27 September 1501 – Catherine of Aragon sets sail from Spain

Posted By on September 27, 2014

The present day port of Laredo

The present day port of Laredo

At 5pm on 27th September 1501, fifteen year-old Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, set off from the port of Laredo in Spain bound for England. She was travelling to England because her parents and Henry VII had negotiated a marriage match for Catherine to marry Arthur, Prince of Wales.

Catherine had left the beautiful Alhambra Palace, in southern Spain’s Andalucia region, on 21st May 1501 and had travelled over 500 miles on horseback. Her fleet had frst set off from northern Spain, from A Coruña, on 17th August but had been forced to land at Laredo, near Bilbao, after being caught up in strong storms in the notorious Bay of Biscay. Catherine finally set foot on English soil on 2nd October when she arrived at Plymouth, on England’s south-western coast.

I live near Granada and I have travelled by car from Andalucia to Spain’s northern coast, to Santander, and it took nearly 10 hours. That was a long enough journey for me so I can’t imagine how exhausted Catherine must have been after her long and arduous journey through Spain in the heat of summer.

You can read more about her journey in my article Catherine of Aragon sets sail for England and more about Catherine herself in the following articles:

4 thoughts on “27 September 1501 – Catherine of Aragon sets sail from Spain”

  1. Banditqueen says:

    Katherine must have been very sad to leave her homeland but was probably prepared for her new position well before she left. That said I am sure she felt mixed emotions, fear, anticipation, excitement, and loneliness. Unlike her sisters, Katherine did not have the pleasure and comfort of being accompanied by her mother Isabella to the coast. The negotiations went on for a few years, Katherine must have felt herself on the verge of Destiny. Women from royal houses were pawns in dynastic politics and Katherine was the necessary icing on the cake to seal an alliance that Spain needed as well as England. Fortunately for Katherine she found Arthur to be a good husband and her new people welcomed her. It’s sad that about eight months into her marriage that poor Katherine found herself a widow. Given that she then spent seven years in the wilderness as Henry withheld the return of her dowry, Ferdinand played games over her future, wrangling went on over the completed payments of her original dowry from Spain and she became a diplomatic football as proposals varied from her marrying Henry to returning home. It was a huge relief when the new dispensation was granted and Henry Viii chose her as his Queen. She had been denied friends and status and now she had both. Her happiest years would follow, so would her most tragic but for now she had her wish, she was Queen of England and her 18 year old husband adored her.

  2. Violeta says:

    Last week at TVE series “Isabel”, the episode was about the marriage alliances prepared by the catholic monarchs in order to isolate France from other reigns. It shows the worries Isabel feels regarding the welfare and happinnes her children. I liked the scene.

  3. Dawn !st says:

    Poor Katherine she seemed to be plagued by unhappiness, the sadness at being taken from her family and country, then becoming a widow in such a short time. Abandoned and kept near enough in poverty by her miserly father-in-law for all those years. Then the loss of all her babies, not to mention Henry’s philandering, an illegitimate son to rub salt into the wound, topped by the annulment of her marriage, being made Dowager, the separation/bastardizing of her daughter, the removal of all her possessions and stuffed into what ever god-forsaken hovel Henry had at his disposal, pushed back again, and this time to die, in poverty again. She was stripped of everything she had and held dear, and utterly humiliated. Her dejection and sorrow is grim and heart-breaking reading even in our time. I am glad she had some good times to remember and cling onto, which must have helped a little at her worst time, and her faith of course. Bless her.

  4. Anyanka says:

    I live near Granada and I have travelled by car from Andalucia to Spain’s northern coast, to Santander, and it took nearly 10 hours. That was a long enough journey for me so I can’t imagine how exhausted Catherine must have been after her long and arduous journey through Spain in the heat of summer.

    This is one of the things that intereasts me as a toe-dipping historian..that we have lost the sense of time and space during travel due to our cars/planes/boats/railway of 21st C.

    Many years ago I had to drive to Nova Scotia iwth a 7 yo, 4 yo and 7 month with my husband who did half of the driving but had to drive back alone for 13 hours ( pus an hours time chane) on my own when the external temps were in the low 30sC an a humidex taking us to the high 30s C… not pleasant venin an air-conditioned car…

    you reallly have to admire these peolpe who travelled in such primitive conditions..

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