Catherine of Aragon
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewski, B.F.A.

Catherine of Aragon was first wife to Henry's brother, Arthur Tudor. Arthur and Caterina were married a few times by proxy (1) May 19, 1499 (2) May 19, 1501. Their marriage of November 14, 1501 was when they were both finally considered "of age." Arthur was born on September 19/20, 1486. Arthur died on April 2, 1502. Henry Tudor wed Catherine on June 11, 1509, and they both were coronated on June 24, 1509. Catherine of Aragon wore her hair almost to her feet, and let it flow loose at her wedding. By all accounts, Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon was a happy one for almost twenty years.

"Caterina" (her given name) was born on December 16, 1486 to Ferdinand II (D: January 1516) (son of Juan II of Aragon) of Aragon and Isabella of Castile (D: November 21, 1594) (daughter of Juan III of Castile). Caterina died January 7, 1536 of cancer.

In 1514, while Catherine of Aragon was pregnant (couples did not make love during pregnancy in his time) Henry took Lady Ann Hastings, wife of Sir George Hastings, as someone whom he had an interest in. However, legend tells that Sir Henry Compton (King's Groom of the Bedchamber) carried messages to her. When her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Hastings, heard of this supposed liason, she informed her brother. He burst into his wife's chamber to find Lady Anne and Compton, who claimed he was not making advances to her on his own behalf, but that of the King. After this, Sir George sent his wife to a convent, and Anne's brother, the Duke of Buckingham and Elizabeth Hastings were expelled from court.

Catherine of Aragon, Henry's Queen, was not happy, so Henry found new favors with Jane Popincourt, then mistress of the Duc de Lougueville, a French noble who was held hostage in the early days of Henry's reign.

The only living child of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon was Mary Tudor, who was born on February 18, 1516, and died November 17, 1558. She was known as "Bloody Mary," because of her Catholic fervor. Caterina was related to both of John of Gaunt's wives, Constance and Blanche, and thus her line goes back to Edward I.

Henry argued that God would never permit male "issue" from his sinful union with Catherine because he married his brother's widow. He cited Levitus 20:21:

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And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness, they shall be childless.

King James version of The Holy Bible

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Henry commanded Wolsey to petition Pope Clements VII for a decree proclaiming his marriage to Catherine invalid, so Henry sould remarry.

The Pope reminded Henry that he was granted the dispensation that allowed him to marry Catherine in the first place.

The Pope relied on the Holy Roman emperor and Charles V, King of Spain. Charles was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon. Pope Clements VII knew that Catherine did not want the annulment nor did her family. Making their marriage invalid would make their daughter, Mary Tudor, a bastard.

The Pope denied Wolsey's petition.

During his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Henry had other mistresses, whom he did not marry, after his divorce from Catherine he married his mistresses, because of his need of heirs. When Henry heard of Catherine's death, he is reputed to have thrown up his arms and said: "God be praised! The old harridan is dead!

This page was last updated on March 24, 2006