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Catherine Of Aragon

Trial Of Queen Catherine
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Convinced this was the reason for his lack of a son, Henry petitioned the Pope to have his marriage to Catherine annulled. By now he had fallen head over heels in love with Anne Boleyn, one of Queen Catherine’s ladies in waiting, and he hoped to make her his wife instead. Catherine, however, was not willing to be brushed aside after twenty years of marriage and opposed Henry at every turn. She believed with her whole heart that she was Henry’s true wife, and that their daughter, Mary, was his true heir, and petitioned the Pope accordingly. This put the Pope in a great dilemma. Catherine had powerful relatives, her nephew being the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and the Pope did not want to offend him by granting Henry his annulment. But, on the other hand, he did not want to offend Henry either by refusing the annulment. So, in the hope of buying himself some time, he decided there should be a trial. This trial, giving both sides the opportunity to be heard, would determine whether or not the marriage was valid.

The trial went ahead in 1529 and Catherine was brought before the judges. Before everyone she swore she was a virgin when she married Henry so their marriage was holy and binding. Henry was confident that the court would rule in his favour, but the Pope, still not wanting to take sides, had given orders to prolong the trial as long as possible. When the King realised he was not going to get his way, he was furious. He fell out with the Pope and set up his own Protestant Church of England instead. As head of the church he was able to secure his own divorce and his marriage to Catherine was finally declared null and void in 1533.

Catherine, now ill and living in confinement away from court, was heartbroken. To make matters worse, she was forbidden from seeing her beloved daughter, Mary. Henry married Anne Boleyn, who was now Queen of England, but neither Catherine or Mary acknowledged her as such. Catherine did not hate Anne, however, and even felt sorry for her when she too began to suffer miscarriages. Like Catherine, the only healthy child Anne gave the King was a daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I. Perhaps Catherine knew that unless Anne gave the King his all important son, she too was doomed.

After years of isolation and suffering, Catherine died on the 7th of January of 1536 at Kimbolton Castle. She is buried in Peterborough Cathedral.

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