On this day in history, 27th June 1505, Henry, Prince of Wales, the future Henry VIII, renounced his betrothal to Catherine of Aragon, his brother’s widow, claiming that it had been contracted without his consent.
The couple had been betrothed since 25th June 1503 and, according to the terms of the marriage treaty negotiated between Henry VII and Isabella and Ferdinand, were due to have the marriage solemnised on Henry’s fourteenth birthday, i.e. 28th June 1505. The young Henry was, therefore, renouncing the betrothal just the day before the marriage was set to take place.
Was it young Henry’s idea?
Well, it’s impossible to say, but David Starkey believes that Henry “had agreed to marry Catherine because his father told him too, and that he reneged on his promise for the same reason.”1 As Starkey points out, after Isabella I of Castile’s death in November 1504, “Catherine the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon was a much less attractive proposition as a daughter-in-law than Catherine the daughter of the Catholic kings of Spain” because Isabella’s heir had not been Ferdinand, but her daughter Juana, wife of Archduke Philip of Burgundy. Catherine was not quite the catch she had been. Of course, when young Henry was free to choose his own wife, following the death of his father in April 1509 and his own succession to the throne, he chose to marry Catherine. The couple married on 11th June 1509, when Henry was seventeen and Catherine was twenty-three, and were married for nearly 24 years, until the marriage was annulled in 1533.
Notes and Sources
- Starkey, David (2008) Henry: Virtuous Prince, Harper Press, p. 190-191.