Understanding the Man: Henry VIII (Part One)

As many of you may already know, King Henry VIII is my favorite monarch of the Tudor dynasty. If it wasn’t for his reign I do not believe the Tudors would be as popular as they are today.

With the creation of Showtime’s THE TUDORS, many of us were aware of the name Henry VIII but really didn’t know much about him. In the show we were able to see that there was more to the man than the execution of two of his six wives. While I understand that THE TUDORS tv program had a bunch of historical inaccuracies, it also got people (like myself) to look deeper into the history by reading and absorbing as much as we possibly could. Over a decade later I feel like I have a fairly good grasp on the infamous king and would like to share my understanding of him with you all. Henry VIII was a man, well…maybe a man-child, but he wasn’t just the tyrannical ruler that many see him as today. There was much more to him than most understand. I hope with this series on his life that you will look at Henry in through new eyes.

Understanding the Man: Henry VIII

As stated previously, many of you may already know that Henry VIII is my favorite of the Tudor monarchs. My opinion isn’t always in the majority and I’m okay with that. Henry ruled England from 1509 until his death on the 28th of January 1547 and has helped to make the Tudors as popular as they are today.

As the second son of King Henry VII, young Henry was not expected to become King of England and so he was sent to Eltham Palace to be raised with his sisters. While at Eltham, Henry would have most likely had constant contact with his mother, Elizabeth of York.

When you consider Henry’s relationship with women in his life one must wonder if he was constantly on the search for a woman like his own mother. Elizabeth of York had a great influence on her son and may have helped educate her children during her lifetime.

Born at Greenwich Palace on the 28th of June 1491, Henry Tudor was the third child and second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. His parents marriage had put an end to decades of fighting between the Yorks and Lancasters in what we know as the Wars of the Roses.

For the most part, Henry’s childhood would have been idyllic, but not without occasional bits of drama. The fact that Henry’s father claimed the throne on the battlefield against Richard III did not sit well with supporters of the Lancasters…and for that matter the Yorks were not pleased either.

In 1487, a young man named Lambert Simnel was coerced to play the part of Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick to raise arms against the new Tudor king, Henry VII. At the same time, the real Edward Plantagenet was sitting in the Tower of London. It did not take long before Simnel was discovered as a pretender.

At some point around 1494, Perkin Warbeck came on the scene. The reason I say 1494 is because in 1494, young Prince Henry was given (by his father) the title of Lieutenant of Ireland.

This would not be the last time that Henry VII gave a title to his second son in an attempt to show control.

In July 1495, Warbeck took fourteen ships, funded by his supposed aunt, Margaret of York, along with 6000 men across the channel to England in hope that he could claim the throne of England. Things didn’t quite turn out the way he had planned and he and his men fled to Ireland. Before long they had moved to Scotland where Warbeck gained the assistance of King James IV of Scotland.

Warbeck was claiming to be one of the lost princes in the Tower, the younger of the two brothers, Richard, Duke of York. Many believed he was truly the young prince and that the throne of England should be his by right.

Henry VII would not have another pretender using a title that was meant for his son, and in 1494, three-year old Prince Henry was titled as Duke of York. There could not be two and Henry, at the moment, was the true title holder, not Warbeck.

At a young age Henry would have known that a monarch’s throne is never 100% secure. It also must have been a bit confusing for him and his sisters to understand that some of their mother’s family wanted to remove their father.

Everything changed in April 1502 when Henry’s older brother, Arthur, died unexpectedly at Ludlow Castle. Henry went from a mostly carefree childhood to a life that led to him being overly protected as sole heir to the throne of England. Gone were the days when he could run “freely” and have unrestricted fun – to feeling like a prisoner of his father’s.

Henry had been betrothed to Katherine Aragon in 1503, he was twelve years old. As stated previously, Henry’s life, once Prince of Wales, was thoroughly controlled by his father, the King. The betrothal to the dowager princess of Wales was something that would evolve with the ever-changing politics of the day.

While his brother Arthur had been, practically from birth, trained in the ways of kingship, Henry’s training did not begin until he was eleven years old. The young Prince of Wales was not used to the rigorous training he received to prepare him for the throne and he only had seven-year to cram for the biggest role of his life.

At Richmond Palace, on the 21st of April 1509, King Henry VII died. He was fifty-two years old. His son, who was only eighteen years old was now King of England.

