Katherine of Aragon: First Wife of Henry VIII

When we think of Henry VIII we often think of his sixth wives – the end of his first marriage was quite controversial and took many years to achieve…that’s the marriage we are looking at today. Katherine of Aragon and whether or not the marriage between Arthur, Prince of Wales and his bride was consummated. We’ll also look at what happened during her marriage with Henry and how she never allowed Henry to have the upper-hand. In her mind, she was his true wife and queen. I also created a podcast about this subject that I believe you will thoroughly enjoy. If you’d like to check it out please click the image below. This is from 2017:

Katherine – The Early Years

Katherine was the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile and was named after her great-grandmother, Katherine of Lancaster who was the daughter of the well-know John of Gaunt and Constance of Castile. If you are not familiar with John of Gaunt, he was the son of King Edward III of England – the king with many sons who eventually caused the Wars of the Roses fiasco. But that’s another story!

During her upbringing Katherine was well-educated. She was an avid reader and was trained in needlework, dancing, lace-making and embroidery in the black-work style. This style of embroidery was made popular by Katherine in England.

Katherine loved and respected her mother Isabella. She grew up to be much like her – in looks and character. Isabella was able to turn a blind-eye to Ferdinand’s many infidelities, as did her daughter years later with her second husband, Henry VIII. Like her mother, Katherine also had a great sense for fashion.

Katherine of Aragon by Michel Sittow

England – 1501

When Katherine came to England in 1501, it was on the heels of the execution of Perkin Warbeck and Edward, Earl of Warwick. Her parents, Ferdinand and Isabella did not wish to send their beloved daughter to a country whose ruler could be removed and their daughter left empty-handed. That is what was going on in England at the time – Warbeck and Warwick were both threats to the throne of Henry VII. Some English subjects believed that either of those men deserved to wear the crown over Henry because of their Plantagenet or House of York lineage. Warbeck claimed to be the son of Edward IV (one of the princes in the Tower) and Warwick was the son of George, Duke of Clarence, brother to King Edward IV and Richard III. Now….when Richard III assumed the role of King of England after the disappearance of the princes in the Tower many suspected that he was responsible for their disappearance because he had the most to gain from it. Now, while I also agree with that statement, we honestly may never know what happened to Edward V & Richard, Duke of York during their stay in the Tower, BUT, the fact that Richard III had the marriage between his brother King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville declared unlawful and invalid because of a previous secret wedding Edward had with Eleanor Butler (which then by right made him next in line to the throne), one could see that this is something that he desired. While he never showed this desire while Edward IV (his brother) was on the throne, unlike his brother the Duke of Clarence, it is not unusual for him to wish to be king if he believed it was his right.

So…this is the mess (with an abbreviated back story) that was going on in England at the time of marriage negotiations with Henry VII and the parents of Katherine of Aragon.

I’ve often thought that Katherine, in her pious ways, may have felt guilty for the execution of Warbeck and Warwick, because it appears that they only occurred because otherwise Ferdinand and Isabella would not send their daughter to England. I’d be curious to hear what you think about that – did Katherine feel guilty or have remorse for the death of these young men? Especially Warwick since he was the first cousin to her new mother-in-law, Elizabeth of York, whom she was very close to.

When Katherine married Arthur, Prince of Wales their marriage was very short-lived. After being sent to Ludlow after their wedding, Arthur and Katherine both became ill but Arthur would not survive. Arthur had been ill or sickly for many years and some have suggested that their marriage was not consummated, even though the morning after their wedding night he boasted that he had “spent the night in Spain”.

Whether or not they did or didn’t is one of the main questions you hear — The question that always comes back into my head is why did Henry want to get the papal dispensation before marrying his brother’s wife? Surely there was more reason than the fact that she was his sister in law…was it because of the chance that the marriage was consummated?

Next we must consider how pious Katherine was — would she condemn her immortal soul just to ensure she was still queen or to prove Henry wrong? Probably not, but would she lie to keep her daughter, Princess Mary in favor? That is likely. As a parent I know a person will do anything to protect their child. Anything.

Plus, we don’t know if she confessed to a priest on her deathbed. Some can say that it was never reported that she did but honestly, if the priest was loyal to her and it was a confession then it was private and he could not repeat it. I was raised Catholic so I know that much.

The King’s Conscious

I recently posted this question on Facebook and Twitter pages and the results are in – we still don’t know. As usual the masses are torn. On the Facebook page Heather mentioned Margaret Beaufort being in charge of the court of Henry VII at the time and she would have made sure things were done properly. This is a very interesting point that you do not hear often and I question if that’s because Margaret died in 1509 after Katherine of Aragon married Henry VIII. She was not available to testify and had not left behind anything to indicate that her grandson Arthur had consummated his marriage with Katherine of Aragon. So…while the idea of Margaret Beaufort made sure the deed was done is just that, an idea. There is no evidence to suggest one way or another so we must set that idea aside.

While reading Sarah Gristwood’s newest book, “Game of Queens” she discusses two different debates regarding Henry’s concern with his first marriage.

In the book of Leviticus, the Bible says, “If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. Thy shall be childless.”

In Henry’s mind this meant not without child, but without male heir. Clearly he interpreted things the way that would benefit himself. However, in the book of Deuteronomy it contradicts Leviticus saying that a man has a duty to marry his deceased brother’s widow and to ‘raise up seed for his brother’. So…which was it? Was Henry supposed to marry his brother’s widow or was he not?

The ultimate question was whether or not Katherine of Aragon and Arthur, Prince of Wales had consummated their marriage. When the papal legates (Campeggio and Wolsey) visited Katherine and tried to convince her to join a nunnery she refused. They told the Pope, ‘Although she is very religious and extremely patient, she will not accede in the least.”  Katherine swore on her conscience that she and Prince Arthur had never consummated their marriage, and declared that ‘she intended to live and die in the estate of matrimony to which God had called her.’

Cardinal Campeggio attempted to sway the queen but she would not listen. Wolsey warned her to yield to the King’s displeasure – she snapped at him saying:

Of this trouble, I thank only you, my lord of York! Of malice you have kindled this fire, especially for the great grudge you bear to my nephew the Emperor, because he would not gratify your ambition by making you Pope by force!

Wolsey then went on to excuse himself. He stated that it had been ‘sore against his will that ever the marriage should be in question’ and he promised, as legate for the Pope to be impartial. Katherine did not believe him as she knew Wolsey to be the closest adviser to the King.

