June 11 – 17-year-old Henry VIII gets married to Catherine of Aragon

On this in Tudor history, 11 June 1509, two months after his accession to the throne of England, seventeen-year-old King Henry VIII married Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon (Catalina de Aragón) at a private ceremony at Greenwich.

This was twenty-three-year-old Catherine’s second marriage. Her first husband, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, Henry VIII’s older brother, had died in April 1502.

Find out more about what led to this marriage…


On this day in Tudor history, 11th June 1509, just over seven weeks after he’d become king, seventeen-year-old Henry VIII married twenty-three-year-old Catherine of Aragon (Catalina de Aragón), daughter of Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, in a private ceremony in the queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace.

The wedding ceremony was a private and low-key affair as the king was in the middle of planning a lavish joint coronation for himself and Catherine, which was due to take place on 24th June, the Feast of St John and also Midsummer’s Day, at Westminster Abbey. There were just two witnesses to the marriage ceremony: George Talbot, who was Earl of Shrewsbury and Henry VIII’s Lord Steward, and William Thomas, groom of the privy chamber.

Catherine of Aragon was, of course, the first of six wives for Henry VIII, and Henry was her second husband. She’d previously been married to Henry’s brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, but he had died six months into their marriage, in April 1502.

On the 23rd June 1503 a marriage treaty for Catherine to marry Prince Henry was signed and the couple Henry became betrothed at a ceremony on the 25th June. It was planned that a proper marriage ceremony would take place on Henry’s 15th birthday, the 28th June 1506, which would give England and Spain chance to get a papal dispensation to allow the couple to marry. In the summer of 1504, the Pope showed that he was willing to grant the dispensation but shortly after Isabel received it in November 1504 she died.

Isabel’s death had a major impact on Catherine. Not only did it leave Catherine grief-stricken, but it made her a less attractive bride for Henry VII’s son and heir as Catherine’s father was not the heir to Castile. Henry VII therefore discouraged his son from the union and on the 27th June 1505, the day before the marriage was meant to be solemnized, Prince Henry repudiated the betrothal. Poor Catherine was left in an impossible position: her father did not want her to return to Spain but, as she was no longer marriage material, Henry VII had cut off her allowance. Catherine had no choice but to remain in England, live in virtual poverty and just hope that things would turn out right. Things got better when her father appointed her as a Spanish ambassador but she had to wait until her knight in shining armour came to rescue her in 1509 for things to be right again.

Of course, Henry VIII went on to have his marriage to Catherine annulled in 1533 after a six year quest for an annulment. Catherine died in January 1536, just a few months before her successor, Anne Boleyn, was executed.

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