When he came to the throne, Henry VIII was described as exceptionally tall, well-proportioned, had the features of a Greek god and moved gracefully. His complexion was fair, had auburn hair and a rounded face with the features so delicately formed that they ‘would become a pretty woman’. This new, young king naturally commanded attention and authority by appearance alone.

Henry had always been fascinated by Katherine. She was beautiful and he was enchanted by her. After the death of his father, Henry decided that he would marry Katherine of Aragon. And he would claim it was his father’s wish, on his deathbed. The couple was married six weeks after Henry accession at the chapel of the Franciscan Observants at Greenwich. Henry would also be quoted as writing to her father, Ferdinand of Aragon that, “If I were still free, I would still choose her for wife before all other”. They would have a double coronation, or crowning, thirteen days later, on Midsummer Day, 24th of June 1509.

It was the coronation that set the tone for Henry’s reign – it was the beginning of the Renaissance period in England. It had also been a long time since a King came to throne with such approval and adoration. It was a new era – one of education, music, jousting and overall fun. The court was full of young people, which was the opposite of the reign of his father. Henry was eager to open his father’s coffers (which were overflowing) to celebrate his new role.

Lord Mountjoy wrote to Erasmus only weeks after Henry’s accession and had this to say:

If you could see how everyone here rejoices in having so great a prince, how his life is all their desire, you would not contain yourself for sheer joy. Extortion is put down, liberality scatters riches with a bountiful hand, yet our King does not set his heart on gold or jewels, but on virtue, glory and immortality. The other day he told me ‘I wish I were more learned’. ‘But learning is not what we expect of a King’, I answered, ‘merely that he should encourage scholars’. ‘Most certainly’, he rejoined, ‘as without them we should scarcely live at all’. Now what more splendid remark could a prince make?

William Roper, the son-in-law of Thomas More also remembered how the young King was eager to learn. He recalled how More and the King would discuss astronomy, geometry, divinity and other worldly affairs all hours of the night. Henry truly enjoyed conversing with More and enjoyed learning from him and having discussions with him as well.

Henry VIII wasn’t always the tyrannical monarch who would execute you if you looked at him wrong – at the beginning of his reign he relented to public outcry against his father’s tax collector, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. While the public wanted to see the men put away Henry was eager to spend the fruits of their labor.

The mood at Tudor court had changed drastically since the changing of the guard – now there was laughter in the corridors at court and continuous festivals to enjoy. Under the new administration both high-born and low-born men had the same opportunities. While Henry understood the importance of having men of noble birth and experience in key positions he also appreciated men of ambition, like Thomas Wolsey – a man who would soon become pseudo king.

That’s where we’ll end Part One of this series on Henry VIII – next we will continue you on with the story of the life of Henry VIII and understanding him a bit better in Part Two.

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Tudors Dynasty Podcast – Episode Two: The King and His Early Victories


Hello! I have launched my second podcast! Creating these podcasts takes many hours of research and writing, not to mention the time it takes to record and edit the audio – with all that being said, I love producing these for you…I never thought I would say that.

In order to continue making these podcasts and producing more than two per month I need you, my fans, to participate by becoming members. If you enjoy the articles I write for you on my website and share on social media you should really become a member. Not only will you have access to all my podcasts but you will also receive other content that is not available on TudorsDynasty.com.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out my #Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/tudorsdynasty – if you sign up at the $1 per month level you would be allowing me to spend A LOT more time researching and providing you with more Tudor stories. AND, I will give you a name mention as a member who has made this all possible!

This is what the page looks like, all you have to do is click on “Become a patron” and then choose the level you’d like to be at – each level unlocks more prizes for you each month!


Here is the first podcast that is available for free to everyone – all future podcasts will require only $1 per month membership.

Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given me over the past couple years. I’ve been working hard to learn more every day so I can provide you with facts and stories that you may not have heard before. This growth project will only continue to bring you more!



Book Review: “Falling Pomegranate Seeds” by Wendy J. Dunn

Jane Seymour (2)

When I read a book the most important thing to me is to see the characters come to life – to learn about what those people may have actually been and how they interacted with others.