On the 26th of October 1528, by her request, Campeggio heard Katherine’s confession. She declared, upon the salvation of her soul, that she had never been carnally known by Prince Arthur. Campeggio believed she was speaking the truth but continued to push for her to go to a nunnery.

At the peak of the King’s “Great Matter”, Katherine of Aragon made the speech of her life – On the 21st of June 1529, Katherine, the Queen, gave the speech of her life, on her knees, before Henry VIII and the rest of those present at the hearing. She has been quoted as saying:

“Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice and right, 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 friend, and much less indifferent counsel: I flee to you as to the head of justice within this realm. Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I designed against your will and pleasure? Intending (as I perceive) to put me from you, I take God and all the world to witness, that I have been to you a true and humble wife, ever conformable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did anything to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein ye 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 discontentation. I loved all those whom ye loved only for your sake, whether I had cause or no; and whether they were my friends or my enemies. This twenty years I have been your true wife or more, 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.

And when ye had me at the first, I take God to be 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 dishonor; and if there be none, then here I most lowly beseech you let me remain in my former estate, and received justice at your princely hand. The king your father was in the time of his reign of such estimation through the world for his excellent wisdom, that he was accounted and called of all men the second Solomon; and my father Ferdinand, King of Spain, who was esteemed to be one of the wittiest princes that reigned in Spain many years before, were both wise and excellent kings in wisdom and princely behavior. It is not therefore to be doubted, but that they were elected and gathered as wise counsellors about them as to their high discretions was thought meet. Also, as me seemeth there was in those days as wise, as well-learned men, and men of good judgement as be present in both realms, who thought then the marriage between you and me good and lawful Therefore is it a wonder tome what new inventions are now invented against me, that never intended but honesty. And cause me to stand to the order and judgment of this new court, wherein ye may do me much wrong, if ye intend any cruelty; for ye may condemn me for lack of sufficient answer, having no indifferent counsel, but such as be assigned me, with whose wisdom and learning I am not acquainted. Ye must consider that they cannot be indifferent counsellors for my part which be your subjects, and taken out of your own council before, wherein they be made privy, and dare not, for your displeasure, disobey your will and intent, being once made privy thereto. Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity, and for the love of God, who is the just judge, to spare the extremity of this new court, until I may be advertised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much indifferent favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my case!”

Katherine of Aragon

In 1531, Katherine was still declaring herself Henry’s true wife. Henry was attempting to force Katherine to sign his Act of Supremacy. She refused, stating that the Pope was ‘the only true sovereign and vicar of God…’ She went on to say:

I love and have loved my lord the King as much as any woman can love a man, but I would not have borne him company as his wife for one moment against the voice of my conscience. I am his true wife.

Around 1532, when Henry VIII requested Katherine of Aragon return her jewels to the crown she fell ill soon after. To be quite honest, Katherine was already ill. She had made a request to see her good friend the Imperial Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys. Chapuys, wanting to following court rules, requested permission from the King to see Katherine of Aragon at Kimbolton. The chronicler reported Henry VIII saying, “Yes, Ambassador, you have my permission; I will send you word when you can go.” Henry did not send word. Chapuys requested leave many times and yet received no word from the King. Eventually Chapuys sent word to the King that he was leaving – he was tired of waiting. If, while on the road, he received word from the King of England he would surely obey it.

On his way out of London, Chapuys gathered as many Spanish merchants as he could that would accompany him to Kimbolton. There were nearly “a hundred horses” in his company. The spirit of the group was high and they were very happy and excited to visit Katherine, their queen.

Once King Henry received the message from the Imperial Ambassador he was determined to not allow him to see Katherine. He understood the danger of having a Spanish Ambassador speaking to the wife he had thrown aside. The King sent a man by the name of Thomas ahead of Chapuys to arrive at Kimbolton in advance to send the message that Chapuys was not to be permitted to visit the Queen. While Chapuys was slowly traveling to the castle he saw this man (Thomas) pass him on the road – Chapuys seemed to understand what the man’s mission was and had one of his servants follow him to confirm his suspicions.

Katherine was aware that her friend, the ambassador would soon arrive with such great company that when she received word that he could not enter it devastated her. I can only imagine how lonely she was for a familiar face, and a friendly one at that.

Chapuys was ordered to stay four miles from the castle. Why four miles? I assume that is where they were stopped from their forward progress.

That evening Katherine send food and wine to her Spanish friends and begged them to have good cheer. It was that night that the Spaniards told Chapuys that only HE was not allowed to see Katherine, not them. They informed him that they intended to continue to Kimbolton, which they did. The next morning about thirty men began their adventure to see the Queen. With them they brought what seems to have been the ambassador’s fool – or a fool nonetheless. This man was dressed as a fool and had a padlock hanging from his hood.

When the men arrived at Kimbolton they rested for a bit until they saw ladies in the window. That is when the fool decided he had to get to the ladies immediately. Being the fool he was , he started toward the moat (getting in the water) and there was great concern from the other men in the party that he would drown. When the men pulled the fool out of moat they removed his padlock and threw it at the window with the ladies; They yelled at the ladies that next time they would bring them the key. The padlock did not make it to the window but fell to the earth on the other side of the moat. Some of the castle servants saw where the padlock had fallen and immediately went to grab it. They assumed that it had a note within it for Katherine. They immediately sent it to the King to be examined, and no note or letter was found.

In the meantime, back at the castle, the Spaniards had approached the gate and were welcomed inside. Katherine’s ladies were sent to greet them and they were fed a great breakfast in the lower hall. While the men were having breakfast the fool decided to visit the castle barber for a problem he was having. He made signs to the barber that indicated that he may have a toothache. The barber took pity on the man and wanted to help him. He sat the fool down and attempted to stick his fingers in his mouth to see what the problem was, this must have caused pain to the fool because he clenched his teeth and screamed out in pain – at the same time the poor barber also screamed in pain for having his fingers bitten. The ruckus that ensued aroused the attention of others having breakfast that they came to see what the problem was. When they discovered it to be the fool they all had a good laugh. They then returned to finish their breakfast before leaving the castle.

When the men returned to Chapuys they told him the stories of what had happened and all had a great laugh about it – they then returned to London. Nothing more is mentioned by the chronicler of what had been discussed, or if the Queen was present.


