December 16, 1485 – January 7, 1536
You want badass? I’m talking full suit of armor, while pregnant, to deliver an awesome Braveheart style inspiring speech to troops and then mailing off some bloody cloth from the King of the Scots to her husband as a token…bad ass.
I’m talking first wife of the infamous Henry VIII.
I’m talking not-about-to-let-Henry-divorce-her kind-of chick.
I’m talking Catharine of Aragon.
Let me explain how important Catharine was. She had a better claim to the English throne than even Henry VII. When she was just a child, her awesomely badass mother (who we’ll get to at another time) and Henry VII arranged her marriage with his son Arthur. Unfortunately, Arthur couldn’t handle all her super feminine powers and when they both became ill he died, while she made a full recovery.
Now Arthur’s dad was left in a spot and didn’t want to have to pay back that gigantic dowry Catharine had brought with her. So…he settled for the next best thing and married her off to his second son, Henry.
The people loved Catharine. Devout Catholic, unbelievably beautiful, and she cared. Seriously. She cared about the people. That meant something. So six pregnancies later (two stillborns, three who died in infancy, and one who actually survived) and Henry was sick of her, but the people were not.
Henry did what Henry did best, although the people wouldn’t quite catch on to that until a couple beheadings later, and he replaced his wife.
Let me be clear.
It’s not like he could just say, “Girl, I’m over this.” No. He had his mistress, Anne Boleyn, but he couldn’t actually set Catharine aside without changing the entire religion of England. Did you get that? He had to change his country’s religion to get rid of her.
Not that she listened.
She claimed until the day of her death that Henry was not the head of the church, but he was still he husband, and she the rightful Queen. Could you imagine how hard that would have been for the next two wives to deal with? It’s like the ex-wife that just won’t go away. Not only wouldn’t she go away, but the people didn’t want her to. They loved her.
Finally, when Catharine’s end drew near, she delivered a final jab to her “most dear lord, King and husband”. Her final letter to Henry was full of concern for his soul, professed her never-ending love, and expressed her prayers that God would pardon him (pardon Henry? The man who claimed himself head of the church…the gall of this woman. I love it). She pretty much ordered him to be a good dad and to take care of her servants and then…then…
Signed it “Katharine the Quene.”
The Queen…of badassness.
Take that Henry.
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