Catherine of Aragon as Mary Magdalene

On this day in history, 11th June 1509, the new king, Henry VIII, married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, nearly 6 years after they had originally been betrothed. The marriage took place in a private ceremony in the queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace in front of two witnesses: Lord Steward Shrewsbury and groom of the privy chamber, William Thomas. As soon as the wedding was over, preparations began in earnest for the double coronation of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine.

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon was born on the 16th December 1485 and was the youngest surviving child of the Spanish Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It is interesting to note that she had a strong claim to the English throne as she was descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and son of Edward III. She did not have the typical dark Spanish looks, instead she had blue eyes and auburn or strawberry blonde hair, and was said to be a great beauty. When she arrived in England in 1501 to marry Prince Arthur, heir to the throne, Thomas More said of her:-

“Ah, but the lady! Take my word for it, she thrilled the hearts of everyone: she possesses all those qualities that make for beauty in a very charming girl. Everywhere she receives the highest of praises; but even that is inadequate.”1

Bride and Widow

Arthur, Prince of Wales

On the 14th November 1501 the 15 year old Catherine of Aragon married the 14 year old Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of King Henry VII, at St Paul’s Cathedral. The couple were then sent to Ludlow Castle in the Welsh Marches so that Arthur could begin his duties as Prince of Wales but within months both Catherine and Arthur became ill with what is thought to have been sweating sickness. Although it looked like both of them would die, Catherine recovered but only to find that Arthur had died on the 2nd April 1502. In an effort to keep Catherine’s dowry, Henry VII, who had recently been widowed, started negotiations to marry Catherine himself but her mother, Isabella I of Castile was horrified and Henry was forced to drop the plans. Instead, he decided to start negotiations to marry Catherine off to the new heir to the throne, Prince Henry.

On the 23rd June 1503 a marriage treaty was signed and Catherine and Prince 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 Isabella received it in November 1504 she died.

Isabella’s death was a huge blow to Catherine, not only because she was her mother but also because, to Henry VII, “Catherine the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon was a much less attractive proposition as a daughter-in-law than Catherine the daughter of the Catholic kings of Spain”. Catherine’s father, Ferdinand, 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. 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.

Henry VIII, 1509

Bride Again

On the 21st April 1509, King Henry VII died and his son, Prince Henry, became King Henry VIII. Overnight, Catherine’s fortunes changed and although the Spanish envoy, Fuensalida, reported on the 24th April that he had “been told that a member of the king’s council has said that [the marriage] is unlikely because from what they know of Henry it would burden his conscience to marry his brother’s widow”2, the marriage negotiations, which had been dragging on since 1502 were brought to a successful end in May 1509. On the 8th June, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, issued the marriage licence and the couple married on the 11th June.

The Wedding

Catherine of Aragon married Henry VIII, her knight in shining armour, on the 11th June in the Queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace. According to the Calendar of State Papers, Spain, the formal words used by the couple at the ceremony were:-

“Most illustrious Prince, is it your will to fulfil the treaty of marriage concluded by your father, the late King of England, and the parents of the Princess of Wales, the King and Queen of Spain ; and, as the Pope has dispensed with this marriage, to take the Princess who is here present for your lawful wife?
The King answered : I will.
Most illustrious Princess, &c. (mutatis mutandis).
The Princess answered : I will.”3

Catherine was 23 years of age and Henry was just about to turn 18. Although she had suffered much hardship since the death of Prince Arthur, she was still a beauty, and Henry VIII was in his prime. The Spanish ambassador had said of Henry, when he was Prince of Wales: “There is no finer youth in the world than the prince of Wales” and it is known that he was over six feet in height and long-limbed. Alison Weir, in her book “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” describes Henry as:-

“A man of great physical beauty, above the usual height, being around 6’3″ tall… He was magnificent to look at, being lean and muscular, with an extremely fine calf to his leg of which he was inordinately proud, and had skin so fair that it was almost translucent; we are told that it glowed, flushing a rosy pink after the King had exercised.”4

