Who is Catherine of Aragon marrying

Catherine of Aragon

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Katharina was a Spanish princess whose parents wanted to consolidate the alliance between England and the newly emerging Spain with their marriage. Catherine of Aragon first married Arthur and then became the first wife of King Henry VIII of England. Her daughter was Queen Maria.

Catherine of Aragon was the youngest daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Katharina was born on December 15, 1485 in Alcalá de Henares, she died on January 7, 1536 at Kimbolton Castle in England.

In Germany she is known as Katharina von Aragon, the first wife (of six) of the English King Henry VIII. In England she was Catherine of Aragon and was also known as the Spanish princess or queen. In Spain she was Catalina de Aragón y Castilla or Catalina de Trastámara y Trastámara.

Catherine of Aragon family


Princess Catherine of Aragon as a young girl.
Her parents were each king or queen in their own kingdom, with their joint troops they succeeded in the end of the Reconquista in Spain, the reconquest from the Moors, and in 1492 they commissioned Christopher Columbus to find the sea route to India. When Christopher Columbus made his voyage of discovery, Princess Katharina was just seven years old. In 1494 they received the title of reyes católicos (Catholic Kings) by Pope Alexander VI. Awarded.

Marriage policy of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand

Katharina was the fifth and last child of the royal couple. Isabella and Ferdinand used their four daughters to forge alliances against France. Her eldest daughter Isabella was only married to Alfonso of Portugal and, after his death, to King Manuel I of Portugal. When Isabella died in 1498, her widower Manuel married their younger daughter Maria. While Katharina was promised to England, Johanna entered into a marriage alliance with the Habsburgs by marrying her to Philip I, known as the Handsome (Spanish: Felipe I).

Katharina and the marriage to the English heir to the throne


Prince Arthur Tudor - the hope of Henry VII of England. Husband of Catherine of Aragon.
Katharina was born in 1485, and in March 1489 there was a marriage contract between the royal house in England, the Tudors, and her parents in Spain. Princess Katharina, nine months older than Prince Arthur, was just under 3.5 years old. Arthur Tudor was the eldest son of King Henry VII of England, and for him, too, it was important to secure his own power with clever marriage alliances. His father began trying to arrange a prestigious marriage for Arthur Tudor shortly after his death. At that time England was a rather insignificant power in Europe, Henry VII came to the royal throne after the Wars of the Roses. An alliance with Spain or with the two kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, united by Isabella and Ferdinand, was an extremely desirable goal for England. The wedding between the Spanish princess and the English prince was to take place shortly after Arthur's 14th birthday. Katharina stayed in Castile, but the future couple began to write letters to each other.

In 1497 there was an engagement by proxy, in 1499 and 1500 there was a marriage by proxy. The Spanish ambassador swore the marriage vow for Katharina, who was still in Spain.

Princess Katharina travels to England and marries Arthur

It was not until 1501, when Katharina was 16 and Arthur Tudor 15, that the Princesa traveled to their new home. Arthur was very fond of his young bride. The more than pompous wedding, after all Arthur was the future King of England, took place in November 1501 in St. Paul's Cathedral. What happened after the wedding was later to become very relevant for Katharina. Of course, the couple was put to bed with a large retinue. After all, the marriage also had to be consummated. In 1501 there was probably no doubt that this had actually happened. It is said that Prince Arthur had one of his servants bring him a cup of ale the next day, which he said he had been in the middle of Spain the night before. And later the prince described having a wife as a good pastime.


Catherine of Aragon
Whether the marriage between Arthur and Katharina actually took place is still controversial today. After all, this question was later of decisive importance for Katharina and had immense consequences for the history of England.

After many celebrations, the young couple moved into a joint house on December 21, 1501. And Katharina and Arthur celebrated the first Christmas party as a married couple at the head of their own court.

Katharina becomes a widow

On March 27, 1502, the day of Easter, Prince Arthur suddenly and unexpectedly fell ill. On April 2, 1502, the hope of England died. To this day it is unclear what the young prince died of, Katharina was also ill with the fever that killed the heir to the throne, but recovered. There are theories that Arthur died of the plague, but also that testicular cancer killed the young prince.

For his parents, King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth of York, the death of the heir to the throne came as a great shock. Henry VII came to the throne in England after the Wars of the Roses; it was believed that the union of the red king and the white queen (Heinrich and Elizabeth) and the resulting child, Arthur, had been prophesied by Merlin. High expectations had been placed in the little prince; it was not for nothing that he had been given the name of the legendary King Arthur.