Photo credit: Rebecca Larson / TudorsDynasty.com

In this book, “Falling Pomegranate Seeds,” we learn not only about Katherine of Aragon, who going forward we’ll refer to as Catalina, but also her closest friend Maria de Salines. Maria was with Catalina from childhood – they shared a tutor, Beatriz, who is the true focus of this book. I was pleasantly surprised to have the story be told by the tutor, but to be honest, she was the perfect person to talk about the life and family of the infanta Catalina. Beatriz, by association, would have been present all the major events. Did I mention that she also had a great relationship with Queen Isabel?

In the story we meet Catalina’s siblings, Isabel, Juan, Juana and Maria. We learn that Isabel was the oldest child and was the only child for roughly eight years before Juan was born. Isabel eventually married a man she loved from “long” ago and is madly happy until he dies unexpectedly. Isabel is crushed from the death and does not wish to continue living.

Wedding portrait of King Ferdinand II of Arag?n and Queen Isabel of Castile.
Wedding portrait of King Ferdinand II of Arag?n and Queen Isabel of Castile.

From birth Juan was sickly, and this is something that doesn’t change with time, however he does find great love and the possibility of a great future. He’s a great musician and very sensitive to his sisters, especially when he attempts to comfort a grieving Isabel.

Juana, we now know as Juana “the mad” and the most sensitive child of the five siblings. Juana’s mother, Queen Isabella does a great job at protecting her daughter from the wrath of her father, Ferdinand of Aragon – who we find out does not like Juana. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.

Maria I feel like I don’t know much about, and I’m honestly okay with that. She was a more silent character in the story – which with so many interesting people to write about I don’t blame the author one bit.

See Image Sources Below

Over-all the story fills me with happiness – to see the love that Queen Isabel had for her children is heartwarming. She saw it as her responsibility to protect her children, especially Juana who seemed to need it a little more than her siblings. We see the sadness that these people lived through, whether it be the loss of a child or a loved one; It was as painful to them as it is today. We see how being a servant rarely offered you a voice when you had been taken against your will by a man more powerful than yourself. And you get to see young love and happiness – the part that may have brought me the most joy of all.

As a princess or infanta your life was planned for you. This is something that the author does a great job of showing in the book. You may be a royal but you do not have a say to who you marry or where you go. The duty of daughters.

I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in the life of Katherine of Aragon. Author, Wendy J. Dunn did a magnificent job at researching Katherine and her family to give you a better idea of why Katherine became the queen we have learned to love.

Rebecca Larson – TudorsDynasty.com


Find “Falling Pomegranate Seeds” by Wendy J. Dunn on Amazon.com:


eBook – Falling Pomegranate Seeds, CLICK HERE

Paperback – Falling Pomegranate Seeds, CLICK HERE



Image Sources:

Isabel: Wikipedia – Portrait by?Fernando Gallego
Juan: Wikipedia – Artist unknown
Juana: Wikipedia – Portrait by Juan de Flandes
Maria: Wikipedia -?Scan from the book: Reis de Portugal: Manuel I by Jo?o Paulo Oliveira e Costa
Catalina: Wikipedia – Portrait by Juan de Flandes thought to be of 11-year-old Catherine. She resembles her sister Joanna of Castile.

Description of Henry’s Court in 1510


Henry’s Court in 1510:

Luis Caroz was Spanish ambassador to England as a representative of Ferdinand of Aragon. It was his job to inform Ferdinand of what was going on in England, at Henry’s court, and to speak on his behalf.

As Ferdinand’s daughter, Catalina (Katherine) was the queen consort of Henry VIII, it was important for him to know how his daughter and son-in-law were doing.

This excerpt from Caroz’s letter paints a picture of what England was like at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign. 

Luis Caroz to Ferdinand II
[Spanish Calendar, Vol II]
London, May 29, 1510

…The King of England amuses himself almost every day of the week with running the ring, and with jousts and tournaments on foot, in which one single person fights with an appointed adversary. Two days in the week are consecrated to this kind of tournament, which is to continue till the Feast of St. John, and which is instituted in imitation of Amadis and Lanzilote, and other knights of olden times, of whom so much is written in books.

