Katherine of Aragon: In All Her Glory

Early on in her marriage with the King of England Katherine of Aragon found herself very loyal to Spain and her father, Ferdinand of Aragon. Author, Alison Weir states in her book The Six Wives of Henry VIII, that Katherine greatly influenced her husband on the interests of Spain – sometimes more than the interests of England.

It was obvious that Katherine was still very loyal to her father and her home country. At this point in their marriage Katherine was Henry’s “go-to” on advice of any nature and she would not approve anything without her father’s sanction. My how things changed in twenty years.

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Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon & Ferdinand of Aragon

In 1511, with the assistance from his queen, Henry VIII had grown very fond of Ferdinand of Aragon and it appeared he would do anything to appease his wife and father-in-law. Along with her father, Katherine began to turn her husband’s mind against France – the enemy of Spain. This feat was not necessarily a difficult one because Henry hated the French anyway. Henry VIII had become war-hungry and was contemplating war with France before the pressure was put on him from Katherine to do so. He believed that England had a claim on France through his predecessor’s�victories. Henry V had won France in the Battle of Agincourt and unfortunately over the years France gained its independence back. The King�felt that France should be his and was anxious to defeat the French in battle and go down in history as a victorious king.

Katherine of Aragon by Michel Sittow
Katherine of Aragon by Michel Sittow

In November of 1511, the plotting of Katherine and her father came to fruition when Henry agreed to sign the Treaty of Westminster – Henry and Ferdinand pledged to help each other against their mutual enemy, France.

In 1512, Henry VIII sent an army into France; They failed miserably.

Katherine convinced her husband to mount another attack upon France in 1513. The King led this attack himself instead of putting his trust into one of his men. Ferdinand of Aragon�was also mounting�an offense against France at the same time. The Venetian Ambassador is quoted as saying, “the King is bent on war, the Council is averse to it; the Queen will have it, and the wisest Councillors in England cannot stand against the Queen.” That statement says a lot about the power of persuasion Katherine had over her husband.

This article will chronicle the Battle of Flodden and Katherine’s involvement as regent of England. Please bear in mind that Katherine of Aragon was pregnant with her third child at this time, something which is not often spoken about. The pregnant regent who went to war with Scotland.

June 1513

King Henry along with the pregnant Queen Katherine by his side, road from London to Dover at the head of 11,000 men. At Dover castle Henry officially named Katherine regent upon his departure. He had commanded the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham and the elderly (70-year-old) Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey as her advisers.

Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham & Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey

The King had requested that the Earl of Surrey escort Katherine back to London. Katherine was very distraught for Henry’s safety when she bid him farewell at Dover, but Surrey was able to comfort her on their way back to London and calm her nerves.

July 1513

By late July in 1513,�Katherine, the regent, was informed at Richmond Palace that the Scots were planning an attack on England and were beginning to mobilize their troops. Scotland, and King James IV were allies with France. They were aware that the King was in France at the time and probably assumed that they could easily defeat an English army while the King was absent from his throne.

August 1513

James lV of Scotland
James IV of Scotland

On the 22 August 1513, the Scottish king (James IV) had an army of 80,000 men strong that crossed the border into England. They advanced into Northumberland. At the same time the Scots entered England, Surrey was heading north with his troops to meet them.

Queen Katherine received news of Henry’s victory at Th�rouanne on the 25th of August. She immediately wrote a letter of congratulations to Wolsey:

Master Almoner; what comfort I have with the good tidings of your letter I need not write it to you; for the very account that I have sheweth it the victory hath been so great, that I think none such hath been seen before: all England hath cause to thank God of it, and I especially, seeing that the King beginneth so well, which is to me a great hope that the end shall be like. I pray God send the same shortly, for if this continue so still, I trust in Him that every thing shall follow thereafter to the King’s pleasure and my comfort. Mr. Almoner, for the pains ye take remembering to write to me so often, I thank you for it with all my heart, praying you to continue still sending me word how the King doeth, and if he keep still his good rule as he began, I think, with the company of the Emperor, and with his good council his grace shall not adventure himself so much as I was afraid of before. I was very glad to hear the meeting of them both, which hath been, to my facying, the greatest honour to the King that ever came to prince. The Emperor hath done every thing like himself. I trust to God he shall be thereby known for one of the gallantest princes in the world, and taken for another man that he was before thought. Mr. Almoner, I think myself that I am so bound to him for my part, that in my letters I beseech the King to recommend me unto him; and if his grace thinketh that this shall be well done, I pray you to remember it. News from hence I have none, but such as I am sure the council have advertised the King of*, and therby ye see Almighty God helpeth here our part, as well as there. I trowe the cause is as…..here say, that the King disposeth himself to him so well, that I hope all…shall be the better for his honour, and with this I make an end at ….the xxv day of August.

