11 June 1509 – The first of six marriages for Henry VIII

Posted By on June 11, 2017

On this day in history, 11th June 1509, King Henry VIII married for the first time. His bride was his brother Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Henry was nearly eighteen years of age and Catherine was twenty-three.

The wedding was a low-key affair, as a lavish joint coronation was planned for 24th June, the Feast of St John and Midsummer’s Day. The couple got married in the Queen’s Closet at Greenwich Palace with just two witnesses: George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord Steward of the King’s Household, and William Thomas, a groom of the Privy Chamber.

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9 thoughts on “11 June 1509 – The first of six marriages for Henry VIII”

  1. Christine says:

    Katherines English descent does show in her face, iv always thought she looked more English than Spanish, her portrait as a young bride to both Arthur and Henry does indeed show a pretty amiable face and I can see her daughter Mary in her, however she does look inclined to plumpness then and over the years she did grow quite fat, being only short she would have looked bigger, she had a beautiful complexion which people of mixed race possess, (English mixed with Spanish blood) her broken English sounded enchanting to Henry and he had made up his mind he wanted to marry her, she was his first love and Henry being young and inexperienced with women thought he would love her forever, she was also extremely gracious and aware of her duty being born the daughter of a King, the five year gap between her and Henry would not have mattered then, Katherine at twenty three was approaching the age when it is said, a woman’s beauty is at her peak, Hemry was full of the testorone that men of eighteen have with all the rashness and eagerness that goes with it, they were blissfully happy and she soon became pregnant, we all know the tragedy that happened to Katherine in the distant future as we know what happened to Englands dead princes and princesses, Katherine was fertile but for some reason what has always been a mystery was the sudden unexplained deaths of her children, there could have been a weakness in her as indeed her predecessor many years later is thought to have been a carrier of the rhesus blood group, only Mary survived and she was a credit to both parents but Henry needed a son, his first marriage was to a woman that England took to her hearts, they loved her prettiness and charm, she was the sort to who women themselves are drawn to, she had the ability to make people love her which she passed onto her daughter, she was the perfect queen consort and Henry in his heart knew this, when years later he was bewitched by a young girl completely different in nature face and form, he could not have helped comparing her to his first queen who had been a model of behaviour, he is said to have snapped at his second wife that Katherine would never have spoke to him they way she did, his lust for her had overcome his common sense and maybe after his love for her had faded he realised what a jewel he had lost in Katherine, she has been called his best loved queen by his subjects, she was married to him the longest and was everything a queen consort should be, the only queen who has ever come close to her was maybe his sixth and last wife, her namesake Catherine Parr, Jane Seymour had a special place in his heart as she gave him his son and he now lies beside her for all eternity, she could well have been a successful queen to but she was fated to die young, Katherine failed in one sense only, she could not give her husband a healthy male heir and whilst he may have turned from her his subjects never did and she always held a special place in their hearts, she knew of their devotion to her when she was at a turning point in her life and declared she would beg from door to door knowing full well no one would close their door to her, wherever she went she was applauded and Henrys treatment of her made her all the more popular, when she died every mother in the land wept for her and grown men too, people have long memories and the oldest would surely have remembered the day she arrived in England after battling a most hazardous journey, they would have remembered this pretty little Spanish girl with her mantilla riding through the cobbled streets of London to be met by her dour old father in law and his lovely gracious queen, they would have remembered her coronation when she wore her glorious auburn hair loose down her back and glittering with jewels and wearing the consorts crown on her head, some memories do not fade, Katherine was destined to be an English queen and she served her adopted country well, she had a claim through her ancestor the great Duke Of Lancaster John Of Gaunt by his first wife the gracious and saintly Blanche, her erring husband being a descendant of the same but by his mistress Katheryn Swynford, so she and Henry were close cousins which was often the case amongst the nobility and royalty, though they seemed perfectly suited at the time over the years they grew apart and Katherine always pious, turned more and more to religion, the difference in the five years of their age grew more apparent especially after she grew quite large and Henry became increasingly worried that he only had a girl for his heir, when her menopause began they did not sleep together anymore and it was plain he had fallen out of love with her, in truth they had probably been drifting apart for some years, Katherine having had the experience of both her mother and grandmother knew that women were quite capable of ruling yet Henry did not have her confidence, his dynasty had been founded on the bloody battle of Bosworth and there were many who still called the Tudors usurpers, he needed a son to ensure his nations safety from rebellious factions, foreign invasion etc, he needed a son more than anything and so this young prince who had married his first wife out of love and chivalry decided she had to go, it was a shabby way to treat a woman who had been a devoted wife and exemplary queen for twenty years, yet out of all his wives Katherine was the most triumphant, she was married to him the longest out of all of them, she died a lonely death but she was not judicially murdered, she had a special place in Englands heart and she retains it still, nearly five centuries after her death.

    1. Bonnie says:

      Thank you for this -Could not have put it better myself. How different things would have been if Katherine’s two baby sons had survived. A lot of lives would have been spared

  2. Conor Byrne says:

    I find it interesting that this portrait has been reidentified as Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister. I think a case can be made for the sitter as Mary, but many of us rather romantically think of it as a portrait of the young Katherine, painted shortly after her marriage to Arthur.

    1. Globerose says:

      Hi CB. Is not this portrait by an artist who frequented the Spanish courts, one Michel Sittow and isn’t there another portrait by him (presumed to be of KofA) showing a golden/red haired lady, as Mary Magdalene? Given the artist, my question is on the likelihood of this being of an English princess?

    2. Banditqueen says:

      Do you mind if I ask who by and when as I have never heard of this portrait being anyone other than Katherine of Aragon as a young girl?

      Thanks Conor


        1. Banditqueen says:

          Thankyou, Conor, very interesting. This certainly will not be the first or last Tudor portrait to switch identity. The article is fascinating. I am not a portrait expert, but it’s a shame if it is Mary and not a young Katherine as I don’t think there is another young portrait of Katherine. Thanks I will read the article further.

    3. Christine says:

      Conor, I believe this is Katherine as I can see a likeness to Mary in her, they both have the same upturned noses, however she could also have resembled her aunt Mary Tudor but in a portrait of the Princess Mary she has a much slimmer face and a straight nose.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    What a happy time this must have been for Katherine, released from uncertainty and obscurity to marry the young, handsome and charming Henry Viii and he was all of these things for the next two decades. Henry wanted to marry Katherine and they were happy together. This was their wedding day, with a grand coronation was to come afterwards. It was a quiet but lovely intimate ceremony and I have no doubt that they thought all would be well. It’s also my grandmother and grandfather’s wedding anniversary. Both are passed now, my grandad I never knew as he died in 1946 and my nan never married again. She died in 1987 aged 92. Her birthday is on 24th June, their coronation day.

    It is only with the hindsight of history that we know how this turned out but no I wouldn’t warn Katherine because neither of them knew what would happen. They were still a loving couple for several years and Henry was in love with Katherine. One of the strange things about Henry is that he often compared his other wives to Katherine. We think we know better, but the evidence points to Henry as an attentive husband for over 18 years. It was his need for a son and her own refusal to accept the annulment, for which I believe she was right as she saw herself as his lawful right, plus his desire to marry again, in this case Anne Boleyn, which turned their relationship to bitterness. After his long years of divorce and Anne’s fall, coupled with accidents which changed his brain, Henry became a different person. However, at this time he was young, energetic, loving, charming, fun, generous, benevolent, not always wise, but he was certainly a young man who any woman would have been proud to marry.

    Happy Wedding Day Katherine and Henry.

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