Friday, February 12, 2010

Question from Rachel - Catherine of Aragon and the excommunication of Henry VIII

In the Tudors series on Showtime it is depicted that Katherine of Aragon wrote to the Pope personally to have Henry VIII excommunicated if he did not send Anne Boleyn from court and take Katherine back as his true and rightful Queen. Now I know Henry VIII was actually served with a letter stating exactly this from the Pope but I am not so sure that Katherine put was brazen enough to send the Pope a letter asking for this and cannot find this info anywhere. Does anyone here know if this is true or just another Showtime inaccuracy?


Kristian said...

Hi Rachel-

Although I can't answer as to the specifics of KoA's letters
to the pope or her nephew about Henry's nullity suit,
I think it important to remember that The Tudors is meant to entertain -- not to be a source of accurate historical information.
The creator and writer, Michael Hirst has made it clear on many occasions that he isn't making it for the History Channel.

Pick up books by historians like Eric Ives or David Starkey for accurate depictions of Tudor history.

kb said...

Rachel - You might want to check the Letters & Papers Foreign & Domestic, Henry VIII for the relevant years.

They are available on

Gareth Russell said...

Katherine did not insist upon the excommunication, but she and Cardinal Wolsey did enter into three-way negotiations with the Vatican about bringing sufficient pressure to bear on the King so that he was forced to banish Anne from Court. However, this occured before Anne's marriage and shortly after Wolsey was dismissed from office. There's a pretty good discussion of it in David Starkey's "Six Wives."

Unknown said...

Kristian-I do own books by Starkey, Ives, Weir and several other historians and do not think the Showtime series is anything more than entertainment. I like to reference this site to get differences of opinion on subject matters rather than just crack open one of my books. That is what this site is for. But I appreciate your concern. I always say that anyone who uses the Showtime series as a history lesson is not learning wisely!

Thanks kb for the link.

Thanks for the great information Gareth.