The Curse of Katherine of Aragon

Katherine of Aragon was born on December 16, 1485. The daughter of two powerful monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, her life should have been that of a princess in a fairy tale, and indeed seemed that way for quite some time. She was betrothed to Arthur, heir to King Henry VII, and set forth to England to marry him in 1501. Sadly, the young prince died, and Katherine was left a widow, her future uncertain as her father and Henry VII haggled over her worth.

KoA

Luckily for Katherine, Henry VII died and she married his son, Henry VIII, and the story was one of a chivalrous knight rescuing fair damsel. Their court was merry, and they looked forward to being the parents of many healthy sons. This unfortunately was not to be. Katherine suffered multiple miscarriages and children who were either stillborn or lived only a short while. The only child that survived was a puny daughter, Mary. Henry was not impressed.

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Katherine was several years older than Henry, and her looks had gone to rot with all the pregnancies, and the stress of being married to such a jerk. He cheated, had children with other women, and just generally treated her very badly. He set his sights on Anne Boleyn, one of Katherine’s ladies, and divorced Katherine by reason of the marriage was cursed by God. But Katherine was not one to just go away quietly. She held on as long as she could. Fighting, praying, and hoping.

Elizabeth Barton, known as the Holy Maid of Kent, was dead set against the marriage of Henry and Anne, and had made several prophecies concerning the fate of the king, should he continue to pursue Anne.  People who were loyal to Katherine brought the nun to Katherine’s attention, and Katherine secretly corresponded with her, at first only seeking spiritual support. But, the Holy Maid was actually………….a witch.

holy maid

When it became clear that Henry would not be put off the path he had chosen, the Maid put forth an ominous prophecy. She cursed Henry’s future wife, saying that Anne’s joy would last only 1000 days, and that she would bear no sons. Of course a curse like this requires a blood payment, and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester would be the sacrificial lamb. His execution sealed the curse, and though Katherine did not know it, her most staunch defender served her even in his death.

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Anne’s first pregnancy yielded only another squalling girl child, and her second ended in miscarriage. When Anne became pregnant in 1535, everything seemed to be going quite well. By now, the Maid had herself been executed, and Henry believed that her prophecies died with her. But this was a terrible and powerful witch, only burning would stop her curse. As she was hanged the curse lingered and even grew with her death at Henry’s hands.

Katherine of Aragon died, alone and bereft, on January 7, 1536. On the very day of her funeral, Anne miscarried the male child that Henry so longed for, and doomed herself. Henry had continued to enjoy his mistresses during his marriage to Anne, and one of them, Jane Seymour, was a particular favorite. And so the wheel of fortune turned, and Anne was now in the place that Katherine had sat, her star descending quickly.

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Thomas Cromwell, who was behind the execution of the Holy Maid, had fallen afoul of Anne, and as the curse wove itself around them both, he would be instrumental in Anne’s fall and subsequent execution. He himself was cursed by the Maid as well, and his fall in 1540 would be as fast and as fatal as Anne’s.

Jane Seymour went on to marry Henry. She managed to produce a male child, but having been too close to such a powerful curse, she died herself of childbed fever, and so she neither enjoyed bettering Katherine, or reaped any benefit from sitting on Katherine’s throne. Henry married three more times, all without issue and suffered from many painful ailments, and a cursed sore on his leg that had never healed, much like Katherine’s broken heart.

Jeff “the wiz” Berlin

Sources:

Friar Tucker Marsh

Wikipedia, Katherine of Aragon

Wikipedia, Elizabeth Barton

Philippa Gregory “The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl”

“The Creation of Anne Boleyn”

My Grand ma’am

Healing from recent plastic surgery, I have been immersed in research about my family,  the history of the World’s Cup, and arguing with my neighbors. I am dedicated to sharing my discoveries and will keep you all updated. I have an assignment at the American football championships, but can not go into detail.

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