After the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and a year after the birth of Princess Elizabeth. King Henry had demanded that Mary take the oath to the Act of Succession, which meant that her parents were never married and she was illegitimate. Mary had refused his request and was understandably fearful of someone trying to harm her because of it. Henry’s retribution was to not allow the person most important to her, her mother. In addition, he dismissed her household, and placed her in the care of Lady Anne Shelton, who was the aunt of her enemy, Anne Boleyn. Needing advice on what she should do, Mary reached out to her mother. This is the letter that Katherine wrote to her daughter. Katharine recommends to Mary to follow her own strategy: Obey Henry in all things except those which would offend God.

The mother and daughter team did not make things easy for Anne and Henry. They fought tooth and nail to keep what was rightfully theirs….

April 1534

Daughter, 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.

Katherine of Aragon, NPG

End of 1535 and January 1536

About eight or nine months later the King informed the Imperial Ambassador that Katherine was very ill and soon to die. He gave him permission to see her. Chapuys arrived at Kimbolton on New Years Eve 1535. Katherine was very pleased to see her great friend that she did not want him to leave – every time he attempted to leave she would ask him to stay.  Katherine’s spirits seemed to improve. The chronicler also suggested that the fool had also accompanied Chapuys on this trip and was there to amuse Katherine. It is noted that she enjoyed his company.

It appears that Chapuys left after Katherine’s doctor assured him that she was better and he need not fear to leave her. She died (7 January 1536)  shortly after and it is believed that Chapuys was in London at the time of her death.

Maria de Salines was one of Katherine of Aragon’s most important ladies-in-waiting; She came with her from Spain in 1501 when Katherine married Arthur and stayed with her until Henry VIII no longer allowed her to service the “disobedient” queen.

In December 1535, Maria heard her dear friend Katherine was near death. She desperately wanted to be her but it was impossible to see her without permission from the king. Maria wrote to Secretary Cromwell to plead her case and appeal to him for permission to see Katherine.

Master Secretary,

In as lowly manner as I can, heartily I recommend me unto you. And thus it is I have forborne you all this same while, for my servant brought me word, when I sent him to you, that you were in such importune business that you could neither dispatch me nor no other body. And now, Mr. Secretary, need driveth me to put you to pain for I heard say that my mistress is very sore sick again; wherefore, good Mr. Secretary, I pray you remember me of your goodness, for you did promise me to labour the king’s grace to get me license to go to her grace afore God send for her: for, as I am informed, there is no other likelihood but it shall be shortly. An if so be that the king’s grace of his goodness be content that I shall go thither, without I have a letter of his grace, or else of you, to shew the officers of my mistress’s house that his grace is content with my going, else my license shall stand to none effect. And as touching that, there is nobody can help me so well as you. Mr. Secretary, under God and the king, all my trust is in you: I pray you remember me now at this time. And so Jesus have you in his keeping.

From the Barbican, the 30th day of December (1535).

By your beadwoman,

Mary Willoughby

It appears her access to Katherine was denied, however she went to Kimbolton anyway. She had no license from the king for entrance but was somehow able to convince them to admit her to the queen anyway. The next day Katherine of Aragon died with her dear life-long friend by her side on 7 January 1536.

So here we are, at the end of her story, but it’s not really the end because we are still talking about her nearly 500 years later. In the Katherine vs. Anne story there is no clear winner. Both women died without the love of their husband and both women had daughters who became queens of England.

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In Their Final Words: Most Recognizable Executions in Tudor England

For quite awhile now I’ve had this post in mind but didn’t have the time to dig into it as much as I would have liked. I still don’t have the time I would like to do this piece justice but was able to pull some quotes together for you.

While there were hundreds (if not thousands) of people executed during the Tudor reign – today I have focused on some of the most recognizable ones and hope I do them all justice. Before you say it, I’m sure there are some that I have forgotten – if so, please leave a comment below and mention who I missed and I’ll turn it into a second post.


Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (1521):

Edward Stafford

The Duke of Norfolk, as a judge, said, “Sir Edward, you have heard how you be indicted of high treason, you pleaded not guilty, putting yourself to the peers of the realm, who have found you guilty”, then the Duke of Norfolk wept and said, “you shall be led to the king’s prison and there laid on a herdill and so drawn to the place of execution, and there to be hanged, cut down alive, your members to be cut off and cast into the fire, your bowels burnt before you, your head smitten off, and your body quartered and divided at the king’s will, and God have mercy on your soul. Amen.”

The Duke of Buckingham said, “my Lord Norfolk, you have said as a traitor should be said unto, but I was never none, but my lords I nothing maligned for that you have done to me, but the eternal God forgive you my death and I do: I shall never sue to the king for life, howbeit he is a gracious prince, and more grace may come from him then I desire. I desire you my lords and all my fellows to pray for me.”

On the day of his execution he was led to the scaffold on Tower hill where he said he had offended the king’s grace through negligence and lack of grace, and desired all noblemen to beware by him, and all men to pray for him, and that he trusted to die the king’s true man.

“Thus mekely with an axe he took his death on whose soul Jesu have mercy. Then the Augustine friars took the body and ahead and buried them.

Sir Thomas More(1535):

Thomas More

Final Words: “The king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Edward Hall says this about Thomas More (translated as best as possible into modern-day English): “This man was also “coumpted” learned and as you have heard before he was Lord Chancellor of England, and in that time a great persecutor of such as detested the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, which he himself so highly favored that he stood to it till he was brought to the scaffold on the Tower hill where on a block his head was stricken from his shoulders and had no more harm. I cannot tell whether I should call him a foolish wiseman, or a wise foolishman, for undoubtedly he, beside his learning had a great wit, but it was so mingled with taunting and mocking, that it seemed to them that best knew him that he thought nothing to be well spoken except he had ministered some mock in the communication insomuch as at is coming to the Tower, one of the officers demanded his upper garment for his fee, meaning his gown, and he answered, he should have it, and took him his cape, saying it was the uppermost garment that he had. Likewise, even going to his death at the Tower gate, a poor woman called unto him and besought him to declare that he had certain evidences of her in the time that he was in office (which after he was apprehended she could not come by) and that he would intreate she might have them again, or else she was undone. (More owed this woman some money or debt) He answered, “good woman have patience a little while, for the king is so good unto me that even within this half hour he will discharge me of all businesses, and help thee himself.” Also, when he went up the stairs on the scaffold, he desired one of the Sheriff’s officers to give him his hand to help him up, and said, “when I come down again, let me shift for myself as well as I can.