G. Katherina

September 1513

James lV of Scotland
James lV of Scotland

While Henry was away dominating the French Katherine had to defend England when James IV of Scotland took the opportunity to invade England on behalf of his ally, France, while the King was away.

When James IV crossed the border into England, the queen rallied 40,000 soldiers and emulated her mother Isabel I of Castile. Katherine urged the troops to defend their country and “remember that the Lord smiled upon those whose stood in defense of their own! Remember that the English courage excels that of all other nations upon Earth!”

In early September Katherine traveled north to Buckingham where she awaited news from Surrey – while waiting she made a speech to the reserve troops who were camped outside the town. She urged them to victory for England’s just cause against the Scots. However, the reserve troops would not need to fight because word would soon arrive of Surrey’s victory at Flodden on 9 September 1513. It turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles ever seen in British history. Ten thousand Scots lay dead on the moor and among them was their king, James IV. Surrey sent the Queen the Scottish king’s banner and the bloody coat he had died in as their trophies. Katherine in turn sent them to Henry as proof of their victory. Along with the trophies she sent this letter to Henry:


My Lord Howard hath sent me a letter open to your Grace, within one of mine, by the which you shall see at length the great Victory that our Lord hath sent your subjects in your absence; and for this cause there is no need herein to trouble your Grace with long writing, but, to my thinking, this battle hath been to your Grace and all your realm the greatest honor that could be, and more than you should win all the crown of France; thanked be God of it, and I am sure your Grace forgetteth not to do this, which shall be cause to send you many more such great victories, as I trust he shall do. My husband, for hastiness, with Rougecross I could not send your Grace the piece of the King of Scots coat which John Glynn now brings. In this your Grace shall see how I keep my promise, sending you for your banners a king�s coat. I thought to send himself unto you, but our Englishmens� hearts would not suffer it. It should have been better for him to have been in peace than have this reward. All that God sends is for the best.

My Lord of Surrey, my Henry, would fain know your pleasure in the burying of the King of Scots� body, for he has written to me so. With the next messenger your Grace�s pleasure may be herein known. And with this I make an end, praying God to send you home shortly, for without this no joy here can be accomplished; and for the same I pray, and now go to Our Lady of Walsingham that I promised so long ago to see. At Woburn the 16th of September.

I send your Grace herein a bill found in a Scotsman�s purse of such things as the French King sent to the said King of Scots to make war against you, beseeching you to send Mathew hither as soon as this messenger comes to bring me tidings from your Grace.
Your humble wife and true servant, Katharine. -� Hanson, Marilee. “Letter from Katharine of Aragon to her husband, King Henry VIII 16 September 1513″��

Battle of Flodden courtesy of http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Battles/flodden.htm
Battle of Flodden courtesy of http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Battles/flodden.htm

Here is a contemporary account of the events at the Battle of Flodden:

