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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Catherine of Aragón

Catherine of Aragón (1485-1533) was born at Alcalá de Henares, the youngest daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Spain.

Catherine was three-years-old when she was betrothed to Prince Arthur, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later.

After Prince Arthur's death, Catherine remained in England, virtually penniless, until her marriage to John's brother, King Henry VIII, in 1509. They wed at Leeds Castle in Kent.

Catherine bore Henry only one daughter, the moody, dispirited Queen Mary, and  and after four miscarriages and several still births, she had lost her figure. When she did produce a son, the King celebrated by arranging a jousting match at Greenwich but the baby died after seven and a half weeks.

Anne Boleyn was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine when Henry VIII became enamoured of her.

King Henry regarded his lack of children by Catherine, as God's judgement for having violated the Levitical law against marrying a brother's wife. Wanting a male heir, Henry sought an annulment in 1526 when Catherine was too old to bear children. When Pope Clement VII  demanded that the case be referred to him, Henry married Anne Boleyn, afterwards receiving the desired decree of nullity from Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1533.

Catherine wrote in a letter to Cardinal Wolsey “I thank God to be busy with the golfe”. This is the first written evidence of golf being played in England.

Catherine was a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis and was said to be meticulous in her religious obligations in the Order, integrating without demur her necessary duties as queen with her personal piety.

The outcast Catherine of Aragón died in 1536 after three years of lonely banishment at one of the country manors in Ampthill Castle, near St. Albans. Prayer and her deep-seated faith sustained her, and she refused to acknowledge her deposition.

Henry dressed entirely in yellow with a white feather in his cap to mourn the news of Catherine (yellow was said to be the Spanish colour of mourning). Later in the day it is reported that Henry and Anne Boleyn both individually and privately wept for her death.

Sources Wikipedia, © RM 2014. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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