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Seminars explore Katherine of Aragon through chess

James Conlon from Peterborough is organising a series of six Zoom sessions looking at the connection between Katherine of Aragon and chess, following on from an event at All Soul’s church hall.


During the Zoom sessions the Tudor researcher will take participants through a series of historic chess games which marked significant moments for the Tudor dynasty.

James Conlon is based in Peterborough and has arranged Katharine of Aragon events, as well as tours to local places associated with Katharine: Buckden Towers, Kimbolton Castle, Dunstable and Ampthill. Katherine of Aragon is of special interest to Peterborough, having been buried in the Cathedral there.

The historic chess games will be explored on –

  1. September 24: Granada, Alhambra Palace (1492) The battle against the Moors and the chess game that launched the discovery of America. Katharine of Aragon, seven years old, learns from her saintly mother, Queen Isabella of Castile, as she watches the game between King Ferdinand II of Aragon and the man who would later become Bishop of Fonseca. The chess board position when Columbus walked in is available to us today.
  2. October 01: Winchester, Ludlow and Worcester (around 1500): Katharine of Aragon meets the first love of her life, Prince Arthur, the son of King Henry VII, and invites him: “Veux-tu jouer au jeu d’échecs avec moi?” Arthur dies very young.
  3. October 08: Greenwich (around 1527): Katharine of Aragon plays chess with Henry VIII, her second true love, the second son of Henry VII, and someone who was perhaps originally destined for a career in the church.
  4. October 15: Spain and Italy (1582): St Teresa of Avila, patron saint of chess players. Consideration of Saint Charles Borromeo, avid chess player, who led the battle of ideas in the Counter-Reformation.
  5. October 22: London (1554): Queen Mary I, daughter of the two best chess players of England, wins a chess-like battle on the streets of the capital against Wyatt’s rebellion. Like her mother and her maternal grandmother (Isabella of Castille) she knew what it was like to lead a real battle, and the importance of courage and strategy.
  6. October 29: Somewhere in the Mediterranean (fictional): The chess scene in Shakespeare’s The Tempest; “Oh, brave, new world”. In the play, Miranda, daughter of the Duke of Milan, is set to become wife of Ferdinand (her chess opponent), eventual King of Naples.

The sessions will last 30-40 minutes, starting at 18:00. The Zoom ID is: 775 4611 9568

The password is 10 characters and will be shared at the introductory sessions which are on September 17-23 (any time 18:00-18:30).

Zoom ID for introductory sessions: 745 1441 9220; Password: ????????Ma (10 characters) where first four digits are the year of Katharine’s birth, and the second four are the year of Mary’s birth.

There is no charge, but donations may be given to CAFOD, the Walsingham Association, or Peterborough Cathedral.

Image above by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay. Pictured below is Katherine of Aragon

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