Category Archives: Mistreatment of women

Are we forgetting the past?

This is something that’s been bugging me personally for the past few weeks and I just have to make this point. Really, how many of us are prepared to put the people of the past first or even takes events and people of the past seriously at all?

The amount of people I’ve seen messing about and refusing to work when the aim of the lesson was studying the Holocaust or sniggering when they hear of some of the traumatic details of the personal lives of various characters.

Somehow, I think we need to find more respect for the past. It’s a fact that one day the present and future will be the past too. Remember that. Do you want to be forgotten too?



Filed under General, Misjudgment debate, Mistreatment of women

A Brief Timeline of Joan of Arc

I noticed this morning checking today’s events that there are many ‘on-this-day’s regarding Joan. So here is a very brief timeline of her life.

1412 (probably January 6): Joan is born in a small town in the Champagne region of France, Domremy.

1422: In quick succession of each other Henry V of England and Charles VI of France die. In was agreed in a treaty signed in 1420 that declared Charles’ son illegitimate, married his daughter Catherine of Valois to Henry of England and stated Henry as his successor. Henry V’s young son, Henry VI of England, takes both thrones with John, Duke of Bedford, as regent.

1424 (Summer): Joan first starts to see visions, one of which she identified as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret and claimed that they had told her to drive the English from France and to take the Dauphin to Rheims for his coronation.

1428: Joan went to Vaucouleurs to petition the garrison commander, Count Robert de Baudricourt, for permission to visit the Royal Court at Chinon. She received a sarcastic response.

1429: In a second meeting she made a remarkable prediction about a military reversal near Orleans. Her prediction was soon proved correct and de Baudricourt allowed her an escort to Chinon. Joan met with the Dauphin at Chinon on March 6. She is allowed to lead an army in the dress of a knight. The siege of Orleans was finally lifted on May 6. There followed another series of battles. On July 17 the Dauphin was crowned Charles VII of France at Rheims. However, on September 8 she was injured in a failed attack on Paris.

1430: On May 23 she was arrested by Burgundians at Compiegne and sold to the English.

1431: On January 9 her trial on began on various charges in Rouen. On February 21 there was the first public trial in front of a court. The trial sessions moved to prison on March 10. On May 9, Joan was threatened with torture. On May 28, Joan ‘relapses’ by dressing in men’s clothes and admitting that she was once again in communication with the voices since her abjuration and rejection of them on 24. This gave an excuse for a change of heresy. On May 30 she was burnt at the stake.

That means that today is the anniversary of her capture by the Burgundians. I really need to look into this girl properly one day… I’ve only done the major events of her life.

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Filed under Mistreatment of women, On this day...

Queen Anne Boleyn

Today we remember Queen Anne Boleyn as we mark the 475th anniversary of her death. No one knows the date of her birth so on the anniversary of her death I like to celebrate her life as well as mourn her death. Here are two things I’ve done this week (known as ‘Anne Boleyn week’ to some of us):

Here’s a sketch I did of Anne, the fauvist version of it (unfinished!) and my B-necklace which came on 17th and is part of my birthday present for this year… (Sorry- I really can’t work out how to get these picture to come up the way I want and I’ve got revision to do!)


Filed under General, Mistreatment of women, On this day..., Six Wives

The Final Eighteen Months of Queen Marie Antoinette

I realised when looking at comments on my earlier post, that we really do pick out the negatives of the life of Marie Antoinette and exaggerate them greatly until we have a completely negative image. What does this mean? We ignore the positives. I can’t blame anyone- it’s so easy to become hypnotised by the propaganda. Well, here’s my account of the final eighteen months of the life of Queen Marie Antoinette and I hope it will show her in a positive and sympathetic light. It starts in the midst of the French Revolution…

