Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Question from Anon - Spanish Chronicle on Arthur and Catherine's marriage

It says in the Spanish Chronicle that Prince Arthur didn't consummate his marriage to Catherine of Aragon because he was impotent. Is there any other evidence for this?



1 comment:

Foose said...

There's a note in Letters & Papers for October 1531, where Dr. Ortiz, the imperial agent in Rome, writes Chapuys that "the witnesses of whom the Nuncio wrote to the Pope, and who testify that prince Arthur was impotent, are insufficient, because the party was not cited by a competent judge." I think he is referring to the hearing that was held in Zaragoza, Spain.

The Venetian calendar also has an entry for June 25 1533 that discusses the prince's impotence. Marco Venier reports to the Signory of Venice that a consistory called by the Pope was examining the "marriage cause of England":

"...To the third article, about the brief made by Pope Julius at the suit of the King and Queen with the clause, although she had perhaps been known carnally by the brother, he [presumably Capizucchi, the papal Auditor di Rota] proves by witnesses that the elder brother was incapable (inabile,) and impotent for connexion with women (e impotente a poter usar con donne) ..."

The Preface to Letters & Papers observes regarding the consistory report, "It is much to be regretted that we have no list of the witnesses, as their names might serve to test the validity of the evidence produced on both sides." It also states that the consistory involved the depositions of 150 witnesses, on both sides, so there might have been a substantial number to allege Arthur's impotence. On the other hand, these might be the same depositions from Zaragoza, originally rejected by the Pope in 1531.

Regarding the 1531 Zaragoza hearing on the consummation of Catherine's first marriage, Giles Tremlett investigated the original Spanish sources for his recent biography of the queen. Juan de Gamarra "told the hearing in Zaragoza that he had remained in her antechamber on the wedding night ... the atmosphere amongst her ladies [the next morning] was of concern for Catherine and disappointment with Arthur. 'Francesca de Caceres ... was looking sad and telling the other ladies that nothing had passed between Prince Arthur and his wife.'" Even more explosively, "Arthur sneaked out of her room early ... with Catherine later pointing to a young boy in her service and muttering to her ladies that 'I wish my husband the prince was as strong as that because I fear he will never be able to have [sexual relations] with me.'"

During Arthur's final illness at Ludlow, "[Catherine's] own doctor apparently diagnosed Arthur as suffering tisis [phthisis, consumption], a Spanish catch-all word covering everything from pulmonary tuberculosis to any wasting, feverish disease ... 'He [the doctor] often said that the prince had been denied the strength necessary to know a woman ...' the doctor's nephew claimed when called on in Zaragoza to explain Catherine's supposedly intact virginity."

This is all interesting, but still not conclusive regarding Arthur's ability to perform. (Tremlett's book has no footnotes or endnotes, but I haven't seen any attacks on the new evidence it purports to contain, either.) However, these Papal and Spanish reports may have inspired the Spanish Chronicle's unequivocal approach to the issue.