Katherine of Aragon
Her Early Life
Katherine of Aragon came to England from Spain in 1501 as the bride of Arthur, Prince of Wales.
She was the daughter of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinan of Spain. Arthur and Katherine were married
in November of 1501 at St. Paul's Cathedral. Sadly, Arthur died six months after his
marriage to Katherine . Until Katherine was married to Henry in 1509, she lived a very unhappy
life in England, far away from her home country and her family. She was dependent on Henry VII
for money to live on during the years between Arthur's death and her remarriage, and Henry VII
was not very generous in handing over that money. She had to sell off her own jewelry and plate
in order to feed and clothe herself and her Spanish servants. But after Henry VII died, his
son wasted no time in marrying the Princess. They were wed on June 11, 1509 near Greenwich Palace.
From there she went to the Tower of London to prepare for the coronation of both herself and
her husband. Katherine was twenty three and Henry seventeen at the time of the wedding, but
despite the age difference and the differences between their upbringing, they made a good match.
The two seemed to genuinely love each other. In fact, when Henry VIII left England to go to
war against France, he made Katherine Governor of the Realm and Captain-General of the forces
that would stay in England. Almost as soon as Henry VIII left for France, England was attacked
by Scotland. It was Katherine who had to organize what little troops remained to defend the
country, and she lead the English to victory over the Scots.
The Birth of A Little Princess
Queen Katherine lost her first child in May 1510 when a daughter was born still-born. She
became pregnant again and gave birth to a baby boy who was christened Henry on New year's Day
1511. The nation mourned when the little prince died after only seven weeks. Her next pregnancy,
in 1513, ended with another stillborn baby boy. In 1516, Katherine gave birth to a healthy
little girl that her parents named Mary. By 1526, Henry VIII had publically recognized
Mary as his heir, a sign that, at 41, Katherine would have no more children.
As daughter of one the most infamous Queens in history, Katherine apparently had no problem
with the idea of a woman ruling England, and brought her daughter up to be prepared for that
goal. The idea of
teaching girls was fairly new, having developed during the Renaissance, and was strongly
advocated by Sir Thomas More, who had four daughters of his own. Katherine became an advocate
of More's ideas through her instruction of Mary, and the Queen in fact set a new standard for
the instruction of girls.
Dark Days for Queen Katherine
As far as historians can see from what information we have left of the time, Henry VIII started
having second thoughts about his marriage to Katherine around 1525, sixteen years after their
marriage. (3,53) By December 1526, he had decided that the reason he and Katherine had only
produced one living child during their marriage was because God was unhappy with the marriage.
(3,54). Because Katherine had been married, however briefly, to Henry's brother Arthur, special
permission from the Pope had to be obtained in order to allow Henry and Katherine's marriage
to be valid. (2,28) Now Henry was doubting that the Pope had been right to give that
permission in the first place.
In 1527, Henry VIII finally told Katherine that he wanted their marriage annulled. Katherine
broke down in tears, which was very uncharacteristic for this strong woman who had already
been through so much. She quickly made it clear to Henry that she would fight against his
efforts every step of the way (2,51). She rejected the suggestion that she give in quietly
and go to a nunnery. (2,52)
Believing that God was showing his divine displeasure at their marriage, Henry asked the Pope
for an annulment of his marriage to Katherine. The Pope refused. In 1532, Henry VII took matters
into his own hands by declaring the church in England seperate from the church in Rome, effectively
taking power away from Vatican. Free of Rome, Henry had his own clergy renounce his marriage to
Katherine. He and Anne were married in 1533, with Anne already pregnant with Henry's longed for
heir. Katherine died 7 January 1536.
This is a gallery of photos of Katherine.
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