When the two armies were within three miles of each other Surrey challenged the King of Scots to�battle, by Rugecross; who answered he would wait for him till Friday at noon. At eleven on 9 Sept. Howard passed the bridge of Twyssell with the vanguard and artillery, Surrey following with the rear. The army was divided into two battles, each with two wings. The Scotch army was divided into fivebattles, each a bowshot distant from the other, and all equally distant from the English, “in grete plumpes, part of them quadrant,” and some pikewise, and were on the top of the hill, being “a quarter of a mile from the foot thereof.” Howard caused the van to stale in a little valley till the rear joined one of the wings of his battle; then both advanced in line against the Scots, who came down the hill, and met them “in good order, after the Almayns manner, without speaking a word.” Earls of Huntley, Eroll, and Crawford met Howard with 6,000 men, but were soon put to flight, and most of them slain. The King of Scots with a great power attacked Surrey, who had Lord Darcy’s son on his left. These two bore the brunt of the battle. James was slain within a spear’s length of Surrey; many noblemen with him; no prisoners taken. At the same time, Lennox and Argyle joined battle with Sir Edward Stanley, and were put to flight. Edmund Howard was on the right-wing of Lord Howard with 1,000 Cheshire and 500 Lancashire men, and many gentlemen of Yorkshire, who were defeated by the Lord Chamberlain of Scotland (Alex. lord Hume). Mr. Gray and Sir Humphrey Lyle are taken prisoners, Sir Wynchard Harbottle and Maurice Barkley slain; Edm. Howard was thrice “feled,” when Dacre came to his relief and routed the Scots, after having eight score of his men slain. The battle began between 4 and 5 in the afternoon, and the chase was continued three miles with great slaughter; 10,000 more would have been slain if the English had been horsed.

The Scots were 80,000, of whom 10,000 were killed; the English lost only 400. [“The Borders not only stale away as they lost 4 or 5,000 horses, but also they took away the oxen that drew the ordnance, and came to the pavilions and took away all the stuff therein, and killed many that kept the same.” (fn. 7) ] The English and Scotch ordinance has been conveyed, by the help of Dacre, to Etall Castle. The King of Scots’ body is brought to Berwick. No great man of Scotland has returned, except the Chamberlain.�

October 1513

katherine of aragon 3Her involvement in the Battle Flodden had exhausted her so much that she worried she might miscarry the child. While she never made it to the battlefield she is said to have traveled as far as Buckingham. Nonetheless, the preparation and everyday rigor of planning the war had taken the toll on her body and unborn child. On the 8th of �October, prior to Henry’s return to�England, Katherine delivered a premature son. He died shortly after birth. It’s sad to see such a victory in battle became a defeat in producing an heir for the king. I often wonder how Henry reacted.

I cannot tell you the number of times a queen consort of England was named regent while the king was away and in turn was in charge of the safety of the country and succeeded. The number cannot be high. It seems that Katherine’s upbringing as a Spanish Infanta and daughter of two powerful Catholic monarchs helped her to victory at the Battle of Flodden. I have no doubt that had another queen been named regent during the time that England would have lost many more men and possibly its throne to Scotland.

References & Sources:

��http://englishhistory.net/tudor/letter-katharine-aragon-husband-king-henry-viii-16-september-1513/, February 27, 2015


Weir, Alison; The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Weir, Alison; The Children of Henry VIII
The Anne Boleyn Files: Victory for Regent Catherine of Aragon

Monthly Recap of Articles #1: Latest Posts on TudorsDynasty.com

meHere at TudorsDynasty.com I try to put out new a article at least every other day, but sometimes it doesn’t happen and sometimes I publish more. It’s just the nature of the beast when I have a full-time day job. I’ve decided to start publishing a newsletter that will highlight the last 5-10 posts in case you’ve missed them.

Here is newsletter #1 with the 10 latest posts on Tudorsdynasty.comYou can click on the article name or picture to be directed to the post. Enjoy!

Articles listed from oldest to newest:

11 May 2016

Elizabeth’s Hand Fans

Have you ever looked at portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and noticed in many of them she’s holding a fan? This was something of interest to me and I had to look into it further.


12 May 2016

Anne Boleyn: What Did She Really Say?

The 19th of May marks the anniversary of the execution of Anne Boleyn. It is an event that history will not soon forget. No matter how hard Henry VIII tried to wipe her from history her story remains as one of the most well-known in English history.


15 May 2016

Katherine of Aragon: Near the End

As we talk about the end of Anne Boleyn we cannot forget the end of her rival, Katherine of Aragon only a few months earlier in January 1536. Katherine is often over-shadowed by Anne’s execution, but she was an interesting queen nonetheless. This piece show what her life was like near the end and how her fellow Spaniards would do anything for her.

