespeare followed a true tradition when he represented Catherine as present at the examination of that unfortunate nobleman's surveyor, pleading for something like fair play to the accused. The fact, as regards Catherine, seems to rest on no other authority; but there is distinct evidence that Buckingham's servants were examined by the king himself, before the apprehension of their master, very much in the way that the surveyor is examined by Henry in the play; so that we may not unreasonably believe the whole scene to be substantially true. Sir Thomas More reports in 1524 how Catherine rejoiced to hear of the success of her countrymen the Spaniards in Italy, and Bishop Longland writes to Wolsey at the beginning of the following year how he had explained to her by the king's desire the cardinal's magnificent scheme for setting up a new college at Oxford. The bishop also told her that she was to be specially mentioned in the prayers of the college chapel, for which she desired him to give Wolsey her cordial thanks.
Her constant obedience to her husband had won for her such universal esteem that he himself could not but share that sentiment, though he had now lost all other feeling for her. That he had been untrue to her years before we know, perhaps very early in their married life. Possibly the birth of the Princess Mary did something to restore his lost affection, but only for a time. He was becoming a perfect libertine. On 15 June 1525, much to Catherine's distress, he created his natural son Henry Fitzroy duke of Richmond, and gave him precedence of all the nobility of England, even of the Princess Mary. He was a child of six years, the son of one Elizabeth Blount, whom the king afterwards married to Sir Gilbert Tailbois. The king bestowed much care upon his education, and sent him into Yorkshire as viceroy or president of the north. About the same time his half-sister Mary, whom the king, in default of legitimate male issue, seemed disposed to recognise as Princess of Wales, was sent in like manner to Ludlow, with a household and a council to keep rule upon the Welsh marches. But her household was inferior to that of the duke.
Indications exist that some secret steps had been taken by Henry towards getting his marriage declared invalid as early as 1526. All that was said afterwards officially as to the origin of the king's scruples, and the doubts of Mary's legitimacy said to have been suggested by the Bishop of Tarbes, is unworthy of serious refutation. The bishop's own report of his conferences with Wolsey upon Mary's proposed marriage to Francis I shows clearly that no such objection ever entered his mind. A totally different objection occurred to him—that the king might still have a legitimate son; and Wolsey was taking pains to convince him that this was highly improbable, while he knew quite well that the king was privately seeking to invalidate his marriage and thus make his daughter illegitimate. In May a collusive suit was instituted by Wolsey as legate, who with great secresy summoned the king to appear before him at his house at Westminster for having cohabited with his brother Arthur's wife. A formal complaint, he said, had been preferred to him, and he called upon Henry to say what he could in his defence. The king handed in a written reply, and the cardinal declared that the case was one of considerable difficulty, on which he required to take counsel with some learned theologians—among others with the bishops of Rochester, Lincoln, and London. The proceedings were never resumed—probably for a reason which has not hitherto been suggested, though the fact is absolutely certain. The queen and the Spanish ambassador, somehow or other, had got wind of them before they were a day old (Cal. State Papers, Spanish, iii. (pt. ii.) 193).
The king saw that he must take a different course, and on 22 June informed Catherine that he had come to the conclusion that they must separate. He begged her to keep the matter secret meanwhile, as if it was against her interest to divulge it. His strategy was useless. The news got abroad, and became, in the words of the Spanish ambassador, 'as notorious as if it had been proclaimed by the public crier' (ib. 276). Still Catherine had not a friend who could aid her against the king, unless she could inform the emperor how she was situated, and great pains were taken that she should not speak to the Spanish ambassador except in the presence of Wolsey. She dissembled her anxieties; her 'merry visage,' as one observer notes, 'returned, not less than was wont,' and cordiality towards the king appeared to be renewed. Then one of her Spanish servants, Francis Felipe or Philips, desired license of her to go to Spain and see his mother, who, he said, was very ill. Catherine refused the permission, and urged the king not to grant it. Henry, rightly suspecting that there was collusion between them, dissembled also, and persuaded her to let him go. Thus the king won her confidence; but he at the same time sent a message to Wolsey, then in France, to find means to get Philips detained in that country, in spite of any safe-conduct. On his way to France, Wolsey contrived artfully to misrepresent the case to Fisher, bishop of Rochester, Catherine's confessor, whom he induced to believe that the rumours of an intended divorce had been spread abroad by the queen's own indiscretion; for the king only wanted, he said, to test the validity of an objection raised by others. When the bishop offered to remonstrate with her upon her conduct, Wolsey persuaded him to leave the matter to the king. But whatever art might be used to promote the divorce, it was impossible to avoid application to Rome, and equally impossible to do without Wolsey's aid; yet Henry gave the cardinal but half his confidence, and made an abortive effort to obtain a commission from the pope through another agent. At last Cardinal Campeggio arrived in England with a joint commission for himself and Wolsey to try the cause in October 1528, and the king and Anne Boleyn both looked for the realisation of their wish.