1511, King Henry VIII in a procession on his way to a tournament clad in armour and riding a horse. He is accompanied by courtiers who are holding the flaps of a tent so that the king can be seen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1511, King Henry VIII in a procession on his way to a tournament clad in armour and riding a horse. He is accompanied by courtiers who are holding the flaps of a tent so that the king can be seen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The combatants are clad in breast-plates, and wear a particular kind of helmet. They use lances of fourteen hands’ breadth long, with blunt iron points. They throw lances at one another, and fight afterwards with two-handed swords, each of the combatants dealing twelve strokes. They are separated from one another by a barrier which reaches up to the girdle, in order to prevent them from seizing one another and wrestling. There are many young men who excel in this kind of warfare, but the most conspicuous among them all, the most assiduous, and the most interested in the combats is the King himself, who never omits being present at them…

Public Domain Image: Catalina de Aragon watching Henry VIII of England joust, College of Arms, early 16th century. Catherine of Aragon was the first wife of King Henry VIII. of England.


Mumby, Frank Arthur;  The Youth of Henry VIII – A Narrative in Contemporary Letters, page 142

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Henry VII: Search For a New Queen

Death of a Queen Consort

After the death of his wife and queen consort (Elizabeth of York), Henry VII grieved for a long period of time. Unlike numerous monarchs before him Henry appears to have loved his wife deeply. The two had grown very fond of each other over their marriage, and had experienced extreme loss together with the death of multiple children. But their relationship, as emotional as it may have been was blessed with four healthy children who survived to adulthood – two of which were sons and heirs to the throne. Henry and Elizabeth’s union may have been arranged, but their love was not.

Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York
Henry VII

Elizabeth of York died on her 37th birthday, in the royal apartments in the Tower of London, she had recently given birth to a daughter and died from puerperal fever – a very common cause of death for women at the time.

The day before Elizabeth died their infant daughter, Katherine, died as well. Not only was Henry grieving for his beloved wife, but also for the child they so desperately wanted.

When the heir to the throne, their eldest son Arthur died, Elizabeth told Henry that they were both still young enough to have more sons. Unfortunately the birth of their daughter Katherine would be her final act as queen. The baby was not the son (and spare heir) they had hoped for, but they were both very happy to welcome another child into their family.

In Alison Weir’s book, Katherine of Aragon – The True Queen,  she claims their daughter was named after Katherine of Aragon. This seems highly plausible to me since it appears that Katherine and Elizabeth had grown very close to one another during their time together. In those early years she was treated like a daughter by both the king and queen.

After the death Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales Katherine of Aragon was titled dowager princess of Wales, however, by birth she was Princess (Infanta) of Spain — a country ruled by her parents, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Spain was a very powerful country to be aligned with, and a powerful ally against France, a mutual enemy of both England and Spain.

Katherine of Aragon, dowager princess of Wales

When Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales died so did the marriage treaty between Spain and England. With the death of Arthur should have come the end of the alliance between England and Spain, but it did not. The idea of a marriage between Henry, Prince of Wales (future Henry VIII) and Katherine was under negotiations, and a papal dispensation was sought since Katherine had been married to Henry’s brother. In the meantime Henry VII came up with the idea of taking the dowager princess of Wales as his own bride. This would surely maintain the alliance between the two countries and offer him another opportunity for more sons. Would the Spanish monarchs agree to a marriage between this young daughter and the aged King of England?

Here is a letter written by Katherine’s mother Queen Isabella when she heard of Henry VII’s  intentions:

Regarding: Death of the Queen of England.  Marriage of Henry VII to the Princess of Wales. Opinion entertained of it by Queen Isabella.

…The Doctor (Roderigo De Puebla) has also written to us concerning the marriage of the King of England with the Princess of Wales, our daughter, saying that it is spoken of in England. But as this would be a very evil thing,—one never before seen, and the mere mention of which offends the ears,—we would not for anything in the world that it should take place. Therefore, if anything be said to you about it, speak of it as a thing not to be endured. You must likewise say very decidedly that on no account would we allow it, or even hear it mentioned, in order that by these means the King of England may lose all hope of bringing it to pass, if he have any. For, the conclusion of the betrothal of the Princess, our daughter, with the Prince of Wales, his son, would be rendered impossible if he were to nourish any such idea.

If you should find that the King of England wishes to marry, we will tell you, at the end of this letter, the match which we think would be suitable for him, and all that occurs to us relative to it.