On April 20th 1792 France declared war on Austria. Prussia allied with Austria. In June, the Jacobins begun to become more and more radical and started to favour the idea of a republic in France. This was dangerous for King Louis XVI, so he replaced his Jacobin ministers with more moderate Feuillants. On 20th June, a large crowd invaded the Tuileries and demanded the return of the Jacobin ministers. The king was forced to don a liberty cap and toast the health of the people. On July 25th, Austria and Prussia issued the Brunswick Manifesto, a document threatening to invade France if any harm should come to the royal family. It reached Paris on 28th July. On 29th, Robespierre called for the removal of the king. Between August 3rd and 10th, Parisians petition the Legislative Assembly to suspend the powers of the king, but they do nothing. On August 10th the Monarchy fell after Sans-culotte militants invaded and pillaged Tuileries, forcing the Legislative Assembly to suspend all royal power and place to royal family under the protection of the National Assembly. Under pressure from the Sans-culottes, on 11th August, the National Assembly voted to call the election of a National Convention by universal male suffrage to replace itself and write a new constitution. The Assembly authorised the arrest of all those suspected of being an enemy of the Revolution and banned all royalist newspapers. On 13th August the royal family were imprisoned in the Temple Tower. September 2nd to 6th saw the September Massacres. About 1500 people were taken from the prisons of Paris and executed. Amongst them was the best friend of Marie Antoinette. Princesse de Lamballe, whose head was paraded around the city. Marie Antoinette fainted on hearing the news of the death of one of her closest friends. On 20th, the French army defeated the Prussians at Valmy. The Legislative Assembly is dissolved and replaced by the by the National Convention. On 22nd, the abolition on the Monarchy was completed by the National Convention. France was now a republic and discussions for a new constitution began. On October 11th the National Convention appointed a largely Girondin committee to create the new constitution. On December 11th the Treason trial of Louis XVI begun. Ten days later the English House of Commons encouraged war with France to help protect Louis. But it was too late. By 17th January 1793 the French had found their king guilty of Treason and condemned him to death. He was allowed one last supper with his family when he urged his son not to seek vengeance. On 21st, the king was taken to the guillotine and was executed as a traitor to his own country. Thus, Marie Antoinette was restyled by the Convention as ‘Widow Capet’, as ’Capet’ was often mistook as the family name of the French Monarchy. At this time she refused to eat and her health was in rapid decline. In February and March there were riots in Paris, but not over the death of a king, but because of a desperate food shortage.  On February 1st, France declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands and on March 7th on Spain. Catholic and Royalist revolts began in western France. On March 10th, the Revolutionary Tribunal was created to try enemies of the Republic. On 21st surveillance committees were created to identify suspected enemies of the Revolution or traitors to the nation. In April Robespierre proposed a new version of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which restricted property rights and established society’s duty to achieve the well-being of all citizens. On June 24th, the Convention approved this far more radical Constitution to be ratified by national referendum, but immediately suspended it for duration of national emergency and war and it is never put into effect. During this, the fate of Marie Antoinette herself was being decided. Some believed that her death was necessary, others that she should be exchanged for French prisoners of war or for a ransom from the Holy Roman Emperor. At the start of July, the Dauphin, Louis Charles, was ordered to be separated from the royal family. But when the commissioners came on the night of the 3rd, Marie Antoinette would not let them take her son, even after the commissioners threatened to kill her. It was only when, two hours later, that the guards threatened to kill her daughter, Marie-Thérèse, that she handed the child over. Then Louis Charles was put under the protection of Antoine Simon, a drunkard shoemaker, and was imprisoned  on the floor below his mother and sister in the Temple Tower. Here he suffered beatings and torture and was forced to drink large quantities of alcohol. He was taught by Simon to curse royalty and the aristocracy and to blaspheme. He was frequently threatened with the guillotine which caused him to faint. He was told that he had fallen from his parents’ favour and that they did not want him, although they were both still alive. And Marie Antoinette, much to her dismay, could do nothing to help her son. On 13th, Charlotte Corday assassinated the Jacobin leader, Jean-Paul Marat. She was sent to the guillotine aged just twenty-four on 17th.

