2nd Millennium, 16th Century Events, 1536-Death of Catherine of Aragon and Execution of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused, Death of Catherine of Aragon

Death of Catherine of Aragon is in 1536-Death of Catherine of Aragon and Execution of Anne Boleyn and her Co-accused, Marriage to Jane Seymour.

Letters 1536. 07 Jan 1536. R. O. St. P. I. 452. 37. Sir Edward Chamberleyn (age 52) and Sir Edm. Bedyngfeld (age 57) to Cromwell (age 51).

This 7th Jan., about 10 a.m., the Lady Dowager (age 50) was annealed with the Holy ointment, Chamberleyn and Bedyngfeld being summoned, and before 2 p.m. she died. Wishes1 to know the King's (age 44) pleasure concerning the house, servants, and other things. The groom of the Chamber here can cere her. Will send for a plumber to close the body in lead.

Note 1. The letter, though signed by two, is written throughout in the first person singular,— apparently by Bedingfield, who was steward of Catharine's household, though he signs second.

PAINTINGS/UNKNOWN/Thomas_Cromwell.jpg PAINTINGS/FLANDES/Catherine_Aragon.jpg PAINTINGS/UNKNOWN/Katherine_Aragon.jpg

Wriothesley's Chronicle. 07 Jan 1536. This yeare, the morrowe after twelve daie being Fridaie and the 7th daie of Januarieb, 1536 the honorable and noble Princes, Queene Katherin (age 50), former wife to King Henrie the VIII (age 44), departed from her worldlie lief at Bugden [Map], in Huntingdonshire, about tenne of the clocke at nightb, and...

Note. Stow and Hall, with other authorities, state that Queen Katharine died on the 8th Jannary, but the correctness of our text as to the day is placed beyond a doubt by the original letter of Sir Edward Chamberleyn (age 52) and Sir Edmund Bedyngfeld (age 57) transmitting this intelligence to Cromwell (age 51), still extant in the Public Record Office, and which runs thus:

"Pleaseth yt yower honorable Maystershipp to be advertysed, that this 7th day of January, abowt 10 of the clock before none, the Lady Dowager was aneled with the Holy Oyntment, Mayster Chamberlein (age 57) and I called to the same; and before 2 of the clock at aftenone she departed to God. Besechyng yow that the Kyng may be advertyscd of the same, and furder to know yower pleasour yn every thyng aperteynyng to that purpose; and, furder, in all other causes concernyng the hows, the servantes, and all other thynges, as shall stand wyth the Kynge's pleasour and yowers."

Note b. This would appear to be an error for 2 o'clock in the afternoon. See preceding note.


On 07 Jan 1536 Catherine of Aragon (age 50) died at Kimbolton Castle [Map] in the arms of her great friend María de Salinas Baroness Willoughby Eresby (age 46).

Hall's Chronicle 1536. 08 Jan 1536. And the eighth day of January following died the Princess Dowager (deceased) at Kimbolton and was buried at Peterborough. Queen Anne (age 35) wore yellow for the mourning.


Annales of England by John Stow. 08 Jan 1536. The eight of Januarie dyed Ladie Katherine Dowager at Kymbalton, ad was buryed at Peterborowe.

Letters 1536. 09 Jan 1536. Vienna Archives. 59. Chapuys to Charles V.