They did not know that before he left Rome Campeggio had secretly pledged himself not to give sentence in the cause without communicating first with the pope. He was only authorised to endeavour to dissuade the king from his purpose, or, if he could arrange a compromise, to induce the queen to enter a nunnery. To this latter object he accordingly addressed himself in some conferences that he had with Catherine soon after his arrival; but she insisted on the matter being decided judicially. The king was at first no less anxious to press forward the trial, and on Sunday, 8 Nov., he summoned the lord mayor and aldermen to his palace at Bridewell to explain his scruples of conscience. But meanwhile Catherine had information of the existence in Spain of a brief granted by Julius II for her marriage, more full and satisfactory than the bull of dispensation which Henry was trying to invalidate, and she produced a copy of it given her by the Spanish ambassador. The king insinuated that it was a forgery, and he got the queen's own counsel to inform her that she must send for the original brief to Spain. She actually wrote to the emperor as desired, requesting him to send the brief to England. Thomas Abell [q. v.], by whom she sent the letter, wrote himself to inform the emperor before he delivered it that she had written only under compulsion.
The king and his council sent to Rome to try and collect evidence against the genuineness of the brief, and they made much of the fact that it did not appear entered on the papal registers. But his agents were also instructed to sound the papal lawyers as to whether, if the queen could be induced to retire into a nunnery, without taking the vows, the pope could not, 'by his mere and absolute power,' allow him to proceed to a second marriage. Thus, after protesting the pope's incompetence to legalise marriage with a brother's widow, Henry was prepared to admit without question his competence to legalise bigamy. He was really in despair how to accomplish his object. He had drawn up a paper of advice which was to be pressed upon the queen as if in her own interest, apparently by her own counsel, if not by the legates who were to try her cause, in which they were to warn her that some ill-disposed persons seemed to be conspiring in her behalf against the king and Wolsey, and that she ought to be on her guard against giving them any countenance. If she did not act more discreetly, it was urged, the king might not only feel it right to abandon her company himself, but also to withdraw the princess from her mother's society. All these cruel suggestions, however, were only meant to prepare the way for one more strong appeal to her to solve the difficulty by going into a nunnery. And she need not fear, the speakers were to urge, that by so doing she would enable the king to take another wife, for he could certainly not marry again while she lived. Thus the king indirectly endeavoured to make her take a false step in reliance on the strength of her own cause.
Henry compelled even the most staunch friends of Catherine to reveal their conversations with her. He had allowed her the use of counsel, and among them was the renowned scholar Ludovicus Vives; but Vives was required by the king to relate all that had passed between them. This demand he justly protested against, although, as he said, it could injure no one even if their whole conversations were posted on church doors. Being forced to report them, however, he did so, and said the queen had sought his counsel as her countryman who spoke her language. The main point was that she begged him to ask the imperial ambassador to write to the emperor to secure a fair hearing for her at Rome. 'Who,' Vires adds,'will not admire the queen's moderation? When others would have moved heaven and earth, she merely seeks from her sister's son that he will not let her be condemned unheard.'
It was useless for the king to proceed with the cause before the legates unless the brief in Spain could be discredited, and the most frantic diplomat efforts were made to induce the pope to declare it a forgery, which, of course, he refused to do until he had heard the arguments on both sides. Then there was nothing for it but to proceed. Meanwhile the emperor was doing his utmost to get the cause removed from England that it might be more fairly heard at Rome. Catherine, however, was not aware of this, and appealed for advice to Cardinal Campeggio himself in a private interview. He answered coldly that she might rely upon justice being done to her, but again strongly suggested that she might extricate herself from further annoyance by retiring from the world. But to this she was as firmly opposed as ever, and the trial proceeded. The legatine court formally opened on 31 May 1529 in the great hall of the Black Friars, and the king and queen were cited to appear on 18 June. The former had two proxies to represent him; the latter came in person, but only to protest against the jurisdiction of the court. The court registered her protestation, and appointed both parties to appear in person on Monday, 21 June, to hear its decision. On that day the king and queen both appeared; the former stated his ease to the judges. The latter threw herself at his feet in sight of all the court, and begged him to consider her helpless position as a foreigner, her long and tried obedience as a wife, her own and her daughter's honour, and that of the king himself. Further, as he continually professed he was anxious to find their marriage valid, she appealed to Rome as the only tribunal before which the case could be properly discussed, and thereupon withdrew.
