On this day in history, 6th November 1501,1 Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, met Arthur, Prince of Wales, the man she would soon marry, at Dogmersfield in Hampshire, a palace that belonged to the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Fifteen year-old Catherine had left her home, the Alhambra Palace in Granada, southern Spain, on 21st May 1501 to make the gruelling 500+ mile journey to A Coruña, a port in Galicia, north-western Spain. Catherine’s party had originally set sail for England on 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. At 5 o’clock in the afternoon of the 27th September 1501 Catherine’s party set sail once more. Although violent storms affected their journey again, this time just off the coast of Brittany, the party landed safely at the port of Plymouth, Devon, on 2nd October 1501. They had been due to arrive at Southampton, but at least they were now on English soil. One can only imagine Catherine’s relief.
But Catherine’s journey was not over. She then had to make her way through England’s West Country to London, and she must have been exhausted by the time she reached Dogmersfield, having encountered the seasonal November rains on her journey. Henry VII was impatient to see his son’s bride-to-be and so abandoned plans to meet her at Lambeth and set off from Richmond on 4th November, meeting up with his fifteen year-old son Arthur at Easthampstead on 5th November. Their plans to see Catherine were nearly scuppered by Don Pedro de Ayala, Isabella and Ferdinand’s diplomat, who insisted that tradition dictated that they could not see the princess before the wedding. As her biographer Julia Fox points out, Catherine “graciously bowed to the inevitable” and agreed to meet with her father-in-law. Henry was happy with what he saw and so called Arthur in to see his bride. Their betrothal was blessed and celebrated by Catherine entertaining the royal party with minstrels and dancing. Catherine danced with her ladies and Arthur danced with Lady Guildford.
The next day, Catherine set off from Dogmersfield continuing her journey to London.
Also, on this day in history, 6th November 1541, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, was abandoned by her husband at Hampton Court Palace, never to see him again. Click here to read more about this.
And in 1514 Mary Tudor, Queen of France, processed into Paris following her coronation the day before at Saint-Denis – click here to read more about the procession.
- Some sources say 4th November.
Sources and Further Reading
- Tremlett, Giles (2010) Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen
- Mattingley, Garrett (1942) Catherine of Aragon
- Fox, Julia (2011) Sister Queens