Monday, July 16, 2012

Question from Jane - Catherine of Aragon's spare time activities

I'm writing a book with counter factual history. It's about Arthur and Catherine of Aragon, and I stumbled upon a question; What did Catherine do in her "Spare time". i read somewhere that her hobbies where praying and reading the holy word, but was that really all she cared about?


Karen Elmquist said...

Catherine would have many ways to occupy her time. The common belief at that time was that only the clergy were permitted to read and interpret the Bible so it's doubtful that as a devout Catholic that she would have been reading the Bible. However, she would probably have had beautifully illustrated books of hours, prayer books and lives of the saints, as well as poetry books, to read. It wouldn't be uncommon, either, to have had someone in attendance who could read aloud with skill.
Catherine has been attributed with having brought the intricate Spanish blackwork embroidery to England and is known to have spent hours embroidering shirts for Henry so she would probably have enjoyed embroidery in her earlier marriage as well. She probably did plainer sewing as well as an act of charity, such as shirts or smocks to be distributed as alms.
Various charities would have occupied some of her time, as well as meeting with her household officers to discuss the running of the household.
She loved dancing, I remember reading that when first at court she performed a "stately Spanish dance with castanets, and also was very fond of music. Dancing with her ladies, walking, riding and hunting would have passed the time pleasantly.
When married to Henry she adored fine rich clothing, which would have required time for the enjoyable selection of fabric and trims and well as fitting, but I don't know how much of an allowance she had for this when married to Arthur. Certainly Henry VII wasn't generous with her after Arthur died.
She had pets to enjoy, including dogs and monkeys. She liked to play cards.
Religious observances would have taken up some of her time.
I'm confident that she did much more that read the holy word and pray, though forgive me if some of these suggestions turn out to apply more to her life with Henry than with Arthur. They were both unwell through parts of their short marriage, poor things, so maybe they didn't do much of anything.

Anonymous said...

Whatever she did, im sure she did it with a grace and dignity that befitted a sainted Queen!