Things were going no better for Marie Antoinette. I think this quote pretty much sums her life up:

‘I was a queen, and you took away my crown; a wife, and you killed my husband; a mother, and you deprived me of my children. My blood alone remains: take it, but do not make me suffer long.’

 On 2nd August 1793 Marie Antoinette was taken from her sister-in-law, Madame Elisabeth, and her daughter, Marie-Thérèse, to the Conciergerie Prison. She was a former Queen, yet she was still Prisoner No. 280. There were various attempts to rescue her from her prison, but Marie Antoinette refused them all. A journalist and Politian had promised readers the head of Antoinette.’ It seemed that events were turning that way. On 5th September, the Reign of Terror began with Robespierre declaring terror the ‘order of the day.’ It would claim an estimated 18500-40000 lives. France was becoming an ever more dangerous place to be. Marie Antoinette was finally tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal on 14th October. Unlike the king, who had been given time to prepare a defence, the queen was given less than a day to prepare for her trial. The whole event was a sham, probably intended to humiliate Marie Antoinette further. Most of the charges, if not all, were rumours and untrue. Amongst the charges were orchestrating orgies in Versailles, sending millions of livres of treasury money to Austria, plotting to kill the Duke of Orléans, incest with her son, declaring her son king and orchestrating the Diamond Necklace Affair and the massacre of the Swiss Guards in 1792. The charge of incest with her son is probably the most memorable. This was testified by Louis Charles himself after his training by Simon. In the trial, Marie Antoinette protested to the charge of incest emotionally, making a desperate appeal to the women of the audience who she felt would sympathise with her. She was right, and the same women who had stormed her palace in 1789 now supported her. Throughout the trial, she had remained composed, but when she was reminded of the charge of incest, she replied, ‘If I have not replied it is because Nature itself refuses to respond to such a charge laid against a mother.’ She had the female audience with her, but ironically, the jury was all male. Another point of the trial that Robespierre would be disgusted by was when the Marquis de La Tour du Pin de Gouvernet, was brought forward as a witness to the charges that Marie Antoinette had been involved in plans to end the Revolution by military means, the Marquis bowed low to the queen and continued to call her ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Her Majesty’ despite the judges insisting she be called ‘Widow Capet.’ However, the outcome of the trial had been decided before it had even begun by the Committee of Public Safety. Marie Antoinette would never be found innocent. On 16th, she was found guilty of all charges and condemned to death, as her husband before her, by the infamous guillotine. As she was escorted back to her cell, the nuns in the Prison for adhering to their Catholic faith reached out their hands to her and begged her to pray for them when she entered Heaven. Lieutenant de Busne offered her a glass of water and his arm as she walked down the steep stairs, holding his hat as a sign of respect for the former Queen. In her cell again, she was given a candle, ink and paper, with these she wrote her final letter. This was to Madame Elisabeth, it started:

It is to you, Sister, that I am writing for the last time. I have just been sentenced to death, but not to a shameful one, since this death is only shameful to criminals, whereas I am going to rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the firmness which he showed during his last moments.

I am calm, as one may well be when one’s conscience

is clear, though deeply grieved at having to forsake my poor children. You know that I existed only for them and for you, my good and affectionate sister. You who, in the kindness of your heart, have sacrificed everything in order to be with us – in what a terrible position do I leave you!

The letter never reached Elisabeth. She also wrote a brief note in her prayer-book. It was 4:30am.

