Wouldn’t it of been werid for Catherine of Aragon to marry her husbands brother?

Yes, is the simple answer!

Henry VIII did require a papal dispensation in order to marry Catherine of Aragon because she had been married to his brother, Prince Arthur. Marrying your brother's widow was seen as incest because of what was written about such a union in Leviticus but Catherine assured Henry, and everyone else, that her marriage to Arthur had never been consummated. On the grounds that the marriage had never been consummated, Henry really didn't need the dispensation but I guess that he wanted to cover his bases.

Here is what Leviticus says:-

Leviticus 18:16 "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness."
Leviticus 20: 21 "If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless."


6 thoughts on “Wouldn’t it of been werid for Catherine of Aragon to marry her husbands brother?”

  1. natalie says:

    What was said about ‘knowing’ the brother’s wife is true, but it was also said that if a man dies, and leaves no children, his brother MUST marry her in order to continue the blood line. In Judaism this is still an issue (widows must go through a ceremony in which they denounce the brother for not performing his duty of continuing his brother’s line, before they can marry anyone else).

  2. Mya says:

    In my eyes, it’s werid. If Katherine and Arthur were intimate then Katherine and Henry….it just doesn’t seem right. But then you look at Henry, Mary, and Anne.

  3. Susan Deal says:

    It wasn’t wierd at the time and still isn’t in fact. At one time it was illegal for a man to marry his deceased wife’s sister because this was so commonly the cause of murder! But it has never been illegal to marry your deceased husband’s brother. It was argued at the time that the passage in the Bible Henry used to object refers to a man marrying the wife of his living brother. In any case Catherine insisted that she had never been intimate with Arthur. People did not develop so young in those days, and he may well have been not yet capable. Her marriage was a political union and she had no choice. She was also living in poverty and Henry VII had refused to allow her to return to Spain as he would have had to repay her dowry. He even considered marrying her himself.

    1. Claire says:

      Dispensations were required to marry the widow/widower of your brother/sister because of consanguinity but it was not illegal.

      1. THOMAS says:

        Dispensations are still required to marry the widow/widower of a brother/sister. This is due to the biblical notion of a family. Being “in-laws” didn’t carry the same connotation it does in modern times. Your in-laws were to be viewed as your own children or parents. This closeness of relation is known as affinity, not consanguinity. A true blood relationship must be present for it to be considered consanguineous–though dispensations are still possible if the blood relationship isn’t too close. This is currently true in a number of Christian denominations.

        The practice of a single brother being required (note the insistence) to marry his dead brother’s widow (ONLY if there were no living sons surviving) is found in the Book of Ruth. This is to”… raise up sons in the image of the father…”, an early view of immortality. Jesus, in his discourse on marriage in the Book of Matthew (Matthew 22:23-33) gives credence to this practice by accepting it as a teaching of Moses and a contemporary practice.

        When Henry VIII had his case debated by the scholars at Oxford & Cambridge and the Sorbonne, this opposing view to Leviticus was cited. It was given some weight because it came from the Christian Testament and the mouth of Christ, rather than the Hebrew Testament. (Viewing the Testaments as different levels of authority, always balanced by Christ’s words or example was/is very common in biblical interpretations.)

        It appears that Henry preferred to go with the supporting evidence of the Hebrew Testament, rather than the words of the man he claimed to be his savior.

        Henry was human in the extreme!

  4. Anne says:

    I still think Catherine of Aragon lied to maintain her position and her place in England.

    She didn’t want to return to Spain and she wanted to be Queen, as had been promised to her from a very young age.

    I believe she and Arthur were intimate, they had a public bedding after all.

    I think it was a lie on her part in order to marry Henry.

    Funny how Anne is so often called names, but Catherine of Aragon had just as many ill qualities.
    And Anne gave FAR more to the poor than Catherine ever did.

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