The legates had overruled her objections to jurisdiction of the court; so she was called again, and on her refusal to come back, was pronounced contumacious. The case was continued through different sittings of the court in June and July affidavits were taken as to the circumstances of the marriage with Prince Arthur, and matters were pressed on in a way not at all to Campeggio's taste. Yet even at this time, if Cavendish be right, a further appeal was made to Catherine by the two cardinals who were her judges, They came to her at Bridewell without notice, and found her at work among her maids, with a skein of white thread about her neck. They asked for a private interview, but she replied that whatever they had to say they might speak it before all. Wolsey then addressed her in Latin. 'Nay, good my lord, speak to me in English,' she said, 'for I can, I thank God, both speak and understand English, although I do understand some Latin.' Wolsey told her they had come to know her mind in the matter between the king and her, and give her secret advice, Catherine said she was naturally not prepared to answer them without taking counsel on such a weighty question. And who was there to counsel her? 'What think you, my lords?' she said. 'Will any Englishman counsel me or be friendly to me against the king's pleasure that is his subject? Nay, forsooth.' She was willing, however, to listen to whatever counsel the cardinals had to give her, and led them into her privy chamber to hear what they had to say (Cavendish, Life of Wolsey, ed. 1852, pp. 137-140).
We are not told, for Wolsey's biographer did not know, the precise nature of the advice given by the two cardinals. Meanwhile, the king having expressed a desire to, see his scruples removed, Fisher, bishop of Rochester, came forward and declared his readiness to justify the validity of the marriage. Other things went against the king's purpose. The pope revoked the cause to Rome, and Campeggio, even before he was informed of the fact, had prorogued the court for the holidays according to the custom at Rome. Every one knew that, although it was only prorogued, it was never to meet again. Not many months after this the ambassador, Chapuys, then just newly arrived in England from the emperor, records that on St. Andrew's day, 1529, the queen dined with the king, and complained that he had for a long time so seldom allowed her that privilege. The king excused himself partly by the pressure of business, but as to visiting her in her own apartments, she must know that he was now assured by innumerable doctors and lawyers that he was not her lawful husband, and he could never share her bed again. He was waiting for further opinions, and if the pope did not declare their the court in June and July. Affidavits were marriage void, he would denounce his holiness as a heretic, and marry whom he pleased. Catherine told him in reply that those opinions were not worth a straw, for he himself had owned on more than one occasion that he had found her a virgin when he married her. Moreover, the principal doctors in England had written in her favour. The king left the room not a little disconcerted, and at supper Chapuys was informed Anne Boleyn said to him reproachfully, 'Did I not tell you that whenever you disputed with the queen she was sure to have the upper hand?,'
For a time Henry still treated Catherine as his queen. She went with him to Woodstock, and from that in September to Grafton in Northamptonshire, where Cardinal Campeggio took his leave of him, and where Wolsey was admitted at the same time to his last interview. But in February 1530 Catherine's treatment had become visibly worse. The king absented himself much from her company, and left her at Richmond while he was dallying with Anne Boleyn in London. It was at this time he began consulting the universities, applying first to Cambridge and Oxford, then to Paris and other foreign seats of learning; but still he kept company with Catherine to some extent, and even took her out hunting with him. In August or the beginning of September she fell ill of a fever, probably brought on by alarm at the king's increasing recklessness. She kept Christmas with him at Greenwich; but in January following (1531) she suffered much anxiety lest something should be done to her prejudice in the parliament which then met. Nothing, however, was said, and Henry allowed and even advised her to summon counsel to her aid at Richmond. He did this, as Chapuys believed, in order to discover whether she had not secretly received a brief from Rome in her favour. For it would appear that about this time Henry, or at least his ministers, really thought the game a desperate one. A brief was expected from Rome which would have ordered Henry to dismiss Anne Boleyn from the court, and it was the general belief that he would be obliged to comply. But the brief when it came was feeble and ineffective, so that the king was encouraged to persevere, and the clergy were forced to acknowledge him as supreme head of the church of England. This, of course, involved the consequence that the decision of a Roman tribunal could not be acknowledged in an English matrimonial cause.
Catherine saw that her only hope lay in procuring a speedy sentence from Rome in her favour, and she wrote urgently to that effect to the emperor on 5 April. Henry's conduct towards her varied from day to day. One day when she dined with him he spoke in unwonted terms of the power of the emperor, and afterwards, changing the subject, told her she had not been kind to her daughter Mary, because she had not made her physician reside with her continually. Altogether he showed himself so gracious on this occasion that next day Catherine asked him to allow the princess to see them; but Henry answered with a rude rebuff, telling her she might go and see the princess if she wished, and also stop with her. The queen replied in gentle tone that she would not leave him for her own daughter or any one else in the world. But things now were coming to a climax. The king was using every art to delay the cause at Rome while refusing to put in any appearance, except by allowing an 'excusator' to plead for him that he was not bound to appear there at all. On 31 May upwards of thirty privy councillors, headed by the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, waited on Catherine by the king's command to remonstrate with her, and urged that she ought to consent to have the matter tried elsewhere than in Rome by judges above suspicion. According to Hall, they actually suggested a tribunal of four prelates and four temporal lords of England, which, of course, was what was wanted; but by the very full report of the interview sent by Chapuys to the emperor it does not appear that they proposed anything so definite. Catherine completely met every one of their jesuitical arguments, and fully justified her resolution to abide entirely by the decision of the pope.