Here are some contemporary descriptions of King Henry VIII:-

“The King tilted against many, stoutly and valorously. According to their own observation and the report of others, King Henry was not only very expert in arms and of great valour, and most eminent for his personal endowments, but so gifted and adorned with mental accomplishments, that they believed him to have few equals in the world. He spoke English, French, and Latin, understood Italian well, played on almost every instrument, sang and composed fairly, was prudent, sage, and free from every vice, and so good and affectionate a friend to the Signory, that no ultramontane sovereign ever surpassed him in that respect.”5

“The personal beauty of the King is very great, as Foscari doubtless has been informed by his brother, the Lord Frederick. He is also courageous, an excellent musician, plays well on the harpsichord, is learned for his age and station, and has many other endowments and good parts. Two such courts and two such Kings as those of France and England have not been witnessed by any Venetian ambassador for these 50 years, as is attested by the Magnifico Pietro Pasqualigo, who extols everything usque ad astra.”6

A Venetian diplomatic visiting the English Court said of Henry VIII:-
“His Majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion fair and bright, with auburn hair, combed straight and short in the French fashion, and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman, his throat was rather long and thick.”

As you can see, Henry was quite a catch and at this stage he was quite the “Virtuous Prince”, a Renaissance man who wanted to change England for the better and live with his beautiful new wife for ever. Who could have known at this piont that the marriage would end unhappily 24 years later and that this man would turn into a monster who would wreck the lives of six wives, his friends and members of his court?

Anyway, this day in 1509 was a happy day for the royal couple so let’s remember them that way.

Notes and Sources

  1. E.F. Rogers, ed., Thomas More Selected Letters, 2-3, quoted in Henry Virtuous Prince, David Starkey, p143
  2. Correspondencia de Fuensalida, 516, quoted in Starkey
  3. Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 2, 17
  4. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir, p72
  5. Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2, 614
  6. Ibid., 624

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58 thoughts on “The Marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon”
  1. Despite this glowing report of Henry’s good looks and character, I would still like to go back in time, after learning the Spanish phrases, “Don’t do it!”, “He’s a jerk!” and “You’ll be sorry!”

    The above phrases in French (for Anne Boleyn) and German (for Anne of Cleves) would also be memorized as well, though in Anne of Cleves’s case, I already know the perfect term, schweinhund.

    In all seriousness, though, contrasting Henry’s early life with how he later turned out – wow, what a flip in personality. A pity these great personality virtues seem to have masked that Henry was possibly a sociopath. It is so sad that Katharine fell so deeply in love, and remained in love with him despite this.

    1. This total change in Henry VIII’s character was due to serious head injuries he suffered during jousting. Such a pity.

      1. Do you seriously think Katherine would have taken note of anything against her marriage, from the future or otherwise? Henry wanted to marry Katherine and she him. They wanted each other passionately and Henry was a good husband for over twenty years. It is only with hindsight that we can look back and know the tragedy which awaited Katherine and Henry. Had things had gone kinder in the way of children being born alive and survival, they would have remained married and happy. It is cruel and sad that we know things turned out quite different.

        One thing I find hilarious is that everyone is praising how the beautiful the King is and how handsome and oh, how tall and how athletic Henry was, rather than praising the lovely bride.

  2. Love that you chose the Catherine as Mary Magdalene portrait – seems her sister, Juana, enjoyed posing as that saint, too. 😉

  3. Funniy enough, Historic Royal Palaces did a huge promotion of “Katherine in Love” a year or so ago referring to her marriage to Henry and also a similar promotion “Henry – the Pin-up Prince” to demonstrate how good looking he was in his youth,

    I believe Philippa Gregory also wrote a novel “The Perefct priness???”” about Katherine’s relationship with both Arthur and Henry inferring that Katherine was actually in love with Arthur but went through the motions with Henry for political purposes.

    Funnily enough, Katherine’s sister known as “Joan the Mad” was bonkers enough because of so much interbreeding on her mother’s side but as Claire says ithat Katherine was also descended from John of Gaunt and as was Henry, that could also be reflected in Mary Tudor’s later obsession with heretics.

