I have a few questions about The Great Matter. I've read a bit about it, but I've never really been able to find what I consider to be satisfying answers to my questions (if they even exist).
I'll start by saying that I do believe that Henry began to seek the annulment from Catherine because he truly believed their marriage was invalid based on the Leviticus passage and evidenced to him by the lack of living sons by her. I don't believe Anne would have risen as she did had Catherine and Henry had 3 robust sons romping around the palace! What it turned into is a different thing, but initially, I do think he really believed that. All that said, my first question is why, after Henry realized that the annulment was not going to be "easy", did he not start going down the "treason" road with Catherine to get rid of her more quickly? To me, this shows too that he really believed he was correct about the invalidity. But more practically, was it possibly because Catherine was so beloved? Or that her royal ties were so great throughout Europe? I ask too because, from what I've read, Catherine did actually send (or try to send) letters to her nephew Emperor Charles on the matter of the divorce, essentially stating she was right and the King wrong - couldn't that be actual treason? In other words, Henry seems to have even had a case for treason - without having to trump something up. So why not go that route?
My second question is impossible to know for certain, but I'd love to know your thoughts. What do you think about Catherine and Arthur? Did they consummate their marriage? I know that it was sometimes common to keep younger couples apart in that sense for a while, but that seems unlikely to me since Catherine was 16ish and Arthur 14 or 15. And with Margaret Beaufort giving birth at 13, it seems that in royal families, producing heirs was more important than waiting until a more suitable age for consummation. Plus they were living together in Ludlow castle. Also, I know that Arthur was sick, but was he really that sick consistently for 5-6 months? I also read that he was reported to say something to the effect of 'marriage being tiring work'. Or was that simple boasting? On the other hand, would Catherine, being as devoutly pious as she was, lie about such a thing? It does not seem that she would, however, could she have been worried because she knew she lied initially? Or that she knew she would certainly be ruined (and more importantly, Mary would be illegitimate for certain) if she admitted it? (I think she continued to believe until she died that she would eventually be restored as queen).
I'd appreciate your thoughts and any good reading sources! Thanks!
[Ed. note - the second part of this post what covered in the thread below, but additional comments are always welcome!]