The Spanish monarch, Isabella was not keen to the idea of Henry VII taking her daughter as a queen – as a matter of fact, she seemed almost disgusted by the thought. We must also keep in mind that this may all have been a rumor since the ambassador mentions that it was spoken of in England and does not say the King of England told him. With all that being said Isabella wanted no part of it, rumor or not. Instead, Isabella suggested her niece, Joanna of Aragon (dowager queen of Naples). Joanna of Aragon (15 April 1479 – 27 August 1518) had been married her half-nephew, Ferdinand (Frederick) II of Naples.  Joanna was the daughter of Ferdinand’s grandfather Ferdinand I and his second wife, Joanna of Aragon. Joanna’s husband (and nephew) died in 1496 not long after their wedding. Joanna was 17/18 years old at the time. With the absence of a direct heir from Ferdinand (Frederick) II of Aragon and Joanna, the crown was inherited by his uncle Frederick, legitimate brother and Joanna’s half-brother.

(Side note: I must be honest, this paragraph confused me immensely. I checked and re-checked names to ensure I had the correct people and titles but the more I researched the more confused I became. There is more than one Joanna of Aragon and Ferdinand/Frederick is a little confusing as well. If you see an error in the paragraph please let me know.)

April 1503 – dowager queen of Naples

A Letter from Queen Isabella Of Spain to Ferdinand, Duke De Estrada:

(Where you see … is part of the letter that is illegible)

Regarding: Marriage of the King of England to the dowager queen of Naples.

Returning now to the affair of the betrothal of the King of England, it seems to us that it would suit him very well to … (fn. 1) the Queen of Naples, our niece, because in addition to … her much … which is suited for the consolation and comfort of the King of England. By this marriage the alliance and friendship subsisting between the two parties would, at any rate, be strengthened. On this account, if you find that the King of England wishes to marry, act in the way and manner which may seem best to you, being careful of the honour of both parties. If the King of England think well of this proposal, confer with him in detail on the conditions, and inform us of them, that we may make such provision as may be requisite, and let what passes in the matter be kept secret. But do not on this account defer the departure of the Princess of Wales, unless it be for the cause, and in the manner, above said.

At the time Isabella wrote the above letter she was working on bringing her daughter Katherine back to Spain. The negotiations for marriage with Henry, Prince of Wales (future Henry VIII) had turned sour and looked as though the marriage would never happen.

Isabella of Castile c. 1485
Katherine of Aragon by Michel Sittow
Katherine of Aragon c. 1502










On 26 November 1504, Isabella of Castile died. The below letters from De Peubla, the Spanish Ambassador, were dated the 5th of December 1504. It appears that he was not aware of his queen’s death when he wrote this letter. It is broken into passages. These passages all appear to be part of the same letter and are broken down by subject.

5 December 1504 

Passage #1

Ambassador Roderigo De Puebla to Ferdinand and Isabella (Spanish Monarchs):

Regarding: dowager queen of Naples.

As to the match between the Queen of Naples and the King of England, your Highnesses may rest assured that a business of so much importance has not been allowed to lie dormant. On the contrary, I have spoken many times to the King about it, sometimes in private, and sometimes in presence of the members of the Privy Council. The marriage is much approved by the King and the Privy Council, and is thought a better one than any other which has been or can be offered him, search all the world over. While making this declaration, they lauded your Highnesses, on many accounts, and for many considerations, above the Cherubim.

It is true that the King has had letters from France, which he showed me, and in which he is assured that your Highnesses are going to give this lady, your niece, to the son of Don Fadrique, (fn. 1) should it be agreeable to the King of France. He is also told that the King of France did not wish for the match, and that the ambassadors of your Highnesses, who are in France, had departed, taking this answer with them from the King of France, and without being able to come to any conclusion respecting the peace.

The dowager queen of Naples was rumored to be considered in marriage to the son of Don Fadrique (Frederick of Aragon) to strengthen the throne of Naples. The rumor was that Ferdinand and Isabella had suggested the match. This would be the Frederick we referred to above that inherited the throne when his predecessor did not have an heir.

Passage #2

Henry VII desires further particulars respecting her:

I replied to all this, that I did not believe it, as your Highnesses yourselves had written to make the offer (of the marriage with the Queen Dowager of Naples) to his Highness. He answered, with all respect to your Highnesses, that such a thing might have taken place before your Highnesses made him the offer. Finally, the conclusion arrived at by the King and his Council is, that it seems a thing which ought not to be, and an improper thing, for the King to conclude such a marriage without being first certified by his ambassadors and envoys as to the person and appearance of the said Queen. For your Highnesses must know that if she were ugly, and not beautiful, the King of England would not have her for all the treasures in the world, nor would he dare to take her, the English thinking so much as they do about personal appearance. Moreover, I was told that neither the King nor his Council had seen any letters or instruction from your Highnesses, in writing, to which they might have given entire credence, but had had to rely solely upon my relation, saying that your Highnesses had always written to me in cipher. Nor had they even seen the picture which I had begged your Highnesses to send. Therefore, on account of all these things, the King greatly desired, as did also the Privy Council, that, provided it were agreeable to your Highnesses, he would send ambassadors to Valencia, or to your Highneses, about the matter, when and how and where your Highnesses might direct, and in case the request should appear to you to be a proper one.

