Theodore Dalrymple was commenting on the complete absence of any religious sentiment or reference on tombstones at a parish churchyard, and ended his article with (emphasis added),
Katherine of Aragon’s last letter to the man she considered still, and always, her husband:
My most dear lord, king and husband,
The hour of my death now approaching, I cannot choose but out of the love I bear for you, advise you of your soul’s health, which you ought to prefer before all considerations of the world or flesh whatsoever. For which you have cast me into many calamities, and your self into many troubles. But I forgive you all, and pray God do so likewise. For the rest, I commend unto you Mary, our daughter, beseeching you to be a good father to her, as I have heretofore desired. I must entreat you also, to respect my maids, and give them in marriage, which is not much, they being but three; and to all my other servants, a year’s pay, besides their due, lest otherwise they should be unprovided for; lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things. Farewell.
Katherine, Queene of England
Catherine of Aragon was married to Henry VIII for 24 years.
As was the rule, due to her circumstances her first marriage was arranged for entirely political motives: Since she was the youngest surviving daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, her parents had arranged her marriage with Arthur, oldest son and heir to Henry VII of England, which she married when she was 16, in 1501. After Arthur died six months later,
The English king was interested in keeping Catherine’s dowry, so 14 months after her husband’s death, she was betrothed to the future Henry VIII, who was too young to marry at the time.
By 1505, when Henry was old enough to wed, Henry VII wasn’t as keen on a Spanish alliance, and young Henry was forced to repudiate the betrothal. Catherine’s future was uncertain for the next four years. When Henry VII died in 1509 and one of the new young king’s actions was to marry Catherine. She was finally crowned Queen of England in a joint coronation ceremony with her husband Henry VIII on June 24, 1509.
We’ve all seen enough movies and PBS series to know this was a harsh man to be married to.
The reason Henry didn’t dispose of Catherine the way he did with Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard was because Catherine’s siblings were respectively the king of Spain and the queen of Portugal, and her nephew was emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and they would have declared war.
Confining her to house arrest was the easy way out for him. That she loved Henry enough to forgive him shows who won that match in the end.