Kate Middleton: The Queen Catherines That Came Before Her

by AlexandriaIngham

Kate Middleton will become Queen Catherine when William becomes king. There have been five Catherines before her and none had the best of lives.

When Kate Middleton married Prince William on April 29, 2011, she knew that one day she would become Queen Consort of England. That thought was possibly daunting enough. Catherine isn’t the luckiest of names when it comes to queen consorts. There have been five Catherines to take the title before her but hopefully it’s sixth time the charm.

It’s worth taking a look into the previous Queen Catherines. Maybe this will give the insight to why they failed and what Kate Middleton can do differently. Of course, times have changed and this marriage was clearly out of love and not power.

Catherine of Valois: The Wife of Henry V

Catherine of Valois was queen for just two years before her husband died in battle. She then became the Queen Mother to Henry VI of England.

Catherine of Valois was the first Queen Catherine of EnglandThe first Catherine to be Queen Consort of England was the French Princess Catherine of Valois. She only had the title for two years, between 1420 (her marriage to Henry V) and 1422 when Henry died in France. It would explain why there was just one child during that marriage—Henry VI of England, who became king when he was just eight months old.

Catherine was not the first of her family to become Queen Consort of England. Her sister, Isabella, married Richard II when she was just seven years old. Richard was deposed in 1399 and died the next year, meaning that they had no children to continue his line.

After the death of Henry V, Catherine of Valois remained in England as the Dowager Queen of England. She was just 21 and still able to marry; in fact, she was someone that many people would want to marry. Catherine wanted to marry Edmund Beaufort but parliament passed a bill. If the queen dowager married anyone without the permission of the king—or the Lord Protector in this case—the husband would lose all possessions and lands. Catherine could not get the permission she needed and had to do the best for her son.

Catherine did find herself in a relationship with Owen Tudor. There are thoughts that she married him in secret but there is no documentation. It would not have made sense for her to do this due to the Act of Parliament though. However, the two did have children together; most notably Edmund and Jasper Tudor. Through this marriage, Catherine became the grandmother to Henry VII of England.

Catherine died on January 3, 1437 at the age of 36. She was buried at Westminster Abbey, where her tomb remains.

Catherine of Aragon: First Wife of Henry VIII

The first wife of Henry VIII had a mixed life until 1527 when it all went downhill.

Catherine has a mixed life in EnglandThe next three Catherines were wives of Henry VIII—so you can tell from the beginning that they don’t have the best of lives or ends—and the first of those is Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine was originally the wife of Arthur Tudor but he died six months into their marriage. According to Catherine, it was never consummated but Henry VIII believed that it was, leading to the break from the Roman Catholic church. However, I’m jumping ahead. After the death of Arthur, Henry VII didn’t want to send his widowed daughter-in-law back to Spain; that would mean sending the dowry back, too. Instead, he sought a papal dispensation so Catherine could marry his second son, Henry. The dispensation was granted, making the marriage legal and valid in God’s eyes.

Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon married in 1509 after Henry VII’s death and the first few years they were happy together. There were a number of stillbirths and miscarriages though, along with one boy dying just a few weeks after his birth. The marriage brought one child who lived into adulthood, Mary Tudor. It was disappointing for Henry VIII who needed an heir.

This was long before he met Anne Boleyn, so she wasn’t the complete cause for the end of Henry and Catherine’s marriage; however, she did help Henry get the idea to break from Rome and create the Protestant church with him as Supreme Head.

It took seven years for Henry VIII to divorce Catherine. He did give her the choice of allowing an annulment to happen and she could live in a nunnery with the title Dowager Princess of Wales. However, Catherine refused. She was stubborn, believed the marriage was valid and wanted the best for her daughter, Mary. It led to poor treatment from Henry VIII.

Henry banned mother and daughter from seeing each other, even when they were both ill. Mary didn’t even get to say goodbye to her mother before Catherine’s death in 1536. Catherine was left living in poor conditions and it likely contributed to her death.

Somewhere between September 19 and 20, 1486, Arthur Tudor was born. He was expected to become King of England and named Arthur after King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
King Henry VIII is well-known for two things: his six wives and the religious reformation. How much do you really know about him?
Mary I is known as Bloody Mary after burning 300 protestants at the stake. It is interesting to look how Henry VIII's actions may have led to Mary's end.

Kathryn Howard: Fifth Wife of Henry VIII

19-year-old Kathryn Howard didn't stand much of a chance when she followed her heart instead of her head.

Kathryn Howard let her heart get in the wayJumping forward to 1540, Henry VIII had been through three more wives: Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves. On July 28, 1540, Henry married his fifth with and the third Queen Catherine, Kathryn Howard.

Kathryn thought she had finally made it and her life was going to be grand. She hadn’t had the best start in life being a daughter of one of the younger sons of Thomas Howard. Her father was regularly in debt and she had to live with the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, her step-grandmother. While she did receive some type of education, it was the worst of all Henry VIII’s wives.

