Thursday, November 03, 2011

Question from Liz - Dowager Princess of Wales document

First, I'd like to thank you for having such a great website! Anyway, my question is regarding something I read in Alison Weir's "The Six Wives of Henry VIII". She mentions that Catherine of Aragon was given some type of letter stating that she was now to be called the Dowager Princess and that Catherine scribbled it out and yelled that she was the queen and would continue to call herself queen. Weir says that letter (or whatever it was) still exists today but I can't find it. Have you heard of it? Thanks so much


Foose said...

It appears to be part of the collection in Letters & Papers.

There's an entry for July 3 1533, when Mountjoy (Catherine's chamberlain) and a deputation from the Council waited upon her to deliver Henry's instructions demoting her from Queen to Princess Dowager. It's a long passage and your answer appears at the very end, bolded by me.

"To the effect that on Thursday, 3 July, they found her [Catherine] lying on a pallet, as she had pricked her foot with a pin, and could not stand, and was also sore annoyed with a cough. On our declaring that our instructions were to her as Princess Dowager, she took exception to the name, persisting that she was the King's true wife, and her children were legitimate, which she would claim to be true during her life. To our assertion that the marriage with Anne Boleyn had been adjudged lawful by the universities, the Lords and Commons, she said the King might do in his realm by his royal power what he would ; that the cause was not theirs but the Pope's to judge, as she had already answered the duke of Norfolk. To other arguments, that she might damage her daughter and servants, she replied she would not damn her own soul on any consideration, or for any promises the King might make her. She did not defend her cause upon obstinacy, nor to create any dissension in the realm, but to save her own rights; and as for the withdrawing of the King's affection from her, she would daily pray for the preservation of his estate; but as she sues by his licence, she trusts in so doing to lose no part of his favor. In fine, she will not abandon the title till such time as a sentence is given to the contrary by the Pope. She asked for a copy of these instructions, which she would translate into Spanish, and send to Rome. [The expression 'Princess Dowager' in the first clause is obliterated by Katharine herself.]

I'm a little mystified as to what exactly was the document she marked up. From the writing of the L&P entry it looks like it was either the report the deputation sent back to the Council, or the actual instructions they read out to her, rather than a proclamation or a letter. I can't remember seeing the document reproduced in any book, though, which is curious.

Foose said...

Looking at your question again, I think you might be asking (logically) - so where is the original? Possibly it might be in the U.K.'s National Archives.

Albert du Boys (translated by Charlotte Mary Yonge in 1881) says in his Catherine of Aragon and the Sources of the English Reformation: "Then [Catherine] caused the minute of proceedings, brought by Lord Mountjoy, to be handed to her, and drew her pen through the words 'Princess Dowager' wherever she found them ... This minute is preserved in the national archives in London, with the alterations and additions made by Catherine."

One source I looked at said that the various State Papers of Henry VIII (i.e., those documents that make up Letters & Papers) "can be found in private collections held outside the National Archives, most notably the Lansdowne, Harleian and Cottonian collections of the British Library and Hatfield House." (Website of the National Archives of Great Britain)

The citation for the L&P report is 3 July Otho, C. X. 199. B. M. St. P. I. 397. I believe "Otho" points to the Cottonian manuscript collection, which is now part of the British Library. So the document might be found there.

Foose said...

Still more to discover - I found Mountjoy's reports of his visit to Catherine in July 1533 on a Great Britain Records Commission Website (not the originals, but in the original ye olde English).

It appears Mountjoy made two reports to the Council, on July 3 and 4 subsequent to his encounters with Catherine. The report of July 4 explains that Catherine had demanded to see the report of July 3 and "called for penne and ynke, and in suche places as she fownde the name of Prynces Dowagier, she, with her penne and ynke, strake yt oute, as ys apparaunt."

The modern footnote to the July 3 report says that she struck out the name "Princess Dowager" in two places only, in the preamble that explains what sort of document it is ("The Reporte of the Lorde Mountjoye," etc.) and in the first clause, as previously cited. I don't know why she chose only those first two instances.

Lara said...

I thought I had found the document in the catalogs that my university subscribes too, but it looks like I only found the draft of it. I'm guessing this is the basic text that was read to Catherine but I don't think this was the actual document. (There was a scan of the manuscript page for this but the quality was terrible.)

But just in case anyone is interested, here's what I found:

Instructions for the right honorable lord Mountjoye and Gryffith [Richardes] to be declared to the PrincessDowager.

1. They shall say to her that "after declaration made by Vaux concerning her removing ..... and given to the said Vaux therein, commanded his council to give ear unto the same, and to determine in that behalf as appertaineth to his princely honor and estate." The King has always had a special regard to the preservation ..... and subjects, and to keep the same in tranquillity; and now, considering that, notwithstanding sundry monitions given to thePrincess Dowager not to use the name of Queen, as the King, finding his conscience violated, grudged, and grieved by that unlawful matrimony contracted between him and the Dowager, which was defined and determined by a great number of the most famous universities and clerks of Christendom "to be detestable,* abominable, execrable, and directly against the laws of God and nature," was therefore lawfully divorced, and by advice of all his nobles, spiritual and temporal, and all the commons of his realm, was married to the lady Anne, who has been crowned Queen.

As the King cannot have two wives he cannot permit the Dowager to persist in calling herself by the name of Queen, especially considering how benignantly and honorably she has been treated in the realm. She is to satisfy herself with the name of Dowager, as prescribed by the Act of Parliament, and must beware of the danger if she attempt to contravene it, which will only irritate the feelings of the people against her. If she be not persuaded by these arguments to avoid the King's indignation, and relent from her vehement arrogancy, the King will be compelled to punish her servants, and withdraw her affection from his daughter. Finally, that as the marriage is irrevocable, and has passed the consent of Parliament, nothing that she can do will annul it, and she will only incur the displeasure of Almighty God and of the King.

*** The outer sheet of this document has been at an early date separated from the other leaves, and each portion of the document has a separate contemporary endorsement. That on the outer sheet is "Instructions to be declared to the Princess Dowager;" that on the inner portion, much less accurately, "A minute made ayenst the lady Anne, dowager."

Otho, C. x. 168. B. M.

2. Copy of the inner portion of the above, in a later hand.

Draft, corrected by Cromwell, pp. 17.