Shortly after this the court removed from Greenwich to Windsor, and there,on 14 July, Henry finally left his wife, never to see her again. He removed to Woodstock without even bidding her adieu, but left orders that she was to remain at Windsor. Deserted by her husband, she complained bitterly of the pope's neglect. But the weakness of the pope inspired Henry with greater boldness. He had got the opinion of the university of Orleans and of some Parisian lawyers also that he could not be compelled to appear at Rome; while Anne Boleyn, who accompanied him wherever he went, spoke confidently of the prospect of being married to him within three or four months at least. In August the king again sent notice to Catherine that he was coming to hunt about Windsor, and that she must dislodge thence and go to the Moor in Hertfordshire. The Princess Mary was ordered at the same time to leave her mother and go to Richmond. Two months later another deputation of the king's council was sent to the queen with the same object as before; but she refused more firmly than ever, saying, now that she knew him to be influenced only by passion, she would not desist from demanding justice where alone it could be obtained.
She was now absolutely without a friend in England who could do anything for her except Chapuys. All her counsel had refused absolutely to have anything more to do with her cause after it was revoked to Rome. Still, she carefully maintained her position as a wife, and sought opportunities of vindicating it quietly and without reproaches. At the beginning of 1532 she sent her husband a gold cup as a New Year's gift, 'with honorable and humble words.' She had been strictly forbidden to write to him or send any messages; and Henry was so far from pleased that he refused it angrily; but fearing that the servant who had presented it would return it to the queen's messenger, and that the latter might take an opportunity of presenting it himself before all the court, he sent for it again, praised its workmanship, and ordered that it should not be returned till the evening.
The people felt much for the queen's wrongs. Even Dr. Benet, the king's agent at Rome, when in England at the end of 1531, sent her a secret message desiring her pardon. He heartily prayed, he said, for the success of her cause. The women even broke out into tumults in her behalf, and insulted Anne Boleyn; shouts were also heard when the king went about, calling upon him to take back his queen; and even in the House of Commons two members made the same suggestion. In answer to a demand for aid to strengthen the frontier against the Scots, they said that the king would protect the realm much more effectively if he would only take back his queen and cultivate the friendship of the emperor. The aid demanded was refused, nor does it seem that Henry ever dared to punish the offenders. On Easter day, 31 March 1632, William Peto, the provincial of the Grey Friars, preached before the king at Greenwich, strongly opposing the divorce. The king dissembled his displeasure, and gave the friar, who desired to go to Toulouse, permission to leave the kingdom; then next Sunday got a chaplain of his own, named Dr. Curwen, to preach in a manner more agreeable to himself. Dr. Curwen fulfilled his task, and replied to Peto's sermon, insinuating that Peto had withdrawn himself for fear, and expressing a wish that he were present to answer him. On this another friar, Elstowe, started up, and offered to confirm by scripture all that Peto had said. The king was intensely irritated, and both friars (for Peto had only reached Canterbury) were soon after called before the council, where one nobleman told them that they deserved to be put into a sack and thrown into the Thames. 'Make these threats to courtiers,' Elstowe replied; 'for as to us, we know right well the way to heaven lies as open by water as by land.'
Bishop Fisher both wrote and preached in the queen's favour, and by a sermon at the beginning of June very nearly subjected himself to that imprisonment which he actually underwent a year later. Abell wrote a book in her behalf; Peto, moreover, was preparing another, and his reason for desiring to go abroad was to arrange for its publication. The pope meanwhile had sent Henry a brief 1 rebuking him for having not only put away his wife, but cohabited with Anne Boleyn. But none of these things produced much effect upon the king. Catherine was removed from the Moor, and sent to reside at Bishop's Hatfield, a place belonging to the Bishop of Ely, and there she remained at the time the king crossed to Calais with Anne Boleyn in October, in great anxiety lest they should marry over there during the interview with Francis I.
