Those who haven’t studied history don’t realize what a huge SCREW YOU this was to Henry VIII, or what tremendous damage it did his cause for the “divorce” (annulment) or what Katharine of Aragon’s subtle digs were all about. Allow me to “translate” by filling in historical references, just for fun.
“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
This references the MANY times Henry insisted that he cared deeply about her and wanted her to receive justice (that he would abide by the decision of the court and be “delighted” if they found her to be his “true and lawful wife” because if he had it to do over again, he would pick her); he had made those assertions in public, the latest one mere minutes before, and Katharine is calling him out – if you love me so much, why won’t you let me have a fair trial outside of England, where those officials presiding over the case are not on your payroll? Not even my lawyers are foreigners! You control them!
Katharine knew Henry. She’d lived with the man for 20 years. She knew public opinion and approval mattered more than anything to him (enough that he tried to hide his affairs and indiscretions and became very upset if they fell into or became public knowledge) and he had a warped sense of chivalry. Knowing this will stir his emotions, she assaults his honor, shaming him in front of everyone, and hinting that she needs him to have pity on her… in front of about a thousand Londoners who worship the ground she walks on.
“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 any thing 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.”
This reminds him that she has sided with him even against her father, Ferdinand of Aragon, and against her nephew, Charles V, in the instances where the two nations were in conflict; that she has conspired with him and bent to his will in favor of England over Spain and not once raised any complaints about participating in his childish masques and public fripperies. Katharine is also drawing attention to her reputation – renowned for “wearing a smile” even in her deepest miseries. She’s also reminding him of her eventual submission in those matters where they had any great dispute (such as Henry Fitzroy).
“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 is about his mistresses. Strong, subtle reminders that “I have put up with your adultery, and I have been kind to your mistresses.” In other words, YOU OWE ME. She is probably also referencing Cardinal Wolsey, whom she specifically disliked, but whom she also treated with respect.
“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…”
Divers means “many” – many children; she is referencing the basis of his entire argument and invalidating it. Henry is arguing that their marriage is not lawful because she was not a virgin when he married her, and any union so formed (based on a text in Leviticus) will be “childless.” Not only do they have a living daughter, Katharine is reminding him of their many children (some miscarried, others stillborn, and at least one that lived for some weeks). She is saying that their deaths are not her fault, she was without sin, because…
“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
… she was a virgin. Thus his Biblical argument is faulty.
Henry’s entire argument, he claims, is built entirely on his conscience; he has argued from the first that his conscience has provoked him to take action. She is referencing that and inviting him to “out” her if she’s lying. She is directly telling him that both of them know his reason for this trial is untrue.
Katharine is giving him an enormous opening here, and he does not take it. Henry does not argue with her and say that she was not a virgin. He has raised it as a potential reason for their dead children up until this point by implying that she might have lied about her virginity, but Henry believed lying in a canonical court before representatives of the Church would have endangered his soul. If Henry knew she was not a virgin, he could have said so without endangering his soul – but he did not say it. He never said it, not then nor at any other time, though he allowed others to say it for him. He met it with silence, which was as good as an admission that she was telling the truth. Another serious blow to his case in the eyes of those watching.
“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 dishonor. And if there be none, then here, I most lowly beseech you,
let me remain in my former estate…”
Here’s another dig at his honor, and an appeal for him to stop this case. If he can find a “just cause” (not fabricated – this is an attack on this trial being unfair and stacked against her) she will step aside, though it will destroy her reputation. The references to shame and dishonor are reminders that if this court rules their marriage invalid, she will be seen as his whore of twenty years. She is making a grand dramatic overture and playing the part of a dutiful and obedient wife, making others see her as the wronged woman who will step aside, though everyone will know it was unjust. A master stroke!
“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 favor, your pleasure then be
fulfilled, and to God I commit my cause!”
One last assault on his honor, through an implication that if he does not let her have impartial justice through an appeal to Rome, he is a knave and she has no choice but to rely on God to protect her, for her husband clearly will not.
This mass assault on him, using his own words against him, did exactly what she intended it to do. Henry fell for it, as she knew he would. To save face after being called out, Henry agreed to let her appeal to Rome,
which stalled the proceedings and screwed over his case for years. His decision was made in a rush of emotion and the embarrassment of having
everyone in the room (the public gallery and streets were full, so thousands were watching) thinking he was an unjust king and husband. Only
later did he realize the full extent of how it would prevent him from
obtaining a divorce but by then it was too late.
Henry massively underestimated Katharine. He assumed her former compliant behaviors would mean she would simply give him what he wanted – he did not realize he had a tiger by the tail. Her natural ease in winning people over, her talent for winning tremendous popularity and public support, her cunning, all those things that had benefited him throughout the last 20 years suddenly turned on him and unveiled her as a powerful adversary. Henry finally had to annul the marriage by overturning the Church, because Katharine blocked him at every turn – destroying months of research and planning with one deft blow after another, for as long as she could. But this certainly was her finest hour.
“Says someone who’s spent a third of her life in Japan and knows her shit :P”
lmao oh my god okay you’re still probably wrong we’re talking about a basic law here your experience isn’t actually relevant. it’s not a BIG DEAL ANYWAY it was just a random comment on my part but JFC.
The Doors - Spanish Caravan - album : Waiting for the Sun - 1968
“Carry me Caravan take me away
Take me to Portugal, take me to Spain
Andalusia with fields full of grain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, Spanish Caravan
Yes, I know you can
Trade winds find Galleons lost in the sea
I know where treasure is waiting for me
Silver and gold in the mountains of Spain
I have to see you again and again
Take me, Spanish Caravan
Yes, I know you can”