As a queen consort and dowager queen of England and Wales, Catherine of Valois was capable of obtain a burial match for a queen. Initially, she was buried within the previous woman chapel of Westminster Abbey. When her grandson Henry VII got here into energy in 1485, that was destined to vary.
Round 1503, Henry VII started renovating the Previous Woman Chapel to supply the chapel that stands in Westminster Abbey at the moment. To be able to do that, he wanted to take away his grandmother’s corpse to a secure location. Catherine of Valois’ corpse was positioned by Henry V’s in an open casket, for all to see.
When Henry VII handed in 1509, the development of the Woman Chapel was incomplete. It was this 12 months that Henry VIII got here into energy. Sadly, his intentions didn’t match his father’s, which meant the chapel remained unfinished and his great-grandmother’s corpse continued to be uncovered.
It was not till the mid-Sixteenth-century that the chapel’s building was full. Nevertheless, when this occurred, Catherine of Valois’ physique nonetheless was not positioned in its authentic burial spot. Bizarrely, it remained uncovered for all to see for a whole lot of years. Between the Sixteenth-century and the Nineteenth-century, components of her picket effigy have been stolen. Because of this, the one that continues to be in Westminster Abbey at the moment appears ill-cared for.
Through the Seventeenth-century, the late diarist Samuel Pepys visited her corpse on one in every of his birthday’s. He took the chance to carry her in his arms and kiss her, earlier than recording the occasion in a diary entry. When you think about that Pepys lived by way of a few of London’s worst plague outbreaks, it’s extremely unusual that he selected to go lip-to-lip with a corpse that was a whole lot of years previous. In fact Catherine was embalmed, but it surely nonetheless seems to be a slightly ghoulish motion on Pepys’ half.
It wasn’t till Queen Victoria’s reign within the Nineteenth-century that Catherine of Valois’ corpse was laid to relaxation in Westminster Abbey. By this level, a whole lot of onlookers had descened on her physique to pay homage, or just to the touch it as Pepys did.
Over time, individuals have speculated as to why Henry VII selected to depart his grandmother’s corpse above floor. Some have recommended that he needed to disguise his shakey lineage, which descended from Catherine and Owen Tudor. Nevertheless, if he had needed to try this, he would have positioned her out of sight, not subsequent to Henry V.
Thankfully, her corpse is now in a extra becoming resting place. For the years it was left uncovered, it acted as a supply of fascination for many individuals.