James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

June 21

Trial of Queen Katherine

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

  • From Henry VIII, Act II, Scene 4.
  • Catherine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry VIII who, becoming infatuated with Anne Boleyn, demanded a divorce on account of her having been his brother’s wife. The trial took place on June 21, 1533.

  • Katherine.Sir, I desire you to do me right and justice;

    And to bestow your pity on me: for

    I am a most poor woman, and a stranger,

    Born out of your dominions; having here

    No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance

    Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,

    In what have I offended you? what cause

    Hath my behaviour given to your displeasure,

    That thus you should proceed to put me off,

    And take your good grace from me? Heaven witness,

    I have been to you a true and humble wife,

    At all times to your will conformable;

    Ever in fear to kindle your dislike,

    Yea, subject to your countenance, glad or sorry

    As I saw it inclined: when was the hour

    I ever contradicted your desire,

    Or made it not mine too? Or which of your friends

    Have I not strove to love, although I knew

    He were mine enemy? what friend of mine

    That had to him derived your anger, did I

    Continue in my liking? nay, gave notice

    He was from thence discharged? Sir, call to mind

    That I have been your wife, in this obedience,

    Upward of twenty years, and have been blest

    With many children by you: if, in the course

    And process of this time, you can report,

    And prove it, too, against mine honour aught,

    My bond to wedlock, or my love and duty,

    Against your sacred person, in God’s name,

    Turn me away; and let the foul’st contempt

    Shut door upon me, and so give me up

    To the sharp’st kind of justice. Please you, sir,

    The king, your father, was reputed for

    A prince most prudent, of an excellent

    And unmatch’d wit and judgment; Ferdinand,

    My father, king of Spain, was reckon’d one

    The wisest prince that there had reign’d by many

    A year before: it is not to be question’d

    That they had gather’d a wise council to them

    Of every realm, that did debate this business,

    Who deem’d our marriage lawful: wherefore I humbly

    Beseech you, sir, to spare me, till I may

    Be by my friends in Spain advised; whose counsel

    I will implore: if not i’ the name of God,

    Your pleasure be fulfilled!