Authors

Kyra ZapfFollow

Faculty Advisor

Katherine, Smith

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2019

Abstract

In an era when most women were at the mercy of their husbands and the courts who ruled in their favor, Catherine managed a long and drawn out fight against being divorced by the most powerful man in England. Material goods contributed to much of Catherine's autonomy. Examples include: naming of items in her will, royal jewels she owned as personal property, and gifts she gave and received. Catherine used her wardrobe as a political statement. For centuries England's queens have been instrumental in creating an image for the monarchy, one tied not only to their clothing and jewels but also to their physical bodies, given over in service to the crown. In the sixteenth century when the wealth and status of a person could be read off of their backs more easily than most people read books, how a King clothed or did not clothe his Queen spoke to her power. Drawing largely off of compiled inventories, letters and state papers, and essays by Maria Hayward for my research, I attempt to add to the work Michelle Beer started in her essay "A queenly affinity? Catherine of Aragon’s estates and Henry VIII’s Great Matter", in which Beer explains Catherine's fear and loss through Henry's repossession of her landed estates. While Henry was able to take away many of Catherine's estates and her revenue from them, she used material goods in the form of clothing and ornaments to uphold her status as queen after the divorce. Through an in-depth study of Catherine of Aragon's garments, material goods, and the connections she forged with them, historians must acknowledge the success of Catherine's fight to be remembered as Queen.

Publisher

University of Puget Sound

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