Thursday, June 07, 2007

Question from Mike - The bloody wedding sheets

I read somewhere that during Henry VIII attemps to obtain a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, he ordered the sheets from the marital bed of his brother Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon be produced. Which would have been some 20+ years past.

So, my question to you is this, was it or is it a custom to preserve the sheets of the royal couples wedding night? Or is it just some made up fable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ive read alot on Henry VIII's divorce and never read this story anywhere. Some courtiers did testify that Arthur called for a drink the next morning, saying he had "been in the midst of Spain" last night and that it was good work. Id be curious if anyone else has any comments....


June 09, 2007 6:28 PM  
Blogger Alice Giuseppina said...

That's true. Henry VIII had read somewhere in the Bible that a marriage with the brother's ex-wife would be doomed. So of course he tried to produce evidence that his late brother had consumated his marriage with Catherine therefore making his marriage valid. If he could have produced this evidence I believe that the Church would have eventually declared Henry VIII's marriage with Catherine null. But Henry VIII never produced those sheets as far as I know.

June 11, 2007 6:44 PM  
Anonymous asher said...

I don't think the case ever hinged on producing evidence (like the sheets); it seems to me it was a political decision that was inevitable once Charles V's troops sacked Rome in 1527.

Other kings were granted annulments with much less cause.

June 11, 2007 10:37 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Regarding the sheets specifically, I am not aware of any "custom" of saving sheets from the wedding bed of newly married royalty. I am inclined to doubt that such a practice ever existed. Newly married royal couples were usually publicly bedded if they were old enough when married. Being placed in bed together was assumed to lead to consummation. Physical "proof" was not required.

June 12, 2007 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read about Henry VIII producing bloody sheets as evidence of the consumation, however I have never heard of such a practice as perserving wedding sheets. That doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't exist, though, I've just never come across it in my research. I do know, however, that gossip in the bedchamber was hardly scarce, and there probably would have been talk if there hadn't been bloody sheets on the wedding night. Whether or not such talk amounted after Catherine and Arthur's wedding, I can't be sure.

July 14, 2007 9:05 AM  
Blogger fullmoonie said...

I find it doubtful that Henry ever produced bloddy sheets. Katherine of Aragon was a devout Catholic. If she said they did not consummate the marriage then I believe they did NOT do it. Therefore....there wouldn't be any bloody sheets to produce as evidence. Imagine keeping bloody sheets for 20+ years. Ridiculous.
Henry was going to get his divorce one way or another.

July 29, 2008 1:54 PM  

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