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Catherine of Aragon 1485–1536 Queen of England

Catherine of Aragon
1485–1536
Queen of England

Catherine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry VIII of England. The daughter of Spanish monarchs Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, Catherine had received a typical female education in domestic arts. But she had also learned to read and write in Spanish and Latin. In 1501 she married Arthur, prince of Wales, who died a few months after the wedding. The young widow remained in England and was promised to Arthur's brother, Henry.

In 1509, in a double coronation ceremony, Henry wed Catherine and took the English throne. The first decade of their marriage was a happy one. During Henry's reign, Catherine represented Spanish interests in England as her father's unofficial ambassador. She was also a patron* of the arts. Their marriage began to falter, however, when Catherine failed to produce a male heir to the throne. In 1516, after several miscarriages, she gave birth to a daughter named Mary. However, Henry did not believe that Mary would be accepted as his successor and still wanted a son. In 1527 the king sought to annul* his marriage to Catherine and marry again in the hopes that a new wife would provide him with a male heir.

Catherine wanted to protect her daughter's inheritance, and protested Henry's actions. Even after the annulment had been approved and she was no longer queen, Catherine continued to fight the decision. 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.

(See alsoEngland; Queens and Queenship. )

* patron

supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer

* annul

to declare legally invalid

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