The Tudor Society

Catherine of Aragon’s Stillbirth on 31 January 1510 – The Primary Source

Catherine_of_Aragon_with_a_monkey_HorenboutOn this day in history, 31st January 1510, Queen Catherine of Aragon gave birth to a still-born daughter. Although she had lost her baby, Catherine's abdomen stayed rounded and actually began to increase in size, leading her physicians to conclude that she was still pregnant with the twin of the baby she'd lost. This was not true. You can read my article about this over at The Anne Boleyn Files - click here - but I thought it would be interesting to share the primary source here.

Catherine's confesssor, Fray Diego, wrote to Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine's father, on 25 May 1510 telling him the whole story:

To his Highness. From Diego Fernandez, Chancellor, 25th of May 1510.
Most high and most powerful Lord,
All the past time I did not dare to write to your Highness of the condition of the Queen my Lady, in order not to annoy her, and because all the physicians deceived themselves until time was the judge of the truth. The last day of January in the morning her Highness brought forth prematurely a daughter, without any other pain except that one knee pained her the night before. This affair was so secret that no one knew it until now, except the King my Lord, two Spanish women, a physician and I. The physician said that her Highness remained pregnant of another child, and it was believed and kept secret.

Her Highness, in order to conceal it, did not guard herself against the cold, and her uterus intumuit so much as never was seen in gravida muliere. Her Highness believed herself to be with child, although she had some doubts. It has pleased our Lord to be her physician in such a way that uterus decrevit, and by his infinite mercy he has again permitted her to be with child. This your Highness is to believe, for it is as true as I am a man. Her Highness denies it to all the world and to the King, but to me she has told it that she is since three months [pregnant], and her Highness told me that uterus suus iam intumescit multum; her Highness cannot deny it, because she is already, by the grace of our Lord, very large, so much so that all the physicians know and affirm it, and a Spanish woman who is in her private chamber told me the same thing from secret signs which they have. I pledge my word to your Highness that it is so, and I hope in God that it has been a beginning to give to your Majesty a hundred grandsons of their Graces my Sovereigns instead of one.

Her Highness is very healthy, and the most beautiful creature in the world, with the greatest gaiety and contentment that ever was. The King my Lord adores her, and her Highness him. Your Highness is bound to give many thanks to our Lord that he gave you two such Christian children in their Graces my Sovereigns, so very wise, learned, and with all the natural perfections above all others. I kiss the royal feet and hands of your Majesty for your confidence. In all that Don Luis Caroz, ambassador of your Highness, shall command me, you will find me a very true servant of your Highness as I am. The interest of my stay in this land after serving God [paper missing] your Highness and the Queen my Lady with very firm and entire faith. The day that your Highnesses shall command that I return to my convent I am quite prepared to go, to pray to God for your persons and royal states, which may our Lord preserve with many more additions of kingdoms and lordships.

From Greenwich, the 25th of May.
The perpetual and humble servant and chaplain of your Highness.
V. Didacus Fernandez.

'Queen Katharine: 1510', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain: Supplement To Volumes 1 and 2, Queen Katherine; Intended Marriage of King Henry VII To Queen Juana, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1868), pp. 34-44 [accessed 28 January 2015].

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