21st June 1529: Katherine of Aragon’s Famous Speech

On this day in history Queen Katherine of Aragon gave a passionate speech to her husband King Henry VIII at the Legatine Court at Blackfriars. The Legatine Court was set up to examine the validity of King Henry VIII’s marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon. The court was presided over by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey from England and Cardinal Campeggio, the Popes representative from Rome. At the opening of the court Henry VIII declared his love for Katherine but also his concerns about the validity of their marriage as he felt he had disobeyed God by marrying his brother’s widow. When it came turn for Katherine to speak she did not stand and defend herself to the Court, instead she went to Henry and fell to her knees before him saying….

“Sir, I beseech you for all the love that hath been between us, and for the love of God, let me have justice. Take of me some pity and compassion, for I am a poor woman, and a stranger born out of your dominion. I have here no assured friends, and much less impartial counsel…

Alas! Sir, wherein have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have I deserved?… I have been to you a true, humble and obedient wife, ever comfortable to your will and pleasure, that never said or did anything to the contrary thereof, being always well pleased and contented with all things wherein you had any delight or dalliance, whether it were in little or much. I never grudged in word or countenance, or showed a visage or spark of discontent. I loved all those whom ye loved, only for your sake, whether I had cause or no, and whether they were my friends or enemies. This twenty years or more I have been your true wife and by me ye have had divers children, although it hath pleased God to call them out of this world, which hath been no default in me…

When ye had me at first, I take God to my judge, I was a true maid, without touch of man. And whether it be true or no, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause by the law that ye can allege against me either of dishonesty or any other impediment to banish and put me from you, I am well content to depart to my great shame and dishonour. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you, let me remain in my former estate… Therefore, I most humbly require you, in the way of charity and for the love of God – who is the just judge – to spare me the extremity of this new court, until I may be advised what way and order my friends in Spain will advise me to take. And if ye will not extend to me so much impartial favour, your pleasure then be fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause!”

After her speech, instead of returning to her seat Queen Katherine of Aragon turned and left the court ignoring the calls for her to return. Apparently as she left Katherine stated that “On, on, it makes no matter, for it is no impartial court for me, therefore I will not tarry. Go on.”

Talk about a brave woman!

Catherine of Aragon Legatine Court

3 thoughts on “Katherine of Aragon’s Famous Speech

  1. Lady Anne Boleyn says:

    Reblogged this on Lady Anne's Classroom – Please press the menu button below to read & acknowledge our rules! Thank you so very much! and commented:
    In History today the 21ST JUNE 1529 FAMOUS SPEECH OF KATHERINE OF ARAGON:

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    1. Lady Anne Boleyn says:

      Oops sorry I thought this first one wouldn’t appear here but on my blog where I reblogged this post! My apologies! Please feel free to delete this comment as the comment I meant to leave on this post was my longer 2nd #

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  2. Lady Anne Boleyn says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing this with us! Still as powerful now as back in 1529!

    Such a power speech by an incredibly brave, intelligent, and accomplished woman and Queen. Despite the odds, Katherine of Aragon never lost her nerve nor forgot she was the daughter of Isabella, another woman and Queen far ahead of her time. Both mother and daughter were extremely intelligent, educated, and could more then hold their own against ANY man of the times. So much I feel is overlooked when it comes to Katherine and her ability to rule more then capably in her own right, which she did indeed do while Henry was in France. To the point of, at least in my opinion, upstaging him by defeating the Scots and dispatching their King for good measure. She learned many things from her own mother, especially how to rule with compassion, confidence, and an iron fist when needed – which she did in Henry’s absence. Even being disappointed that she couldn’t send her husband the dead defeated King’s head but having to settle for his tunic which she sent in tribute to her husband.

    Even when cast aside she never lost her regal bearing nor Queenly composure, no matter how dire her situation got, all the way to the bitter and very sad end. Despite this, she was still highly respected by her loyal subjects in England, even after her death.

    Kathrine had a hard life in England from the beginning but always held her head high and always had the respect and loyalty of the English people. I truly wish she was presented more in this light then the typical approach of casting her as a poor, put upon, sorrowful woman doomed to a life of broken promises and a broken heart, because I’ve never viewed her in that light.

    I’ve always seen her as the “tough as nails” woman that she was. She was indeed the daughter of Queen Isabella! Strong, persevering, smart, witty, brave, and never once considered compromising her true title of Queen of England right up to the end of her life! Lady Anne ^^ö^^ (Jessica M. Kandal, PhD)

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