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On This Day: Catherine of Aragon born

Updated: Feb 16

December 16th, 1485: Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, was born in Alcala de Henares, Spain.

Like all kings at the time Henry Vlll wanted a son to rule after him. Henry was married six times his only son being born to his third wife, but let us meet Henry’s first queen. Catherine of Aragon had previously been married to Henry's brother Prince Arthur. As Prince of Wales, Arthur was sent to Ludlow Castle on the borders of Wales to preside over the Council of Wales and the Marches, and his bride accompanied him. A few months later, the couple both became ill, possibly with the sweating sickness that was sweeping the area. Arthur died on April 2nd, 1502; 16-year-old Catherine recovered to find herself a widow. The following year it was agreed that she would marry Henry VII's second son, Henry, Duke of York, who was five years her junior. The couple married on June 11th, 1509 in a private ceremony in the church of the Observant Friars outside Greenwich Palace, Kent. Catherine was 23 years of age and, as her new husband had just acceded to the throne, Queen of England. The couple had six children but only their daughter Mary, who would later be crowned Queen Mary 1, survived.

In 1527 Henry announced his desire to divorce Catherine because she had failed to produce a male heir. After 24 years of marriage they were divorced on May 23rd, 1533. Catherine died in Kimbolton Castle on January 7th, 1536 and is buried in Peterborough Cathedral where it is not unusual to see pomegranates, a symbol from Catherine's coat of arms, laid on her grave. The Cathedral also commemorate Catherine’s death and burial each year with a special service and programme of events.


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