    Whatever Katherine’s feelings she would have had not choice in the matter in any case and being a Royal woud have considered her duty as well to marruy and to stay married to HVII.

    MiLadyBlue – I am entirely in agreement with you about what she should ahve done and know the Spanish phrases perfectly. I speak very little German but you have just remended me of a name I had forgotten and used to use quite often to describe certain jerks,

    1. Philippa Gregory just came out with new book called the Kings curse. It’s about the life of Margaret Pole. And goes thru Henrys live from baby to when he kills her. Shows almost perfectly about how he slowly went mad. It’s a good read.

      1. I think part of Henry going mad was his conscious for everything he did for Ann and the way things turn out. If you think about it for 26 years he was with Catherine and he loved Mary. He was manipulated by people around him to believe his marriage is unholy in the eyes of god and that is why he doesn’t have a male heir. Then he disgraced Catherine, put his daughter aside, killed his friends ( More& Wolsey&…), was Excommunicated…….all this to find out ( true or lie) she was cheating on him with many men and did not giver him the son she promised either. The knowledge of medicine and biology and almost everything else was so limited back the that we can not blame everything on him only. On top of that add the injuries from jousting, that is the formula for disaster to a lot of people. I don’t approve of the things he did. But I never like to call him a monster either. He was a troubled, manipulated, broken man. He was expected to be the image of god and he was brought down to reality by Ann.

        1. I think this site, and others, as well as historic records, have proven that any cheating done by Anne was purely in the imagination of Anne’s enemies.
          Anne simply introduced him to a new way of thinking about religion and his sovereignty, to her detriment.

    2. In fact, there was a history of insanity in Isabella’s family. Her Portuguese mother was confined for a number of years after her husband’s death. Hereditary issue? It might have been. Her symptoms weren’t all that different from Juana’s, but Juana’s issues may have been exaggerated to suit Ferdinand, and then Charles. We just don’t know. The tenacity displayed by Catherine and Mary was certainly inherited from Isabella.
      It was not only Juana who displayed some signs of mental health issues. Isabella, named for her grandmother, seems also to have had some issues with depression.
      The illness suffered by Henry VI is something transmitted through his Valois blood. There is a history there going back several generations of poor mental health.
      All of this may have been exacerbated by inbreeding, but they are separate instances. There is little if any connection between the French and Spanish/Portuguese royal houses in the period. That would come later.

      Inbreeding might explain Isabella and Catherine’s difficulties with sons and miscarriages.

  4. Thanks for the article Claire and THAT is one of my favorite portraits of Catherine. You are so right. Who would have thought on that beautiful day that it would all erode into divorce, abandonment, a mother and daughter torn apart, and a former Renaissance prince transforming into some despotic monster who was willing to move Heaven and Earth to get what he wanted.

    But remember what one of Henry’s first acts was as King (in his desire to be loved by the people). He had his father’s loyal servants Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley executed because they were hated — understandably so — by the public. Okay, as a Tudor I might have gotten rid of them too, but I guess that was a premonition of Henry’s treatment of many who devotedly served him and loved him.

  5. The Gregory book about Catherine is called The Constant Princess. If I could go back in time and speak perfect Spanish, I would try to persuade Isabella to allow the marriage to Henry VII. How history would have been different! IMHO Anne of Cleves made out like a bandit. She left a crappy home life and lived a good life as a very wealthy, independent woman. The more I read about the Tudors, the more sympathy I have for Henry VIII. I don’t think he was a psychopath. I think he was very shrewd and very good at statecraft. He and his daughter Elizabeth were very much alike in their ability to survive and thrive in a malignant environment.

    1. Kilian I am 100% agree with you. Up to now I thought I was the only one that didn’t hate this man and had sympathy for him. Like you the more I read about the Tudors the more I feel sorry for him and more respect beside everything that happened later in his life. Thank you for speaking my mind.

  6. Do you think that Henry was in love with Katherine? How did he change his mind so fast after his father died.
    I have read the book The Constant Princess, it “claims” that Katherine had consummated her marriage with Arthur, but lied saying otherwise, because she had promised her late husband that she would become Queen. Of course it’s a novel. but Gregory always builds this kind of stories, like in The other Boleyn girl.

