27 September 1501 – Catherine of Aragon leaves her native Spain

Catherine of AragonOn this day in history, at 5 o’clock in the afternoon of the 27th September 1501, Catherine of Aragon set sail for England from Laredo in Spain to marry Henry VII’s son and heir to the throne, Prince Arthur.

Catherine had originally set sail from Coruna on the 17th August, but strong storms in the Bay of Biscay had forced her fleet to land at Laredo, near Bilbao. After hearing of her first failed attempt to reach England, Catherine’s future father-in-law sent one of his best captains, Stephen Butt, to steer her ship through the treacherous Bay of Biscay.

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4 thoughts on “27 September 1501 – Catherine of Aragon leaves her native Spain”
  1. An hazardous journey and in the storm tossed ship, a young girl leaving her native land far behind and facing an uncertain fortune, leaving the only life she had known in a sunny land and her family, to come and live in a decidedly chillier climate where she knew no one, maybe could hardly speak the language and had to adjust to new customs food and the strangeness of it all, it was a lot to expect of a young girl and yet she was not the only princess to be used as a bargaining tool between nations, it had been going on for generations before her and would continue to so for generations after, Ferdinand was desirous of the friendship with England and Henry V11 was pleased to have a powerful nation as Spain as his ally, now all Katherine had to do was be buxom in bed and board as they used to say and provide heirs for her newly adopted country, Katherine was short but had a trim figure and wonderful auburn hair which fell right down her back, her portrait shows a pretty girl with soft features and in fact she looks more English than Spanish, no doubt she had inherited her looks from her English grandmother, she was charming and the English found her accent enchanting, right away they took her to their hearts and was touched by her quiet shy demeanour, her eagerness to please and they were hopeful of her future, she was married to Arthur and after the celebrations had ended and they climbed into bed together little did either of them realise that their wedding night several decades later would be a topic of hot debate, did they or didn’t they? And in fact it is a question historians have debated on down the centuries, was Katherine lying when she declared she was a virgin, only she knew the answer to that and Arthur but he was long since dead, Arthur’s declaration that he had been in the midst of Spain can be taken as a young mans boasting to his peers, the way young men do now, to save face has he got any red blood in him, of course Arthur wouldn’t admit he possibly only wanted to sleep and Katherine to, the celebrations went on for hours and too much feasting and drinking can lead to rather an upset digestive system, iv known couples say on their wedding night they had both drunk so much when they got in bed they had both passed out, Arthur was not as robust as his younger brother either, he could well have been unwell on his wedding day, he died not long after of an illness that left his young bride a widow and Katherine then must have realised how uncertain life was, she had to then adjust to life as a young widow and for several years afterwards was forced to live quite miserably because of her miserly father in law, therefore what started of as a joyous occasion soon dissolved into a bleak widowhood for her, she was at the mercy of her father in law and facing an uncertain future, she is said to have had an eating disorder which due to the unhappiness of her situation is not unlikely as stress can lead to irregular eating habits, was she bulimic? It was unheard of then but by eating till a sufferer is full then making themselves sick makes them feel like their in control, it’s seen as a sign of purging, or was she anorexic? She was never referred to as being thin but it is possible as she was unhappy and could well have had anxiety she did not feel like eating, constant worry can lead to an alarming lack of appetite and she was known for being very strict with fasting as later on it was a cause for concern which has led to the suggestion that it interfered with her monthly cycles and did cause her fertility issues, whatever the answer is we can only speculate like what really happened on her wedding night but what we do know about Henry’s first wife is she was surely the most beloved out of all the ones that followed after.

  2. Katherine of Aragon had the company of her mother to the end of Spain, but it must have been heart wrenching to say goodbye. I know that Katherine was prepared for her destiny and had communicated with Prince Arthur, plus Elizabeth of York had tried to get to know her future DIL but it was a dangerous journey, going to a new land, learning new language and all strangers to get to know. She was a young woman, a teenager, as was her groom, she had ladies with her but it must have been a shock just the same and very different to adjust. Fortunately she arrived safely and her father in law impressed her with his library.

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