This interview was designed mainly to convince the pope that the kings of England and France were so united that he could not offend one without offending both. It was very unpopular in England. The emperor, to counteract the alliance of the two powers, held a meeting with the pope at Bologna at the close of the year. Two French cardinals sent by Francis to Bologna before the meeting was over induced Clement to avoid going further in the affair of Catherine than he had done already. Henry took advantage cf the pope's irresolution, and secretly married Anne Boleyn on 25 Jan. 1533. He also obtained from the pope bulls for Cranmer's promotion to the see of Canterbury. As soon as these were secure, he got his parliament to pass an act that no appeals in ecclesiastical causes should henceforth be carried out of the kingdom to Rome. The new archbishop was made use of to declare the nullity of the king's marriage with Catherine, and the validity of his marriage with Anne Boleyn. Even before this was done, an intimation was sent to Catherine that she must no longer call herself queen, but only princess dowager. At Easter (13 April) the marriage was divulged, and Anne Boleyn openly took upon her the name of queen. Yet it was not till 10 May that Cranmer opened his court at Dunstable to try whether the first marriage was a valid one or not! Catherine, by the advice of Chapuys, took no notice of the proceedings, I and the archbishop pronounced her contumacious. The court was three times adjourned, and sentence was finally pronounced upon the 23rd, declaring the marriage invalid. Yet it appears by a letter which he wrote to Cromwell that during the progress of the suit the archbishop felt some anxiety lest the 'contumacious' woman should change her mind and put in an appearance at the last.
On 3 July Lord Mountjoy, Catherine's chamberlain, accompanied by four other gentlemen of her household, waited on Catherine at Ampthill by the king's command to remonstrate with her on having used the name of queen after having orders to the contrary. They found her lying on a pallet, having hurt her foot with a pin, and troubled with a severe cough. On addressing her as princess dowager and showing their instructions, she at once took exception to the title. They in vain hinted that her obstinacy might even make the king withdraw his favour from her daughter Mary. They came again next day and showed her the report of their interview which they were going to send to the king, and she with her own hand struck out the words 'princess dowager' wherever they occurred. She declared she would accept no decision in her cause except that of the pope, and demanded a copy of the instructions that she might have them translated into Spanish and sent to Rome.
On being told of her reply, as Chapuys's despatches inform us, the king caused a proclamation to be printed and published in London by sound of trumpet. We know from a letter of the Earl of Derby on 10 Aug. following that it must have been to forbid people calling Catherine queen; for it appears that a priest named James Harrison, on hearing it read, declared defiantly 'that Queen Catherine was queen, and that Nan Bullen should not be queen,' for which he was brought before the earl and examined. Soon afterwards Catherine was removed to Buckden in Huntingdonshire, a seat of the Bishop of Lincoln. She was saluted as queen all the way along. The king and his council next took into consideration the reduction of her household, and of the allowance originally assigned for her dower by express treaty with Ferdinand. The severity of her treatment was so much increased that she became anxious for the utmost pressure to be put upon the pope, whose authority, she believed, might still avail to do her justice; but she was so surrounded by spies, that she hardly found it possible to write.
The indignities to which she had to submit were most galling. In July Anne Boleyn, looking forward to her own confinement, was eager to possess a very rich cloth brought by Catherine from Spain, and used by her at the baptism of her children. She was not ashamed to urge Henry to ask Catherine for it, and Henry was not ashamed to comply; but Catherine positively refused to give up her property for a use so scandalous. Aft the birth of Elizabeth, Mary was told that she must give up the name of princess, just as her mother had been warned to give up that of queen. When she refused, the whole of her servants were dismissed, and she herself was compelled to dislodge and become a sort of waiting-woman attached to the train of her infant sister. Then, as it drew near Christmas, it was determined to make Catherine herself dislodge from Buckden and place her with a reduced household at Somersham in the Isle of Ely. The commissioners only failed to satisfy the king because they had not sufficient inhumanity or firmness to overcome Catherine's resistance by force. Buckden was by no means a healthy situation, but Somersham was worse, and it was hardly possible to avoid a suspicion that the king and Anne Boleyn were seeking to hasten her death. The commissioners dismissed a number of Catherine's servants who declined to be sworn to her anew as princess of Wales; but they failed with all the menaces they could use to get her to consent to her own removal. For six days they remained hoping to conquer her obstinacy; but she locked herself up in her own chamber, and told them through a hole in the wall that if they meant to remove her they must break open the doors and carry her off by force. They at length returned to the king with a confession that they had only been able to execute one part of their charge. Henry was very angry at their want of thoroughness!
It seems to have been about the beginning of November 1533 that the king saw fit to imprison Elizabeth Barton [see Barton, Elizabeth], Nothing whatever was found in her evidence to implicate Catherine.
The life which she was then leading at Buckden was passed, as we are informed by Harpsfield, 'in much prayer, great alms, and abstinence. And when she was not in this way occupied then was she and her gentlewomen working with their own hands something wrought in needlework, costly and artificially, which she intended to the honour of God to bestow upon some churches. There was in the said house of Buckden a chamber with a window that had a prospect into the chapel, out of which she might hear divine service. In this chamber she enclosed herself, sequestered from all other company, a great part of the day and night, and upon her knees used to pray at the said window leaning upon the stones of the same. There was some of her gentlewomen that did curiously mark and observe all her doings, who reported that oftentimes they found the said stones so wet after her departure as though it had rained upon them. It was credibly thought that in the time of her prayer she removed the cushions that ordinarily lay in the same window, and that the said stones were imbrued with the tears of her devout eyes' (Pretended Divorce, 200). He adds: 'I have credibly also heard that at a time when one of her gentlewomen began to curse the lady Anne Boleyn she answered, "Hold your peace. Curse her not, but pray for her; for the time will come shortly when you shall have much need to pity and lament her case."'