The executioner then kneeled down before him and asked for forgiveness and More replied, “I forgive thee, but I promise thee that thou shalt never have honesty of the striking of my head, my neck is so short.”

Also even when he should lay down his head on the block, he having a great gray beard, striked out his beard and said to the hangman: “I pray you let me lay my beard over the block least ye should cut it, thus w a mock he ended his life.”

George Boleyn, Lord Rochford (1536):

” I was a great reader and mighty debater of the word of God, and one of those who most favoured the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, lest the word of God should be brought into reproach on my account, I now tell you all Sirs, that if I had, in very deed, kept his holy word, even as I read and reasoned about it with all the strength of my wit, certain am I that I should not be in the piteous condition wherein I now stand. Truly and diligently did I read the gospel of Christ Jesus, but I turned not to profit that which I did read; the which had I done, of a surety I had not fallen into so great errors. Wherefore I do beseech you all, for the love of our Lord God, that ye do at all seasons, hold by the truth, and speak it, and embrace it; for beyond all peradventure, better profiteth he who readeth not and yet doeth well, than he who readeth much and yet liveth in sin”

William Brereton (1536):

According to The Spanish Chronicle, he simply said, I have offended God and the King; pray for me, but other reports have him repeating the phrase I have deserved to die if it were a thousand deaths. But the cause wherefore I die, judge not. But if ye judge, judge the best. He was then beheaded.

Anne Boleyn, Queen consort & Marquess of Pembroke (1536):

Anne Boleyn

Good christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor speak anything of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, & sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

And then she kneeled down saying: to Christ I commend my soul, Jesu receive my soul, many times, till that her head was stricken off with the sword. And on the Ascension Day following, the king wore white for mourning.

Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex (1540):

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell

I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should do so, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I have had yeres of discrecion, I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And it is not unknowne to many of you, that I have been a great traveler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came thereunto, I have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me.

O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe, not doubtyng in any article of my faith, no nor doubtyng in any Sacrament of the Churche. Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have been a bearer, of suche as hath mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe of the holy Churche. And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long live with you, maie long reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe.

Hall then went on to say that, “And then he made he his payer, which was long, but not so long, as both Godly and learned, and after committed his soul, into the hands of God, and so patiently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged butcherly miser, which ver ungoodly performed the office.

Katherine Howard, Queen consort (1542):

Portrait possibly of Katherine Howard

The well-known Katherine Howard historian, Gareth Russell, has this to say about her final words:

Dressed in a discreet and conservative gown of dark velvet, Catherine made her way up onto the scaffold where she gave a short speech “for her offences against God heinously from her youth in breaking all of His commandments and also against the King’s royal Majesty.” Her final speech was apparently entirely conventional and no-one bothered to record it in its entirety, but it contained the token praise of the King and call for universal obedience to the monarchy. She had never been particularly devout, but Catherine died a Catholic (although not a Roman one) in confirming her belief in the Divinity and Mercy of Jesus Christ and by leaving a request that the crowd pray for her soul in Purgatory. Then, she was blindfolded by Gage and knelt at the block. The executioner did his job well and a single blow from the axe was all it took to end Catherine Howard’s life. There is no truth in the old fable that she proclaimed that although she was dying the wife of a king, she would much rather be dying the wife of a Culpepper.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1547):

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

After searching and searching to find some account of the last words spoken by Henry Howard I have come up empty-handed. I will leave you with this letter written to the Holy Roman Emperor to tell him of the events at Henry VIII’s court:

Last Wednesday the earl ofSurreywas executed. Four or five days previously he had defended himself at his public trial from nine in the morning until five o’clock in the afternoon. The principal charges against him were that he had usurped the royal arms of England, and had also used certain ancient (sic) pictures representing him, suspected to have been inspired by evil thoughts. It was further urged against him that he had maintained that his father was the most qualified person, both on account of his services and his lineage, to be entrusted with the government of the Prince (Edward) and of this realm; and, that in order to bring this about more easily, he,Surrey, had exhorted his sister the widowed Duchess of Richmond to come to Court and lay herself out to please the King, and so to gain his favour. With regard to the arms, the earl maintained that they were his by right and he was entitled to bear them. As to the picture, which represented a broken pillar against which he was leaning with a young child beneath the pillar, he excused himself by saying that he had done nothing to the prejudice of anyone, nor had he acted maliciously. With regard to the accusation as to his father, he confessed that he had said what was alleged, and set forth his merits and services in comparison with those of those who had been preferred to him. When he came to the point referring to his sister he emphatically denied the truth of the allegation, although he was shown a certain writing in the hand of his said sister in which she made this charge against him; whereupon he exclaimed: Must I, then, be condemned on the word of a wretched woman”? He did not spare any of the Lords of the King’s Council, who were all present, and he addressed words to them that could not have been pleasant for them to hear.(fn. 5)At length, twelve men were summoned and they condemned him. His father (the Duke of Norfolk) is still in the Tower and very little is said about him.

Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley & Lord Admiral (1549):

Thomas Seymour

While I have been unable to find any “final words” from one of my favorite courtiers, there are definitely statements that others made about him after his death. Princess Elizabeth is noted as saying:This day died a man with much wit and very little judgment.” William Latimer said,surely he was a wicked man and the realm is well rid of him.

Here is something many believe Thomas wrote while being “lodged” in the Tower of London:

Forgetting God
to love a king
Hath been my rod
Or else nothing:
In this frail life
being a blast
of care and strife
till in be past.
Yet God did call
me in my pride
lest I should fall
and from him slide
for whom loves he
and not correct
that they may be
of his elect
The death haste thee
thou shalt me gain
with him to reign
Who send the king
Like years as noye
In governing
His realm in joy
And after this
frail life such grace
As in his bliss
he may have place.

Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset & Lord Protector (1552):

Edward Seymour, Lord Protector

I desire you all to bear me witness that I die here in the faith of Jesus Christ, desiring you to help me with your prayers. Lord Jesus, save me!

