Illness of Queen Catherine -- Her physician's report of her health -- Her last letter to the Emperor -- She sends for Chapuys -- Interview between Chapuys and Henry -- Chapuys at Kimbolton -- Death of Catherine -- Examination of the body -- Suspicion of poison -- Chapuys's opinion -- Reception of the news at the Court -- Message of Anne Boleyn to the Princess Mary -- Advice of Chapuys -- Unpopularity of Anne -- Court rumours.
WHILE the Pope was held back by the Cardinals, and the Great Powers were watching each other, afraid to move, the knot was about to be cut, so far as it affected the fortunes of Catherine of Aragon, in a manner not unnatural and, by Cromwell and many others, not unforeseen. The agitation and anxieties of the protracted conflict had shattered her health. Severe attacks of illness had more than once caused fear for her life, and a few months previously her recovery had been thought unlikely, if not impossible. Cromwell had spoken of her death to Chapuys as a contingency which would be useful to the peace of Europe, and which he thought would not be wholly unwelcome to her nephew. Politicians in the sixteenth century were not scrupulous, and Chapuys may perhaps have honestly thought that such language suggested a darker purpose. But Cromwell had always been Catherine's friend within the limits permitted by his duty to the King and the Reformation. The words which Chapuys attributed to him were capable of an innocent inter