Sunday, October 22
Katherine of Aragon depicted as St. Catherine of Alexandria, another uppity Catholic gal
For your information, let it be officially recorded that I think Katherine of Aragon rocks. Like her mom, Ysabel, she was one of that long series of great and wonderful uppity medieval Spanish Catholic women that also includes the foundresses of the Order of the Hatchet and my legendary ancestress Varona, who ran off from her castle disguised as a man to fight against the Moors and got a knighthood out of it. (She was pretty, too, she just wore a helmet over her face all the time). Actually, we don't know if it was the Moors. It might have been them. Or possibly the Castillians, Aragonese, Asturians or whoever was the enemy of the month. Spanish women seem to have a thing for war, as Ysabel rode at the head of her army at Granada and Katherine appeared ready to personally command troops for a prospective invasion of Scotland when Henry was off on the continent doing some fighting of his own.
Someday, if there is any justice, there will be a great bronze effigy of her, mounted in full armor, standing outlined against the sunset of some urban park. Somewhere. Someday.
Scholarship tends to make Katherine out to be a naive martyr and a bit of a plaster saint, but recent work by the likes of David Starkey in his mammoth Six Wives makes her a rather more human, if wonderfully sympathetic and even truly heroically virtuous woman. She also appears, rather than the exotic Latin she sometimes is depicted as, to have taken up the ways of her adopted country quickly and with great sincerity to the point that one of the greatest horrors of her divorce proceeding was being sundered from the nation she now held so dear.
Being the daughter of the pious Ysabel of Castille and the scumball Machiavellian Ferdinand of Aragon, contemporary scholarship calls her been both devout and also extremely canny to the point of using a bit of espionage to keep an eye on her hubby's serpentine machinations. And that makes me like her even more. She had to have brains and street smarts like that. First to win English hearts as a foreign Spanish redhead, and secondly, to fight off the arguments and brow-beating that accompanied Henry's absurd claim for a divorce. Okay, okay, maybe Rome might have granted it had the Emperor not been breathing down the Pope's neck, but there was absolutely no reason to annul a marriage on shaky grounds from Leviticus that had already gotten a dispensation to be had in the first place.
Anyway, a terrific gal, our Kate, and I'd go as far as to call her a Catholic Nerd before her time--politically astute, devout, and definitely someone you don't want to mess with. Three cheers for our Kate and for uppity Catholic women everywhere!