On this day in history, 31st January 1510, seven months after her marriage to King Henry VIII, Queen Catherine of Aragon gave birth prematurely to a stillborn baby girl.

Her confessor, Fray Diego, reported that the birth occurred “without any other pain except that one knee pained her the night before”, which seems rather unlikely. Catherine must have been distraught at the loss of her baby, but her doctors informed her that she’d been pregnant with twins and that she was still carrying one of them.

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You can also click here to read more about the pregnancies of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.

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8 thoughts on “31 January 1510 – Queen Catherine of Aragon loses a baby girl”
  1. Although this was a sad loss for Henry and Katherine that she soon became pregnant again and had a healthy son shows that both were fertile. Her son was healthy and suffered a cot death which has nothing to do with all the rubbish theories about today. There was nothing wrong with Prince Henry, just ignorance by his attendees. Cot death or SIDS remained a mystery until the 1980s, so it is no surprise that nobody knew back then.

    Katherine has been accused of deception in this first pregnancy, but Henry did know about the miscarriage. What has caused confusion is that she did not tell her father, plus they don’t make it public. Not making it public was probably normal. Katherine was told by her doctor that she was still pregnant so may have just wanted to wait. It appears she had an infection and her own instincts, with those of her ladies told her otherwise. Sadly no baby came and an embarrassed and distressed Katherine went on with life. It was known to Henry that Katherine had miscarried, but they told her father she had only just miscarried. I think they agreed with this. I think Henry wanted to protect Katherine. Yes he must have been disappointed, but he was still very young and devoted to her. She was pregnant again soon and this time it was different.

    All sorts of theories abound about the pregnancies that followed her healthy baby in 1511. Two more boys and at least one girl were born and died after either a few days, hours or moments. Mary was born healthy and another miscarriage happened. But why? A number of unproven theories have been raised in recent years and NO HENRY DID NOT HAVE SYPHILIS!!!!!! This was debunked in the 1930s, 1950s, 1960s and the earlier 21st century. I am shocked reading earlier posts on articles that people still state it as fact. I am not saying don’t ask, but it has also been posted as fact when the answer is no so many times.

    Theories will always be interesting though but we can’t prove any of them. They vary from rare blood disorder, complications, diet and fasting to just bad luck. Both Henry and Katherine have been looked at by medical experts and rare blood disorders have been examined in detail. However, sorry to be a party pooper, but we can’t take any theory seriously as we don’t have either parties blood or tissue to test. We don’t have their direct DNA either. Henry has never been exhumed, nor has Katherine and I don’t believe that they should be. What we do have is family history and it is possible to infer that a disease or disorder is present. From what medical history we do have from Henry and his wives we can know what he did suffer from and when and there are clues about his potency later in life. We can take clues and look for a known equivalent, but as it affects his children, we don’t have any clues from these early years of marriage. It is all unproven speculation, sorry; interesting but not fact.

  2. Poor Katherine, she wanted nothing more then to have give the King a healthy son and heir,but could not and it was her undoing. Reminds me of another Queen.
    Could it be the fact that they did not stop drinking wine or ale or whatever Tudor time alcoholic beverage they drank,when they were pregnant? I say it’s a very strong possibility.

    1. Alcohol is a complete no go during pregnancy but the wine and ale people drank in Tudor times was much weaker than today, so it’s generally believed but low strength alcohol is still a risk to the unborn baby so you do raise a very good point, however the water was undrinkable which possibly would have caused early deaths to the public in general, it just goes to show that the human race has survived against all the odds when you take into account the mortality rate of those days, the deaths from the plagues and wars yet as in the animal kingdom, the strong survive and it’s a survival of the fittest, some people didn’t die from the Black Death or the Sweating Sickness yet others perished, in the early part of the 20th c some people died from Spanish flu yet others managed to recover if they were afflicted, although our bodies are the same some have stronger immunity from disease sickness etc, genes also play a part in our general health, faulty genes can lead to some health issues, this is a subject than I cannot get involved in anyway, but yes it’s a point worth noting about the consumption of the alcohol they had in those days.