For Princess Katharina, too, death must have been a shock. She was 16 years old and a widow. The alliance between England and Spain was broken without this marriage. A small hope had been cherished in a possible pregnancy of the princess, but this did not exist.

Katharina is supposed to marry the new heir to the throne Heinrich

However, both sides initially attached great importance to such an alliance and so their family in Spain and Henry VII agreed to enter into a new alliance. Katharina was now to be married to Heinrich, Arthur's ten-year-old brother. Katharina stayed in England and only got married in 1509, after the death of Henry VII. Not without using the time between 1502 and 1509 to perhaps enter into another alliance. And so her engagement to the heir to the throne, Heinrich, was dissolved once during this time.

Long engagement period

The marriage between the widow and her brother-in-law was decided by the families, but canon law actually forbade a man to marry his brother's widow. A dispensation from Rome was needed. And the Pope gave this, while the question of whether Katharina and Arthur had actually consummated the marriage was discussed. In the dispensation the whole subject was dealt with very vaguely. You probably didn't want to commit yourself.

For Katharina, the whole situation should not have been easy at the time. After all, she was practically at the mercy of her father-in-law after Arthur's death. So it was not possible for Katharina to lead a befitting life, the treatment by King Henry VII was anything but good. So the presence of the princess at court was not wanted. She withdrew to Durham House. In order to buy food, clothes and wood for heating and to pay her servants, Katharina had to bid her parents for money and sell valuables in Spain.

Her situation worsened in 1504 when her mother Isabella I of Castile died. Her mother's heir to the throne was Katharina's older sister Johanna, who was married to Philip the Fair, a Habsburg and son of Emperor Maximilian. The marriage plans between Catherine and Henry VIII were put on hold, instead a different connection was planned in England, namely between Heinrich and Eleonore, the daughter of Johanna and Philip.

Engagement between Heinrich and Katharina is dissolved

In June 1505, the engagement between Katharina and Heinrich was actually broken. Eleanor of Castile was, however, still a long way from marriageable; the Spanish Infanta was only seven years old. In 1506 Philip the Fair died. Elizabeth of York, the mother of Arthur and Heinrich, had also died and so there were considerations that Henry VII himself might now marry Johanna, the widow of Philip and at least nominally the Queen of Castile, i.e. the sister of the wife of his deceased son. But these plans failed. Whether it was because Johanna actually went insane after the death of her husband Philipp or whether she was deliberately withdrawn from circulation in order to maintain the power structure in Spain is still a question that historical research was concerned with and was for them Katharina's location in England is of little relevance.

Spain wants Catherine's dowry back

However, King Ferdinand of Aragon now intervened in the events. After all, Katharina had been given a very substantial dowry to go to England. Now one insisted from this side on the observance of the marriage contract between Katharina and Heinrich. Otherwise they wanted the dowry back.

King Henry VII dies

Would the marriage ever have taken place without the death of Henry VII? The king died on April 21, 1509. According to legend, he is said to have asked his son himself on his death bed to marry Catherine of Aragon after all.

2. Marriage of Catherine of Aragon with Henry VIII.


Queen Catherine of Aragon
When King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon actually married on June 11, 1509, their engagement had lasted six years. Now the Spanish princess was Queen of England. And Katharina was popular, after all the people had not escaped the time of suffering she had endured with dignity. Katharina was 23 years old at the time of the wedding, Heinrich almost 18.

Pregnancies and children

The queen quickly became pregnant. In January 1510 she gave birth to her first child, a girl, a stillbirth. It was not long before Queen Katharina became pregnant again. This time a boy who was born on New Year's Day 1511 but died after 52 days. Another miscarriage occurred and a son who died early.Setbacks in the dynastic plans of the royal family, but they were still well tolerated. The marriage between Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII is said to have been quite harmonious. Her position at Henry's side was so solid that in 1514, when the king was in France with his army in the course of the Italian wars, he was appointed regent by him. And while the king was in France, King James IV of Scotland, who was allied with France, declared war on England. Regent Catherine sent an army north and the Scottish king fell in a bloody battle.

Princess Maria is born

Mary is born in 1518. It is the only child of Heinrich and Katharina who will grow up. Later she will rule England as Queen Mary I.


King Henry VIII as a young man.
The marriage of Katharina and Heinrich was still largely in order. Katharina was not deterred by her husband's affairs and handled the matter discreetly. While Katharina was unable to give birth to a surviving male heir to the throne, his mistress Elizabeth Blount did so in 1519. Henry Fitzroy was born and the boy was officially recognized as the son of Henry. The Henry Fitzroy official title received angry Katharina, but did not lead to the breakup of the couple.

