Catherine of Aragon’s court is the only legally permitted Catholic congregation in England. They are permitted to privately hear Catholic Mass and keep to their conscience as long as they keep within the Queen’s household. This court is not as favoured as Henry’s later wives but still wields considerable influence, especially with the Pope and foreign Catholic powers.
Queen Catherine of Aragon
Henry’s first Queen and his sole wife for over 20 years before the break with Rome. A former princess of Spain and Catholic to her very bones. Responsible for maintaining harmony between the Queens but rarely attends court otherwise. The King of Spain, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V is her nephew.
Credit: National Portrait Gallery
Princess Mary Tudor
Catherine of Aragon and Henry’s only surviving child. Before the age of 12 the only legitimate heir to the English throne until the break with Rome. Since the birth of Elizabeth Tudor, she has been one of a growing group of heirs with no particular favour from Henry and the Henrician Church. However, she is the only heir acknowledged by the Catholic Church.
Lady María de Salinas, dowager Baroness of Willoughby
Catherine’s longest-serving and most loyal lady-in-waiting. Came to England from Spain with Catherine. Married and widowed from a wealthy nobleman leaving one surviving daughter: Catherine Willoughby. She attends court much more frequently than her Queen and is a staunch Catholic.
Lady Catherine Willoughby, Baroness of Willoughby, Dowager Duchess of Suffolk
Daughter of María de Salinas, raised in Catherine of Aragon’s household until the age of 8 when her father’s death caused her to become the Duke of Suffolk’s ward, Suffolk and Lady Catherine later married. Suffolk’s recent death has left her a widow with two young sons.
Sir Thomas More
Celebrated humanist philosopher, writer and statesman. Former confidante of King Henry and briefly Lord Chancellor before the break from Rome. He was unable to reconcile Henry’s Act of Supremacy with his own conscience and fled to the protection of Catherine of Aragon’s household. The protection of Thomas More and other Catholic members of Catherine of Aragon’s household was the key concession that led Catherine to take up a role in Henry’s ‘expanded’ court. This is More’s first return to court. While he has long been stripped of any formal titles, the author of Utopia hardly needs them to command respect, even in his older years.
Granddaughter of Sir Thomas More, commoner, unmarried. Thanks to Thomas More’s dedication to female education she is one of the best-educated women in all of Europe. A maid-in-waiting to Princess Mary Tudor and Queen Catherine but has been included in this delegation to ensure her ageing grandfather’s comfort. As a commoner with no prospects of wealth or titles, Mary is clearly of no importance to anybody at court.