I find the above correspondence quite interesting. Like his son later, Henry VII insisted the Spanish ambassador provide a portrait of the queen dowager of Naples before anything is made final – as appearances meant much to him. Since there were no portraits available of her the ambassadors were sent to Naples to report on the appearance of the queen dowager themselves. The reports were satisfactory, however, negotiations eventually fell through due to political and financial reasons.

Prior to March 1505 – Margaret of Savoy

According to S.B. Chrimes book, Henry VII, sometime prior to March 1505, Maximilian (Holy Roman Emperor) had offered his daughter, Margaret of Savoy as a suitable spouse for Henry VII. He appears to have looked further into the matter. Henry was as much of a prize to other countries as they were to him. More on this shortly.

Margaret of Savoy c. 1500
Margaret of Savoy c. 1500
Marguerite d’Angoulęme

July 1505 - Marguerite of Angoulęme

Getting into the game, King Louis XII proposed his niece, Marguerite of Angoulęme, to wed the King of England. Marguerite was the daughter of Charles, count of Angoulęme. Louis XII proposed the marriage along with some conditions, of course. He also offered a comparable dowry to the one that had been offered by Ferdinand and Isabella for the dowager queen of Naples.  Whether it be the possible alliance with his enemy, or another reason, Henry VII only briefly entertained this option. It appears at this time that the King of England was more interested in the match with Margaret of Savoy.

The possibility of marriage to Margaret of Savoy was a very attractive match for Henry. If it had come to fruition it would have changed the balance of power between Henry and Maximilian. The possibility of this match dragged out until 1508. It was then that Margaret of Savoy declined the offer and chose to remain a widow. Not a bad idea for her as she was now regent of the Netherlands for her nephew, Archduke Charles.

**On To the Next**

After the death of Isabella of Castile, her daughter Juana inherited the throne of Castile. When Juana’s husband, Philip (the Handsome) passed away unexpectedly on 25 September 1506, it left Juana as a prize to be claimed – especially by a money and status-hungry English monarch.

Juana of Castile
Juana of Castile
Philip the Handsome











After the death of her husband, Juana is said to have gone mad. It was reported that she traveled with her husband’s body because she could not bear to be apart from him. Many have stated that Juana was very jealous of the attention that her husband received from other women, and that she did not approve of his actions toward them either. When he passed away it was her opportunity to have him by her side at all times.

Henry VII didn’t seem to mind the “madness” that ensued in Juana’s life after the death of her husband, as long as she was able to bear children for him. Or was it that he understood the grief that a spouse goes through after losing someone they loved so greatly?

Juana the Mad Holding Vigil over the Coffin of Her Late Husband, Philip the Handsome
Juana the Mad Holding Vigil over the Coffin of Her Late Husband, Philip the Handsome

March 1507 – Queen Juana of Castile

The possible match between the dowager queen of Castile and Henry VII seems to have been one of most interest to both parties. There were far more correspondences found between these two countries than with the others that were mentioned above.

A Letter from Katherine of Aragon, Princess of Wales to her father, Ferdinand of Aragon:

Regarding: Proposal of Henry to marry Queen Juana.

Has read her letter, by which she has communicated to him the wish of the King of England to marry her sister, Queen Juana. She must tell the King that it is not yet known whether Queen Juana be inclined to marry again ; but if the said Queen should marry again, it shall be with no other person than with the King of England, especially as he has proposed such acceptable conditions. Expects that the King of England will send him an ambassador with whom he can treat about this marriage of Queen Juana, as soon as it is known in England that he has returned to Castile. But the affair must be kept most secret; for if Queen Juana should hear anything about it, she would most probably do something quite to the contrary. No one knows her better than himself. For this reason nothing must be done before his return to Spain.

