On this day in 1510 disaster struck Catherine of Aragon and her first pregnancy. According to her confessor, Fray Diego, after suffering pain in her knee on the night of 30th January, Catherine “brought forth prematurely a daughter” on the morning of 31st January.

Catherine’s biographer, Julia Fox, refers to this pregnancy as “disastrous”, but not because it resulted in a stillborn daughter but because Catherine’s physician led the Queen to believe that she was still pregnant with her dead baby’s twin. Catherine did have “some doubts”, particularly as her periods began again, but her abdomen continued to swell and it’s not hard to understand why Catherine would cling to some hope and put her trust in the physician. We do knot know whether Catherine was suffering from some type of infection or whether it was a phantom pregnancy but no labour followed Catherine’s confinement in March 1510, there was no baby.

You can read more about this heartbreaking time for Catherine in my article “Catherine Goes into Premature Labour – 31st January 1510”

Notes and Sources

  • Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile, Julia Fox, Hardback US Version (Ballantine Books), p185-187
  • Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen, Giles Tremlett

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6 thoughts on “31 January 1510 – Catherine of Aragon Loses a Daughter”
  1. That’s so sad. I have heard of cases where a dead foetus can be retained within the body and decomposes, eventually to be passed out with the period, these days a woman would be able to have a D and C to make sure no pregnancy tissue is left behind.

  2. There are so many different things that can go wrong post-delivery that I doubt the “twin” was a phantom pregnancy — probably just a hard recovery and possibly infection. In any case, Henry must not have found the episode too off-putting since their next child was born nine and half months after the March non-confinement!

  3. I know a couple of ladies who miscarried one of twin fetuses and went onto a successful birth of the second twin with a reasonable amount of medical intervention to stop labour.

  4. That must have been painful for Katherine, loosing your first child. It was also sad that Mary never got the chance to meet with her sister, imagine how the two would have comforted each other.

  5. My friend’s son would have been a twin but she lost him at 16 weeks of pregnancy and her son, now 4 , was born premature, I guess back then she’d have lost have both, it’s a wonder people survived back then as they do in poor countries, I’d have died had I been born then as i was a forceps birth with a cord round the neck and stopped breathing. Time were hard.

  6. Even in this day and age, pregnancies can go wrong in a heartbeat. I cannot
    even begin to imagine what it must have been like in the 16th century. It would be terrifying, I would guess. Then, after 9 months to possibly lose a child at one month or one year, as the child mortality rate was so incredibly high. Hard, hard times, undoubtedly.

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