    1. I know it’s only Wikipedia, but there is an article on there, and it says that it is generally thought that yes, Henry did love Catherine of Aragon.

      1. Would Catherine’s body language have shown that she and Arthur had been intimate?Her looking down after becoming a widow suggests guilt or sadness.

    2. You all realize these are books and part fiction. You all act like her writings are accurate of exactly what happen which they are not. These are not history books they are novels and just based on actual people. No one knows exactly what happen. Yet everyone is acting like these novels are historical fact.

  7. It was certainlly i sad thing that Catherines marriage to henry should end in such a way .
    In fact for a long time it was a happy and succesful marriage in royal terms. it bought political benefits to england and Catherine was a good and popular queen. She and Henry got on well together also and Henry seem to have loved her in theearly years of their marriage and kept on having respect and affection for her even later on in their marriage.
    He may not have been totally fitful to her later on in their marriage but there were many kings who had many more mistresses and illigitimate children than Henry had .
    The big trouble was that they had no surviving son if they had had that they would probably gone on relatively harmonious unto Catherines death and Anne Boleyn would perhaps have been just an episode.
    Henrys hate for catherine came first when she refused to get him an anullement of the marriage and the whole affair went on. Anne boleyn possible egged him on a bit too.

  8. Henry was not a socio-path it is thought that he may have been suffering from a bone disease called ‘osteomylitis’ which started first when he had that infamous fall from his horse.
    Towards the end of his life as the disease progressed, as it eventually affected both legs, besides all the pus that built up in the wound causing excruciating pain, there was also pieces of his bone coming to the surface of his leg which had to be extracted, causing Henry to be in so much agony he was near death with the fevers brought on by this invasive procedure. These fevers would cause him to hallucinate and would last days and were becoming more frequent and more debilitating and also beginning to last for longer periods of time before there was any improvement.
    Osteomylitis is still a terrible disease today but fortunately we now have anti biotic’s and plaster casts to clear it up if treated fairly early on in the onset of the disease. Even years ago the only way to treat this disease was to cut away the infected part of the bone to stop it spreading through the rest of the bone marrow. I defy anyone to remain sane and unaffected by this continual downward spiral of health and excruciating pain and agony! I should know my son has suffered from it. It was treated in hospital and eventually cleared up but it can come back at any time, and it can be caused by something as simple as a knock!

    1. Henry was not a sociopath: he did not have these mood swings until after his fall from the horse in 1536: four days before Queen Katherine died. Please remember that he was 17 when he came to the throne, healthy, tall, good looking, charming, great at sports, gallant, well educated, musical, poetical, knew several languages, hunted and danced well, was high in fashion, was a man who liked to surpise his young wife and dress up for her and the court, a man that loved life and fun, and nothing like the Henry he was to be after 1536-7. Many of his health problems come from that time. Yes he had headaches from 1524 (he did have a lance almost take his eye out) and he had something wrong with his leg, an ulcer from 1527 that never healed properly. I take the point above that he would have suffered greatly after the fall: this is true and it is sad that he was in so much pain and it affected his moods. But he began to change in 1533 when he married Anne Boleyn. Henry made religious and political and legal changes that many people did not agree with. They were horrified by his break from Rome and so they should have been. It was a terrible thing for a faithful country to leave the mother church. It shocked a lot of people. His Treasons Act made to protect Anne and their children from challenge and gossip was a horrific piece of Cromwellian genius. From then on no-one could write or speak anything against Henry, Anne and their heirs. It ended many of the mutterings that people got away with before 1534. And he had not even had his bang on the head!

      The executions were bad enough before 1536 but they escalated afterwards and friends were not even safe, his cousins were not safe, his wives no longer safe, and his jousting partners no longer safe. I am sure that he was in terrible pain, but facts speak for themselves: the power of his kingship was also a factor: that would have given him the right to act; even if his pain may have been the cause.

      Sorry by the way to hear your son has this terrible disease. It must be a great worry as a mother. Hope there is treatment or a cure one day.