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland (1553):

John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland

In the evening the Duke learnt “that I must prepare myself against tomorrow to receive my deadly stroke”, as he wrote in a desperate plea to the Earl of Arundel: “O my good lord remember how sweet life is, and how bitter ye contrary.”[201]On the scaffold, before 10,000 people,[202]Dudley confessed his guilt but maintained:[203]

And yet this act wherefore I die, was not altogether of me (as it is thought) but I was procured and induced thereunto by other[s]. I was I say induced thereunto by other[s], howbeit, God forbid that I should name any man unto you, I will name no man unto you, and therefore I beseech you look not for it. … And one thing more good people I have to say unto you … and that is to warn you and exhort you to beware of these seditious preachers, and teachers of new doctrine, which pretend to preach God’s word, but in very deed they preach their own fancies, … they know not today what they would have tomorrow, … they open the book, but they cannot shut it again. … I could good people rehearse much more … but you know I have another thing to do, whereunto I must prepare me, for the time draweth away. … And after he had thus spoken he kneeled down … and bowing toward the block he said, I have deserved a thousand deaths, and thereupon he made a cross upon the straw, and kissed it, and laid his head upon the block, and so died.[204]

Lady Jane Grey(1554):

Jane Grey

Good people, I have come hither to die and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen’s Highness was unlawful and the consenting thereto by me. But touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf I do wash my hands in innocence. Before God and the face of you, good Christian people, this day I pray you all, to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I look to be saved by none other means, but only by the mercy of God, in the merits of the blood of his only son, Jesus Christ. And I confess, when I did know the word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world, and thereto the plague or punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins. And yet, I thank God of His goodness that he hath thus given me a time and respite to repent. And now good people, while I am alive, I pray you to assist me with your prayers.’

Eventually the executioner informed Lady Jane where to stand. She replied, ‘I pray you dispatch me quickly.’ She began to kneel, then hesitated and said, ‘Will you take it off before I lay me down?’ The executioner answered, ‘No madame.’ Jane then tied the handkerchief around her eyes. Unable to locate the block, she became anxious, ‘Where is it? What shall I do? Where is it?’ she asked, her voice faltering. Those who stood upon the scaffold seemed unsure of what to do. ‘One of the standers by’ climbed the scaffold and helped her to the block. Her last words were, ‘Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (1556):

Thomas Cranmer

Every man desireth, good people, at the time of their deaths, to give some good exhortation that others may remember after their deaths, and be the better thereby. So I beseech God grant me grace, that I may speak something at this my departing, whereby God may be glorified and you edified.

First, it is a heavy case to see that many folks be so much doted upon the love of this false world, and so careful for it, that for the love of God, or the love of the world to come, they seem to care very little or nothing therefore. This shall be my first exhortation: That you set not overmuch by this false glosing world, but upon God and the world to come. And learn to know what this lesson meaneth, which St John teacheth,that the love of this world is hatred against God.

The second exhortation is, that next unto God, you obey your king and queen, willingly and gladly, without murmur and grudging. And not for fear of them only, but much more for the fear of God: Knowing, that they be God’s ministers, appointed by God to rule and govern you. And therefore whoso resisteth them, resisteth God’s ordinance.

The third exhortation is, that you love all together like brethren and sisters. For alas, pity it is to see, what contention and hatred one Christian man hath to another; not taking each other, as sisters and brothers; but rather as strangers and mortal enemies. But I pray you learn and bear well away this one lesson, To do good to all men as much as in you lieth, and to hurt no man, no more than you would hurt your own natural and loving brother or sister. For this you may be sure of, that whosoever hateth any person, and goeth about maliciously to hinder or hurt him, surely, and without all doubt, God is not with that man, although he think himself never so much in God’s favour.

The fourth exhortation shall be to them that have great substance and riches of this world, that they will well consider and weigh those sayings of the Scripture. One is of our Saviour Christ himself, who saith,It is hard for a rich man to enter into heaven;a sore saying, and yet spoke by him, that knew the truth. The second is of St John, whose saying is this,He that hath the substance of this world, and seeth his brother in necessity, and shutteth up his mercy from him, how can he say, he loveth God?Much more might I speak of every part; but time sufficeth not. I do but put you in remembrance of things. Let all them that be rich, ponder well those sentences; for if ever they had any occasion to shew their charity, they have now at this present, the poor people being so many, and victuals so dear. For though I have been long in prison, yet I have heard of the great penury of the poor. Consider, that that which is given to the poor is given to God; whom we have not otherwise present corporally with us, but in the poor.

And now forsomuch as I am come to the last end of my life, whereupon hangeth all my life passed, and my life to come, either to live with my Saviour Christ in heaven, in joy, or else to be in pain ever with wicked devils in hell; and I see before mine eyes presently either heaven ready to receive me, or hell ready to swallow me up; I shall therefore declare unto you my very faith, how I believe, without colour or dissimulation. For now is no time to dissemble, whatsoever I have written in times past.

First, I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, &c. and every article of the Catholic faith, every word and sentence taught by our Saviour Christ, his Apostles and Prophets, in the Old and New Testament.

And now I come to the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I said or did in my life: and that is, the setting abroadof writings contrary to the truth. Which here now I renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and writ for fear of death, and to save my life, if it might be: and that is, all such bills, which I have written or signed with mine own hand, since my degradation; wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished. For if I may come to the fire, it shall be first burned. And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine. (via Luminarium)

The fire was then lit and once the flames were high enough he placed his right hand in the flame and in pain yelled, “‘This hand hath offended.‘ – referencing him signing the paper to rescind his Protestant beliefs.

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1587):

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary approached the straw covered scaffold, turned to her loyal ladies and said Thou hast cause rather to joy than to mourn, for now shalt thou see Mary Stuarts troubles receive their long-expected end. As the Dean of Peterborough prayed aloud in English, Mary read her Catholic Latin prayers louder, and then refusing the help of the executioner, took off her black gown to reveal a scarlet bodice and petticoat. The vivid scarlet of her clothes proclaimed that she was considered herself a martyr to the Catholic faith.

The executioner knelt before the Queen of the Scots, begging her forgiveness, and then Mary knelt, laying her head on the block ready, repeating In manuas tuas, Domine, confide spiritum meum, Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. The executioner then did the deed


Hall’s Chronicle : containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550;byHall, Edward, d. 1547

’Spain: January 1547, 16-31′, inCalendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 9, 1547-1549, ed. Martin A S Hume and Royall Tyler (London, 1912), pp. 1-14.British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol9/pp1-14 [accessed 13 July 2017].

Wikipedia.com – Quote from: Jordan, W. K. and Gleason, M. R. (1975): The Saying of John Late Duke of Northumberland Upon the Scaffold, 1553.