Just after having finished my last letter of 30 Dec. I mounted horse to go with all possible haste "selon la grande compagnie que menvoie" to see the Queen (deceased). On my arrival she called roe at once, and that it might not be supposed her sickness was feigned and also because there was a friend of Cromwell's whom the King had sent to accompany me, or rather to spy and note all that was said and done, the Queen thought best, with my consent, that my conductor and the principal persons of the house, such as the chamberlain and steward, who had not seen her for more than a year, and several others, should be at our first interview. After I had kissed hands she took occasion to thank me for the numerous services I had done her hitherto and the trouble I had taken to come and see her, a thing that she had very ardently desired, thinking that my coming would be salutary for her, and, at all events, if it pleased God to take her, it would be a consolation to her to die under my guidance (entre mes braz) and not unprepared, like a beast. I gave her every hope, both of her health and otherwise, informing her of the offers the King had made me of what houses she would, and to cause her to be paid the remainder of certain arrears, adding, for her further consolation, that the King was very sorry for her illness; and on this I begged her to take heart and get well, if for no other consideration, because the union and peace of Christendom depended upon her life. To show this I used many arguments, as had been prearranged with another person between the Queen and me, in order that my conductor and some of the bystanders might make report of it, so that by this means they might have the greater care of her life. After some other conversation, the Queen bade me rest after the fatigue of the journey, and meanwhile she thought she could sleep a little, which she had not done for two hours altogether during the six days previous. Shortly afterwards she sent for me again, and I spent full two hours in conversation with her, and though I several times wished to leave her for fear of wearying her, I could not do so, she said it was so great a pleasure and consolation. I spent the same period of time with her every day of the four days I staid there. She inquired about the health of your Majesty and the state of your affairs, and regretted her misfortune and that of the Princess, and the delay of remedy by which all good men had suffered in person and in goods, and so many ladies were going to perdition. But, on my showing her that your Majesty could not have done better than you had done hitherto, considering the great affairs which had hindered you, and also that the delay had not been without advantages (for, besides there being some hope that the French, who formerly solicited the favour of this King, would now turn their backs, there was this, that the Pope, by reason of the death of the cardinal of Rochester, and other disorders, intended to seek a remedy in the name of the Holy See, and thus, preparations being made at the instance of the Holy See, the King could not blame her as the cause), she was quite satisfied and thought the delay had been for the best. And as to the heresies here [I said] she knew well that God said there must of necessity be heresies and slanders for the exaltation of the good and confusion of the wicked, and that she must consider that the heresies were not so rooted here that they would not soon be remedied, and that it was to be hoped that those who had been deluded would afterwards be the most firm, like St. Peter after he had tripped. of these words she showed herself very glad, for she had previously had some scruple of conscience because [the heresies] had arisen from her affair.

Having staid there four days, and seeing that she began to take a little sleep, and also that her stomach retained her food, and that she was better than she had been, she thought, and her physician agreed with her (considering her out of danger), that I should return, so as not to abuse the licence the King had given me, and also to request the King to give her a more convenient house, as he had promised me at my departure. I therefore took leave of her on Tuesday evening, leaving her very cheerful; and that evening I saw her laugh two or three times, and about half an hour after I left her she desired to have some pastime (soy recreer) with one of my men "que fait du plaisant." On Wednesday morning one of her chamber told me that she had slept better. Her physician confirmed to me again his good hope of her health, and said I need not fear to leave, for, if any new danger arose, he would inform me with all diligence. Thereupon I started, and took my journey at leisure, lest any further news should overtake me on the road; but none came. This morning I sent to Cromwell to know when I could have audience of the King his master to thank him for the good eheer he had caused to be shown me in my journey, and also to speak about the said house. He sent to inform me of the lamentable news of the death of the most virtuous Queen, which took place on Friday the morrow of the Kings, about 2 p.m. This has been the most cruel news that could come to me, especially as I fear the good Princess will die of grief, or that the concubine (age 35) will hasten what she has long threatened to do, viz., to kill her; and it is to be feared that there is little help for it. I will do my best to comfort her, in which a letter from your Majesty would help greatly. I cannot relate in detail the circumstances of the Queen's decease, nor how she has disposed of her affairs, for none of her servants has yet come. I know not if they have been detained.

This evening, on sending to tell (qu. ask?) Cromwell what they had determined to do, that I might for my part do my duty, he told my man that just as he was entering the gate he had dispatched one of his own to inform me, on the part of the King and Council, that it was determined to give her a very solemn and honorable funeral both on account of her virtue and as having been wife of Prince Arthur, and, moreover, for her lineage and relationship to your Majesty, and that, if I wished to be present, the King would send me some black cloth for myself and my servants, but that the time and place had not yet been arranged. I replied that, presuming that everything would be done duly, I agreed to be present, and that, as to the cloth, the King need not trouble himself about it, for I was provided. It is certain that they will not perform her exequies as Queen, but only as Princess, and for this reason I despatch in haste to Flanders one of my servants who will have time to go and come, that I may know how to conduct myself, for nothing will be done for 18 or 20 days. The Queen's illness began about five weeks ago, as I then wrote to your Majesty, and the attack was renewed on the morrow of Christmas day. It was a pain in the stomach, so violent that she could retain no food. I asked her physician several times if there was any suspicion of poison. He said he was afraid it was so, for after she had drunk some Welsh beer she had been worse, and that it must have been a slow and subtle poison1 for he could not discover evidences of simple and pure poison; but on opening her, indications will be seen. London, 9 Jan. 1535. Fr., from a modern copy, pp. 4.