      1. Bandit Queen You are right to a point. How can a psychopath love someone so much to move heaven and earth for her. And he was not the only king to execute and get rid of treasonous. The fact that he changed after marrying Ann shows that a lot of manipulation came from her. And when she did not give him the son he was expecting and I think at some point he thought he had been played with by Thomas and Boleyn clan. That crushed his ego and weight heavy on his conscious . So he started hating Ann for everything “she made him do “. We know towards the end when Ann complained about his affair he told her she should be quite like “her betters” have been, mean Catherine. That shows he still had high regards for Catherine. Also he started hating Catherine I think because he was expecting her to give him a divorce since she was so religious herself and thought if she loved him she should want the torture to his conscious to stop. The way of thinking and doing and living and everything was so different back then that we can not just sit here and judge and condemn and diagnose…..And Masquerade I am agree with you completely. And I hope your son live a healthy, happy, successful life.

  9. Claire
    The article is amazing. Is so interesting to picture Henry & Catherine as a happy couple. Specialy knowing how their marriage ended. Imagine how different it all might be if the son they had, had survived.

  10. MyLady Blue

    I don’t speack that much franch or german, but the phrases in spanish are:

    “No lo hagas” “Es un idiota” “Te vas a arrepentir”

  11. Wow, we do forget they were young and happy once. And I believe in love. I think Henry was smitten with Cahterine when he escorted her down the aisle (or across the catwalk as I think it was) and his schoolboy crush continued. I also think there may have been some teen-age rebellion against his father’s wishes. AT any rate, I’m glad for their brief happiness. But DID Catherine and Arthur conummate their marriage? In The Constant Princess, yes. Real life?? I think so. I was reading someone (cant recall) who made a very good case for Catherine lying on this point. Opinions?

  12. There are records that state that Arthur made the comment “Tis a great thing to have a wife” and “Last night I was in the midst of Spain!” the morning after their wedding. Knowing that as future rulers of a country that their duty was to consumate their marriage and have children makes it highly unlikely that they just sat in the bedroom and just stared at each other.

    It has been argued that her duenna, Dona Elvira, convinced Katherine to lie about her state as a virgin. Katherine was more or less left destitute and in political limbo after the death of Arthur while Henry VII and Ferdinand argued back and forth about her dowry. It was a matter of survival that Katherine find a husband…and England wanted the second hald of her dowry.

    It is possible that Henry did have love for Katherine- he was young, and as those of us know who marry when young, people change over the years. Katherine was at least 6 years older than Henry, and it is possible that their interests were no longer going down the same path. Prior to meeting Anne, Henry had already been contemplating divorce due to Katherine’s inability to produce a son. I am glad that they had their “happiness,” but honestly, how happy is a woman who has to celebrate the birth of her husband’s bastard son?

  13. Henry almost certainly suffered from a piuatory tumour which causes huge weight gain, sexual dysfunction and violent mood swings – and the fact he was insecure on the throne – no heir, the Tudors being usurpers, the Balybourne story etc etc did not help the matter !

    1. Henry’s weight gain was probably caused by lack of exercise after his injury on the jousting field. Diabetes was most likely result, hence his bodies inability to properly heal, and impotence issues. The mood swings can be attributed to the head injury and the constant pain he was in, as well as the continued lack of a wife who could give him an heir and a spare. As you stated, he was insecure on the throne and anxious to put paid to the matter.

  14. I have wondered if the constant stress of her widowhood didn’t have some effect on her pregnancies. Stress can cause a lot of problems.

    1. The stress of her widowhood? Katherine was married to Henry for over twenty years. I think she was over Arthur by then.
      Considering hygiene practices at the time, it’s more likely her children died from disease in the nursery.
      Also according to this
      Honey was commonly fed to newborns.
      Rubbing honey on the tongue to stimulate the appetite was a Very Bad idea.
      botulinum toxin can be found in most unpasteurized honey and is not recommended for infants because they have no immune defense against it.

    1. 1. He couldn’t afford repayment of the dowry agreed to in the betrothal contract.
      2. Spain was a potential enemy and had an armada, England at the time didn’t have much of a navy.
      3. Younger brothers always want their older brothers toys.
      4. She was a hottie.