On 17 Jan. 1534 Chapuys writes that Catherine had never left her own room since that visit of the Duke of Suffolk, just a month before, except to hear mass in a gallery. She was at this time careful not to eat or drink anything placed before her by some new servants who had been assigned to her by Suffolk in place of those dismissed, and the little food she ventured to take was cooked by her chamberwomen in what was now alike her bedroom, her sitting-room, and her kitchen. The king, on the other hand, was anxious that she should not eat or drink anything that was not supplied by him, and her custodians, as Chapuys remarked, seemed anxious to give her an artificial dropsy. Her situation was but little improved when at last judgment was pronounced. On 23 March 1534 sentence waa given by the pope in a secret consistory at Rome that her marriage with Henry was valid. But parliament had not only declared Anne Boleyn queen and Catherine princess dowager, but had passed two separate acts taking away the jointure of the latter and giving it to the former. Some opposition, indeed, was made to this in the commons, the representatives of London and some other cities fearing that as their constituencies had stood pledges for the fulfilment of the terms of the marriage treaty, English merchants might be illtreated in Spain; but they were assured that the obligation had been abolished by a modification of the treaties to which the emperor had given his consent. Moreover the king produced a roll of certain lands, which he intended to give Catherine in exchange for those of her jointure, to the value of three thousand crowns a year, and the commons resisted no longer.
It was probably to announce the passing of this act that we find, by one letter of the period, the Duke of Norfolk and Fitzwilliam left the court on 14 March and rode towards Catherine; and towards the end of the month Chapuys indicates that both she and her daughter Mary had thought it advisable 'to show the king their teeth a little.'
This Mary did by refusing to accompany her infant sister on her removal from one house to another. Two doctors were sent to Catherine to summon her to swear to the new Act of Succession. She replied by intimating to the doctors the sentence given in her favour at Rome. She was forbidden to hold her maundy on Maundy Thursday, and about the end of April or beginning of May she was removed to Kimbolton, a house which had belonged to Sir Richard Wingfield, an English ambassador who had died in Spain some years before, and was still in possession of his heirs. It was a small mansion, but she was better lodged here than she had been at Buckden, for the king, we find, was anxious to contradict the rumours that had got abroad as to her ill-treatment. Here, on 21 May, she was visited by Lee, archbishop of York, and Tunstall, bishop of Durham, sent to her by the king with a message. They were to explain and justify to her what had been done in parliament lest she should plead ignorance of the effect of the Act of Succession. Tunstall was frequently interrupted in his speech by Catherine, who with great anger and bitterness contradicted him on several points, and reminded him that he himself had given her opinions directly at variance with those he then attempted to justify. He replied that the decisions of universities and the proceedings of the legislature had since altered his judgment, and he counselled her to alter hers as well.
These sophistries, however, were but to smooth the way for the dreadful warning that disobedience to the statute involved the penalty of death. When this was intimated to her by the bishops, she became still more firm, and said if any one was ready to carry out the sentence upon her, let him come forward at once. It was clearly hopeless to intimidate her, and the king had to alter his policy. Only certain maids who had refused the oath were removed from her, and shut up in a chamber, while her confessor, physician, and apothecary were forbidden to leave the house. These three were Spaniards who had been long in her service; and Catherine, apparently by Chapuys's advice, sent her steward and gentleman usher to the king requesting that she might have their services again on their simply swearing allegiance to the king and to her as their mistress. She, however, sent another and evidently more important message as well, the exact terms of which we do not know. Her servants returned to her on 4 June bearing an answer from the privy council, which they had been ordered to put into writing and read to her. The king and council first expressed their surprise at her obstinacy in persisting, in spite of all presumptions to the contrary, that she had been a maid when she married him. To this she replied by affirming it all the more strongly, and calling God to witness its truth. Secondly, she was told that her reliance on the sentence given at Rome was a mistake. It was delivered after the king had appealed to a general council; moreover the 'bishop of Rome' had no authority in England. She answered that she would hold by the pope's sentence. Thirdly, as to the request that her Spanish servants should be restored to her on swearing fealty to the king and herself 'and no other woman,' she must express herself more definitely; for the king could by no means allow them to swear to her as queen, though he might possibly consent to let them swear to her as princess dowager.
