Catharine of Aragon The Tudors - Facts, Information, Life History, Biography, Timeline - Henry VIII Wife

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Catherine of Aragon was from Spain. She was the daughter of Queen Isabella and Ferdinand. Catherine married Prince Arthur the son of Henry VII and brother of Henry VIII.

Shortly after the marriage, Arthur died of consumption (tuberculosis). Henry VII did not want to return the dowry he received for the marriage so he arranged for Catherine to marry his other son Henry VIII.

Catherine claimed her marriage to Arthur was not consummated (she was still a virgin) so the Pope annulled the marriage to Arthur and blessed the upcoming marriage to Henry 8.

Queen Isabella insisted the Pope give a dispensation of the marriage of Arthur so there would not be any questions later.

Because the marriage would violate biblical teaching, Lev 10:21, a man should not take his brothers wife because the marriage would be cursed with no children, Henry Tudor (VII) went to the Pope for consultation. This passage was later used to divorce Catherine.

There is another biblical passage that contradicts the above passage that was used to allow the marriage of Catherine to Henry VIII, Deut. 25:5, A man shall take his brothers widow as his wife. It was this passage that allowed for Henry to marry Catharine.

Archbishop Warham did not approve of the marriage of Henry VIII and Catharine however he preformed the marriage ceremony.

The only child she had that survived was Mary I.

catherine of aragon portraitCatherine had one son, named Henry who died at a year old.

Catherine Aragon had 3 stillbirths and 3 live children. Only one child survived, Mary. Catherine was too old to conceive and the tranquility of the kingdom depended on an heir. The English did not want a woman to rule cause she would marry and her husband would rule.

Catharine was married to Henry the longest of any of his wives which was quite an achievement in its self. Even after their annulment, she considered herself his wife and queen. She refused to sign any papers that would say otherwise. Henry made her life miserable because she would not acknowledge their annulment/divorce.

Catherine of Aragon picture is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna painted in 1505 when she was 15 years old.

Sir Thomas More once said of Katherine of Aragon (1501) , "she thrilled the hearts of everyone. There is nothing wanting in her that the most beautiful girl should have."

The Kings Great Matter - The Annulment

Henry the VIII wanted to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon because he needed a male heir to the throne. He believed as most, that a female was not strong enough to rule and it would cause civil war and at the very least civil unrest.

Henry was interested in Anne Boleyn who refused to give in to him unless he married her. However, Anne finally did give in to Henry's advances when she knew for sure that she would be queen soon. She got pregnant. This made Henry that more determined to divorce Catherine.

The pope could not and would not grant the divorce or an annulment because: Rome had been sacked by Charles' V army and the Pope was his prisoner. Charles V of Spain was Catherine's nephew and because the circumstances, the Pope did not wish to offend Charles. To grant an annulment of a divorce would undermine the Pope's authority because he had to allow the marriage to Catherine in the first place by granting annulment to Catherine's marriage to Arthur and the dispensation.

Thomas Cranmer who found the means (duet: 25:5) in which Henry could divorce Catherine, thus putting him in the Kings favor and making him Archbishop.

Because Cardinal Wolsey, did not find the way for the divorce, he fell from favor. Wolsey's estate, Hampton court was confiscated and became one of Henry's palaces. Wolsey died of natural causes before Henry could execute him. Thomas Cromwell succeeded Cardinal Wolsey as Lord Privy seal and Henry's chief minister.

Parliament passed the statute of restraint of appeal which disallowed anyone from seeking an appeal outside of the king's jurisdiction and authority such as the Pope. Catherine being a devout Catholic would have appealed to the Pope to stop the divorce or hold it up. Henry needed the divorce promptly as Anne was pregnant and he did not wish the child (whom he thought was a boy) to be a bastard. (The child turned out to be a girl, who would later become Elizabeth 1)So after the appeals act was enacted the divorce was irreversible

Catherine was exiled and spent the rest of her life in England. She died before Henry married his 3rd wife Jane Seymour thus freeing any doubts of the legitimacy of his marriage to Jane and her children from their union.


Weir, Alison, The Six Wives of Henry VIII,  Grove Press (April 2000)

Weir, Alison, Henry VIII: The King and His Court Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (October 29, 2002)