How far was the failure of the divorce by 1529, the fault of Catherine?
Catherine of Aragon married Henry VIII in 1505, after a brief marriage to Henry’s younger brother Arthur. The marriage to Arthur ended quite shortly after they wedded when Arthur died of an illness. The father of Henry VIII and Arthur was not so keen on a Spanish alignment, however, after his death and Henry VIII being the heir to the throne, Henry VIII’s objective was to achieve great notoriety within Europe. Henry VIII saw the marriage as a means to obtain this goal.
So, in 1505, Henry VIII married Catherine. During the marriage, Catherine had several pregnancies some of which resulted in miscarriages, still births and for one son, death after 57 days. Henry VIII remained a devoted husband, although he partook in extra martial affairs under the nose of Catherine.
Catherine went on to have a successful pregnancy and produced a daughter Mary. Mary survived where the other pregnancies / children did not and thrived. However, although Catherine became pregnant on several other occasions, none were successful and none produced a living son.
Henry VIII was keen to have a son to be an heir to the throne. With his chauvinistic ideology he felt that Catherine was not fulfilling her role by producing a son. Catherine was growing in age and the probability of her producing a son was extremely low. Henry saw this as a curse on his marriage as he had studied the bible contents that relate to being childless if a man takes his brother’s wife. Henry felt something had to be done. He had also fallen in love with Anne Boleyn the younger sibling of one his mistresses Mary Boleyn. Henry saw Anne as young and virile to produce a healthy heir to the throne.
Henry sought a way to dissolve the marriage to Catherine and to do this he would need to be granted a divorce through Rome where the annulment of the marriage would be seen as legitimate across Europe. What Henry wanted to prove was that the marriage between him and Catherine was void to show that it was not a ‘real’ marriage. To divorce on the grounds that he had fallen in love with someone else would not be upheld in Rome and it would damage his reputation within Europe.
This was very difficult to achieve.
Catherine’s nephew was Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor and was a powerful political figure. Being in this position Charles had ‘seniority’ / influential power over Pope Clement VII. For Henry, it would be a very slim chance to obtain a divorce and or annulment as Charles would be very much against this and would not approve of this. Pope Clement would also not approve of the annulment as he did not want to make an enemy of Charles and disgrace him.
Wolsey, a trusted advisor of Henry VIII sought to obtain the annulment on behalf of Henry using his connections and standing. With the imprisonment of Pope Clement as a result of the sacking of Rome, Wolsey saw this as an opportunity to obtain an annulment via a council of Archbishops. The Archbishops of France were not in favour of this and did not want to play along with this request.
Where this failed Wolsey turned to have this heard in England. At this time Pope Clement had been let out of prison, yet still did not want to support this request. Clement provide Henry VIII with options. None of which suited the king.
The options were to:
1. Get divorced in England
2. Or, that Catherine would enter into a nunnery taking her monastery vows freeing Henry to remarry
None of these options suited Henry. He wanted the annulment done via Rome in order for it to be recognised. With the annulment being recognising it would mean that the offspring of both Henry and Catherine (Mary), would not have rights to the throne and would therefore legitimise any further offsprings from future marriages (Anne Boleyn).
Catherine was for sometime unaware of what Henry was up to. When she did find out, Catherine was determined to fight for her and…