The strict imprisonment in which both she and her daughter were kept, and the harsh refusal to each of the natural comfort of the other's company, was intended to break down their opposition to the king piecemeal. For the same reason Chapuys, whom Catherine had desired to come to her, remained for weeks soliciting in vain license of the king to go, till he at length went of his own accord, setting out with sixty horses in his company through the whole length of London, and taking care that his object should be known as widely as possible. Even then he was met by messengers who told him that an interview could not be allowed; but he and his company went on and presented themselves before the place, where the queen and her suite, to the great satisfaction of all the country people, spoke to them from the battlements and windows.
Of sympathy there was no lack; several lords expressed their disappointment that the emperor did not send an expedition to England to vindicate the rights of his aunt and cousin. But the emperor was engaged in other matters. Cromwell was not ashamed to hint to the imperial ambassador that it was a pity the friendly relations between Henry and Charles should be in any danger from the regard of the latter for two ladies, who after all were mortal, seeing that if they were removed there could be no obstacle to cordiality. 'You may be sure,' writes Chapuys to Granville, 'they think day and night of getting rid of these good ladies.' In March 1535 the queen again determined to keep a maundy, and messengers were despatched in haste to court to know whether it should be allowed, on which the council determined that she might do so as princess dowager, but not as queen, which of course was to Catherine practical prohibition.
There seemed little wanting to till up the cup of Catherine's misery. And yet the relentless course of the king's tyranny in 1535 inspired her with a new terror. First the Carthusian monks were dragged to execution for denying the king to be supreme head of the church of England; then Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More suffered the same fate. Till now she had never realised to herself how far her husband would dare to outrage the common feelings of all Christendom, or how he could even do so with impunity. The whole civilised world was shocked, and the pope fulminated a sentence against Henry to deprive him of his kingdom; but no relief came to Catherine.
About the beginning of December 1535 she became seriously unwell, and though she recovered for a time, she had a relapse the day after Christmas. She was believed then to be on the point of death, and the fact being intimated to Chapuys, he obtained the king's permission to visit her. He arrived on the morning of New-year's day, and was at once admitted to her presence; after which she desired him to rest, and thought she could sleep a little herself, for she had not had more than two hours' sleep altogether during the previous six days. On the evening of that same day a devoted countrywoman of her own found means to be admitted to her presence without a passport. It was Lady Willoughby, formerly Maria de Salinas, one of her maids of honour, who came with her from Spain, now mother-in-law to Henry VIII's favourite, the Duke of Suffolk. She appeared before the gates of Kimbolton Castle, saying she had travelled in haste fearing she would be too late to see Catherine again alive. She begged leave at once to come in and warm herself, as she suffered bitterly from the cold, and also from a fall from her horse. It was impossible to disoblige a lady of such high social position. She was admitted to the hall, and even to Catherine's chamber; and once there, she remained with her old mistress to the end. 'We neither saw her again, nor beheld any of her letters,' wrote Bedingfield, who, under the name of steward, was Catherine's custodian (Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, i. pt. i. 372).
Chapuys stayed four days at Kimbolton, during which time he had an audience of Catherine every day. Her spirits revived, she took better rest and nourishment, and her physician thought her out of immediate danger. Chapuys accordingly took leave of her on Tuesday night, 4 Jan., and left Kimbolton on the Wednesday morning after learning that she had slept well. After midnight, in the early hours of Friday, 7 Jan., she became restless, and asked frequently what o'clock it was, merely, as she explained, that she might hear mass. George Athequa, the Bishop of Llandaff, offered to say it for her at four o'clock, but she objected, giving him reasons and authorities in Latin why it should not be at that hour. At daybreak she received the sacrament. She then desired her servants to pray for her, and also to pray that God might forgive her husband. She caused her physician to write her will, which she dictated to him in the form of a supplication to her husband, because she knew that by the law of England a married woman had no right to make a will of her own. She desired to be buried in a convent of Observant friars, not knowing, in all probability, that the whole order of the Observants had been suppressed and driven but of the kingdom more than a year before. She also desired five hundred masses to be said for her soul, and ordained a few small legacies. At ten o'clock she received extreme unction, repeating devoutly all the responses. At two o'clock in the afternoon she passed away.
These particulars are derived from a despatch of Chapuys written a fortnight later. The will which she dictated is still extant in two forms, French and English. From Polydore Vergil, likewise a contemporary, we learn that she also dictated to one of her maids a last letter to the king, forgiving him all he had done to her, and beseeching him to be a good father to their daughter Mary. 'Lastly,' she concludes, 'I vow that mine eyes desire you above all things.' This brief epistle, of which the text is given in a Latin form by Polydore Vergil, is said by him to have brought tears into Henry's eyes. Unhappily, this does not harmonise with Chapuys's report of the way in which Henry received the news of her death. 'God be praised!' he exclaimed, 'we are now delivered from all fear of war.' The possibility that the emperor might at last lead an expedition against England to avenge the wrongs of his aunt was now at an end. The only cause that could disturb their friendship or interfere with Henry's perfect freedom of action was removed. And the king was at no pains to conceal his satisfaction, appearing next day at a ball attired in yellow from head to foot, with a white feather in his cap.
