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Catherine of Aragon first wife of Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon was the first wife out of Tudor king Henry VIII’s six wives, however, she been previously married to Henry’s older brother Arthur. It was Arthur that was set to inherit the throne when their father died and not Henry, who was destined for religious life.

Unfortunately, Arthur contracted some form of illness shortly after the wedding in 1509 and died. Henry married Catherine in a private service in June of 1509.

Catherine of Aragon Facts about Early Life


The daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Catherine was born in Madrid in 1485. She was betrothed to Arthur when she was only three years old, they eventually married when she was sixteen and Arthur fifteen in a ceremony in Old St Paul’s Cathedral. In 1509 Henry inherited the throne upon the death of his father, it was also this year that he made Catherine his wife.

Catherine of Aragon first wife of Henry

Catherine was subsequently crowned queen alongside Henry in a lavish coronation ceremony which was held at Westminster Abbey just a few weeks after their wedding. Catherine soon fell pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in 1510. Unfortunately, the baby was born dead, an incident which marked a downward turn in Catherine’s fortunes.

Catherine of Aragon’s Children

Despite her first child being stillborn, it did not deter the king from trying for a son, an heir to take the throne upon Henry’s death. The birth of her second child was a cause for great celebration; the king had received the son that he had been praying for. Prince Henry was born in 1511 but unfortunately died soon after.

Catherine of Aragon first wife of Henry

Catherine gave birth to six children in total, three of which were the much hoped for male heirs for the king. Sadly all but one of their children died in infancy, their daughter Mary, who was born in 1516 survived and eventually became Queen Mary I.

Catherine of Aragon’s Death

With the king pronouncing that his marriage to Catherine was cursed, he had started paying attention to her lady-in-waiting Anne Boleyn. Finding that Anne was pregnant with a possible heir he had to find a way out of his marriage to Catherine so that he could be free to marry Anne.

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn

Unable to receive an annulment to the marriage from the Pope, Henry declared himself the head of the English Church and his newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer granted the king his annulment. Catherine was forced out of court and forbidden from seeing her daughter Mary.

For the rest of her life, she refused to accept the annulment of the marriage. She died in January 1536 and was buried in a small ceremony in Peterborough Abbey.

Catherine of Aragon Ghost Story

There are reports of the ghost of a young girl wearing Tudor clothing being seen within Ludlow Castle, the home taken by Catherine and Arthur. It is thought that this is the ghost of Catherine returning to a place where she shared happier times with Arthur.

The ghost of Catherine of Aragon is also said to walk the halls of Kimbolton Castle, the place she was exiled to after being banished from court, and where she subsequently died.

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