Katherine of Aragon is attempting to give advice to her father on the actions on England and how things should be handled. She appears to understand her sister very well and agrees that Henry would be a great husband for Juana as well as a continued ally for Spain. At the time Katherine was also looking forward to having her sister with her in England as company.

Ambassador De Puebla later wrote a letter to Ferdinand of Aragon to confess that the English king did not seem very concerned with the sanity of Juana. That Henry VII would make a great husband for her and that he believes after marrying the English king she would recover from her illness. However, if she would not recover from said illness it would be better for her to be in England than Spain.

Part of the negotiations included Henry living for a short period of time in Spain with Juana after they were married. I nearly laughed out loud when I read that part because there is no way (in my mind) that Henry would have left England for fear of invasion from an enemy or fear of someone usurping his throne.

19 May 1507 – Queen Juana of Castile

Letter from King Ferdinand to Ambassador De Puebla:

Regarding: Opinion of Ferdinand respecting the proposed marriage between Henry and Queen Juana.

Does not yet know whether the Queen of Castile can be persuaded to marry at all ; but if she marries, her husband shall be the King of England, and no other person. The conditions which the King of England offers are as favourable as possible. Besides, the said King is a Prince of great virtue and experience. It would be a consolation to him at his hour of death to know that his daughter, his grandchildren, and his kingdoms would remain under the protection and guidance of such a man as King Henry. The only reason why his reply to the King of England is not a definite answer, is, because it is necessary first to speak with the Queen of Castile.

Ferdinand by Meister der Magdalenen Legende
Ferdinand by Meister der Magdalenen Legende

June 1507 – Queen Juana of Castile

Letter from King Ferdinand to Ambassador De Puebla:

Regarding: Queen of Castile

Thinks the King of England is right not to send an embassy to the Queen of Castile before his return. Could the business have been arranged during his absence, it would already have been done. But if any other person were first to speak to the Queen of Castile about her marriage, the whole affair would be thrown into confusion. Will do his utmost to persuade the Queen of Castile to marry the King of England. He may rest sure that, if the Queen marries, her husband will be no other Prince than King Henry. Loves Henry like a brother ; and, besides, the conditions which he offers are very advantageous to himself, to the Queen, to his grand-children, and to Spain.

I read through the Letters, Despatches and State Papers Relating to The Negotiations between England and Spain and in there it sheds new light on the “madness” of Juana. It implies that Juana’s madness was created by Ferdinand of Aragon so he could retain the power of Castile himself. What do you believe?

From the letters written to the ambassador from his king is truly appears as if Ferdinand of Aragon wishes his daughter to marry only King Henry of England. I’m sure he saw the benefit of having two daughters in England, just as Henry saw the benefit of being aligned with Spain.

8 June 1507 – Queen Juana of Castile

Letter appears to be written by De Puebla to Henry VII after he received the letter from Ferdinand of Aragon:

Regarding: Sentiments entertained by Ferdinand toward Henry

King Henry may rest sure that he (Ferdinand) will do all in his power to secure this marriage. If the Queen of Castile is to marry, she shall marry no other person than the King of England, who is so distinguished by his virtues. No other Prince would offer the same advantages. Would live and die in peace if he knew that his daughter, his grand-children, and his kingdoms were under the protection of Henry VII. King Philip has been his enemy, but King Henry would be his loving son. Has a firm desire to show his fondness for the King of England, not only in words, but also by deeds.

By September, Henry VII is growing very anxious on the matter and would like an answer regarding the marriage proposal. It has been six months already and he still does not have an answer. Katherine of Aragon seems to be the moderator between her father and Henry VII, trying to keep things calm between them.

September 1507 – Queen Juana of Castile

Letter from Katherine to her father Ferdinand of Aragon:

Regarding: Impatience of Henry respecting his marriage with Queen Juana

The King of England is very impatient to have an answer respecting his intended marriage. It is most inconvenient to him to wait, because he has other marriages in view. The King of England says he fears that the affair will be much protracted, and the answer of the Queen of Castile unfavourable. Tells him that he must be patient; the King her father has scarcely arrived in Spain, and such a delicate business as this cannot be hurried.

Henry VII
Henry VII

October 1507

Katherine decides to write her sister in Spain. It’s such a great insight into Katherine’s mind.

