Sunday, September 28, 2008

Question from Simran - Why did Henry VIII wish to end his first marriage?


Why did henry VIII wish to terminate his marrige with Catherine of Aragon?

[Ed note - Yeah, I know, this is a pretty basic Tudor history question, but I have a feeling that it will bring around a variety of thoughts and opinions, so I decided to throw it out to you all.]

Related posts:
http://tudorhistory.org/queryblog/2008/08/question-from-nikki-henry-viiis-early.html
http://tudorhistory.org/queryblog/2008/07/question-from-valerie-biblical-passages.html
(and I suppose all of the childbirth/fertility questions are related too, but I don't feel like posting all of those links again, since you can just look at the post before this one for a lot of them.)



5 Comments:

Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Keeping it short, the answer is that she had failed to provide a male heir despite almost 20 years of trying, so Henry wanted a new wife who would be more likely to have male children.

September 28, 2008 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Tudor Rose said...

The King wanted to end his first marraige to Catherine of Aragon after 24 years firstly because she could not provide the king with a male heir and secondly he had fallen in love with a lady named Anne Boleyn.

September 29, 2008 1:25 PM  
Anonymous The Rose Crowned said...

A message for the Historian Catherine of Aragon was married to the king for 24 years and also you are exaggerating when you state that she was trying to conceive for nearly twenty years when in her life records show she was only pregnant six times during her marraige to Henry.

September 29, 2008 1:30 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

My apologies for not explicitly detailing in advance why I said 20 years instead of 24. I wrongly assumed that it was obvious.

My figure of "almost 20 years of trying" [to conceive a male heir] is based on the number of years that Henry and Katherine were actually considered married (i.e.,24) minus the approximate number of years that Henry had ceased having sexual relations with her. Afterall, she cannot very well have been trying to conceive when Henry had ceased having sexual relations with her during the last several years of their marriage. 24 minus those years that Henry was pursuing Anne Boleyn (and other sexual interests) equals slightly less than 20 years that Henry and Katherine were sexually active together.

And while Katherine's "life records" may indicate that she was pregnant only six times, it is exceedingly unlikely that she had sexual relations with Henry only six times and thus tried to conceive only six times. It is equally unlikely that she actually wanted to become pregnant only six times, when one considers how desperate she was to please the king. Since both she and Henry were anxious to produce a male heir (he to provide for the succession, she to preserve her marriage), it is all but certain that both hoped for additional pregnancies that might result in the birth of a male child. Indeed, Henry's "life records" reveal that he hoped until at least the mid 1520s that Katherine would yet produce a male child. I suppose it is possible that Henry was trying to get Katherine pregnant and that Katherine was trying NOT to become pregnant, but it seems to me far more likely that BOTH were trying for those many years. That they failed to conceive actual pregnancies more than six times is an issue of simple reproductive biology, one experienced by many couples who attempt to conceive but who fail in a majority of attempts. In my opinion, it would be wrong to equate six pregnancies with just six attempts to conceive. "If at first one does not succeed, try, try again ...."

September 29, 2008 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Olivia said...

well, it certainly took him a long time, i guess he was waiting until catherine could no longer bear children, but the reason most people are farmillar with is that he wanted (screamed repetitivly that he NEEDED) a son and male heir (i say male heir because he DID have a son, a bastard child born out of wedlock with bessie blount, one of his mistresses) and also, many books and proffesionals say that one of the principal reasons was that anne boleyn (also nan bullen, until her father Thomas boleyn had changed it to sound more french, and more regal, in my opinion, *her father was the English Ambassador to France*) i think also one of the reasons was that henry was a pure, funloving boy. i personally think he was BORED with his life (not the whole of his life, but his wife, and the court) i agree with PHD historian, the first and 2nd answer they had.

October 14, 2008 2:30 PM  

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