The end of the marriage of Catherine and Heinrich

Henry VIII continued to have lovers and mistresses. In 1526 Anne Boleyn, one of Katharina's former ladies-in-waiting and sister of one of the King's former mistresses, Mary Boleyn, became King Henry VIII's new favorite.

Anne Boleyn's character must have been pretty much the opposite of Katharina. Above all, their repartee was noticed. Katharina, on the other hand, corresponded to the image of women at the time, behaved quietly, submissively and thoroughly humble.

Henry VIII fell in love with Anne. Anne was tactically smart, she held out the king. A lover who is then dropped again, like her sister Mary Boleyn, she probably did not want to become. And so from the spring of 1527 Heinrich only had the thought of how to end his marriage to Katharina in order to make Anne Boleyn his wife. Now the king could hardly claim that the marriage had never been consummated, living proof existed in Princess Maria.

Pious King Heinrich

The king discovered his conscience and his piety and found again in the Bible the saying that a marriage of the widow of his own brother would not allow: If someone takes his brother's wife, it is a heinous act. They should be without children, because he has violated his brother with it. (3 MOS 20.21 LUT).

The biblical passage suited Heinrich. He had married his brother's wife. They did have a daughter, but not the longed-for male heir to the throne, whom Heinrich was so concerned about. Heinrich had received a papal dispensation from Pope Julius II for the marriage, but the king was now indifferent. And so he pulled out all the stops to have the marriage with Katharina annulled. However, he came across granite with Pope Clement VII. The Pope in Rome also did not want to annoy Katharina's nephew, Karl, the son of Joan. Although only 27 years old, he was a powerful ruler on mainland Europe. He was Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. And so Heinrich got from Pope Clement VII. To the request of the cancellation the answer, which as Non possum we can't, went down in history. Pope Clemens was initially an ally of Charles, but when he captured the French King Franz I prisoner in 1526, the Pope revoked this alliance. Thereupon the troops of Charles V: conquered and sacked Rome. The Pope had to make a peace with Karl.

Heinrich could not expect any help from Rome. Katharina heard about her husband's plans. She held steadfast to the legality of her marriage. In May 1529 the Pope sent an envoy to England and a commission should investigate the divorce woman. On the English side, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was involved in this as chairman. The commission met for a long time, there was no decision. Pope Clement VII finally ordered that negotiations should continue in Rome. King Henry raged over this papal decision and if Cardinal Thomas Wolsey had not died in November 1530, Henry VIII would have had him executed.

Heinrich offered all kinds of witnesses that the marriage between Katharina and his deceased brother Arthur had been consummated. Katharina stuck to having entered marriage as a virgin. But that was no longer the question.

Anne Boleyn replaces Katharina

Until June 1531, King Henry VIII at least kept appearances from his people. The king and queen continued to perform together. From July 1531 on, Anne took the place of the queen for all to see. She also accompanied the king in 1532 to a meeting with King Francis I. After France and Catherine of Aragon was forced to surrender her crown jewels for this trip.

Divorce from Catherine of Aragon

Then in December 1532 Anne informed the king that she was pregnant. The time had now come for Heinrich to act. And so Heinrich secretly married Anne Boleyn in January. But since Heinrich was not yet divorced, he now lived in bigamy. At the end of May 1533 he had his marriage to Katharina annulled by parliamentary act and without the Pope's permission. The divorce from Katharina on theological grounds was the first step towards the break with the Roman Catholic Church and the emergence of the Anglican Church. However, in 1534, five years had passed since the commission had been set up by the Pope on the question of marriage and annulment, Henry VIII asked again for the divorce to be approved. Pope Clement VIII stuck to his rejection. There was a break between England and Rome.

Queen Katharina has to leave the court

Katharina refused to consent to the divorce. She had to leave the royal court and experience that her daughter Maria was declared illegitimate. Katharina was separated from the daughter. One hoped that Katharina would endure everything and accept it without complaint and that she would completely submit to the new circumstances. Katharina, however, stuck to the legality of her marriage to Heinrich and continues to regard herself as Queen of England.

Death of Catherine of Aragon

Finally, Katharina von Aragon died of cancer on January 7, 1536 at the age of almost 51 at Kimbotton Castle. After all, she saw her successor Anne Boleyn too just gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1533, and her marriage to Henry VIII turned for the worse. Anne Boleyn was executed in London on May 19, 1536.