  15. Julie – it was because Henry had always coveted whatever belonged to his brother Arthur- he’d got his crown and now he was helping himself to Arthur’s bride. Henry Tudor on his deathbed is said to have begged his only son not to marry Katherine, but to send her back to Spain. It seemed that a English -Spanish Alliance was no longer desirable, which was the original reason for the marriage and to prop up the somewhat shaky claim the Tudors had to the throne
    Sheena, to me Arthur’s comments are those of a young boy trying to show that he had done what was required of him, trying to convince others that this was so. Remember, too, that these words were spoken by a very old man at the Blackfriar’s Court, who was almost certainly bribed and they were not recorded on the morning after the wedding

  16. From Catherine’s point of view, there was nothing particularly odd about marrying her late husband’s brother. Two of her sisters, in succession, married the King of Portugal. The same king’s third wife was the niece of the first two.

  17. Oh dear, more Henry hate! First of all, Henry was not a sociopath. He was a king, and king’s were not held to the same standards as regular folk – he did as he pleased, answerable only to God – if everyone around him believed this, why should he behave differently? He was no worse, and often much better, than many of his contemporaries. His salient purpose as king was to produce a legitmate male heir – of course he was obsessed with it, and did everything he could to bring it about. Whatever destroyed the love he had for Anne is probably something more heinous than anyone of us can ever know – something so awful he and his court made certain it remianed a secret. He did not blithely decide one day to get rid of her – her execution, IMO, broke him.
    As for KoA having no choice in her future, that’s hogwash. She had the option of returning to Spain – she chose not to, because as an older (for her time) widow, her matrimonial prospects were greatly diminished – her best chance at a glorious future was to be Queen of England, a role she had been groomed for almost from birth – she CHOSE to stay in England, just as she CHOSE not to enter a convent when Henry asked her for a divorce, which would have maintained Mary’s legitimacy, while allowing Henry to honourably remarry. many queens had followed this route before her, with little fanfare. KoA was a mule!

    1. Oh yes! It was always the woman’s fault wasn’t it? Just shut the heck up, Henry brought this on himself! I can’t believe how people still defend this bastard after all of what he has done! Are you stupid? Stop having these AB/HVIII feels to cloud your judgement for once, he did not care for any of his wives unless they would provide him a male child (Jane Seymour anyone?) and you all better deal with it.

      1. Calling someone “stupid” is not the way to debate history, or any subject, and will not be tolerated here. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but these need to be shared respectfully. You can be passionate about your argument but please be polite.

        1. Epiphany, I Love you and thank you. You spoke my mind.
          Affinity I am sorry that you have to use this kind of language to prove a point or to force your believe. So tell me what is the difference between someone that talks like this and someone who act like it? Nothing giving an opportunity “like king” some people force their believes no matter what. He was not the only king to murder and execute. An no one says it was woman’s fault. But every story has 2 sides and just like this one we do not know the whole story. Maybe KOA lied, maybe Ann had an affair we don’t know for sure. But all and all I don’t call him monster or psychopath. What ever his issue was he was still a king and he did a lot of good deed for his country too.

  18. Katherine was delighted to marry Henry and it seems he was more than a little pleased to be marrying her. I think that they had some attraction for each other and Henry was gallant at her marriage as well. It may have been a small affair but a couple of weeks later the joint corronation was no small affair. The coronation was a very grand affair and both King and Queen delighted at that as well. David Starkey remarked in his six Wives that with a king like Henry it was a pleasure as well. He was a gallant husband and he seems to have found that he grew in love for her daily, writing so to her father. They also had a lot in common as Katherine and Henry both loved hunting and dancing and playing cards. They were matched in intellect and education as well. Unfortunately, they were also matched in will and determination. That is why Katherine fougth hard against the divorce. Henry at that time called her a lady of very great and high courage and she was very popular with the people. For some years she seems to have brought out the best in Henry and they were happy for most of the time. The loss of their children was a trouble to them and they were sad; but they were also very merry and until Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn, very happy and content together. Katherine loved Henry till the end and he was said to have wept at her last letter. He even complained while married to Anne that Katherine never spoke to him in the nagging manner that she did. Anne must have been either a nag or a woman of many opinions who tried to advise Henry when he did not want her advise, her arguments or her telling him what to do. He complained often of this; and I cannot but think that sometimes he still felt some affection for Katherine.

