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April 9, 1533 – Deputation Informs Catherine of Aragon of Her New Title

Catherine of Aragon – the Horenbout Miniature (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Let us not forget that Anne Boleyn became Queen of England well before her June coronation, even before Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon had formally been declared invalid by Thomas Cranmer (that happened on May 23rd).

Technically she became Queen upon her marriage to Henry in a private ceremony in January 1533, though they continued to keep this secret for some time. On February 3rd, Parliament passed the Act in Restraint of Appeals, which limited the authority of the Pope to that of any other foreign Bishop (and changed his title to “Bishop of Rome”) and therefore allowed the matter of the annulment to be tried in an English court. Around February 15, Anne could not resist letting people know she was pregnant, announcing that she had a “furious desire to eat apples” (I wrote a blog post about this if you want to read more about this wild story). In March, Cranmer received the papal bulls confirming his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury – and in April the royal couple went public. The announcement was made on Easter Sunday, to liken their marriage to England’s own resurrection. Anne went to mass with the King dressed in cloth of gold and wearing Catherine’s jewels and waited for congregations across the land to be told for the first time to pray for their sovereigns, King Henry and his wife Queen Anne.

The new status quo was reinforced with a deputation to Catherine informing her that she was never to use the title Queen again, that henceforth she would be known only as the Princess Dowager.

Catherine never accepted this change. Indeed, she clung to her title until her death (she wrote Henry an amazing last letter, I wrote a post on this too), and insisted that those around her do the same. This was the day that started that phase of her life.

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