Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Question from Deb - Yellow mourning colors


I have read so much about the tudors, one of my very favorite subjects, but I am a little confused about something. I have read several descriptions of Henry and Anne's behavior upon receiving the news of Catherine of Aaragon's death. Some say they were really inappropriate in public by wearing bright yellow and celebrating. I also read that the reason they wore yellow was that it was the color of mourning in Spain, which would make the choice of color seem a little more appropriate. Which is correct? I often wonder if Henry had any regrets about the way he treated his first queen. Thanks!

[Ed. note - this was already discussed back in July, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to see if anyone has managed to come up with more information. Plus, I'd be curious is there is any evidence for whether or not Henry did show regrets at how he treated Catherine - although I know how hard it can be to try to go inside Henry's head!]

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Anonymous said...

I did a little research on yellow as a liturgical color and found that it had two meanings in Henry's time. It could mean God's light, happiness and purity but it could also symbolize treachery, degradation, and heresy. Those condemned to be burned by the Spanish Inquisition wore yellow garments decorated with flames, dragons and devils to their executions. I didn't see any reference to yellow being a mourning color.
As to Henry's regret over his treatment of Catherine, Eric Ives wrote that Chapuys reported that before Elizabeth was born Anne had made the king angry by her jealousy and "he told her that she must shut her eyes and endure, just like others who were worthier than she (meaning Catherine), and that she ought to know that he could humiliate her in only a moment longer that it had taken to exalt her." Also, unless the story is apocryphal, Henry was very angry when, after she had married him, Anne used Catherine's barge.

Bearded Lady said...

The color of mourning in Spain was black not yellow. When Juana the Mad’s husband died she ordered all her ladies to wear black. When she herself died, Charles V wore black. And when Philip II died, a proclamation ordered by Philip III sent the country into mourning. In Seville, so much black fabric was sold that it created a black market on black clothes. (no pun intended)

I have no idea what Henry was thinking wearing yellow but it certainly was not for mourning.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to comment on Diane's comment about Chapuys' reports.. The Spanish ambassador isn't really someone you can fully rely on to give truthful testimony.

Many of his comments and reports are of events and discussions that it would have been unlikely that he would have been privy to, if not entirely impossible. Not to mention that he never even officially met Anne Boleyn, held an extreme hatred for her and for long periods of time didn't live in the same residences with the King and Anne.

It's entirely possible that the King did say that famous "quote" to Anne, but unless its confirmed by another witness (or an actual eyewitness to the event) then its also possible that it is just a rumor.

Anyway, just my two cents.. :)

Anonymous said...

In England the colour of mourning was white,purple or black.
In spain the colour of mourning was yellow or black.But in england the colour yellow meant joy and happiness the total opposite.
On the death of King Henry vIII's first wife Catherine of Aragon both Henry and Anne wore yellow this was out of respect for Catherine.Atleast on Henry's part anyway but with Anne I would say partly out of respect and partly out of joy and happiness since her departure.So in the end they were both free of her and Anne had him all to herself with no interferance.

Anonymous said...

I don’t think Henry regretted the loss of Katherine at all or his actions towards her. He sincerely believed in the righteousness of his own actions and refused to admit that Katherine had ever been his wife. As Lucy Wooding noted in her recent work on Henry VIII:

‘...Henry viewed with justifiable indignation anyone whom he perceived to be working against him. Their personal disloyalty was also, as he saw it, a threat to national security and an insult to God’.

After all Henry sincerely believed that his first marriage had been cursed, that he had entered into an unlawful union and insulted God thus he demanded release from this union. So any man or woman who objected to this was not only, in Henry’s mind, his enemy, but also going against God’s will. Katherine maintained that her marriage to Henry was valid and subsequently Henry’s actions towards her worsened.

If Henry did tell Anne to resemble more his first wife (something I doubt, but perhaps could have been stated), then I don’t think this was an indication of regret towards what he had done to Katherine. He clearly still viewed her as the Princess Dowager and was not exactly treating her with considerable kindness around the time this possible statement was made. Rather he was admonishing Anne for her alleged lack of propriety. However I wonder why Henry would compare Anne to a woman who had actually defied him. Whilst Katherine presented herself as his dutiful wife she also rejected his decisions in regards to their marriage. She has unwilling defied him and Henry loathed to be defied. His joy at the news of her death is a significant indication of the fact that he viewed her as a nuisance (and a rather dangerous nuisance at that). I’m afraid Henry also made no signs of regret over Anne’s death or his treatment of his fourth wife or on the death of Katherine Howard. On all these occasions he was adamant about the righteousness of his actions.

Bearded Lady said...

Can someone please give an example of a Spanish monarch wearing yellow to mourn a death? I have yet to find one.