A seventeen year old called Rosalie Lamorlière had been assigned to wait on the Queen and had developed a deep affection for her mistress. It was now around 7am. Rosalie begged Marie Antoinette to eat the soup she had prepared. She accepted, seeing the logic of eating, but could only manage a small amount. To her there was no point in eating when her end was so near. She was told that she was forbidden to die in mourning, and that she could not wear black to the guillotine. She was still mourning her husband, and reminding the crowds of his fate would surely provoke some sympathy. Also, she had been suffering from what was possibly a uterine fibrora and had been bleeding excessively. Other than black, she had only a simple white cotton dress. She was certainly far away from her extravagant and expensive wardrobe for which she had been famed. When she wished to change her chemise, which had been stained with blood, the gendarme officer who had replaced Lieutenant de Busne as he had been arrested for showing too much respect, would not leave the room or even face the wall. So Marie Antoinette crouched in a corner of her cell with Rosalie doing her best to shield her. She probably would have found this extremely embarrassing, as she hated any violation of her privacy.  With her cotton dress she wore a black petticoat and a bonnet adorned with black to show some respect to her dead husband and hoped that the black petticoat would be enough to hide the blood. The former Queen looked old beyond her thirty-seven years, the Revolution had aged her. At 10am, Marie Antoinette was found kneeling in prayer. The Court clerk and judges then entered and, as required by law, read her sentence. Then Sanson, the public executioner, entered and bound her hands behind her back and cut her hair. Some say that she made a small protest, as the king’s hands had not been tied until he reached the guillotine. But alas, the queen was not to receive the same respect as her husband. She was taken to the clerk’s office for the last formalities. At 11am, she left the Conciergerie and is taken to the front of the Courthouse leaving Rosalie sobbing and a single gold watch– a childhood present from her mother. Here, two horses pulling an open wooden cart awaited her. Louis had been taken to his death in a closed carriage. It was yet another blow to her dignity. She would be treated, not as the former queen that she was, but as a common criminal. However, the security is large, with 30000 men called to prevent any escape. She was handled roughly onto the cart. There a sworn priest (that is, a priest that had sworn alliance to the Constitution) accompanied her. Yet again, there was a cruel comparison to the execution of her husband, as Louis had a priest of his own choice. Her shame was displayed to the many crowds. As she had promised Elisabeth in her last letter, she refused the services of the priest and treated him as a stranger. Sanson and his helper also sat in the cart, holding their hats in respect for the woman who was once their queen. As she passed the people, some spat, cried out insults, laughs. But there was also a subtle, stunned silence. The extravagant queen had gone. There were no lavish feathers or jewels; just white. People remarked on how calm she seemed as she sat very straight in the cart, her face morphed into dignified acceptance. Others comment on an air of hatred and bitter insolence. As she passed the artist Jean-Jacques David made his famous sketch. It this, some saw an awful, ugly woman full of spite, others a heroic dignity. She would be as controversial in death as she had been in life. At about 12pm, the cart finally reached its destination of the Place de la Revolution, where the Tuileries Palace could be seen. At one point, it is said that she looked up at it and her eyes filled with tears and her lips quiver, but soon she was composed and calmly stepped from the cart and climbed the steps to the scaffold and the guillotine. As she stood looking up at the guillotine, the priest turned to her and said: ’This is the moment, Madame, to arm yourself with courage,’ to which she replied ’The moment when my ills are to end is not a time when courage is going to fail me.’ Walking to the guillotine, she stepped on Sanson’s foot accidentally, and thus spoke her last words, which can be translated as: ‘Pardon me Sir, I meant not to do it.’ She was then strapped into place and lowered under the blade. At 12:15pm on 16th October 1793, the blade fell. And so ended the life of one of the most remarkable women France had ever seen.

 Her story really is one of true tragedy and irony. Her end still evokes me to shed a tear each time I remind myself of it. I know she is one of the most controversial women ever to have lived but I challenge you not to find just a little sympathy for her and a shudder and the true ignorance and cruelty that we can give to others. I think dear Marie is one whose legend will never die and will always be seen differently in the eyes of each beholder.

Here is the sketch. What are your opinions on it?

File:Jacques-Louis David - Marie Antoinette on the Way to the Guillotine.jpg


Filed under French Revolution, In the media..., Misjudgment debate, Mistreatment of women

Who’s been maligned..?