  3. Very sad when you know her doctor had told her she was carrying twins therefore she had something to grasp onto, she must have experienced great sadness with joy, miscarriage is devastating and when you are carrying the future king or queen you have the whole country expecting hoping and praying with you to deliver a healthy child, after no child arrived Katherine and Henry must have been dreadfully unhappy yet with the optimism of youth they had hope of soon having a healthy baby and she certainly had no trouble getting pregnant, they were not to know that sadly it was to become a pattern throughout their married life, miscarriages and cot deaths happened to women and still happen today and the mystery surrounding the latter has never been solved, theory’s by modern doctors have suggested the mothers smoking can cause the sudden deaths of otherwise healthy babies, that babies sleeping in the mothers bed may raise their chance of survival as they take comfort from their presence, another report said more boys die than girls from this tragic illness, an old associate of mine lost her baby son many years ago, she had just left him for a few minutes in his carry cot in her car whilst she went to the supermarket, when she returned he was dead and there was no explanation for it, coroners report was sudden infant death syndrome, (cot death) I think maybe the first few months of a baby’s life are the most crucial in any age and we know great care was taken with Henrys children, they had nurses watching over them and a rocker was employed to rock the baby in their cradle, the nurserys were scrubbed clean for fear of infection was very real, and royal children were often taken to the country because of the advantages of the clean fresh air away from the pestilence of the city, maybe some babies lungs are just too weak to thrive and cannot get enough oxygen, im know nurse or doctor so my comments are not important but it is a mystery why after centuries of this devastating condition we are still no nearer to knowing the truth, as for many people speculating on Henrys health and did he have syphilis, no we know he never did though the myth remains because of the poor birthing history of his first two wives, Jane Seymour died from complications in childbirth but had she survived and became pregnant again she may well have been as unlucky as her predecessors and suffered a miscarriage stillbirth or cot death also, with Catherine Howard he couldnt leave her alone so I doubt if he suffered from impotency there which at Anne Boleyns trial an allegation had arisen that she had mentioned it to her brother, it’s interesting that with his last two wives though they didn’t fall pregnant but in an earlier post I did say that Henry probably preferred to sleep, at least he was quite bedridden with his bad legs during his last marriage, yet both his first two wives did have a succession of pregnancies and they only had one child each, it could be stress that caused some of these miscarriages, both Anne and Katherine were under a huge amount of stress to bring to term a healthy baby, particularly a prince and stress was not a recognised condition in the late medieval/ Tudor period, yet when you know the onus is on you to give the country a fair son who knows what anguish it caused these two wives of Henry V111, had they been but simple milkmaids in the country could they have given birth to healthy children knowing that their husband, be he Tom Dick or Harry would not have minded if he had a Jane instead of Bill?

  4. Although the drinking of alcohol can contribute to birth defects, miscarriages, stillbirths and health problems to the baby, and the mother too. l can’t image this was a main factor here with Katherine…most of Britain would be drinking alcohol on a daily basis, and it did provide much needed nutrition that was lacking in diet then, and there were lots of healthy babies born against all odds.
    I have always leaned to the idea that Katherine could have had Gestational Diabetes, this develops during pregnancy, then goes afterwards. It doesn’t always present itself with every pregnancy, hence Mary. But you are more prone to it happening again. Some of the signs of this condition is unexplained miscarriages, premature labour, pre-eclampsia and the complications that come with this for mother and baby. Risks of Gestational Diabetes to babies, apart from being born prematurely is Jaundice and having low blood sugar, both need urgent medical treatment, which of course didn’t exist and wasn’t known about. Mothers can then go on to developed a permanent type of diabetes..

    I do agree with Bandit Queen about the high probability of Cot Death concerning the Prince though. Think of how we are always warned about babies overheating, dehydrating…then think how these small mites where tightly bound in swaddling bands to a board, covered in blankets, those little lungs would have to work so hard to breathe, plus he was a winter baby so probably close to a big roaring fire also. Not to mention hygiene, or rather the lack of it. It really is surprising the wee boy lasted as long as he did. With the medical knowledge we have now and the treatments available, Henry and Katheryn would have possibly had a nursery full of healthy children and Henry 5 less wives!!

  5. Yes iv heard that also about babies overheating can be a cause of cot death, babies and children have 100% circulation and can get warm very quickly, its not necessary to wrap them in furs and wool it’s only in old age we feel the cold more, and also they bandaged the babies legs so they would grow straight which must have been very uncomfortable, in such warm conditions also bacteria can flourish, so many deaths which occurred then could have been avoided and it’s interesting the point you make about gestational diabetes Dawn, so many theories, it’s tragic though that still in this age with the advances in technology such as circling the earth and travelling to the moon and being able to perform heart bypass surgery, as well as being able to sew limbs back on we are still no nearing to knowing what causes cot death syndrome, as in cancer I pray one day we will have a cure.

  6. To be honest Christine I don’t think there is A answer to cot death, l personally think it could be a combination of things with no common denominator as such. But the more we learn about things that could be a contibuting factor the better.
    I might be wrong here Christine, but l think the babies whole body was bound, not just the legs, imagine the poor bairn not being able to wave their little limbs about, and how much more hot and bothered it would become when crying…l shudder to think about it…

    1. Just seen your post Dawn, yes if the baby woke suddenly and could not move being bound too tightly, the terror he/ she must have felt if there was no comforting nurse around could have caused maybe such a fright the child could have died just in terror? Maybe the shock could have caused a sudden inability to breath properly and in turn the heart failed, but it’s very very sad, the Royal offspring were monitored very closely as they were doubly precious so I don’t believe it was a lack of care on the part of the nurses, Henry V111 as a youngster caught a bout of malaria and was lucky enough to survive, could his children have caught this disease yet as has been noted, they were sent to live in the country where there was less risk of infectious diseases, my old friend went on to have several more children all of who are now in their thirties and very healthy one with children of her own, I recall Anne Diamond who lost her baby son and went on to campaign for more understanding of this tragic syndrome, to lose one child is dreadful enough yet how poor Katherine and Henry felt after having to bury so many you just cannot imagine.

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