Note 1. "Poison aterminec (qu. atermoiee ?) et artificieuse."

Letters 1536. 09 Jan 1536. Add. MS. 28,588, f. 114. B. M. 60. Chapuys to Ortiz.

Received on the 29th ult. the Emperor's letter of the 3rd ult., and with them, the [account of the] receptions given to the Emperor in Micina and Naples.

Hearing that the Queen was very ill, went to ask the King for leave to visit her, which he obtained, with some trouble. Set off as soon as possible. Found that the Queen had been troubled with vomiting and pain in the stomach for a week, being unable to eat or sleep, except so little that it might be called nothing. She was so wasted that she could not support herself either on her feet or sitting in bed. During four days that he was with her she got better, and seemed to be much comforted by his visit. She did not cease to tell him that he had served her well, and shown the affection for her service, which she knew that he felt. She desired him to return and solicit her removal, in which the physician concurred, thinking her out of danger for the time. Returned as she wished, and to-day news came to the King that on the third day after his departure she had a relapse and died in twelve hours, which was the day before yesterday, Friday the 7th, at 2 p.m. Feels it deeply, and hopes the same fate will not happen to the Princess. Will not now mention what her Highness said, and her last wishes. Refers to his letter to Cifuentes. London, 9 Jan. 1536. Sp., pp. 3. Modern copy.

Letters 1536. 21 Jan 1536. 141. You could not conceive the joy that the King and those who favor this concubinage have shown at the death of the good Queen, especially the earl of Wiltshire (age 59) and his son (age 33), who said it was a pity the Princess (age 19) did not keep company with her. The King, or the Saturday he heard the news, exclaimed "God be praised that we are free from all suspicion of war"; and that the time had come that he would manage the French better than he had done hitherto, because they would do now whatever he wanted from a fear lest he should ally himself again with your Majesty, seeing that the cause which disturbed your friendship was gone. On the following day, Sunday, the King was clad all over in yellow, from top to toe, except the white feather he had in his bonnet, and the Little Bastard (age 2) was conducted to mass with trumpets and other great triumphs. After dinner the King entered the room in which the ladies danced, and there did several things like one transported with joy. At last he sent for his Little Bastard (age 2), and carrying her in his arms he showed her first to one and then to another. He has done the like on other days since, and has run some courses (couru quelques lances) at Greenwich.From all I hear the grief of the people at this news is incredible, and the indignation they feel against the King, on whom they lay the blame of her death, part of them believing it was by poison and others by grief; and they are the more indignant at the joy the King has exhibited. This would be a good time, while the people are so indignant, for the Pope to proceed to the necessary remedies, by which these men would be all the more taken by surprise, as they have no suspicion of any application being made for them now that the Queen is dead, and do not believe that the Pope dare take upon him to make war especially while a good part of Germany and other Princes are in the same predicament. Nevertheless, now that the Queen is dead, it is right for her honor and that of all her kin that she be declared to have died Queen, and it is right especially to proceed to the execution of the sentence, because it touches the Princess, and to dissolve this marriage which is no wise rendered valid by the Queen's death, and, if there be another thing, that he cannot have this woman to wife nor even any other during her life according to law, unless the Pope give him a dispensation; and it appears that those here have some hope of drawing the Pope to their side, for only three days ago Cromwell said openly at table that a legate might possibly be seen here a few days hence, who would come to confirm all their business, and yesterday commands were issued to the curates and other preachers not to preach against purgatory, images, or adoration of the saints, or other doubtful questions until further orders. Perhaps by this means and others they hope to lull his Holiness to sleep until your Majesty has parted from him, which would be a very serious and irremediable evil. I think those here will have given charge to the courier, whom they despatched in great haste to give the news of the Queen's death in France, to go on to Rome in order to prevent the immediate publication of censures.

Calendars. 21 Jan 1536. Eustace Chapuys (age 46) to the Emperor (age 35).