So you should remember a while ago I asked if you’d be so kind as to write the first thing that came to your mind when you thought of various women of history. I know it’s been longer than I first thought, but I’ve just put it all together and here are the results. They’ve been most interesting to take a look at…

And a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated and thanks so much to Claire at for including the popular stereotypes associated with the women. It was very good to compare!

Marie Antoinette

  • spent ridiculous amounts of money on gambling
  • Didn’t she say something about cake and wasn’t she a nymphomaniac?
  • excesses in spending and frivolousness
  • spent lots and lots of money
  • Young bride, spent lots of money
  • Victim of a sham trial.
  • French queen who wore purple shoes at her execution
  • a queen from years ago
  • Beautiful name
  • money


2. Katherine of Aragon

  • One of henrys wives and had a strong character
  • tragic pregnancy incidents
  • Henry’s ex wife
  • Devout Catholic
  • The boring wife.
  • A woman of faith and with an amazing strength of character.
  • Henry viii’s first wife
  • Henry VIII’s wife. Mother of Mary I
  • Divorced, beheaded, died!!
  • Henry viii


3. Kateryn Howard

  • another one of the wives and was Anne Boleyn’s cousin
  • Henry’s ‘rose without a thorn’
  • Anne Boleyn’s cousin
  • Flirty young girl, who liked fashion and to have fun
  • Tart.
  •  A young woman who had no idea of what she was getting into.
  • Henry’s last wife
  • Giggling and immature one on The Tudors
  • Beautiful
  • pretty

4. Jane Seymour

  • another wife and she was number 3
  • hard working, caring lady
  • Lady who cares / caring
  • Quiet shy lady
  • Either the boring meek and mild one or the woman who trapped Henry and played games.
  • A woman who made the best of the situation and tried to bring Henry stability.
  • Buried besides Henry viii because she gave birth to the heir to the throne
  • Mother of Edward. Died.
  • Good actress
  • Eddie
5. Margaret Beaufort
  • I think she became the countess of Richmond and derby
  • Henry viii’s granny
  • Henry VIII’s gran
  • Henry VIII grandmother?
  • An overbearing woman and the mother-in-law from Hell.
  • A strong woman with an incredibly strong will.
  • the red queen!
  • who’s that?
  • Don’t know
  • not a clue

6. Elizabeth Wydvillie

  • born in 1437 I think
  • the slandered queen
  • I think she was born in 1438
  • Henry VIII mother?
  • Witch, seductress.
  • Wife of Edward IV who tried desperately to protect her family after his death.
  • the white queen!
  • who’s that?
  • Don’t know
  • not a clue

7. Anne Boleyn

  • think she had 6 fingers on one hand
  • had 6 fingers in one hand
  • Was married to Henry VIII
  • Henry VIII second wife who was found guilty of treason, witchcraft, adultery and incest and was sentenced to death
  • Six fingered witch and whore.
  • A misunderstood and maligned queen with strength, courage, wit, magnetism and faith.
  • Henry viii’s second wife and one of your favourite people!
  • Love of Henry’s life and mother of Elizabeth. Clever.
  • feel sorry for her.

8. Elizabeth I

  • she almost died of small pox in 1562
  • died of blood poisoning
  •  Died of poisoning (blood I think)
  • Daughter of Anne Boleyn, one of the great queens on England, ruled for over 50 years
  • Scottish/French cousin, kept imprisoned for many years and then was beheaded
  • Virgin Queen and Gloriana.
  • A woman who put her country first.
  •  greatest monarch ever-the golden age of Britain
  • Very powerful Queen. Proved women can rule.
  • Virtuous
  • red head

9. Lady Jane Grey

  • no idea who she is sorry
  • the nine day queen
  • Haven’t heard of her before
  • The 9 day Queen
  • Tragic victim.
  • Still a tragic victim but one who was prepared to fight for her crown.
  • was supposed to rule after Edward vii and was executed by queen Mary
  • Reigned a few days.
  • Nine day Queen
  • not a clue

