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.

It has always been said that British schoolchildren don't know much about British history, but one thing they 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 an intimate glimpse into a brutal and totalitarian society. (254 words)

Part A. Reading Comprehension.

I. Answer the following questions using your own words but taking into account the information in the text. (2 points: 1 point each)

a) According to the author, what did King Henry want the Pope to do?

b) According to the text, what does the price reflect?


II. Are the following statements true (T) or false (F)? Identify the part of the text that supports your answer. (1.5 point: 0.5 each)

a. Catherine of Aragon’s letter is dated in the 15th century.

b. Catherine wanted Charles V to oppose King Henry.

c. The Pope did not agree with Catherine.


III. Find a synonym for each of the four words below from these six options: (1 point: 0.25 each)

glimpse       defied        pleads        stand up to        affronts      gripping period

a) begs, makes a very strong request

b) offensive words

c) a very quick look

d) refused to respect


IV. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct. (1.5 points: 0.5 each)

1. British school children…

a) know a lot about English history.

b) have studied about King Henry VIII.

c) only know one thing.

2. Catherine was successful because…

a) the Pope agreed with her

b) she was not beheaded.

c) King Henry VIII divorced her.

3. Catherine of Aragon was divorced because…

a) she had the flu

b) she couldn’t have a baby boy

c) she was Spanish


Part B. Composition (130-150 words approximately). Choose one of the following topics. (4 points)

1. What can we do to help Spanish students enjoy history classes?

2. What are the advantages of studying history?