11 June 1509 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine of Aragon
Posted By Claire on June 11, 2011
On this day in history, 11th June 1509, the new King, Henry VIII, married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, at Greenwich Palace.
Catherine of Aragon’s biographer, Giles Tremlett, points out that this was not a huge public affair like Catherine’s first marriage and that “there was something almost clandestine about the way Catherine married her new husband”1. Instead of marrying at St Paul’s with a crowd of spectators, the 23 year old Catherine and 17 year old Henry had a private wedding in one of the Queen’s Closets at the Palace, possibly in the Palace’s Chapel Royal.
The vows would were based on the treaty between Henry VII and Catherine’s parents, Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, after the death of Prince Arthur when Catherine was promised to the 11 year old Prince Henry, Duke of York. According to the Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Henry was asked:
” ‘Most illustrious Prince, is it your will to fulfil the treaty of marriage concluded by your father, the late King of England, and the parents of the Princess of Wales, the King and Queen of Spain; and, as the Pope has dispensed with this marriage, to take the Princess who is here present for your lawful wife?’ “2
And Catherine would have been asked the equivalent question. Both would have replied “Volo[I will]”3.
Although the wedding was low key, preparations were being made for a lavish joint coronation which was due to take place on the 24th June, the feast day of St John the Baptist and “by their reckoning, Midsummer Day”. That day would be their day of triumph and celebration, after all, it was a new era and this golden Renaissance couple had their whole future ahead of them as King and Queen of England.
You can read more about how the marriage came about in my article “The Marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon”.
Notes and Sources
- Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen, Giles Tremlett, UK Edition, p149 in Chapter 18 “Married Again”
- Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 2, 17
- Tremlett, p149
- Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, David Starkey, Chapter 22 “Queen”
6 thoughts on “11 June 1509 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine of Aragon”
What a happy day this must have been for both of them. Especially catherine, she had finally been taken out of the limbo she must have felt she had been placed in after Arthur died, and both fathers could not decide what was for the best, not for her I think, but for their own gain, she was just a pawn, yet again in the government of kingdoms. All those years pushed into the background, pleading to both fathers to come to a decision, and at least give her an adequate pension to which she was enttitled as a royal Princess of Spain, to provide for her and her now, vastly scaled down household. The poor young woman was practically destitute because of Henry VII’s penny pinching and her own fathers disinterest. But as always she remained dignified and held fast, which she continued to do all through her life, as history has shown us. But how this young couple must have delighted with this new start, with each other, and all that the future held for them on this day all those years ago.
I just read the original post about Catherine and Arthur’s marriage. While I’ve enjoyed reading the books on Anne, I realize I’m going to have to read more about Catherine’s life. What struck me most in reading your post was that when Arthur became ill, so did Catherine. I must have glossed over that part-my loss. But both were believed to have the “sweating sickness”, he succumbed but she survived. Both Catherine and Anne caught the “sweating sickness”, both survived, and both had a similar history with their pregnancies. I don’t know if anyone knows or has investigated that it was the same illness in both cases-both women’s illness having the same bacterial or viral agent-but it could have been a contributing factor in both women’s relative inablility stay pregnant.
I, also don’t recall ever having heard that bit about “sweating sickness” in Catherine. Now it’s getting interesting! I have to go and “google” sweating sickness,because I’m not quite sure as to what actual malady it was. After I look into it I may have a better explanation,but for now I’m going to hypothesize that the “sweating sickness” may have triggered some sort of “hyper-immunity” in the ladies. They may have developed “super-antibodies” which would remain on to attack any further intrusions on their systems,including pregnancies! With each exposure,the antibodies grow stronger and fight harder…hmmm,we may be on to something! Or quite possibly,they were both RH negative,which has a horrible impact on pregnancies when the father is RH positive! Your body will make antibodies against it during the first pregnancy and with each successive pregnancy,they attack the fetus as an “antigen” resulting in miscarriages and still-births. I know that infant/mother mortality was high back then,but there has to be a medical explanation for all of those infants either being born dead or dying soon after birth! Even by “the dark-age” standards,it seems way too high of a rate!
Pamela, is it possible it could have been malaria? Or a particular form of ‘flu? Also, the treatment of illness then might have been a contributory factor – emetics, cupping etc. Presumably, hygiene must have played a significant factor in the mortality rates too. I don’t think there was too much emphasis on hand washing!
I hadn’t realized Catherine was sick along with ARthur….he had consumption but she didn’t show any signs of that. Wonder what she might have had…I’m sure the sweating sickness would have been chronicled as she was so important. Maybe it did in some way affect her ability to carry a baby to term. I’m glad she had some happy times with Henry.
Talk of Authur being sickly does not appear until a great revival (and romanticized) interest in history occurred in the Victorian Age – when many people took the virginity of Katherine as an absolute and thus began widely speculating on why a young man of 15 (mature in Tudor times) would not have sex with his very pretty 16 year old bride. It was a question begging an answer and historians of the time supplied several, but none with significant contemporary backing.
There are no contemporary accounts of Authur being “sickly” nor was there a reported outbreak of sweating sickness in 1502.