She did love music though and was wild and carefree. This was great for Henry VIII at the time but also got her into trouble. She had a previous relationship with Francis Dereham, and failed to inform Henry of it before their marriage, and most likely had an affair with Thomas Culpepper. Henry VIII was heartbroken when he found out.

Kathryn Howard was executed on February 13, 1542.

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Thomas Culpepper was executed on December 10, 1541, for treason. His crime? Having an affair with the Queen of England, Kathryn Howard. What led to him to such dangerous actions?
Francis Dereham was hanged, drawn and quartered as punishment for treason but why was he convicted of treason? All his "crimes" were committed before Kathryn Howard married.

Katherine Parr: Sixth Wife of Henry VIII

Henry VIII's sixth wife was extremely lucky to keep her head. She could have been convicted of heresy for her reformist views.

Katherine Parr was the last wife of Henry VIIIAfter two failed attempts of marrying Catherines, you would have thought Henry VIII would have chosen someone with a different name. However, he didn’t and the next Queen Catherine on the list is Katherine Parr.

Katherine was born sometime in 1512 and had two husbands before marrying the King of England, gaining step-children from her second marriage. It is possible that this attracted Henry to his new bride. She had proven to be a good wife, cared for her ailing husbands and devoted herself to her step-children. Henry VIII was nearing the end of his life (and likely new that), was regularly ill and needed someone who would help guide and support his own children, Mary, Elizabeth and Edward.

Katherine Parr, however, was a reformist sympathiser. After the death of Henry VIII, she even published some reformist works. This got her in trouble during her five year marriage to the King of England, who was leaning closer to the Catholic views at the time. Katherine nearly lost her head because she would regularly debate with Henry and try to tell him what to do. She did have the brains to apologise when she saw her arrest warrant and convince Henry that she was simply trying to learn from him. In other words, she played to his vanity.

After Henry died in 1547, Katherine got to marry the love of her life for the first time. She even had her first child, a daughter. However, it wasn’t all happiness for the dowager queen. Not only was she caught in the scandal of secretly marrying Thomas Seymour, she was caught in a scandal of Thomas and Elizabeth Tudor, her step daughter, and then died of childbed fever in September 1548.

On September 5, 1548, Katherine Parr died. By this point she had finally become the mother to a baby girl but never got to see her grow up.
Ann Askew was a young woman just wanting to share her beliefs. She was executed as a heretic in 1546 but was it really just a ploy to condemn Katherine Parr?

Catherine of Braganza: Wife of Charles II of England

The final Queen Catherine was a Roman Catholic consort in a Protestant country, which caused a number of problems.

Catherine of Braganza was the Catholic wife of Charles II of EnglandThe fifth Queen Catherine was the wife of Charles II of England, Catherine of Braganza. She was born on November 25, 1638 into the noble Portuguese House of Braganza. Despite Charles II being a Protestant monarch, he decided to marry Catherine but her Roman Catholic beliefs made her very unpopular with the English people. In fact, she was the central-point for a number of attacks and was on trial for Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey’s murder in 1678.

Unlike kings before, Charles stopped the trial from happening and earned Catherine’s gratitude. Unfortunately, she never showed that by giving her husband any heirs. Considering Charles had a number of illegitimate children, it is likely that Catherine was barren.

She possibly knew that getting into English politics was a bad idea, but that didn’t make her any more favourable. Instead, she focused on her own country’s politics. She helped Rome on numerous occasions and it led to gifts, devotional objects and other shows of gratitude.

Charles took Barbara Palmer as his official mistress and asked to make her Catherine’s Lady of the Bedchamber. Out of wifely duty, Catherine agreed but she started to pull away from Court and other duties. She resented being asked of this and made it clear that she would like to return to her home. She lived a life of neglect by the end of her years.

Catherine outlived her husband and remained in England during the reign of James II. Luckily they both had the same religious views, which may have helped her. However, she was on good terms with William III and Mary II to begin with until her religious views became a threat and a problem. She was able to return to Lisbon in March 1699, where she died and is buried.

Kate Middleton will probably have none of the problems that the previous Queen Catherines did. The “right” to have affairs is no longer the case for Kings of Great Britain, so she won’t have the problem with being pushed aside or deal with illegitimate children. Likewise, it is unlikely that she will be caught in a scandal of her own affair: she definitely won’t cause a break from a religion, face her own execution or have to save her neck by appeasing her husband. Expectations and the British public has changed considerably since the last Queen Catherine over 300 years ago.

Updated: 10/23/2013, AlexandriaIngham
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cmoneyspinner on 02/19/2014

Tagged and tweeted for #WizzleyWednesday. FYI.
On Wednesdays I choose Wizzles I like, tag and tweet them to share with my followers.

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