On This Day: The Birth of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England

sky blue windy flag
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On this day in 1485 was born the ‘Spanish’ princess, Catalina de Aragon near Madrid, known in the English speaking world as Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine married the heir to the English throne, Arthur Prince of Wales, in 1501. However, Arthur died soon afterwards. When Arthur’s brother, Henry ascended the throne on the death of his father in 1509, he quickly married his brother’s widow, forging an important alliance between England and Spain.

However, over the course of the next twenty years, Catherine failed to deliver Henry a living male heir, her only major ‘crime’. Following a long protracted dispute between Henry and Papal legates, during which the Pope refused to annul the marriage, Henry declared himself Head of the Church of England, allowing him to divorce Catherine and marry his mistress, Anne Boleyn in 1533.

Catherine died in January 1536 at Kimbolton Castle, and is buried in Peterborough Cathedral.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

England’s Heritage, Peterborough Cathedral Part II – Two Famous Queens

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Peterborough Cathedral in the east of England is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful churches, with an association with two famous queens.

The long nave is quite stunning, with a beautiful roof and with a modern golden image of Christ suspended high as a focal point.

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The cathedral is dominated by Norman and early English architecture, with numerous examples of Norman arches, such as these interlacing examples above.

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Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, is buried here.

The cathedral is also notable for its association with two famous queens.

The first was Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England when she was married to Henry VIII. Catherine was buried here in 1536 and her tomb is still something of a shrine to her memory, with pomegranates very prominent as her symbol because the fruit appears on her badge. Pomegranates are an ancient symbol for fecundity and regeneration.

Catherine certainly suffered much during her husband’s long and protracted break with Rome, in which she was the innocent victim, her only crime it would seem was not being able to produce a living male heir for Henry to perpetuate the Tudor dynasty. This was how she was treated after being completely dutiful to the king, but Henry had to have his way. Her motto, which translates as ‘humble and loyal’, is a phrase she very much lived up to.

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There is a portrait of Catherine by her tomb.
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Pomegranates have had a long association with Catherine of Aragon.

The second queen associated with Peterborough Cathedral is Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary inherited the Scottish throne after only a few days of being born, thrusting her into a world of political intrigue and shenanigans which she was never able to control.

She essentially became a pawn of more powerful rulers and some despicable characters. However, in 1559 she duly became Queen Consort to Francis II of France, solidifying Scotland’s long alliance with France.

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Scottish symbols hang in honour of Mary who was initially buried here in 1587.

Sadly within 18 months the young kind died prematurely. Had he lived, Mary’s life would have turned out entirely differently. As it was, she became a teenage widow and a long series of political and personal disasters ensued when she returned to Scotland. Eventually she fled to England and came under Elizabeth’s control.

After many years’ imprisonment in England, during which the still substantial Catholic faction within England with aid from Spain continually conspired to depose Elizabeth and put Mary on the English throne, she was finally executed at nearby Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.

She was initially buried in Peterborough Cathedral, but her son, James I of England, had her remains transferred to Westminster Abbey in London.

words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019

 

 

Poem: Pomegranates

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Peterborough Cathedral, England

They smile when I shut the heavy, creaking door,
from behind their neat wooden kiosks
stuffed with pamphlets and insipid books.
Smiles of recognition, a nodding
acceptance as if to say –
‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
better than those above them in Church.

I walk along the emphatic southern aisle under
uber-Norman arches, at the far end of which
hangs a limp flag of Saint Andrew,
in honour of Mary Queen of France, Scotland
and some say of England, too.
Glancing to my left a young man kneels,
wringing hands beneath a life-size figure

of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
as if imploring Him to be real,
to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
and then, somehow, to save him as well.
I’m here to light a candle outside
Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time

in silence inside the tidy chapel,
to pray for a poor boy in pain,
perhaps to ponder on those relics,
those bits of bodies and other things,
worshipped once and then dispersed,
despised in fractured minds,
to us now mostly objects of indifference.

Oswald’s arm must lie hereabouts,
known to someone who still believes
in its restorative power, like the monks
who consumed this place, where Domesday
came and went without event,
where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
in an undrying ink. Still it awaits the next line.

In this fossil the dead are lucky.
They are dead but in faith, whereas I roam
restlessly among echoes of whispers,
a heartless void. I cut across through the choir
to find I’m not alone, where the true
Queen of Hearts lies. Letters of gold spell
her name to all, but for me she smiles

brighter than anyone alive,
a smile from scorched Iberian lands,
her fate to end up on this drab island
where fashioned pomegranates mark her spot,
from which she expects to rise
at some glorious hour, where, until then,
the anonymous faithful lay fresh fruit

and flowers to mark her special days.
I watch a tourist, a German tricolour sewn
onto his rucksack, as he reads
the commemorative words. A sudden,
unexpected pride washes over me
while he pauses on her ground to think –
where I was once intrigued.

Almost believing.

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Resting place of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England. Peterborough Cathedral. Featured image at top of page are of pomegranates on her tomb.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales – What Might Have Been. Astrology Musings

boy wearing a prince costume
Photo by R. Fera on Pexels.com

Prince Arthur was Henry VII’s eldest son and heir to the throne of England. Sadly, he was to die aged only 15 in the year 1502, just months after marrying Catherine of Aragon and taking up residence at Ludlow Castle as Prince of Wales.

