11 June 1509

Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine of Aragon was a Spanish princess who became the Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII.

Early Life

Birth: She was born on December 16, 1485, in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, Spain.
Parents: She was the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain.
Education: Catherine received a strong education, including studies in Latin, French, philosophy, and theology. She was also trained in domestic skills appropriate for a queen.

Marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales

First Marriage: At the age of 15, Catherine married Arthur, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King Henry VII of England, on November 14, 1501.
Widowhood: Arthur died in April 1502, just a few months after their marriage, leaving Catherine a widow at a young age.

Marriage to Henry VIII

Betrothal to Henry: After Arthur’s death, Catherine was betrothed to his younger brother, Henry. They married on June 11, 1509, shortly after Henry ascended to the throne as Henry VIII.
Queen Consort: As queen consort, Catherine was known for her piety, intelligence, and diplomatic skills. She served as regent in 1513 while Henry was campaigning in France, notably overseeing the English victory against the Scots at the Battle of Flodden.

Issue and Annulment

Children: Catherine’s marriage to Henry VIII produced several children, but only one survived infancy: Mary, later known as Mary I of England. The lack of a surviving male heir became a significant issue.
Annulment: Henry VIII sought to annul his marriage to Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn, hoping for a male heir. The Pope’s refusal to annul the marriage led to Henry breaking from the Roman Catholic Church and establishing the Church of England. The marriage was annulled in 1533, and Catherine was stripped of her title as queen and confined to Kimbolton Castle.

Later Life and Death

Later Life: Catherine spent her final years in relative isolation, but she remained steadfast in her belief that she was Henry’s true wife and England’s rightful queen.
Death: Catherine died on January 7, 1536, at Kimbolton Castle. She was buried in Peterborough Cathedral.

Legacy

Legacy: Catherine of Aragon is remembered for her dignity and strength during the tumultuous events of her life. Her daughter Mary I became the first reigning queen of England.

11 June 1509

Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine and Arthur met on 4 November 1501 at Dogmersfield in Hampshire. Little is known about their first impressions of each other, but Arthur did write to his parents-in-law that he would be “a true and loving husband” and told his parents that he was immensely happy to “behold the face of his lovely bride”. The couple had corresponded in Latin, but found that they could not understand each other, since they had learned different pronunciations. Ten days later, on 14 November 1501, they were married at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. A dowry of 200,000 crowns had been agreed, and half was paid shortly after the marriage.

Once married, Arthur was sent to Ludlow Castle on the borders of Wales to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches, as was his duty as Prince of Wales, and his bride accompanied him. The couple stayed at Castle Lodge, Ludlow. A few months later, they both became ill, possibly with the sweating sickness, which was sweeping the area. Arthur died on 2 April 1502; Catherine recovered to find herself a widow.

At this point, Henry VII faced the challenge of avoiding the obligation to return her 200,000 ducat dowry, half of which he had not yet received, to her father, as required by her marriage contract should she return home. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth in February 1503, King Henry VII initially considered marrying Catherine himself, but the opposition of her father and potential questions over the legitimacy of the couple’s issue ended the idea. To settle the matter, it was agreed that Catherine would marry Henry VII’s second son, Henry, Duke of York, who was five years younger than she was. The death of Catherine’s mother, however, meant that her “value” in the marriage market decreased. Castile was a much larger kingdom than Aragon, and it was inherited by Catherine’s mentally unstable elder sister, Joanna. Ostensibly, the marriage was delayed until Henry was old enough, but Ferdinand II procrastinated so much over payment of the remainder of Catherine’s dowry that it became doubtful that the marriage would take place. She lived as a virtual prisoner at Durham House in London. Some of the letters she wrote to her father complaining of her treatment have survived. In one of these letters she tells him that “I choose what I believe, and say nothing. For I am not as simple as I may seem.” She had little money and struggled to cope, as she had to support her ladies-in-waiting as well as herself. In 1507 she served as the Spanish ambassador to England, the first female ambassador in European history. While Henry VII and his councillors expected her to be easily manipulated, Catherine went on to prove them wrong.

Marriage to Arthur’s brother depended on the Pope granting a dispensation because canon law forbade a man to marry his brother’s widow. Catherine testified that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated as, also according to canon law, a marriage was not valid until consummated.

Catherine’s second wedding took place on 11 June 1509, seven years after Prince Arthur’s death. She married Henry VIII, who had only just acceded to the throne, in a private ceremony in the church of the Observant Friars outside Greenwich Palace. She was 23 years of age. The king was just days short of his 18th birthday.

11 June 1509

King Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.

On this day in history, 11th June 1509, the new king, Henry VIII, married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, nearly 6 years after they had originally been betrothed. The marriage took place in a private ceremony in the queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace in front of two witnesses: Lord Steward Shrewsbury and groom of the privy chamber, William Thomas. As soon as the wedding was over, preparations began in earnest for the double coronation of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine.
Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon was born on the 16th December 1485 and was the youngest surviving child of the Spanish Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It is interesting to note that she had a strong claim to the English throne as she was descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and son of Edward III. She did not have the typical dark Spanish looks, instead she had blue eyes and auburn or strawberry blonde hair, and was said to be a great beauty. When she arrived in England in 1501 to marry Prince Arthur, heir to the throne, Thomas More said of her:-