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Catherine of Aragon – Queen of England

Catherine of Aragon, the Dowager Princess of Wales. Portrait by Michel Sittow, 1503-1504

Catherine of Aragon, the Dowager Princess of Wales. Portrait by Michel Sittow, 1503-1504

Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of the founders of the Spanish State Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, the first wife of King Henry VIII Tudor, mother of Queen Maria I. After twenty-four years of marriage, due to the lack of a male heir, Henry insisted on the cancellation of the marriage with Catherine. It was one of the causes of the conflict between Henry and Pope, a break with the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformation in England.
Catalina de Aragon y Castilla was born on December 16, 1485 in the castle of the Archbishop of Toledo in the town of Alcala de Henares located near Madrid. She was the youngest child of Catholic Kings – Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Her childhood coincided with the period of Renaissance in Spain. One of Catherine’s mentors was Alessandro Geraldine, who, together with his brother Antonio was one of the most famous humanists of his time. The girl studied heraldry and genealogy, history, canon law and civil law, classical literature, ancient literature and languages – in particular Latin and Greek.

At the age of three Catherine was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the British throne.
On August 17, 1501 Catherine sailed to England and reached the harbor of Plymouth on October 2. The wedding took place in London at St Paul’s Cathedral on November 14. After the wedding, the couple went to Ludlow Castle. Prince Arthur died on April 2, 1502. He was buried in Worcester, and Catherine returned to London, where she lived in a palace.
On June 11, 1509 Henry VIII and Catherine were married in the chapel at Greenwich. The King was 18 years old and Catherine was five years his senior. Their first child was a stillborn daughter in 1510. A son, Henry was born in January1511 but sadly only lived 52 days. Catherine miscarried in October 1513 and in February 1515, had a stillborn son.
On February 18, 1516 Catherine gave birth to a daughter. The girl named Mary in honor of Henry’s younger sister, the French queen Mary Tudor. In 1518 Catherine had another stillborn daughter and there would be no more children.
Henry was disappointed because he didn’t have a male heir.
In June 1519, Henry’s mistress, Bessie Blount, a maid in the court, gave birth to a son. This event did not bother Catherine until 1524 when the illegitimate child was given the title Duke of Richmond by Henry along with rights for ascension to the throne behind Princess Mary.
In January 1533 the King and Anna Boleyn were secretly married. At that time she was already pregnant. On May 23 Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine invalid and Anne Boleyn was officially recognized as the legitimate wife of Henry VIII on May 28.
Catherine was moved to Bickden Palace in Huntingdonshire.

Artist Henry Nelson O'Neil. Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII

Artist Henry Nelson O’Neil. Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon died on January 7, 1536 and was buried in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Peterborough with the rank of the Dowager Princess of Wales, not the Queen of England.
Henry eventually had a son, who ruled England as Edward VI. But on Edward’s death in 1553, Catherine’s daughter took the throne as Mary I.

Catherine of Aragon – Queen of England

Catherine in films and music:
– For the first time the character of Catherine of Aragon was presented by actress Violet Vanbrugh in 1911 in a short film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII.
– The silent film Anna Boleyn in 1920 German actress Hedwig Pauly-Winterstein played the role of Catherine.
– In the adventure melodrama The Sword and the Rose (1953) Rosalie Crutchley performed the role of Catherine.
– In the 1972 film adaptation of Henry VIII and His Six Wives Frances Cuka played the role of Catherine.
– In 2007, on Showtime the TV series The Tudors was premiered. Catherine of Aragon (Maria Doyle Kennedy) acts as one of the main heroines for two seasons.
– They say that ballad Pastime with Good Company, which was composed by Henry VIII in the early years of his rule, is dedicated to Catherine.
– One of the songs from the album The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973) by British musician Rick Wakeman is called Catherine of Aragon.

Portrait of Infanta, artist Juan de Flandes, approx. 1500

Portrait of Infanta, artist Juan de Flandes, approx. 1500

A tapestry in the Flemish style of Catherine of Aragon and her husband Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, early 1500

A tapestry in the Flemish style of Catherine of Aragon and her husband Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, early 1500

Official portrait of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England. Unknown artist, 1525

Official portrait of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England. Unknown artist, 1525

The daughter of Henry and Catherine, Queen Mary I. The artist Hans Ewouts, 1556-58

The daughter of Henry and Catherine, Queen Mary I. The artist Hans Ewouts, 1556-58

Coat of Arms of Queen Catherine of Aragon

Coat of Arms of Queen Catherine of Aragon