10. Mary, Queen of Scots

  • she was crowned in 1543
  • Mary i’s cousin, i think
  • Crowned queen in 1543 I think
  • The foolish one who plotted.
  • A woman who followed her heart and who had a weakness for bad boys!
  • Elizabeth 1′s cousin
  • Queen of Scots that was locked in a Tower. Elizabeth’s rival.
  • Feisty
  • bloody

11. Mary I

  • no idea sorry
  • bloody Mary
  • Bloody Mary
  • Bloody Mary, burned many Protestants at the stake
  • Bloody Mary.
  • A woman who was psychologically damaged but who paved the way for Elizabeth’s reign and was a strong queen.
  • Elizabeth 1′s sister
  • Don’t know
  • Elegant
  • not a clue

12. Anne of Cleves

  • another boring wife of Henry
  • apparently smelly and ugly
  • Another wife of Henry
  • “The Kings Dear Sister” & “Flanders Mare”
  • Flanders Mare.
  • A pragmatist who made the best of her situation
  • henrys wife who he divorced because she was ugly
  • Henry conned into marrying her. Never really liked her.
  • Unlucky
  • divorce

13. Katherine Parr

  • another wife? I think and oh was there 3 Catherine’s??
  • surviving wife of Henry viii
  • Another wife
  • The wife that outlived Henry VIII
  • Old nursemaid.
  • An incredibly intelligent woman and published author who was clever enough to survive a plot against her. A good mother to her stepchildren.
  • another of Henry viii’s wives
  • Outlived Henry
  • Had the worst of Henry
  • survived

14. Elizabeth of York

  • and again no idea
  • no idea :/ sorry
  • haven’t got a clue sorry
  • don’t know
  • The Queen of Hearts.
  • A good woman, queen and mother
  • the white princess
  • Is that our Queen now?
  • Influential
  • not a clue

15. Catherine de’ Medici

  • never heard of her.. sorry
  • Haven’t heard of Catherine ” ”
  • Don’t know sorry
  • don’t know
  • I don’t know much about her I’m afraid. She’s one I’ve never really researched.
  • don’t know but is she related to the posh guy on the cbbc programme leonardo?
  • Never heard of her.
  • Never heard of her?
  • not a clue


Okay, so I don’t feel quite as bad about knowing hardly anything about Catherine de’Medici now! I’ll post some research that I do later on maybe..?

I think here are the main points that I’ve drawn from this little experiment ( and I know the things I’ve picked out aren’t for everyone and I apologize for that!):

  • People do judge on the bad moments people have
  • People pay more attention to bad than good
  • People know Henry’s Wives as just being another wife…
  • The Six Wives are known by their number and what Henry did to them
  • Our opinions are influenced by popular culture! Just because people appear in a way in TV and book portrayals doesn’t meant they really were like that!
  • Some women are, as they were seen at the time, known for being the mere mother or wife of someone
  • Most people seem confused by family trees…
  • People get confused between people with the same name
  • We are still victims of historical propaganda

Now, I suppose it’s only fair if I answer the questions too…

1. Marie Antoinette- Dignified and courageous to the bittersweet end

2. Katherine of Aragon- A woman with a great sense of faith and destiny

3. Kateryn Howard- Heart over head and just needed some love

4. Jane Seymour- So much controversy I’m not sure any more!

5. Margaret Beaufort- A woman who would always fight

6. Elizabeth Wydvillie- The woman who defended her honour only to be slandered

7. Anne Boleyn- Henry’s one true love

8. Elizabeth I- Put her country before all else

9. Lady Jane Grey- If only she wasn’t Royal…

10. Mary, Queen of Scots- Elizabeth’s complete opposite

11. Mary I- A woman who never forgot who she was

12. Anne of Cleves- Found herself with the wrong man

13. Katherine Parr- Wife, mother and Queen of great excellence

14. Elizabeth of York- Mother of a Monarchy

15. Catherine de’ Medici- The person we really should know far more about!

So once again thank you to everyone who participated (And I’m sorry if this is dodgy- it’s late!)