Katherine of Aragon, NPG

19 May 2016

The Unpopularity of Anne Boleyn

Today we remember Anne Boleyn. Today is the anniversary of her execution. During our countdown to her execution on our site we haven’t really looked at the reasons people didn’t like her at the time.

This guest post will shed some light on why it seemed so easy for some to dislike Anne.

RIP Anne

Anne boleyn 12

21 May 2016

The Relationships of Lady Mary Tudor: Henry VIII and his Consort Katherine Parr (Part 1)

Throughout the reign of Henry VIII, as many know, he had six different wives.As you already know, his daughter Mary lived through all of his wives…she had five stepmothers.

This guest article by Meg McGath covers her relationship with Henry’s last wife.

mary kat

23 May 2016

Tudor Marys

There are so many women by the name Mary in the Tudor period. Guest author, P. Deegan gives us a breakdown of the most popular (and not so) Marys during the Tudor period.

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25 May 2016

Queen Mary’s False Pregnancies

Whenever I think about Mary’s false pregnancies a great sadness overcomes me. I know people in my own life who wanted children so badly but were not able to have them, for one reason or another.

This piece covers Queen Mary’s false pregnancies – the first in particular. Was Mary as delusional as the reports in this post made her seem?


27 May 2016

The Relationships of Lady Mary Tudor: Henry VIII and his Consort Katherine Parr (Part 2)

Throughout the reign of Henry VIII, as many know, he had six different wives.As you already know, his daughter Mary lived through all of his wives…she had five stepmothers.

This guest article by Meg McGath covers her relationship with Henry’s last wife.

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29 May 2016

Lettice Knollys: Cousin vs Queen (Part 3)

The soap opera of Lettice/Dudley/Elizabeth continues on as Lettice Knollys flirtation and subsequent marriage to Queen Elizabeths favorite, Robert Dudley, saw her banished from court in 1569 and again in 1579. Lettice had been forgiven once, but the Queen was not inclined to forgive her cousin again. Dudley, on the other hand, was summoned back to court in a matter of weeks since Elizabeth banished him to Wanstead Hall (his estate in Essex).

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31 May 2016

Tudor Katherines

Following on from my piece on the various Marys that were notable figures in the Tudor period, I now intend to do a article on another name that crops up a lot during this period: Katherine or Catherine. Both forms of this name were used in this period and sometimes it is possible to find both forms used for the same person when different historians write about them.

Guest article by P. Deegan

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this first newsletter! If there is a topic, or a person you’d like to see us write about please feel free to let us know in the comment section below.

The History of Playing Cards in England

When was the last time you actually sat and thought about when or how something was created, or wondered where it came from? Recently I was watching a program about the Tudors that depicted them playing cards and I thought, I wonder what the history is behind playing cards?

Playing cards originated in 9th century China during the Tang dynasty. During the same time in England, Alfred the Great was the King of Wessex and had become the dominate king in England.

From China, playing cards spread to India and Persia and then to Egypt. In the second half of the 14th century they arrived in Europe. When playing cards arrived in England is not exactly documented, however, Ian Mortimer writes in, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England that playing cards had not yet caught on in England in the 14th century, but soon would.

There is evidence of playing cards in an Act of Parliament during the reign of King Edward IV. Found, was a statuterelating to the status of alien merchants and to the protection of the manufacturers and tradesmen in London from foreign competition. This statute included the import of playing cards. Edward the IV ruled during the middle to late 15th century.

We often see playing cards depicted in historical fiction dramas like Showtime’s, “The Tudors”. Henry VIII is often seen in this TV series as playing cards with his queens.

Today we know playing cards as a way to pass idle time, whether it be with family or by playing solitaire of your computer.

These are the Cloister Playing Cards – the only known full set of playing cards that exist.The suits are in relation to equipment of the hunt. There are dog collars, tethers, gaming nooses, and hunting horns. In red are the collars and horns (2nd and 4th rows) and in blue the tethers and nooses (1st and 3rd rows).

