Henry VIII and His Six Wives Janet Hardy Gould - chapter 2
Katherine of Aragon
We got up early the next morning and went to my favourite room. It has a wonderful view of the large gardens and the River Thames at the bottom.
‘Did you sleep well, Margaret?’ I asked.
‘No. I dreamed that King Henry came back to life and sent me to the Tower of London.’
‘Why did he do that?’
‘Because in my dream I read the letters and he was angry with me. Perhaps it will be bad luck if we read them,’ said Margaret, worried.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘It was only a dream. He can’t do anything now. He’s dead.’
I went over to the wooden box and opened it. ‘We’ll read the letter from Katherine of Aragon first,’ I said.
‘She was Spanish, wasn’t she?’ said Margaret.
‘Yes, she first came over to England to marry Henry’s brother Arthur, but he died. She then married Henry and was his wife and queen for twenty-four years.’
‘What a long time! What happened to her? Did she go to the Tower of London too?’
‘No, Henry divorced Katherine because he wanted a son, and she only gave him a daughter, Princess Mary. Years before, Katherine did have a son – Henry, Prince of Wales, but he died when he was only seven weeks old. The King wanted a son very much. He was in love with Anne Boleyn, but he also wanted a new wife – a younger woman to give him sons.’
‘Poor Katherine! Divorced after twenty-four years for a younger woman!’ Margaret looked at the letter in my hand. ‘Can we read the letter now, my lady?’
‘Yes, let’s sit down by the window and read it together.’ ‘But I can’t read,’ said Margaret, looking at the floor. ‘That’s all right, I’ll read it for you.’
We sat down and I began to read it slowly…
Windsor 28th July 1531
When you left Windsor last week, you didn’t say goodbye. I feel lonely and unhappy without you. When will I see you again? Please come back soon.
You know that I am your true wife. We have been married for more than twenty years in the eyes of God.
I have given you a daughter. Princess Mary. God took from us our other children. I wanted so much to give you a son, but God’s plan for us was different, and we cannot change that.
I pray for you every day and ask for you to come back to me. I have never been untrue to you, Henry, and have always been a good wife, and a good mother to our daughter.
I am still your Queen. There is only one Queen of England, and that is me. I know that you are with Anne Boleyn, but you will never be happy with her. I am the daughter of a King, and she is not. You must not divorce me. The Pope and the Catholic Church will never agree to this. I am sending you a necklace with a gold cross. Henry, when you look at it, remember me and remember the Catholic Church.
Your Queen Katherine of Aragon
‘So what happened to Katherine?’ asked Margaret. ‘Did she ever see the King again?’
‘No, never. He divorced her. She lived a lonely life with only a few friends, and died a broken and unhappy woman about ten years ago.’
‘What about the Catholic Church? Did the Pope agree to the divorce?’
‘No, he didn’t. So Henry broke with the Pope and the Catholic Church, and that’s how the Church of England began. The King became Head of the Church, and the Pope and the Catholics were very angry. It made a lot of trouble both in England and Europe.’
‘And all because of Anne Boleyn?’ said Margaret.
‘Not only that. You see, it was very important for the King to have a son, to be King after him. There has only ever been one Queen in England, and that was a terrible time, with a lot of fighting and killing. Henry didn’t want that to happen again after his death. So he knew that he must have a son, not just daughters. And that’s really why he divorced Katherine and married again.’
‘And was he sad when Katherine died?’
‘Sad? Oh no! He dressed in yellow and danced all night with his new Queen.’
Margaret looked inside the box and found the gold necklace. She held it to her neck. ‘Poor Katherine,’ she said softly. ‘King Henry was a terrible husband to her.’
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