Thursday 24 June 2010

The Coronation of Katherine of Aragon

Stephanie A. Mann, author of the book Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, has an account of the coronation of the 17 year-old Henry VIII and his 23 year-old queen, Katherine of Aragon, in 1509. This year is the 501st anniversary of that coronation. With the exception of Anne Boleyn, none of Henry's other wives were crowned and, as such, Katherine and Anne were the last women to undergo the full panoply of the medieval Catholic Queen's Coronation in England. By the time the next Queen-consort, Anne of Denmark, was crowned in 1603, England was a Protestant nation and the ancient rite of the Coronation rite was much-altered.

Stephanie's account can be read here.


  1. This is very interesting, thank you for posting and linking. Does anyone know why none of Henry's other wives were crowned?

  2. Hi Hannah,

    There are allegedly fairly embryonic plans to arrange a coronation for Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard. However, the promise of a coronation in York for Jane was almost certainly nothing more than a clever ploy by the government to convince the northerners that they were sincere in their desire for reconciliation in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace.

    Interestingly, the rumours that Catherine Howard would receive a coronation only surfaced in the spring of 1541, when the young Queen momentarily believed herself to be pregnant. So it's my hunch that there are two reasons why Jane, Anna and the two Catherines were never crowned.

    The first is that Henry was now only interested in crowning them once they produced a son. In his eyes, the coronations of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn had been a "waste," given that they produced "only" Mary and Elizabeth. In his eyes, he wouldn't make the same mistake again until a future wife had delivered on his investment in her - and it was only Jane Seymour who did so and the result of her success was a premature death.

    Secondly, the coronation of Anne Boleyn in particular had created a myriad of problems for Henry's ego and the government's position. Since Henry had already been crowned, who could not be crowned again, and Katherine's coronation had very much been a junior ceremony incorporated into her husband's. Anne's, on the other hand, had only one leading player and that was the new Queen herself. The result was that Anne's coronation was both extraordinarily lavish and it concentrated all the ritual and splendour directly on her. This meant that when it came time to destroy her, it was almost impossible to do without going to the most extraordinary lengths and it proved ultimately impossible to actually strip her of her title of queen. If any of Henry's subsequent wives were crowned, it would have to be a solo effort - much like Anne Boleyn's - and as Henry grew more and more capricious, he didn't much like the idea of giving another wife the same kind of indepedent ceremonial importance as his second wife had enjoyed.

  3. Thank you for the linking and the additional post about Henry's other wives. I think you are certainly correct about Anne's extravagant coronation--Henry did not want to make that mistake again!


Related Posts with Thumbnails