Letter from Katherine, Princess of Wales to Queen Juana of Castile:

Regarding: Sorrow felt by the Princess Katharine on the departure of Queen Juana

Most noble and most mighty Princess, Queen and Lady, after having kissed the royal hands of your Highness and humbly commended myself to you, I have to express the very great pleasure it gave me to see you in this kingdom, and the distress which filled my heart, a few hours afterwards, on account of your sudden and hasty departure.

Regarding: Feeling of Henry VII towards Queen Juana:

My Lord the King was also much disappointed in consequence of it, and if he had acted as he secretly wished, he would, by every possible means, have prevented your journey. But, as he is a very passionate King, it was thought advisable by his Council that they should tell him he ought not to interfere between husband and wife. (fn. 10) On which account, and for the sake of other mysterious causes with which I was very well acquainted, he concealed the feelings occasioned by the departure of your Highness, although it is very certain that it weighed much upon his heart.
The great affection he has felt, and still feels, towards your Royal Highness from that time until now, is well known. I could not in truth express, even though I were to use much paper, the pleasure which my lord the King and I felt on hearing that the King, our lord and father, had returned to Castile, and was abiding there with your Highness, and that he was obeyed throughout all the kingdom, peace and concord prevailing everywhere.

Proposal made by the Princess Katharine to Queen Juana:

It is true that I have experienced, and am still experiencing, some sorrow and depression of mind on account of having heard, a few days ago, that the French have taken a large and beautiful city called Tilmote, belonging to my nephew, and that all his subjects and the whole land are in great fear of the French. Wherefore, as a remedy for everything, and not less for the destruction and chastisement of the Duke of Gueldres his rebel, I have ventured to write these lines to your Highness, entreating you to hearken to my wishes respecting this matter. I have, moreover, written to my lord the King, our father, about this business, which is of great advantage and importance to your Highness, to the increase of your state, the tranquility and welfare of your subjects, and those of the said Prince, my nephew, and which also affects my lord, the King of England. He is a Prince who is feared and esteemed at the present day by all Christendom, as being very wise, and possessed of immense treasures, and having at his command powerful bodies of excellent troops. Above all, he is endowed with the greatest virtues, according to all that your Highness will have heard respecting him.

Regarding: Contemplated results of a marriage between Henry VII and Queen Juana:

If what my lord the King, our father, shall say to you should please, as I think it will please, your Highness, I do not doubt but that your Highness will become the most noble and the most powerful Queen in the world. Moreover, nothing will more conduce to your pleasure and satisfaction, and the security of the kingdom of your Highness. In addition to all this, it will double the affection subsisting between my lord the King, our father, and my lord, the King of England. It will also lead to the whole of Africa being conquered within a very short time, and in the hands of the Christian subjects of your Highness, and of my lord the King, our father.
I entreat your Highness to pardon me for having written to you, and for having meddled in so great and high a matter. God knows what my wishes are, as I have already said ; and I have not found it possible to resist the desire I felt to write to you. For it appears to me that if this be not done, it will be committing a great sin against God, against the King, our lord and father, and against your Highness, whose life and royal estate may our Lord guard and increase.—Richmond, 25th October.
The Princess Of Wales.

After all the negotiations to choose the right partner, the right country to ally himself with, Henry VII died before concluding ANY of his negotiations.


Supplement to Calendar of Letters, Despatches, and State Papers, Relating to the Negotiations Between England and Spain: Henry VII 1485-1509 https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=P_wUAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PR1

Chrimes, S.B., Henry VII

Spanish letters referenced only as I do not have access to the English version. This provides the unique insight from Spain during the negotiations.

‘Spain: April 1503’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 294-305. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp294-305 [accessed 9 May 2016].

‘Spain: December 1504’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 342-348. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp342-348 [accessed 30 April 2016].

‘Spain: July 1505’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 362-366. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp362-366 [accessed 13 April 2016].

‘Spain: March 1507’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 403-406. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp403-406 [accessed 27 May 2016].

‘Spain: May 1507’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 414-417. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp414-417 [accessed 31 May 2016].

‘Spain: June 1507’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 417-418. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp417-418 [accessed 17 May 2016].

‘Spain: September 1507’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 425-433. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp425-433 [accessed 29 May 2016].

‘Spain: October 1507’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 433-441. British History Onlinehttp://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/spain/vol1/pp433-441 [accessed 17 May 2016].

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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.

Untitled design (1)
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