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Filed under General, Henry VIII, In the media..., Misjudgment debate, Mistreatment of women, Six Wives, The Unknown..., Tudor

Turmoil and Tragedy in England and Spain

It struck me this morning of how as we entered the Renaissance a series of tragedies shock the Royal Families of both England and Spain, causing major consequences for both and changing history.

In England we saw the deaths of many of the children of Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York. Princess Elizabeth Tudor (second daughter) died aged three in September 1895; Edmund, Duke of Somerset died in June 1500 aged one; Arthur, Prince of Wales died aged 15 in April 1502; Queen Elizabeth of York died of childbed complications along with her daughter, Katherine in February 1503. What did this mean for the King? He had only one son, Henry (VIII), this left the crown unsteady. If Henry died as suddenly as Arthur had he would have no one to succeed him, ending the Tudor dynasty and clearing a path for the descendants of George, Duke of Clarence or of Edward IV, all of whom had equal claims to the throne. The York alliance was broken with the death of Elizabeth. It was the alliance that kept the claimants of the House of York happy. Now there could be more wars. And without Elizabeth, there could be no more heirs lest he remarry. Finding a suitable bride could take years.

In Spain, the only son of the formidable Ferdinand and Isabella, Juan, Prince of Asturias, died in October 1497 aged nineteen, leaving a pregnant wife, Archduchess Margaret of Austria. She gave birth to a stillborn daughter. In 1498 the eldest daughter and heir presumptive of Ferdinand and Isabella died aged twenty-seven in childbirth. Her son gave hope to Iberia. Heir to Portugal, Castile and Aragon, he carried hopes of uniting the whole of Iberia. He died aged just one in 1500. Due to Salic Law in Aragon, no woman could take the throne. Ferdinand had no male, legitimate children. This was a major cause of the later squabbles between the Hapsburgs and the Trastamarans. The eldest surviving child of Ferdinand and Isabella, Juana (‘the Mad’) was declared mad as Ferdinand and her husband, Philip, bickered over her regency. Spain would later be taken by Juana’s son, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and Spain fell under Hapsburg control from then on.

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Filed under Mistreatment of women, Spain, The Unknown..., Tudor

Like mother, like daughter..?

This was intended to be posted on Mothering Sunday, but I was kept I’m a day behind… To mark mothers’ day I thought I’d talk about various mother-daughter relationships, mainly regarding daughters that never really knew their mothers and will hope to leave the question of whether daughters were impacted by their mothers throughout history. I think I will focus on a very interesting relationship between two remarkable women of history- Catherine of Aragon and Mary I.

Firstly, I think the relationship between Catherine of Aragon and Mary I. I think that there is an immediate link between them in our insight of Mary’s reign. Mary was born in 1516 and was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. As it soon became apparent that Catherine would not produce a healthy male child a strain was placed on their marriage, but for a while everything ploughed on. As their only child, it was assumed that Mary would succeed after Henry. She live the life of a true Princess, living luxuriously and was often spoilt by both of her parents. She was betrothed notably to both the Dauphin of France (French version of the Prince of Wales) and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, depending on who her father was allied with at the time. The Emperor was her cousin on her mother’s side and her mother was very fond of Charles and therefore the match was much supported by her. For a time she wore a brooch inscribed with ‘The Emperour’ who was sixteen year her senior. The contract was soon abandoned, but his obviously left a mark. She was generally refered to as the Princess of Wales although never formally invested with the title.