If his birth data is accurate, and I have no reason to doubt it, I think England might well have missed out on a new golden age, something which his father the king had truly hoped for, which is why he had his eldest son christened after the legendary British ruler, Arthur.

Lots of Potential

Why do I say this? The personality of rulers, especially monarchs who wielded virtual absolute power, would obviously affect the destiny of the nations over which they ruled. So what does Prince Arthur’s birth chart reveal? He was apparently born a month premature but there are not many indications that he was at all sickly at birth, or during his short life.

He was born with Royal Leo rising with his ruler, the Sun, in Libra in house 3 in good aspect to Saturn in Sagittarius in house 5, in challenging aspect to Jupiter in Capricorn in house 6. Venus is also in Leo in house 1 of personality, in good aspect to Mercury and Mars.

Attractive Personality

Dying so young, Arthur’s character would not have been fully developed, but this suggests an attractive, strong, generous, confident, courteous, diplomatic and responsible person with plenty of charm and probable wit. In what records we do have of him, he was described as very tall, handsome, amiable and gentle.

What is more, his Moon in Gemini in house 11 loosely conjunct Mars, would only strengthen his sociable and witty tendencies. He would have been great company, I feel. However, the Moon is opposite Uranus in Sagittarius, indicating that he could have a sudden, fragile, perhaps nervous temperament, too, which could have seriously affected his friendships.

A Glittering Royal Court in Waiting?

Looking at his mental potential, is seems to have been excellent, boding well for his future royal court, which might have become legendary, in a similar manner in which we talk of Richard II’s or even Louis XIV’s of France in a future age.

Libra is on house 3 cusp and Aries on house 9. These house rulers, Venus and Mars, are in good aspect to each other in ‘positive’ signs and houses, both in good aspect to Mercury in Libra in house 3. Add his Libran Sun in house 3 and it doesn’t get much better than this, the only things missing being Jupiter (higher mind), who is not exactly in this mix, in Capricorn in house 6.

Kingly Ambitions

I am quite certain that he would have been as adept in languages as his brother Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and probably would have exceeded them. He would have been a patron of the arts and literature too, one of the prime considerations when we are talking about cultural significance.

His ambitions as king look equally well starred because Venus and Mars rule the 10th house and MC respectively. I think he would have been a great success in foreign diplomatic matters – he’d already had the good fortune to marry Catherine of Aragon, an important diplomatic move for the English crown and would have surely been the bedrock of his career as King of England.

What might have been

However, his tendency to overreach himself, as shown by the Sun’s square aspect to Jupiter, perhaps through overconfidence at times, might have presented some problems, especially in military matters.

However, with Saturn in good aspect to the Sun and in mutual reception to Jupiter in Capricorn, this might have somewhat stemmed his potential for over confidence.

Had he lived, I am certain that we are looking here at a great historic personality who would have been much loved by his people, the kind of person who could have introduced a new golden age to England, set the country on a very different course from the one his brother, the future Henry VIII.

*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Poem ‘Pomegranates’

Pomegranates

They smile when I shut the heavy, creaking door,
from behind their neat wooden kiosks
stuffed with pamphlets and insipid books.
Smiles of recognition, a nodding
acceptance as if to say –
‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
better than those above them in Church.

I walk along the emphatic southern aisle under
über-Norman arches, at the far end of which
hangs a limp flag of Saint Andrew,
in honour of Mary Queen of France, Scotland
and some say of England, too.
Glancing to my left a young man kneels,
wringing hands beneath a life-size figure

of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
as if imploring Him to be real,
to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
and then, somehow, to save him as well.
I’m here to light a candle outside
Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time

in silence inside the tidy chapel,
to pray for a poor boy in pain,
perhaps to ponder on those relics,
those bits of bodies and other things,
worshipped once and then dispersed,
despised in fractured minds,
to us now mostly objects of indifference.

Oswald’s arm must lie hereabouts,
known to someone who still believes
in its restorative power, like the monks
who consumed this place, where Domesday
came and went without event,
where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
in an undrying ink. Still it awaits the next line.

In this fossil the dead are lucky.
They are dead but in faith, whereas I roam
restlessly among echoes and whispers,
a heartless void. I cut across through the choir
to find I’m not alone, where the true
Queen of Hearts lies. Letters of gold spell
her name to all, but for me she smiles

brighter than anyone alive,
a smile from scorched Iberian lands,
her fate to end up on this drab island
where fashioned pomegranates mark her spot,
from which she expects to rise
at some glorious hour, where, until then,
the anonymous faithful lay fresh fruit

and flowers to mark her special days.
I watch a tourist, a German tricolour sewn
onto his rucksack, as he reads
the commemorative words. A sudden,
unexpected pride washes over me
while he pauses on her ground to think –
where I was once intrigued.

Almost believing.

image and poem © copyright dfbarker 2012
*poem first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com
**image from part of an historical reconstruction I did in watercolour of Spalding Priory, as it might have appeared in the fifteenth century.