    1. I think that Henry VIII was a King- a man living in a violent age – Mayen he was un love at some point with Katherine of Aragón – but all three unvilved in the triangle were stubborn and opinionated people – The King for what he wanted ? No – he did not get a male heir- only in his third marriage with Jane Seymour – Anne Boleyn was clearly ambitious- very inteligent , but she was insecure and began to nag and Complain – Katherine of Aragón was intransigent also- she did love the King – but could have – said- yes i agree to a divorce- but , she had a tremendous pride inherited from her very Spanish mother – one of the proudest monarchy’s in Europe – and Henry was never secure in his throne – and all the poor knowledge of medicine – circumstances – to know what really goes on in every heart is impossible- and HISTORY is very inexact because of HUMAN circumstances unkown to us- history IS also a point of view –

  19. This is a very interesting read. Thank you.

    In reading the comments on this story, I am surprised there are no protests on Catherine living in poverty as the daughter-in-law of the King, widow of the Heir Apparent, and betrothed to the new Heir Apparent. Yet, in Anne of Cleves situation, she’s given a lavish life … ? I know women were just political, social, and financial pawns during this time but it seems unusual, even for Tudor times, to reduce a woman to a peasant when she was groomed to ‘be’ the Queen of Englad from birth, descended from John of Guant, and a Royal in her own right.

    The whole history of the Tudors is one rife with turmoil, trouble, and terror; Henry VIII was sort of the last hurrah. It all ended with him. None of his children could, or chose to have, children, they all saw to it to kill off as many of their blood relatives as they could so they were no threat, and thus, thankfully, ended their reign as terrible Tudors. James I and VI was probably a welcome break for the people?

    1. Actually Elizabeth I reign was marked THE GOLDEN YEARS OF ENGLAND. Henry was not in power when Arthur died and Katherine became a widow. Her father and Henry VII were at fault for not caring for her welfare. As for Anne of Cleves she was given a choice to divorce Henry and she did so she was rewarded. She was named the sister of the king and was given residence and allowance and was invited to charismas pageants and family gatherings. So Henry was not the monster we like to call him after all.

  20. I’m also interested in learning about Catherine’s claim to have been a virgin when she married Henry. Was it custom during that time in England, for there to be witnesses to the couple’s wedding night consummation? If so, were there no witnesses to Arthur’s and Catherine’s consummation? Henry’s and Catherine’s?

    Also, Henry didn’t know whether Catherine was a virgin or not? Surely, Henry knew when he was with a virgin or with an experienced woman … Did they not check to ensure a future bride of the King, a virgin, like they have done in recent times?

  21. Catberine and arthur probably had sex. Courtiers typically stayed in the royal bedroom on the wedding night and birth nights as proof of what had happened.. Any woman raised to be queen knows. How to play a virgin. What man wouldn’t have sex with his wife of sex months? And yes in olden times women were chattel but men had to marry who their fathers choose also.

    1. Well for one thing Arthur was barely fifteen, so barely a man and Katherine the same age.
      No the courtiers were not in the same room, not in England anyway. They were in an adjoining room and the couple were put to bed but then left alone.
      Reports are divided on what happened next and the evidence is from two hearings years later.
      Many witnesses at the Spanish hearing testified that Katherine was distressed the next morning and embarrassed and quiet, which meant nothing happened.
      Arthur, the English Court was told came out the next day and called for wine and said he had “been in the midst of Spain” He also said it was a good pastime to have a wife.

      There is no records of the sheets being shown but it was claimed years later that they had been. Isabella had hers hung over the balcony so everyone knew her marriage was consummated. The couple were separated for a time to determine if they were old enough to live together. It was decided three weeks later that they were and they moved to Ludlow. Here they ruled on behalf of King Henry Vii. However, in 1502 they both became very ill over a number of weeks and by 2nd April Prince Arthur was dead. Katherine was still ill.