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The Tudor Society - Tudor History at your Fingertips

The Relationship Between Mary and Elizabeth Tudor

Princess Mary Tudor was the apple of her father’s eye for many years prior Anne Boleyn returning to England. Freshly back from her duties in France, Anne was unlike most women and Henry VIII noticed.

We don’t know the exact date that Henry noticed Anne but once he did it changed the course of English history.

After Katherine of Aragon’s last unsuccessful pregnancy Henry began to consider that he would never have a male heir. He believed the fact that he had married his brother’s widow was the reason why. That God would not grant them living male sons because of their sin. Henry referenced Leviticus 20: 21 which said: “If a man should take his brother’s wife it is an unclean thing…he shall be without children.” Henry took this as living sons, specifically. This was completely against everything that happened at the beginning of their marriage – Henry made sure to get a papal dispensation so he could wed his brother’s widow. Now it was convenient for the king to turn things around to his advantage.

It was around 1524, when Henry began to aggressively pursue Anne Boleyn, historian Eric Ives believed that this is when Henry began to reject Katherine of Aragon and stopped sleeping with her…it had been seven years since her last pregnancy. When exactly he began to turn away from Katherine is unclear. It may have been in 1522 but most definitely by 1525 when he brought his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, out of the shadows and created him Duke of Richmond. This gave him precedence over everyone except for a legitimate son he may have in the future.

Henry didn’t immediately turn against his daughter Mary, it took time for that to come to fruition. But once he did, poor Mary must have been so confused. As a young woman it must have been heartbreaking to lose the love of your father, and king. No wonder why she disliked Anne so much. Who could blame her – she saw Anne as the woman who took away her father and destroyed her family. While that may be what Mary believed, it’s definitely not the truth – Henry is responsible for this as Anne tried several times to have a relationship with Mary. Mary always refused because she was loyal to her mother.

On the 7th of September 1533, Queen Anne Boleyn gave birth to Princess Elizabeth. She and the King were disappointed that their first child was a daughter but were optimistic their next would be a son. Unfortunately, this is when things began to change for Mary. Soon after, Mary would lose her title of Princess and only be referred to as Lady Mary Tudor. Could you imagine? For seventeen years you are a princess and suddenly you no longer have the prestigious title that goes along with being the legitimate daughter of a king. Her mother had already fallen from grace as the King had ended their marriage, and now Mary was removed from the line of succession and declared illegitimate. One can only imagine the malice Mary held toward Anne because of this. She definitely saw this woman as the one responsible for her misery.

Not only had she lost her title but she also had to serve in the household of Princess Elizabeth. You would think Mary definitely had animosity toward the situation she was in. She was defiant when first placed in Elizabeth’s household at Hatfield – she spent days in her chamber, uncontrollably crying and refusing to acknowledge Elizabeth as Princess. She would, however, call Elizabeth “sister” just as she called Henry Fitzroy, “brother”.

I’m not aware of how Mary felt toward Henry Fitzroy but I assume it was similar to her feelings for Elizabeth. However, Fitzroy’s mother had not destroyed everything she ever knew. So it’s possible she liked him as well.

It is clear that Anne did not feel threatened by Fitzroy; She was instrumental in securing the marriage between her cousin Mary Howard and him. This is something that I do not understand. You would think the last thing she wanted was to have him declared legitimate and thus remove her daughter from the line of succession, but it did not seem to be a concern of hers.

The Concubine’s Downfall

Anne’s marriage being declared null and void after she was charged with adultery made their daughter illegitimate along with her sister, Mary – Henry Fitzroy was now presumably the only heir presumptive. Of course, Henry expected to have a son by Jane Seymour but Fitzroy was his steady backup, even though he himself was still considered illegitimate.

According to author Antonia Frasier, after Anne Boleyn’s arrest Henry VIII went to see his son, Henry Fitzroy. In tears he told Fitzroy that Anne was a ‘poisoning whore’ – who had planned to kill both him and his half-sister Mary; what a lucky escape they had had!

In David Starkey’s book titled, “Elizabeth” he says that after the execution of Anne Boleyn that Mary made her peace with Boleyn’s ghost and prayed that ‘that woman’ might be forgiven. He also mentioned that Mary and Elizabeth got along well and lived amiably under the same roof. The sisters became really close.

Two months after Anne’s execution Henry Fitzroy died. This left poor old Henry VIII without Fitzroy as his backup and Jane Seymour was not yet pregnant.

But, in October 1537, Jane Seymour gave birth to a son – Henry was over the moon and great celebrations were had everywhere. From all accounts, both Mary and Elizabeth loved their brother Edward – there is nothing recorded that would tell us they harbored any resentment toward their brother, the prince. The siblings all loved one another – they didn’t care that they had different mothers, they were all children of the king.

King Edward VI

When Edward ascended to the throne in 1547, he would continue with the Reformation process and push it even further than his father had. This was something that truly upset Mary as she was a staunch Catholic. Several times Edward attempted to press Mary to convert and was unsuccessful. He even jokingly suggested that Thomas Seymour wed his sister so he could change her ways. That, of course, never happened as Seymour only wanted Elizabeth or Katherine Parr.

Queen Mary I

Mary’s rise to the throne after the death of her brother, King Edward VI wasn’t without issue. Mary had spent most of her adult life in uncertainty and received no proper training to prepare her for her role as queen. However, by right, she was the heir per her father’s Act of Succession – nonetheless, Edward, on his death-bed attempted to change the succession by naming Lady Jane Grey, a fellow Protestant as his heir (excluding both of his sisters). This devise of succession did not have the Council’s approval. Author Sarah Gristwood states in her book, “Elizabeth & Leicester” that Edward’s justification behind removing his sisters from the line of succession was that they were both bastards of the late king and could both marry abroad. “No wonder Elizabeth saw marriage as a poor consolation prize.

This was a turning point for Mary, she realized that there were people who did not want her on the throne. She also knew that her sister Elizabeth was raised in the Protestant faith and there was concern about others wishing Elizabeth to take her place. Mere months after Mary became queen, Elizabeth felt it necessary to reach out to her sister for a meeting. She understood that her sister was aware of her religion and so pleaded ignorance of, not hostility toward, the Catholic faith. All she knew was how she was raised…as a Protestant.

