Sunday, 26 January 2014

Catherine of Aragon's finest hour

The queen who ruled England in 1514 is among the most famous women to be a consort of the country but it is the troubled end to her reign that dominates her life story.  However, in 1514 Catherine of Aragon was all powerful, the perfect partner to her dynamic and younger husband, Henry VIII.  Five hundred years ago there was no sign of the things for which Catherine is best known by history - no shadow of divorce, of Anne Boleyn, of only daughters to succeed their father, of public parading of her personal life.  In 1514, Catherine was the queen who had it all - just about - and every hope of having even more as time went on.

Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England between 1509 and 1533 as the first consort of Henry VIII

In 1514, Catherine was a queen who had just completed a successful stint as regent of England.  Henry had left his kingdom in her care while he went to fight in France and during her tenure, the Battle of Flodden Field was fought between English and Scottish troops with the queen consort riding north to address her army even though she was in the final stages of pregnancy at the time (Catherine gave birth to a stillborn son in October 1513).  Her speech was reported across Europe and her time as regent hailed, generally, a success. Five hundred years ago, Catherine of Aragon was as powerful a consort as England had known in decades. But history would mean that was all forgotten by the time her story came to be told.

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