The Cloisters Playing Cards
The Cloisters Playing Cards (1475-80)

A closer look at the cards:

2016-15-4--13-26-05 2016-15-4--13-40-54 2016-15-4--13-46-24



Needham, Joseph 2004. Science & Civilisation in China’. vol 1, Cambridge University Press, pages 131/2, 328, 334

The World of Playing Cards

Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons and Command, Volume 39, Part 1 page 14

The English Sweating Sickness

Our friend Susan Abernethy at The Freelance History Writer was nice enough to let us share with you her article, “The English Sweating Sickness.” Reading this article will give you some insight on life during Tudor times and the fear of catching the sweating sickness.

In doing some research on Mary Boleyn for an article, I learned that Marys first husband William Carey died of the sweating sickness or the English Sweate in England in the summer of 1528. Thought I would look into this deadly and quick killing disease.

There were outbreaks of the sweating sickness in England in 1485, 1502, 1507, 1528 and 1551. A sufferer of the disease in the beginning would experience a sense of apprehension followed by violent cold shivers, then giddiness, headache and pains in the neck, shoulders and limbs along with great exhaustion. Then the hot and sweating stage began. The sweating would break out suddenly and would be followed by heat, headache, delirium, rapid pulse and intense thirst. Palpitation and pain of the heart was a frequent symptom. The final stage was complete exhaustion and collapse or sometimes an irresistible urge to sleep. There was no immunity if one survived an attack and some experienced several attacks before succumbing. If one could survive the first twenty four hours, they usually lived.

The main outbreaks were in England but it did appear in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway and into Lithuania, Poland and Russia. It also emerged in Flanders and the Netherlands. The disease did not discriminate. The historical records say Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales and son of King Henry VII of England, may have died of the disease, leaving Catherine of Aragon a widow. The best friend of King Henry VIII, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk had two young sons, Charles and Henry who died within hours of each other in the 1551 outbreak. Even Mary Boleyn sister and King Henry VIIIs great love Anne Boleyn suffered from the disease in the 1528 outbreak but managed to survive.

The attacks would last just hours before a person died. The cause of the disease was never found and never appeared again in England after it was last seen in 1578.

About the author:


Susan Abernethy here. It seems I cant remember a time when I didnt love history. At the age of fourteen, I watched The Six Wives of Henry VIII on TV and was enthralled. Truth seemed much more strange than fiction. I started reading about Henry VIII and then branched out into many types of history. This even led me to study history in college. Even though I never did anything with the history degree, its always been a hobby of mine. I started this blog to write about my thoughts on all kinds of history from Ancient times to mid-20th Century.


Watch Queen Victoria’s Funeral Procession – 1901

by Gunn & Stuart, albumen print, 1896 by Gunn & Stuart, albumen print, 1896

As which was custom, Queen Victoria spent Christmas (1900) at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight – immobile due to terrible rheumatism in her legs and poor vision due to cataracts. After Christmas, sometime in January, she felt weak and unwell and by mid-month she was drowsy, dazed and confused. On 22 January 1901, she passed away at the age of 81.

Her son, Edward (succeeded as Edward VII), and her eldest grandson, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, were at Victoria’s deathbed. Her last request was to have her favorite pet Pomeranian, Turri laid upon her. It was granted.

Prior to her passing, in 1897, Victoria had planned her funeral – it was to be military because she was a soldier’s daughter and of course, the head of the army. She instructed the use of the color white instead of black. Victoria was dressed in a white gown and her wedding veil – she had family mementos laid within her coffin. She also had one of Albert’s dressing gowns placed beside her along with a plaster cast of his hand.


by Lady Julia Abercromby, after Heinrich von Angeli, watercolour, 1883 (1875) by Lady Julia Abercromby, after Heinrich von Angeli, watercolour, 1883 (1875)

This Day in History: 21 June

1404 – Owain Glyndwr established a Welsh Parliament at Machynlleth and was crowned Prince of Wales

Owain Glyndwr – Click on image for more details on Owain.

1529 – Katherine of Aragon fell upon her knees before Henry VIII at the Court of Blackfriars to proclaim her loyalty

Catherine_aragon (2)
Katherine of Aragon – click image for more details on event