Just before she was about to die, Catherine of Aragon wrote her final letter to her (former?) husband, Henry VIII (also on her bucket list: swearing before she took communion for the last time that she had never been “known” by Prince Arthur, Henry’s brother, thus validating the Pope’s decision in her favor and preserving the succession rights of Mary, her daughter….). This letter stands in eloquent testimony to her position and personality. It was not lost on anyone that she claimed her title mantle up until the very end. Perhaps that is why no copy of this letter survives today.
My most dear lord, king and husband,
The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into many troubles. For my part, I pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest, I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.
Katharine the Quene.
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