11 June 1509 – The Wedding of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon

henry_and_catherine by TimOn the 11th June 1509, 17 year-old King Henry VIII married 23 year-old Catherine of Aragon, widow of his brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, in the Queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace.

The wedding was a private one, with just two witnesses, Lord Steward Shrewsbury and William Thomas, a groom of the privy chamber. The wedding was probably low key because the couple’s joint coronation was scheduled to take place in less than two weeks later, and that would be a lavish affair.

You can read more about the wedding in my article 11 June 1509 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine of Aragon.

Henry and Catherine were married for nearly 24 years, with their marriage being annulled in May 1533. During their marriage, Catherine was pregnant at least six times but only one child survived infancy: Mary I. See The Pregnancies of Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon for more details.

Also on this day in history…

  • 1544 – Bishops ordered by Henry VIII to ensure that the new litany was “in our native englysshe tonge”.

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8 thoughts on “11 June 1509 – The Wedding of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon”
    1. No it is definitely Henry VIII as a youth. The fashions had not changed much since the 15th century by then. Catherine’s portrait shows a similar gable hood to that worn by her mother-in-law Elizabeth of York. Once Henry VIII got the bit between his teeth, so to speak, and no longer has his father in the background forbidding him to joust, etc., off came the hair and he became the person we recognise from later porttraits. Henry VIII strongly resembled his grandfather Edward IV. The collar he wears in the portrait is very like the one his grandfather wore, and may well be the same item.

  1. One might describe Henry as a callow youth in this portrait. We don’t know the artist and it is attributed to that prolific artist, Anon. Shame the one of Katherine isn’t as good, but there are so few surviving of her.

    Sheila, it is unfortunate that we don’t have much jewellery from this period, or anything much from before the Civil War. Cromwell melted down what was left, but before him, jewellery was often melted down and remodelled. If you were able to get to the Museum of London earlier in the year, there was a fabulous exhibition of The Cheapside Hoard, which had been found in the early years of the 20th century. This strong box had contained various pieces from the late 1400s up until the mid 1600s and had been buried in a cellar in Cheapside. When they were redeveloping Cheapside in 1912, one of the labourers was digging with a pick axe and dug up a strong box. Why or who had buried this amazing box is not known, but the items are absolutely fabulous and gives us a bit more info about what jewellery was worn in the early modern period.

  2. Claire, Henry is meant to be 17 almost 18 when this marriage takes place; but I think Henry looks more like he is 14 or 15 in this portrait; what do you think? Could this be a portrait of Prince Arthor or a portrait made when he was 15 and the experts cannot find one that we can verify as being Henry aged 17/18?

    Anyway, happy wedding day to Katherine and Henry. It must have been a lovely if quiet day with the big event to come at the duel coronation. I often wonder why they did not have a big public wedding at Saint Pauls; the cost of the coronation must have taken up all the money, but Henry did inherit a lot, so could have had more of a doo. I also read in 2009 that archaelogists believed they had uncovered the private chaple or closset in which the wedding would have taken place. Have to admit nothing more was said so do not know if they found any more of the old palace. The royal navel collage is there now of course and much to do with astronomy and so on, but there is still a few things pointed out at there as well. I also feel sad on this day for two reasons: I think about the sadness that would spoil their happy marriage in years to come and the sense of loss and my grandmother and grandfather were also married on this day. It is sad as my grandfather died on their 25th wedding anniversary when my mum was just 18 in 1946. Nan never wanted to remember anything in June; even though we tried to get her to remember the happy years she spent with my granddad. She did talk about him all the time; save on that one day of the year. Sad but happy as well.

    1. P.S I am going to Ludlow next week for 10 days so will be visiting the castle and Saint Lawrence and we also intend to go to Worcester Cathedral. It is interesting to note that Arthur also spent some time at Ludlow before his marriage as he was established here in his own household a few years before this. He came to court often of course. The tradition started with Edward IV who had his son the future Edward V sent to Ludlow; it was ironic that this same Prince was perfectly safe and healthy at Ludlow and then was to vanish from sight and history; may-be murdered; by the man who was trusted to protect him Richard III. Henry, although he replaced Arthur as the Prince of Wales was not apparently sent there after what happened to his older brother; dying here after a long illness; but Henry did make Mary Princess of Wales and sent her to rule here when she was 11. It was not to remain a popular practice, with Princes having establishments closer to the capital or in the royal household as time went on into the Stuart era.

    2. I, too, thought that it looked like Arthur. Of course, portraiture was not always as sophisticated, *&* painters would want to make sure to flatter a royal subject: making a prince of a fledgling, questionable dynasty look like a forbear who was an undisputed King (Edward IV) would have been a good move, & this would have been done to both boys. Pictures that are undeniably Henry look a lot like Arthur – & they were brothers, so that’s to be expected even without political factors….

  3. I reckon the paintings of Arthur the sitter has brown hair, Henry was strawberry blonde which probably darkened to a more auburn shade as he got older, iv often thought some painters wernt really good at drawing, Holbien was very skilled and Michelangelo but some painters were hopeless at drawing faces, hands necks etc properly.

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