Buried as the widow of the Prince of Wales

Katharina was not allowed to be buried as Queen of England. She was buried in Peterborough Cathedral with the ceremony of a widow of a Prince of Wales. Her daughter Maria was missing and King Henry VIII forbade her to give her mother her final escort. On the day after he received the news of his death, Heinrich took part in a ball, he was probably relieved, because as long as Katharina lived there could still have been a war with Charles V.

This and that about Catherine of Aragon

Children of Catherine of Aragon


Maria Tudor daughter Heinrich VIII and Catherine of Aragon
There were probably six children in all in the marriage of Catherine of Aragon to Heinrich Tudor. The Queen has been in labor six times in nine years. Not all women of their time were lucky enough to survive every birth in good health. Jane Seymour, King Henry's third wife, died of the severe consequences of the birth of the longed-for heir to the throne.
A daughter, born and died on January 31, 1510
Henry, Duke of Cornwall, born January 1, 1511, died February 22, 1511
A son born and died in November 1513
Henry, Duke of Cornwall, born and died in December 1514
Maria, born February 18, 1516, died September 13, 1558, Queen of England, married to Philip II of Spain, no descendants.
A daughter, stillborn in the 8th month, November 10, 1518

Why did Katharina and Heinrich have such great problems getting an heir?

One can only speculate whether it was Heinrich or Katharina. Heinrich was quite able to father children, Katharina became pregnant, there were illegitimate children and later with Eduard and Elizabeth also legitimate children. From her marriage to Katharina, however, only Maria survived childhood and grew up. There are speculations about a sexually transmitted disease with which Heinrich is said to have infected Katharina, but why this only had such dramatic effects on her would remain a mystery. There is also research that assumes a blood group incompatibility between the two spouses and that Katharina had fertility problems. This could also explain the miscarriages of his later wives, as Anne Boleyn also had to struggle with this problem. She too had two children who were either stillborn or did not survive the day of the birth.

Why was King Henry VIII so after an heir to the throne?

King Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon, although he declared his only legitimate daughter Maria, who had also been the heir to the throne until then, to be a bastard and thus excluded from the line of succession. Heinrich absolutely wanted to secure the succession to the throne over a male heir, which is certainly also due to the history of the Tudors. His father Henry VII had been able to win the royal throne on the battlefield, only his marriage to the Elizabeth of York ended the decades-long War of the Roses in England, which had just broken out over the question of the succession to the throne. Only with a male heir did Heinrich see the danger of another war averted. Especially since up to Queen Maria, the daughter of Heinrich and Katharina, no queen had ever ruled England.

Was Catherine of Aragon poisoned?

Of course, after her death there were also rumors that Queen Katharina had been poisoned. In the meantime, however, studies have shown that she died of a cancerous heart disease.

Katharina von Aragon's motto in life

The life motto of Catherine of Aragon was humble and loyal (German: modest and loyal) and this she remained true to her whole life.

Relatives Katharina and Heinrich

Katharina and Heinrich were distantly related to each other. If later marriages were concluded between the different kingdoms in Europe despite having common grandparents, their relationship was really far away. The grandmother of Catherine of Aragon was Catherine of Lancaster. She was a daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Constance of Castile. John of Gaunt had other children from another marriage with Catherine Swynford, including John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, who in turn was the grandfather of Margaret Beaufort, who married Edmund Tudor and whose child was Henry VII. The great-grandfather of Henry VIII, John Beaufort, was the half-brother of Katharina Plantagenet. And this was the grandmother of Isabella of Castile, the mother of Catherine of Aragon. With John of Gaunt, Heinrich and Katharina had a common ancestor.

The six wives of Henry VIII.

Catherine of Aragon was only the first of a total of six wives of the English King Henry VIII. After all, Katharina survived her husband's marriage policy, not all of Henry's wives were this lucky. Two were executed, one died in childbed, he divorced his fourth wife and only the sixth survived him:

Catherine of Aragon, first wife, 1509-1533, a surviving child with Mary, later Queen Mary of England, divorced, died in 1536 of complications from cancer.

Anne Boleyn, second wife, 1533-1536, beheaded, a surviving daughter, later Queen Elizabeth I.
Jane Seymour, third wife, 1536-1537, died as a result of the difficult birth, a surviving son, who later became King Edward VI.

Anna von Kleve, fourth wife, 1540, divorced, no children, the marriage was probably never consummated, remained in England as a good sister of the king with a pension. The fourth wife survived Henry too, the king died in 1547, Anna von Kleve in 1557 at Chelsea Manor, London.

Catherine Howard, fifth wife, 1540-1542, executed, no children.

Catherine Parr, sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII, 1543 until the death of Henry VIII, only survived the king by 1.5 years.

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