August 30, 2019 0

The Worst Breakup In History


The break up we are going to talk about today
is that of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, a falling apart that led to England splitting
from the Catholic church and Henry going on to have 5 more wives. As you know, two of those would lose their
heads, but it is this first breakup which could be said to have had the most profound
repercussions. It’s also one of the saddest, most brutal
love stories you’ll ever hear. Let’s start from the beginning. On 14 November 1501, Catherine got married,
but her first marriage wasn’t to Henry. It was to Arthur Tudor, the Prince of Wales,
the son of Henry VII. It’s said these two quickly fell in love
with each other, despite the fact that their pronunciation of Latin was so different they
could barely understand each other in that language. She called him a “a true and loving husband”,
but their happiness as a couple wouldn’t last long. As they swooned over each other the sweating
sickness was sweeping over Europe. Historians believe they both got it, but Catherine
survived and Arthur died aged just 15. In 1502, just months after they had married,
Catherine was single again. We must also remember that Catherine was the
daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, so she was a stranger in a strange land living
in Wales. Now she was all alone under dark, cloudy skies. There was another problem, too, and that was
the dowry that had been paid when the two got married. It was large, and British monarch Henry VII
didn’t want to give it back. While he wanted Spanish-British relations
to be strong, Catherine’s life hung in the balance. She was kept virtually as a prisoner in England,
while Henry VII thought about what to do with her. He even thought about marrying her, although
it’s not hard to understand why marrying your dead son’s wife might be looked upon
with some frowning. But Pope Julius II had made it possible, thanks
to a dispensation he said the church would give the couple. This was because Catherine said she had never
consummated her marriage with Arthur, which just means sleeping with each other. Only a marriage with Henry VII didn’t happen,
because Henry VIII was about to take the throne at the age of 18. The couple were married on 11 June 1509. Catherine was 23 and Henry was 18. Yes, we know you might be thinking that already
in this show we have talked about a lot of young people, but when most folks died before
they hit 40 you had to get things done quickly in those days. Soon after marriage, Catherine fell pregnant
and Henry was over the moon. He so wanted a son to one day take his place
and carry on the Tudor line. He didn’t get one, because on this occasion
Catherine miscarried a girl. Then around a year later she gave birth to
a son. He was named Henry of course. This delighted the couple; guns were fired
over London; lanterns were lit and the people were asked to rejoice in the good fortunes
of their rulers. Then little Henry died after 52 days. Two years later and she had another boy but
he was a stillborn. In 1515, she had another stillborn child,
a boy again, which must have torn Henry to pieces. Then her fifth pregnancy happened. Many people thought the result would be the
same, but she had a girl, and the girl survived, and that girl would become the future queen
of England, Mary I. Henry still wanted his son, but Catherine would have another miscarriage
and then a baby girl that lived in the world only a few hours. So, we have a vibrant ageing king; we have
a highly educated, brave ageing woman, but we have a relationship that has been filled
with loss and pain. We also have an unpredictable king, one who
would die with much blood on his hands. Catherine was getting on in years and Henry
didn’t believe she would be able to give him a son. He had to get rid of her. This became known as “The King’s Great
Matter.” And then who should Henry set his eyes on? One of Catherine’s ladies in waiting, the
pretty Anne Boleyn. In 1525, Henry would start seeing young Ann,
and he would also accuse his wife of lying. Henry believed, or he just said this, that
Catherine must have slept with her departed husband Arthur, and the reason for all those
lost children was that God had punished them because she had lied and they had committed
a sin. Now we have the start of perhaps the world’s
worst breakup. Henry wanted to annul the marriage, but Catherine
did not. She said, “I am the King’s true and legitimate
wife.” But that didn’t matter, because Henry wanted
her gone; he wanted Ann and he wanted his son. Catherine said at the time, “My tribulations
are so great, my life so disturbed by the plans daily invented to further the King’s
wicked intention, the surprises which the King gives me, with certain persons of his
council, are so mortal, and my treatment is what God knows, that it is enough to shorten
ten lives, much more mine.” The rest is history, and we mean Henry created
history. It’s a long story, but the pope didn’t
grant Henry a split from his wife; so what did he do? Henry split from the Catholic church in 1533. He sidelined Catherine and made her ‘Princess
Dowager of Wales’, but he left her for dead in some ways, while his new lover and wife
Ann became pregnant. We are told that all Catherine’s luxuries
were removed and she was forced to live mostly alone in damp castles. We are also told she was forced to wear a
hair shirt, which is a very uncomfortable garment filled with rough animal hair that
itches and hurts the skin. This was a form of punishment back then, or
at least penitence. Some sources say she was made to wear it,
others say she chose to wear it to show her devotion to God and to her husband. At this time she wasn’t even allowed to
see her daughter, Mary, although she could have an occasional visitor. But Henry left her alone and when she died
on 7 January 1536, Henry didn’t even turn up for her funeral. She was, however, loved by the British people
as she often helped the poor and was said to be kindhearted. She loved the king until the end it seems,
writing in a letter just before her death, “My most dear lord, king and husband. The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender
love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you.” And get this, on the day of Catherine’s
funeral, Ann Boleyn miscarried a child, and that child was a boy. She never gave him a boy and Henry would take
her head in the end. He might not have killed Catherine, but it
was this breakup that was the worst. In fact, we can’t think of a bigger breakup
ever. Can you? Let us know in the comments!

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