biography · english history · european history · history

The Strength of Queen Katherine

In this post, I wanted to focus on Queen Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII of England. With all the focus on Anne Boleyn, Katherine is typically remembered for her struggles later in life. She is remembered as the old, unattractive, stubborn woman who was being replaced by her young and vivacious lady in waiting. In reality, Katherine of Aragon was an extremely strong woman, a very popular queen and a role model for many of her subjects. She was intelligent and educated. She was also loyal to a fault. She was born of Queen Isabella (who was the queen of Castile in her own right) and King Ferdinand. She was trained for queenship since she was a toddler and prepared entirely for her role as a leader. She was integral to the success at the Battle of Flodden. It is easy to see why she remained popular with England’s subjects even after the King had decided to put her aside.

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biography · english history · history

Elizabeth’s Journey to Queenship

To the North, South, East, and West she was proclaimed Queen and to each proclamation an approval was received from the congregation. The moment she had waited for had come. She made a solemn oath in front of God to defend the Church, uphold the laws, and use justice and mercy in judgements. She knelt and accepted the anointing from the bishop of Carlisle. Slowly she stood up, taking in the moment, and went to the nearby pew to put on the robe of purple velvet and a mantle of gold. Though extremely nervous, she had to show strength in front of her people.

Sitting upon the chair of state before the high altar she was able to view the majesty of Westminster Abbey. So much history surrounded her; how many of her predecessors were crowned here as well? Would she be hated or loved as they all went through?

The ring representing England and her people was placed on her right hand, as if she was getting married. First, St. Edwards crown was placed on her head then removed. Next, the imperial crown was placed in the same position. At a full seven pounds she could barely lift her head to see the crowd, but she would not show weakness. A lighter crown was then replaced for the rest of the ceremony (did her mother once wear this crown as well?) and one by one the lords and bishops came up to give homage to her; Lords who may have opposed her just a few months ago. She stifled a laugh from the irony of this day; the daughter of the “Great Whore” had now become the sole Queen of England…… Continue reading “Elizabeth’s Journey to Queenship”

art history · english history · history

Will the real Anne Boleyn please stand up?

Why are we so fascinated to know what a woman who lived centuries ago truly looked like and why this particular woman? In the media, Anne Boleyn has been characterized in three different ways. She has been romanticized and sexualized, she has been portrayed as a cold-hearted witch, and she has been portrayed as a martyr/victim of a tyrannical king. This seems unfair to a real woman who actually lived and had many of the same stresses as we do.

She is so fascinating to us because we all want to know how she kept the rapt attention of Henry VIII for seven long years (without becoming his mistress) in order to achieve marriage and queenship. Henry was so enamored by this woman that the Imperial ambassador in England recorded that “The King cannot leave her for an hour.” Henry was risking excommunication and war for this one woman. Continue reading “Will the real Anne Boleyn please stand up?”