      Katherine swore in confession that she had not had sex with Arthur and she to
      d the truth because she gave her confessor leave to tell everyone. Her immortal soul would have been in danger if she had lied. Katherine believed nothing had happened and a drunken Arthur probably had just fumbled around and afterwards there was nothing between them. They were married only a few months. It didn’t matter anyway as a dispensation was granted in order for Katherine to marry Henry Viii and the Church could put right anything that they found to be wrong with the marriage after so many years. It is also an instruction in the Book of Deuteronomy that if a brother died childless then his other brother or male relative must provide for his widow by marrying her. Deuteronomy took precedence over Leviticus. Henry was perfectly happy to marry Katherine and she couldn’t wait to marry him. He only decided there was a problem after so many tragic losses of his children by Katherine and because he had fallen for Anne Boleyn who promised him a son.

      Nobody really knows what did or didn’t happen between Arthur and Katherine but she also publicly challenged Henry in open Court to say if she was a maid when they married and he remained silent.

  22. Isn’t it true that before Henry VIII was planning to divorce catherine before he fell for Anne Boleyn? He had Wolsey secretly treating for a marriage to a French princess after he realized Catherine could give him nor more children. This is why Wolsey was so astonished when he found out about Anne Boleyn and that not content to be the kings mistress, the king determined on marrying her.

  23. Isn’t it true that Henry VIII was planning to divorce Catherine before he fell for Anne Boleyn? He had Wolsey secretly treating for a marriage to a French princess after he realized Catherine could give him no more children. This is why Wolsey was so astonished when he found out about Anne Boleyn and that not content to be the kings mistress, the king determined on marrying her.

  24. Oh what a happy and glorious day for a royal couple who for once were in love and had great affection for each other. Katherine was made up with Henry after being set aside for so many years, the pawn of arguments over her dowry by father in law and own father, for Henry was not only good looking, he was charming and courteous. He treated her right for many years. The early marriage was a success. Henry did not marry Katherine for any other reason than he wanted to and it made personal and diplomatic sense. Henry did not want what Arthur wanted, he was not meant to be King, but he took on the responsibilities of the role by appointing a good council and by seeing himself as the person to bring back England’s military greatness. Katherine like Henry loved the joust, loved to watch him show off, to dress up, the plays and masquerade, the hunt and she was a helpmate to him. He loved to perform for her, in her honour.

    We know the tragedies that followed. Henry mourned with Katherine. We have hindsight to show that Henry would be troubled by the need for a male heir, but on this glorious day, nothing could have been more joyous to the couple than their marriage and later joined crowning. Happy Wedding Day Katherine and Henry.

  25. Henry must have envied Arthur. Envied his status, and his royal marriage. He may have loved his brother, but when Arthur died, all that he had envied him for became his. Catherine was a catch, and Henry knew her, if not well, at least well enough to see she would make a good Queen. He was more likely in love with the idea of rescuing her, and placing her in what he likely saw as her rightful place. He could talk to her, and dance with her, and she helped fill in the gaps in his knowledge in his early days as King. He had been kept on a very short leash by his father, and knew little enough of the world. He would have basked in her gratitude and adulation, and been satisfied that he was truly in love. I think he really loved only the two two Howard girls, Anne Boleyn and the little Catherine.

  26. katherine of aragon is a cheater because she married henry not too long after his brother arthurs passing shows how little she cared for arthur

    1. Arthur died in 1502 and she didn’t marry Henry VIII until 1509. I wouldn’t say that made her a “cheater” or that is was “not too long after”. Anyway, grief doesn’t have a timescale, plus Catherine’s fate was in other people’s hands.

  27. Would Catherine of Aragon had to have stayed in England if she didn’t marry Henry? I think that Henry did genuinely fall for her. Henry really was a chivalrous man with Catherine and they had interests in common. However Catherine was probably upset about Arthur dying and they did live together soon after marriage. Didn’t Arthur insist she come to Ludlow with him? I wonder whom Catherine had the deeper friendship with.

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