The good Queen (deceased) breathed her last at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Eight hours afterwards, by the King's (age 44) express commands, the inspection of her body was made, without her confessor or physician or any other officer of her household being present, save the fire-lighter in the house, a servant of his, and a companion of the latter, who proceeded at once to open the body. Neither of them had practised chirurgy, and yet they had often performed the same operation, especially the principal or head of them, who, after making the examination, went to the Bishop of Llandaff, the Queen's confessor, and declared to him in great secrecy, and as if his life depended on it, that he had found the Queen's (deceased) body and the intestines perfectly sound and healthy, as if nothing had happened, with the single exception of the heart, which was completely black, and of a most hideous aspect; after washing it in three different waters, and finding that it did not change colour, he cut it in two, and found that it was the same inside, so much so that after being washed several times it never changed colour. The man also said that he found inside the heart something black and round, which adhered strongly to the concavities. And moreover, after this spontaneous declaration on the part of the man, my secretary having asked the Queen's physician whether he thought the Queen (deceased) had died of poison, the latter answered that in his opinion there was no doubt about it, for the bishop had been told so under confession, and besides that, had not the secret been revealed, the symptoms, the course, and the fatal end of her illness were a proof of that.

No words can describe the joy and delight which this King (age 44) and the promoters of his concubinate (age 35) have felt at the demise of the good Queen (deceased), especially the earl of Vulcher (age 59), and his son (age 33), who must have said to themselves, What a pity it was that the Princess (age 19) had not kept her mother (deceased) company. The King (age 44) himself on Saturday, when he received the news, was heard to exclaim, "Thank God, we are now free from any fear of war, and the time has come for dealing with the French much more to our advantage than heretofore, for if they once suspect my becoming the Emperor's friend and ally now that the real cause of our enmity no longer exists I shall be able to do anything I like with them." On the following day, which was Sunday, the King (age 44) dressed entirely in yellow from head to foot, with the single exception of a white feather in his cap. His bastard daughter (age 2) was triumphantly taken to church to the sound of trumpets and with great display. Then, after dinner, the King (age 44) went to the hall, where the ladies were dancing, and there made great demonstration of joy, and at last went into his own apartments, took the little bastard (age 2), carried her in his (age 44) arms, and began to show her first to one, then to another, and did the same on the following days. Since then his joy has somewhat subsided; he has no longer made such demonstrations, but to make up for it, as it were, has been tilting and running lances at Grinduys [Map]. On the other hand, if I am to believe the reports that come to me from every quarter, I must say that the displeasure and grief generally felt at the Queen's (deceased) demise is really incredible, as well as the indignation of the people against the King (age 44). All charge him with being the cause of the Queen's (deceased) death, which I imagine has been produced partly by poison and partly by despondency and grief; besides which, the joy which the King (age 44) himself, as abovesaid, manifested upon hearing the news, has considerably confirmed people in that belief.

Great preparations are being made for the burial of the good Queen (deceased), and according to a message received from Master Cromwell (age 51) the funeral is to be conducted with such a pomp and magnificence that those present will scarcely believe their eyes. It is to take place on the 1st of February; the chief mourner to be the King's own niece (age 18), that is to say, the daughter of the duke of Suffolk (age 52); next to her will go the Duchess, her mother; then the wife of the duke of Norfolk (age 39), and several other ladies in great numbers. And from what I hear, it is intended to distribute mourning apparel to no less than 600 women of a lower class. As to the lords and gentlemen, nothing has yet transpired as to who they are to be, nor how many. Master Cromwell (age 51) himself, as I have written to Your Majesty (age 35), pressed me on two different occasions to accept the mourning cloth, which this King (age 44) offered for the purpose no doubt of securing my attendance at the funeral, which is what he greatly desires; but by the advice of the Queen Regent of Flanders (Mary), of the Princess herself, and of many other worthy personages, I have declined, and, refused the cloth proffered; alleging as an excuse that I was already prepared, and had some of it at home, but in reality because I was unwilling to attend a funeral, which, however costly and magnificent, is not that befitting a Queen of England.

The King (age 44), or his Privy Council, thought at first that very solemn obsequies ought to be performed at the cathedral church of this city. Numerous carpenters and other artizans had already set to work, but since then the order has been revoked, and there is no talk of it now. Whether they meant it in earnest, and then changed their mind, or whether it was merely a feint to keep people contented and remove suspicion, I cannot say for certain.