Perhaps this indecent joy of Henry's affords in itself a reasonable presumption that a certain not unnatural suspicion of Chapuys's was really without foundation. More than two mouths before the king had declared to some of his privy councillors that he really could remain no longer a prey to such anxiety as he had endured on account of Catherine and her daughter, and they must devise some means of relieving him at the coming parliament. The death of Catherine, therefore, furnished precisely the relief which he required; and there was much in the circumstances besides to suggest the idea of poison. Even before her death her physician, in answer to Chapuys's inquiries, owned that he suspected it. She had never been well, he said, since she had drunk a certain Welsh beer. Yet the symptoms were unlike ordinary poison, and he could only suppose that it was something very special. Such an opinion, of course, is of very little weight when we consider the low state of medical science at the time. But after her death steps were at once taken to embalm the body and close it up in lead with a secresy that does seem rather to suggest foul play. Eight hours after she died the chandler of the house with two assistants came to do the work, everybody else being turned out of the room, including even the physician and the Bishop of Llandaff, the deceased lady's confessor. The chandler afterwards informed the bishop, but as a great secret, which would cost him his life if it were revealed, that he had found all the internal organs sound except the heart, which was black and frightful to look at; that he had washed it three times, but it remained of the same colour, then cut it open and found the inside black also; and further, that he had found a certain round black object adhering to the outside of the heart.
The bishop took the physician into his confidence, and the latter was distinctly of opinion that the symptoms indicated poison. But it must be said that (as has been shown by Dr. Norman Moore) the medical science of the present day is quite opposed to this conclusion, and that the symptoms now are known to be those of a disease called by the profession melanotic sarcoma, or more popularly, cancer of the heart (Athenæum, 31 Jan., 1885, p. 152; 14 Feb. p. 215; 28 Feb. p. 281). We may therefore put aside the suspicions of murder. Abroad in the world Henry had not the temerity to express his joy. He gave orders for a stately funeral becoming the person of one whom he recognised as a sister-in-law, besides being daughter of the late King Ferdinand of Arragon (Archæol. xvi. 23). The abbey church of Peterborough was appointed to receive her remains, and thither on 27 and 28 Jan., three weeks after her death, they were conveyed with much solemnity and heraldic pomp, accompanied by a numerous train of noblemen, gentlemen, and ladies. At night on the 27th the body rested at Sawtry Abbey, about midway between Kimbolton and Peterborough. The rest of the journey was accomplished next day. The interment itself took place on the 29th. Her own daughter was not allowed to attend the ceremony, and the place of chief mourner was filled by Henry's niece, Eleanor, the daughter of the Duke of Suffolk.
Catherine was of a fair complexion and, to judge by her portraits, the best known of which is by Holbein, somewhat plump. Her constitution must have been naturally strong, but her tastes do not appear to have been such as commonly go with a vigorous habit of body. She seems to have cared little for hunting and field-sports, and loved to occupy herself with her needle. Her piety, which she inherited from her mother, was nursed by misfortune and neglect from her earliest years. She relied mainly for spiritual advice on the counsels of Franciscan friars of the reformed order called Observants, from whom during her early life in England she chose a confessor, and among whom, as we have seen, she desired to find a place of sepulture. That she was a devoted student of the Bible we know from Erasmus. It is remarkable that the great scholar dedicated to her in 1526 (just a year before the king's project of a divorce was talked about) his work on 'Christian Matrimony,' which he probably wrote at her suggestion.[Mariana, Historia General de España; Bernaldez, Historia de los Reyes Catolicos D. Fernando y Doña Isabel; Leland's Collectanes, v. 352-73; Brewer and Gairdner's Cal. of State Papers, Henry VIII; Bergenroth and Gayangos's Cal. of State Papers (Spanish); Gairdner's Memorials of Henry VII, and Letters, &c., of the Reigns of Richard III and Henry VII; State Papers, Henry VIII; Hall's Chronicle; Cavendish's Life of Wolsey; Harpsfield's Treatise on the Pretended Divorce between Henry VIII and Catherine of Arragon; Forrest's History of Grisild the Second (Roxburghe Club); Transcripts from Vienna Archives in the Public Record Office. Of modern lives of Catherine, even the best, that of Miss Strickland, has become obsolete owing to the large amount of new information, supplied chiefly from the archives of Spain and Vienna, which will be found in Calendars. There are, indeed, more recent studies by Albert Du Boys and the late Mr. Hepworth Dixon, but even these are founded on imperfect knowledge, and many of the statements of the latter in his History of Two Queens are utterly unsupported by the authorities he himself adduces.]