Not long after Mary’s coronation she had Parliament declare the marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon valid – this appears to have brought up old hostilities toward Elizabeth. She even toyed with the idea of removing Elizabeth from the line of succession but found that would not be as easy as she thought, regardless she would not need to worry about that since she’d hope to have a child of her own making it all unnecessary.

Mary’s Council continued to push her to rid herself of Lady Jane Grey, who was sitting in the Tower of London, as they saw her as a threat to her throne. Mary was soft about her dear cousin and kept her locked away instead of executing her. She understood that Jane wanted no part in becoming queen and felt sorry for her. It wasn’t until Wyatt’s Rebellion that her hand was forced and the execution of Jane was ordered.

Wyatt’s Rebellion only cemented Mary’s paranoia against her sister and Jane’s fate. It appears that Mary was concerned about what Elizabeth was doing and who was in her inner circle. Elizabeth, not wanting to be on her sister’s bad sad, made sure by all outward appearances to act the loyal subject by practicing the Catholic faith in public and not associating herself with rebels, hoping her sister would not find reason to arrest her.

With all the turmoil in the country surrounding religion, many wished Mary to be removed from her throne and Elizabeth to take over as Queen of England. Elizabeth was smart enough to know it was suicide to go along with any plans and seemed comfortable waiting for her turn. She may not have agreed with her sister’s dealings as queen but she knew it was suicide to go against Mary. The queen was paranoid nonetheless and called for her sister to come to London. Allison Weir states in her book, “The Children of Henry VIII” that Elizabeth feigned sickness to save herself. Ambassador Renard suspected that Elizabeth was pregnant with Edward Courtenay’s baby, so Mary’s physicians examined Elizabeth to ensure she was safe for travel and concluded that she was only suffering from ‘watery humours’ or nephritis and was able to travel to court. Renard continued to push for Elizabeth and Edward Courtenay’s execution, going so far to say, When these traitors have been removed “Your Majesty need have no fear for your crown.” Renard is an example of the type of people who were trying to keep the sisters apart. Unfortunately, Elizabeth was probably the one person who understood Mary best.

We will never know for certain whether or not Elizabeth’s ‘illnesses’ were real or not but we can conclude that she was smart enough to know how to manipulate situations to her advantage.

Mary’s concerns were real. As the first Queen regnant of England she was paving a path that was never laid out before. There were enemies around every corner and she had to figure out on her own who was friend and who was foe. It appears that many were convincing her that her sister was foe – so many that there were rumors that Mary would name her Catholic cousin, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox her heir. Margaret was the daughter of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret Tudor, who had been queen consort of King James IV of Scotland. With this in mind, Margaret Douglas seized the opportunity to besmirch Elizabeth’s reputation by relaying gossip about her to Mary so she would look more favorably on her.

When the queen wed Philip of Spain her subjects and the Council were not pleased with her. She had truly believed that it was God who wished her to marry Philip to help in restore England to Catholicism and Rome. Of course, it had been many years since her father had become the Head of the Church of England so many of her subjects were raised Protestant and happy to continue as such. There were others who were just as happy to return to Catholicism. It was a difficult time to live in England.

Even though Mary locked away her sister in the Tower of London to control the situation, she always had a connection with her sister. She had helped raise Elizabeth years ago and understood her personality better than anyone else. When Elizabeth was first placed in the Tower she requested, no begged, to  write to her sister and plea her case. She was so concerned that other’s would try to change her message that she scored the blank space at the bottom of the letter to ensure nothing could be added.

In her dying days, Queen Mary understood that if God would give her ‘no fruit nor heir of my body’ that England would then go to the person ‘the laws of this realm’ decreed. Mary could not get herself to name Elizabeth as her heir but knew her statement made it so. She made Elizabeth promise that she would not immediately change the country’s religion, and to pay the queen’s debts.

In the end, I truly believe that Mary loved Elizabeth – she was her kin and both were children of a king and his queen consorts. She never executed her sister, only threatened her harm to get her way.

*If you are interested in hearing the recorded version of this article in my podcast, click HERE.


Ives, Eric; The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
Starkey, David; Elizabeth – The Struggle for the Throne
Fraser, Antonia; The Wives of Henry VIII
Gristwood, Sarah; Game of Queens – The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe
Gristwood, Sarah; Elizabeth & Leicester – The Truth About the Virgin Queen and the Man She Loved
Gristwood, Sarah; Blood Sisters – The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Weir, Alison; The Children of Henry VIII

Further Reading (Fiction):

Lawrence, G.; The Bastard Princess
Lawrence, G.; The Heretic Heir

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Katherine of Aragon’s Ladies at the Beginning

Even though Katherine of Aragon had a large household at the beginning of her reign as queen consort, her ladies-in-waiting only numbered eight. These women would be the most important ladies in the qu

een’s immediate circle. Each of them came from an important family at the Tudor court and each of them were known as beauties in their own right. These women’s charms and talents were shown off frequently while their main role was dancing, singing and conversation – all around entertaining the queen.


Ladies-in-Waiting to Katherine of Aragon

Elizabeth Stafford (c. 1479 11 May 1532) was the sister of the Duke of Buckingham and had recently wed Robert Radcliffe, Lord Fitzwalter. Fitzwalter would later become Earl of Sussex around 1529.

Elizabeth’s parents were Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville – sister of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV.After the execution of Henry Stafford for treason, Elizabeth’s mother married Jasper Tudor.

Anne Stafford (c. 14831544), who was also the sister of the Duke of Buckingham, who was a widow and had recently wed Sir George Hastings. Who would become the Earl of Huntington in 1529.

Elizabeth’s parents were Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Lady Katherine Woodville – sister of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. After the execution of Henry Stafford for treason, Anne’s mother married Jasper Tudor.

Anne Stafford

Margaret Scrope(d. 1515) was the wife of Sir Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk who had been in the Tower of London since 1506 and was executed in 1513.

Margaret was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope and Eleanor Washbourne.

Elizabeth Scrope (d. June 26, 1537) was the second wife of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Richard Scrope and Eleanor Washbourne.

She married first, William, 2nd viscount Beaumont. He lost his “reason” in 1487 and was placed in the care of John de Vere, 13th earl of Oxford, until his death. In 1508, Elizabeth married Oxford.

Elizabeth Scrope

Agnes Tilney (c. 1477 May 1545) was married to Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. Surrey would later become 2nd Duke of Norfolk.

Agnes was the daughter of Henry Tilney and Eleanor Tailboys. She was also the step-mother of Thomas Howard who would later become 3rd Duke of Norfolk. She was also step-grandmother of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard.