Letters 1536. 21 Jan 1536. The Queen (deceased) died two hours after midday, and eight hours afterwards she was opened by command of those who had charge of it on the part of the King, and no one was allowed to be present, not even her confessor or physician, but only the candle-maker of the house and one servant and a "compagnon," who opened her, and although it was not their business, and they were no surgeons, yet they have often done such a duty, at least the principal, who on coming out told the Bishop of Llandaff, her confessor, but in great secrecy as a thing which would cost his life, that he had found the body and all the internal organs as sound as possible except the heart, which was quite black and hideous, and even after he had washed it three times it did not change color. He divided it through the middle and found the interior of the same color, which also would not change on being washed, and also some black round thing which clung closely to the outside of the heart. On my man asking the physician if she had died of poison he replied that the thing was too evident by what had been said to the Bishop her confessor, and if that had not been disclosed the thing was sufficiently clear from the report and circumstances of the illness.

Letters 1536. 29 Jan 1536. Vienna Archives. 200. Chapuys to Granvelle.

Cannot thank him sufficiently for his kindness, which quite overwhelms him As he writes to the Emperor, thinks the enterprise extremely difficult and almost impossible; yet persons who understand matters better than himself think it would not be difficult, for the whole people cries after the Emperor. Many suspect that if the Queen died by poison it was Gregory di Casale who sent it by a kinsman, of Modena, named Gorron, who came hither in haste, and by what he told me the night before he returned, he had come to obtain letters in behalf of the Prothonotary Casale. He said the King and Cromwell would speak to me about it, but they have not done so. Those who suspect this say the said Gregory must have earned somehow the 8 ducats a day the King gave him, and to get a slow poison which should leave no trace, they had sent for him (lavoyent envoye querre la), which Chapuys cannot easily believe, as there would be too great danger of its being made known. London, 29 Jan. 1535.

Letters 1536. 29 Jan 1536. Some days ago I was informed from various quarters, which I did not think very good authorities, that notwithstanding the joy shown by the concubine (age 35) at the news of the good Queen's death, for which she had given a handsome present to the messenger, she had frequently wept, fearing that they might do with her as with the good Queen. This morning I have heard from the lady (age 33) mentioned in my letters of the 5th November1, and from her husband (age 40), that they were informed by one of the principal persons at Court that this King had said to some one in great confidence, and as it were in confession, that he had made this marriage, seduced by witchcraft, and for this reason he considered it null; and that this was evident because God did not permit them to have any male issue, and that he believed that he might take another wife, which he gave to understand that he had some wish to do. The thing is very difficult for me to believe, although it comes from a good source. I will watch to see if there are any indications of its probability. Yet I have not forborne to give some little hint of it by a third hand to the Princess' gouvernante (age 60), so as to warn her to treat the Princess a little better; and I have advised the latter to be as familiar as possible with her gouvernante (age 60) so as to make her feel that when the Princess comes to her estate she will not regard her with disfavor.

Note 1. The Marchioness of Exeter (age 33). See Vol. IX., No. 776.

Letters 1536. Vienna Archives. 142. Chapuys to Granvelle.

Thanks him for 3,000 ducats. Expresses his great obligations to Granvelle, who has made him what he is. Excuses himself for not having written lately, which was owing to haste, a slight indisposition, and the trouble occasioned by the death of the Queen, who certainly was very grateful to Granvelle for his good services. Among the last words she said, she made her excuse to his Majesty and you, and also to the comendador mayor, that she had not been able to write, and that I should beg his Majesty and request you too on her part one way or other to finish her business; for the slowness of the remedy and the gentleness shown to those here would destroy her and her daughter, and throw all the kingdom into confusion. The said Queen has not been able to give you proof of her good will, but the Princess, if she lives, will accomplish it, being well informed of your good services to her mother and her.

I have just been told there was some rumour that this King and the king of Scots were to have an interview on the frontiers about Easter. I do not attach much importance to it, because if it were so, the Scotch ambassador would have told me something of it. I have not been inclined to talk much of late days, and I refer you to my long letters to his Majesty. London, 21 Jan. 1535.

P.S.—I had arranged with the Queen's physician that whenever her life should be in danger she should be reminded to affirm in extremis that she had never been known by Prince Arthur, but he forgot it in his grief and trouble. It is suspected that the poison came from Italy, as I shall write to you shortly, but I do not believe it. Fr. From a modern copy, pp. 2.