The Tudor Society

8 November – King Henry VIII praises one wife while trying to marry another!

On this day in Tudor history, 8th November 1528, at Bridewell Palace, King Henry VIII made a rather strange public oration to “the nobility, judges and councillors and divers other persons” to explain his troubled conscience regarding the lawfulness of his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

In today's talk, I share an extract from the king's speech, in which he praises Catherine of Aragon to the hilt even though he'd proposed to another woman, Anne Boleyn. Find out all about this strange situation!

Sources: Appendix C of George Cavendish's "The Life and Death of Cardinal Wolsey" edited by Richard S Sylvester, and "Hall's Chronicle".

Also on this day in history:

  • 1534 – Death of William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy, courtier, scholar and literary patron, at Sutton on the Hill in Derbyshire. He was buried at Barton Blount. Mountjoy was a pupil of the great humanist scholar, Erasmus, and served Henry VIII as Master of the Mint and Chamberlain to Catherine of Aragon. It was Mountjoy who had to tell Catherine of her demotion to Princess Dowager in July 1533.
  • 1543 – Birth of Lettice Knollys, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys and Catherine Carey, granddaughter of Mary Boleyn and wife of Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex; Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester; and Sir Christopher Blount. Lettice was also mother to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex; Penelope Rich, Lady Rich; and Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland.
  • 1602 – The opening of the Bodleian Library (Bodley's Library), Oxford, to the public.
  • 1605 – Deaths of Gunpowder Plot conspirators Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy at Holbeche House on the Staffordshire border. It is thought that they were both shot by a single bullet fired from the gun of John Street of Worcester. Their heads were displayed on London Bridge.

There are 4 comments Go To Comment

  1. M

    Yes, I thought this speech was strange, too. Boy, could be throw some bs around!! It actually makes me feel sorry for Catherine. I have a couple questions about 2 of the other things that happened on this day…
    (1) is William Blount Elizabeth Blount’s father, Henry Fitzroy’s grandfather?
    (2) Lettice Knolleys, she was Elizabeth ‘s second great favorite, the Earl of Essex, his mother? I thought stepmother? Now I somewhat remember reading about this, here, or maybe on tv (I recently watched the Elizabeth movie with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons, so I may be confusing a couple historical people.

    Thanks, Michelle t

    1. R

      Hi Michelle, no Lettice married the Earl of Essex, Walter and had several children, including Robert Devereaux, second Earl of Essex and lover of Elizabeth I. After his death she became the wife of Robert Dudley. Their marriage was a secret one and upset Elizabeth madly. She fell out with her cousin and was banished from Court. She had a young son by Robert Dudley who died as a child and was called the Little Imp. His tomb, together with that of Lettice and Dudley and his brother, Ambrose are all to be seen in the Collegiate Church, Beauchamp Chapel in Warwick, because of their period as Earls of Warwick. John Dudley, their father, whose son married Jane Grey was made Earl of Warwick before he was Duke of Northumberland and Ambrose was also given the title.

      Elizabeth Blount, Bessie was the daughter of Sir John Blount of Kinlet in Lincolnshire. Sir William Blount, 4th Lord Mountjoy was a great favourite of King Henry and married a lady of Catherine of Aragon from Spain. He was something like a second cousin to Sir John, so no relation to Henry Fitroy other than a distant one. Sir John, however, would have been his grandfather, yes.

      1. M

        Ok, thanks!

  2. R

    I believe the courtier or foreign observer who asked about the legitimate status of Mary was told to do so as a prelude to this speech. Nobody outside of England believed Henry and Katherine were not lawfully married. Even the Universities were badly divided and only ambiguous in their response. No representative of any King denied it and in fact it was always Mary they wanted, not Elizabeth as a potential bride.

    Henry did believe many of the qualities in Katherine that he stated, but he no longer believed their marriage was valid and he wanted an annulment, all the more readily as he had wife no 2_standing by on speed dial and he had proposed to Anne Boleyn. I am sure he meant to praise Katherine as his wife and he wouldn’t have left her but for the fact that he had no sons and Anne would have been his mistress. Anne, however, was the woman he wanted to be the mother of future sons and now there was no way he wanted to return to Katherine now, even though he still admired her. I am sure Katherine would have been offered an honest and good retirement but she wasn’t going to accept Henry’s point of view. She was the crowned and anointed holy lawful Queen of England and she had no reason to accept her marriage to Henry as anything but lawful. This was why a Court was going to make a judgement, which Henry hoped would be in his favour, but Katherine would pull of her great legal coup and appealing to Henry made her great speech and then had the matter taken to Rome. This speech is Henry setting everyone up in his favour, putting on a good front for the public and his nobles and those watching in the background, Anne especially, I don’t think were fooled for one moment and must have felt really angry. But, hey, one has to go through the motions of reluctance.

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8 November – King Henry VIII praises one wife while trying to marry another!