Things went downhill for Catherine and Mary with Anne Boleyn triggering the bitter divorce battle.  In 1531 Catherine was banished from Court and was not allowed any contact with her daughter. At this time Mary began to suffer from ill-health including irregular menstruation and depression and it is disputed as to the main cause of this- stress, puberty or her own personal emotions getting the better of her? It was Catherine’s fight that I believe really spurred on the Henrican Reformation. If she had quietly entered a nunnery I do nt think that the Reformation would have taken place. In 1533 Henry married Anne Boleyn and Henry’s first marriage of twenty-four years was annulled and Mary became known as ‘the Lady Mary’ rather than Princess and was declared a bastard. The line of sucession was instead transferred to Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth (I) and her household dissolved and servants dismissed and was expelled from Court. She later served as Lady-in-Waiting to Elizabeth. Ouch. She was described as ‘unconsolable’ when Catherine died in early 1536. Many of her supporters rebelled against Henry in the pilgrimage of Grace in 1537 and were executed for it, just after her reconciliation with Henry on the gentle persuasions of Jane Seymour, Anne Boleyn’s successor. Jane died giving Henry his son, Edward (VI). Mary was made her half-brother’s godmother. Her Godmother and best friend of her mother, (Blessed) Lady Margaret Pole was literally hacked to death on 1541. Following the execution of Kitty Howard, she was invited to act in the place of Queen- a role she played to perfection as her mother did. Her last stepmother, Katherine Parr, was a similar age to Mary and they were quick friends. Katherine bought the royal family closer together and this can be seen in the portrait The Family of Henry VIII at Hampton Court and the Succession Act of 1544. In this Mary was placed in the line of succession after Edward although still legally illegitimate. Anyway, I’m rambling…

So how did her mother influence her actions as Queen?

I think one of the first things we notice is her choice of a husband. Prince Phillip (II) of Spain was her mother’s great-nephew and son of the Emperor Charles V. Perhaps the Spanish match was in memory of Catherine..? I don’t think Mary ever forgot her roots in Spain. Her grandparents, Ferdinand and Isabella, had founded the Spanish Inquisition and it only seemed fitting that she should carry on their work in the form of the English Counter- Reformation and her burning of Protestants. I think that in this Mary teaches us a very important lesson in life- we must never forget who we truly are. It’s why I love her…

Next, how she would be remembered. Catherine had fought somewhat recklessly, not thinking entirely of consequences against Henry with the ultimate consequence being, in the worse of cases, her execution. But she wasn’t just going to end the fight which could be interpreted as brave or plain stupid… In her burning Mary did the same. History and popular legend has remembered her as ‘Bloody Mary’. Would she really care? I think not. She was doing what she knew to be right. Actions similar to her mother’s…

Also, the way that she devoted herself to men. Catherine had stayed by Henry untill the very end, devoting herself to him as was expected of a wife in Tudor England. I think Catherine did want this to pass onto her daughter as I think it was one of her strongest morals. We saw this, as previously mentioned, with things like Mary’s ‘The Emperour’ brooch. Mary would later devote herself to Phillip of Spain, declaring herself in love with him on the first viewing of his portrait. She was often persuaded by Parliament to instead consider an English husband. She refused- she had fallen in love with Phillip and would have no other.

finally, how she had a natural way with attracting popularity. It may seem strange to us now, but throughout most of her life and especially in her early reign, Mary was very popular, as was Catherine of Aragon. I know it does not seem as if it was Catherine’s influence, but more genetics, as Henry too attracted much popularity (again, it seems very strange to us now), but perhaps there is a slight sense that Mary watched her parents from an early age and made some useful mental notes. I like to think of it that way anyway…

I’m not quite sure how much Catherine really did influence Mary, but I do like to think that she was one her greatest influences throughout her life and reign. I think their personalities were relatively similar although Mary did seem to inherit some of her father’s rudeness, authority and general Tudor-ness (because I use such perfect historical terminology). I really do love them both and their relationship fascinates me…

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Filed under Henry VIII, Mistreatment of women, On this day..., Six Wives, Tudor