Learning English - Words in the News
25 October, 2006 - Published 15:49 GMT
16th century royal letter for sale
A letter from the 1500s which tells part of the story of how the church of England began is expected to sell for a high price. It was written by Catherine of Aragon, the 1st wife of King Henry VIII, while he and the Pope were struggling for power. Here's our arts correspondent, Lawrence Pollard:
It's always being said that British schoolchildren don't know much about British history, but one thing they do all know is that Henry VIII had six wives - as the saying goes "divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived".
Catherine of Aragon was the Spanish first wife who was divorced when she failed to give the King a son. The letter for sale is dated February the 8th 1534, in the middle of this tumultuous and gripping period. King Henry wanted the Pope to annul his marriage to Catherine so that he could have a child with another woman.
This autographed letter, signed 'Katharina', is to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In it she pleads - in Spanish - for Charles to press the Pope to stand up to Henry saying that the [quote] "sufferings, surprises and affronts which every day puts on us, are of universal notoriety". Catherine was successful, the Pope supported her, but of course Henry defied the Pope, divorced Catherine, and set up the Church of England.
The letter is enormously rare and could fetch over 100,000 dollars when it's sold in December. The price reflects how intimate a glimpse it gives into the operation of a brutal and totalitarian society.
Lawrence Pollard, BBC Arts
tumultuous and gripping period
annul his marriage
to stand up to
a brutal and totalitarian society
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