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danceronice
03-23-2011, 02:10 AM
Ehhh..."anorexic" in the literal sense of not eating, but unlikely for the exact same modern psychological reasons. It is not unheard of for people of extreme religious beliefs to have taking fasting to extremes, probably at least in part inspired by stories of saints who existed only on the Eucharist (and Katherine WAS a very devout Catholic, who probably could have kept a lot of problems from occurring if she HAD decided to retire to a convent.) Combine religiously devout with any sort of predisposition to obsessive behavior and it wouldn't be a big stretch.

As for..ah, using the facilities...having worn a variety of period garments, it's not actually as hard as you'd think. (Hoops are actually easier than Tudor clothes, if you know how to sit in them--bend the knees and 'break' them, don't try to sit like you're in pants!) Not least because while there are layers and the UPPER body was often constrained in one way or another, usually, there wasn't actually that much under the skirts. (I vaguely recall a book or paper on the subject noting it's a little conflicted--the upper body's often practically in armor, but all you really need to do for 'access', If You Know What I Mean, was flip up the skirts and maybe yank a pair of pantalettes down at most.) There isn't actually much going on to prevent you from doing your business, certainly less of a hassle than a modern bodysuit or leotard or a mid-20th-century girdle.

nerdycool
03-23-2011, 03:59 AM
Apparently, researchers have found letters sent by Pope Julius II to the Prince of Wales (Whether this is Arthur or Henry isn't clear)It would have been Henry. Arthur died in 1502 and Julius II was elected Pope in 1503.

Anyway, it's an interesting theory. It would explain what could have happened with the stillbirths and the babies who didn't live long. But it wouldn't explain why Mary was so healthy and why she lived, when all the others didn't.

The thing I always assumed was that there was some genetic disorder within either Henry or Katherine that was passed on to all their babies, save Mary, which made for a short life span.

But we will likely never know. Not unless everyone was exhumed and tested, and even then, it might not explain anything.

Jenny
03-23-2011, 12:34 PM
This link gives a relatively good summary of Henry's legitimate and acknowledged children (in dispute naturally, but this is the most generally agreed on):
http://www.thepeerage.com/p10148.htm#i101473

Note that all Catherine's children were in the first 10 years of their marriage, when many historians believe that she and Henry were actually quite happy. Elizabeth Blount's child (who he acknowledged and who is listed on the link) was at the end of this period, and arguably, could have been either a symptom or a catalyst in the marriage starting to deteriorate.

Note that Anne Boleyn wasn't in the picture for another 5 years or so after that, when Henry's marriage to Catherine was all but over. Sandwiched in between is the time when Henry reportedly had the affair with Mary Boleyn and she bore two children, whose paternity is still up for debate. (My belief is that Henry is his, Catherine is not.)

So, if we look at the health of Henry's known children -


Mary - died age 42
Henry Fitzroy - lived to age 17, but is rumoured to have been murdered
Henry Carey (possibly) - lived to age 71, had 6 children, at least half reaching adulthood
Catherine Carey (possibly) - lived to age 45 and bore 14 children, at least half reaching adulthood and one infamously living to age 95
Elizabeth - died age 59 and was apparently quite healthy
Edward - died age 15, was sickly from childhood

Henry's record is likely in line with the times.

As for Catherine's eating, I agree it's most likely about religious fervour. As I understand it, the main motivation for eating disorders is not necessarily weight loss, but control over one's body, which in Catherine's case might be a morphing from the discipline that she hoped would achieve some kind of religious fulfillment.

Either way, if it caused her stillbirths and miscarriages - three of the five were thought to be boys, so yes, if they had lived, the history of England would be completely rewritten.

aliceanne
03-23-2011, 06:54 PM
It would be of interest to both Tudor and medical historians, I would imagine.

I am not aware of cases of anorexia going so far back in history but who knows. It would certainly be interesting if confirmed.

I had heard that the ancient Romans used to binge and purge at their banquets. Also the upper class women women in earlier times (Medici court, French courts,) used to pride themselves on having 10 and 14 inch waists (with the help of corsets) so I would bet they were weight obsessed as well.

Civic
03-23-2011, 07:05 PM
I always thought it was cruelly ironic that the Henry VIII blamed his wives for not giving him a son when it was up to him to contribute the necessary Y chromosone. Of course, the biological mechanics of gender selection were unknown in Tudor times. Nor was Henry the only husband throughout history who laid a guilt-trip on his wife for not giving him a male heir.