Anne Hastings(c.1471-c.1512) was the daughter of Sir William Hastings and married to George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Steward.

Anne was the daughter ofWilliam Hastings, 1st Baron Hastings, andKatherine Neville – niece of the “Kingmaker”, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

Anne Hastings

Mary Say (1485-June 5, 1535+) was married to Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex.

Mary was the daughter of Sir William Say and Elizabeth Fray. Her sister, Elizabeth Say was the first wife of William Blount, 4th baron Mountjoy and because of this connection, she is often called Mary Blount, Williams sister, by mistake.

She married Henry Bourchier, earl of Essex in 1497. T

In 1501, Mary was in attendance on Katherine of Aragon after her marriage to Prince Arthur. In 1529, she was one of those to give testimony about whether or not Katherines marriage had been consummated. In 1506, the Essex household included both Charles Brandon, who was Essexs master of horse, and Anne Browne, former maid of honor to Elizabeth of York and Brandons on again, off again wife.

Mary was one of Katherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting in 1509.

Anne Hastings, was the sister of Sir George Hastings and married to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby

Maids of Honor to Katherine of Aragon

Maria de Salinas

Maria de Salinas was the daughter of Juan Sancriz de Salinas and Inez Albernos. Juan de Salinas was secretary to Isabella, Princess of Portugal, oldest sister of Catherine of Aragon. After his death, his six children were raised by his brother Martin and his wife, Maria Martinez de Buendia. Maria came to England in about 1503 to replace Maria de Rojas, who may have been her cousin, as one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies. In 1511, she was godmother to Charles Brandon’s daughter, Mary. By 1514, she was considered to be Queen Catherine’s closest friend.

Elizabeth Boleyn ne Howard

Elizabeth Howard was the daughter of Thomas Howard, 2ndduke of Norfolk and Elizabeth Tylney.

Elizabeth married Sir Thomas Boleyn of Blickling, Norfolk c.1499 and had by him three famous children, Mary, Anne and George.

There is no evidence that Elizabeth served Elizabeth of York and although she has long been believed to have been at court as a lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Alison Weir points out in her biography of Mary Boleyn that there is no specific reference to her being there. She suggests that it is Anne Tempest, wife of Edward Boleyn, who was part of Queen Catherine’s household. Both Lady Boleyns were at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520.

Lucy Talbot, daughter of Anne Hastings and George Talbot is believed to have been a Maid of Honor to the queen.


Jones, Philippa; The Other Tudors – Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards; pages 59-60

Emerson, Kathy Lynn;Index toA Whos Who of Tudor Women

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Book Review: “The Light in the Labyrinth” by Wendy J. Dunn

Jane Seymour (16)

Arriving at the court of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn five months before the queen’s execution, Catherine Carey was but a girl. Within those five months she would learn so much about the court life, love, discover a lie and experience the greatest hurt…the loss of her aunt Nan.

This magnificent tale written by Wendy J Dunn left me breathless. Catherine Carey, who is referred to as Kate in the book, is a young girl who fights tooth and nail to be sent to the household of her aunt. Her mother, Mary Boleyn does not want her daughter sent there, for her own personal reasons. Mary has been keeping a secret from her daughter. One that will rock young Kate’s world. Kate’s stepfather, William Stafford sees the court life as an opportunity for Kate and eventually convinces his wife to allow her to go. Her brother Henry is already there, having become the ward of the Queen after the death of William Carey, his father.

From the moment Kate arrives she realizes there is a secret she is not privy to. It seems everyone knows but her that she is indeed the daughter of King Henry. She eventually finds out in the worst way one can be told such information.

While at court, Kate makes many friends, one of which is discovered is also the illegitimate daughter of the king. One you would never expect.

As the throne begins to crumble around her aunt, Kate finds love with a young Francis Knollys. This sweet love left me wanting to find out more about their life together after finishing the book. It’s the love she finds with Francis that helps young Kate understand the heartache her aunt is experiencing by the love she had with Henry.

Kate insists on staying by her aunt’s side until the bitter end. At the end of the book we witness the final moments of Anne Boleyn’s life through that of her niece.

At the end of the book, when Kate is spending time with young Bess the day of her mother’s execution, tears flowed from my eyes.

This book truly moved me. It was masterfully written and I did not want to put it down, even though I already knew how the story would end.

Dunn is most definitely one of my all-time favorite authors. I cannot say enough good things her writing.

I give this book five out of five stars!

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Book Review: “The Heretic Heir” by G. Lawrence

Jane Seymour (17)

As a follow-up to “The Bastard Princess”, author G. Lawrence out-does herself in the second book of the Elizabeth of England Chronicles – “The Heretic Heir”.

If you enjoyed the first book, “The Bastard Princess” you will definitely enjoy this book. The writing is superb and leaves you rooting for Elizabeth through the reign of her sister, Queen Mary I of England. As the sister of the queen, Elizabeth finds herself in trouble more than once throughout her years under the Catholic monarch. Elizabeth plays her cards right to ensure her life is spared more than once. There were only a few that Elizabeth could trust with her life, Kat Ashley was at the top of the list. She and Kat were separated several times during Mary’s reign because the queen believed Kat was a bad influence on Elizabeth. There are several other notable names you’ll recognize in the book like – Cecil, Parry and Dudley, to name a few.

It’s always interesting to see an author’s take on Elizabeth’s courtly skills. Lawrence did a masterful job at capturing the essence of Elizabeth’s character, one that we would see play out again and again throughout her life. Elizabeth had a way with choosing her words carefully, but never so skillfully as when she was fighting for her life against her sister, who was paranoid that Elizabeth was involved in any rebellion against her.

With that we also see the sensitive side of Elizabeth who had natural fear and sadness like the right rest of us. Being thrown in the Tower, in the same rooms as her mother must have been terrifying and we see Elizabeth’s strength grow from all of these experiences. When Mary is sick and near death, Elizabeth feels the loss of a woman who took great care of her when she was a child and felt pity on a delusional Mary when near the end she still believed herself with child.

This story is told from Elizabeth’s death-bed in 1603 and covers her life in the entirety of the reign of Queen Mary I of England. Each event is skillfully covered and was obvious that Lawrence did a magnificent job researching Elizabeth.

I would easily rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and would highly recommend it for anyone who loves Queen Elizabeth I.

-Rebecca Larson

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