IceAlisa
03-23-2011, 07:22 PM
I had heard that the ancient Romans used to binge and purge at their banquets.
Yes, I've heard it too. They did it so that once they get full, they could purge and start eating/drinking all over again. :scream:


Also the upper class women women in earlier times (Medici court, French courts,) used to pride themselves on having 10 and 14 inch waists (with the help of corsets) so I would bet they were weight obsessed as well.

This I haven't heard. Where is your information coming from?

DarrellH
03-23-2011, 08:11 PM
I had always thought that Henry was STD riddled. With all the affairs he had during his marriage to Catherine, he picked up a few unwanted diseases. If he passed these on to his wives, they could have had one or two children before each was too infected. I assumed the passing on of STDs inhibited the fertility of the wives.

IceAlisa
03-23-2011, 08:17 PM
We've had a lively discussion once before about Henry possibly having had syphilis.

Jenny
03-23-2011, 08:29 PM
I had always thought that Henry was STD riddled. With all the affairs he had during his marriage to Catherine, he picked up a few unwanted diseases. If he passed these on to his wives, they could have had one or two children before each was too infected. I assumed the passing on of STDs inhibited the fertility of the wives.

Just did a little rechecking around the internet, and it appears that was likely not the case. Several articles point out that syphilis was well known at the time, and would have been recorded by Henry's doctors, along with the treatments of the day. His wives were all able to bear children, and there's no evidence that any of his surviving children had symptoms of STDs.

Further, it's generally agreed that Henry was faithful for the first half of his marriage to Catherine, which lasted 20 years, and only two mistresses are actually documented. Of course there could be many more, but given the scrutiny on his life you'd think more of them would have turned up by now.

sk8er1964
03-24-2011, 01:27 AM
Further, it's generally agreed that Henry was faithful for the first half of his marriage to Catherine, which lasted 20 years, and only two mistresses are actually documented. Of course there could be many more, but given the scrutiny on his life you'd think more of them would have turned up by now.

He had many more, most of whom were stars of historical romance novels. :P

Seriously, it is pretty well known how pious Catherine was, so the fasting thing is an interesting angle. Childbearing was such a dicey thing back then, though, it's hard to say if it had an effect on her.

danceronice
03-24-2011, 03:36 AM
10"? I'd like a source on that, too. Unless women were MUCH smaller overall than they are today, that's bordering on physically impossible. I can take four or five inches off my waist (natural waist, beneath the floating rib) with a late 19th-century replica compression corset without losing too much beyond the ability to take DEEP breaths or bend too far, and with some training from an early age I *might* have been able to go one or two more, but unless you were STARTING from a natural waist of only 16-17" to begin with, 10" around is incredibly tiny. That's only four inches wider than my WRIST.

Bunny Hop
03-24-2011, 06:14 AM
Edward - died age 15, was sickly from childhood
The pedant in me needs to point out that this is a popular misconception. There is actually very little evidence that Edward was a sickly child. Certainly, his last years were problematic, but it's generally accepted now that he was pretty healthy as an infant and young boy.

GaPeach
03-24-2011, 11:01 AM
Just did a little rechecking around the internet, and it appears that was likely not the case. Several articles point out that syphilis was well known at the time, and would have been recorded by Henry's doctors, along with the treatments of the day. His wives were all able to bear children, and there's no evidence that any of his surviving children had symptoms of STDs.

Further, it's generally agreed that Henry was faithful for the first half of his marriage to Catherine, which lasted 20 years, and only two mistresses are actually documented. Of course there could be many more, but given the scrutiny on his life you'd think more of them would have turned up by now.

But one of his mistresses had been very active in the French court, that was riddled with STDs.

On the flipside: K.H had an old man with medical issues, possibly problem in the bedroom. K.P was his nursemaid. So I don't think children were possible.

Interesting about Catherine-I can see her fasting like mad for religious purposes.

Jenny
03-24-2011, 12:45 PM
The pedant in me needs to point out that this is a popular misconception. There is actually very little evidence that Edward was a sickly child. Certainly, his last years were problematic, but it's generally accepted now that he was pretty healthy as an infant and young boy.

Yes you are right - after I posted that and when I was looking at Henry's medical history, I saw many references to Edward being born a healthy child.

Tinami Amori
03-26-2011, 07:36 PM
I Wonder...? Could Katherine of Aragon Have Been... Anorexic?

Neah……. :lol: She was a rabid Catholic….. :D.

Devoted and fanatical Spanish Catholics often went further than fasting and abstaining from meat and other foods on the days prescribed by the Canons.

They often limited their food intake during several days in every week of the year to service penance for their sins, to cleanse the soul and to show willpower and endurance and solidarity with the struggles of Christ.