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Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon (Spanish: Catalina; 16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of
Catherine of Aragon
England from June 1509 until May 1533 as the first wife of King Henry VIII; she was previously
Princess of Wales as the wife of Henry's elder brother Arthur.

The daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine was three years old
when she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They
married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. She held the position of ambassador of the
Aragonese Crown to England in 1507, the first female ambassador in European history.[1] Catherine
subsequently married Arthur's younger brother, the recently ascended Henry VIII, in 1509. For six
months in 1513, she served as regent of England while Henry VIII was in France. During that time
the English won the Battle of Flodden, an event in which Catherine played an important part with
an emotional speech about English courage.[2]

By 1525, Henry VIII was infatuated with Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to
Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as
heir presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. He
sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England's 18th-century copy of a lost original
schism with the Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry
defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was consequently Queen consort of England
declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgement of clergy in England, without reference Tenure 11 June 1509 – 23
to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church in England and May 1533
considered herself the King's rightful wife and queen, attracting much popular sympathy.[3] Despite Coronation 24 June 1509
this, she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished
from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January Born 16 December 1485
1536. English people held Catherine in high esteem, and her death set off tremendous mourning.[4] Archiepiscopal Palace
of Alcalá de Henares,
The controversial book The Education of a Christian Woman by Juan Luis Vives, which claimed Alcalá de Henares,
women have the right to an education, was commissioned by and dedicated to her in 1523. Such Castile
was Catherine's impression on people that even her enemy, Thomas Cromwell, said of her, "If not Died 7 January 1536
for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of History."[5] She successfully appealed for the (aged 50)
lives of the rebels involved in the Evil May Day, for the sake of their families.[6] Catherine also won Kimbolton Castle,
widespread admiration by starting an extensive programme for the relief of the poor.[7][6] She was a England
patron of Renaissance humanism, and a friend of the great scholars Erasmus of Rotterdam and
Burial 29 January 1536
Thomas More.[7]
Contents England

Early life Spouse Arthur, Prince of

As wife and widow of Arthur (m. 1501; died 1502)
Queenship Henry VIII of England
Wedding (m. 1509;
Coronation annulled 1533)
Pregnancies and children Issue Henry, Duke of
Influence among Cornwall
The King's great matter others... Mary I, Queen of
Banishment and death England
Faith House Trastámara
Appearance Father Ferdinand II of Aragon
Legacy, memory, and historiography Mother Isabella I of Castile
Places and statues
Spelling of her name Religion Roman Catholicism

In art and media Signature

Music and rhymes

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Theatre, film, stage, and TV
See also
Book sources
Internet sources

External links

Early life
Catherine was born at the Archbishop's Palace of Alcalá de Henares near Madrid, on the night of 16
December 1485. She was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen
Isabella I of Castile.[8] Catherine was quite short in stature[9] with long red hair, wide blue eyes, a
round face, and a fair complexion.[10] She was descended, on her maternal side, from the English
royal house; her great-grandmother Catherine of Lancaster, after whom she was named, and her
great-great-grandmother Philippa of Lancaster were both daughters of John of Gaunt and
granddaughters of Edward III of England. Consequently, she was third cousin of her father-in-law,
Henry VII of England,[11] and fourth cousin of her mother-in-law Elizabeth of York.

Catherine was educated by a tutor, Alessandro Geraldini, who was a clerk in Holy Orders. She
studied arithmetic, canon and civil law, classical literature, genealogy and heraldry, history,
philosophy, religion, and theology. She had a strong religious upbringing and developed her Roman
Catholic faith that would play a major role in later life.[12] She learned to speak, read and write in
Spanish and Latin, and spoke French and Greek. She was also taught domestic skills, such as
cooking, dancing, drawing, embroidery, good manners, lace-making, music, needlepoint, sewing,
spinning, and weaving.[13] Scholar Erasmus later said that Catherine "loved good literature which
she had studied with success since childhood".[14]
Portrait by Juan de Flandes thought
At an early age, Catherine was considered a suitable wife for Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to be of 11-year-old Catherine. She
resembles her sister Joanna of
to the English throne, due to the English ancestry she inherited from her mother. By means of her
mother, Catherine had a stronger legitimate claim to the English throne than King Henry VII
himself through the first two wives of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster: Blanche of Lancaster
and Constance of Castile. In contrast, Henry VII was the descendant of Gaunt's third marriage to Katherine Swynford, whose children were
born out of wedlock and only legitimised after the death of Constance and the marriage of John to Katherine. The children of John and
Katherine, while legitimised, were barred from inheriting the English throne, a stricture that was ignored in later generations. Because of
Henry's descent through illegitimate children barred from succession to the English throne, the Tudor monarchy was not accepted by all
European kingdoms. At the time, the House of Trastámara was the most prestigious in Europe,[11] due to the rule of the Catholic Monarchs, so
the alliance of Catherine and Arthur validated the House of Tudor in the eyes of European royalty and strengthened the Tudor claim to the
English throne via Catherine of Aragon's ancestry. It would have given a male heir an indisputable claim to the throne. The two were married
by proxy on 19 May 1499 and corresponded in Latin until Arthur turned fifteen, when it was decided that they were old enough to be

When Catherine of Aragon travelled to London, she brought a group of her African attendants with her, including one identified as the
trumpeter John Blanke.[16] They are the first Africans recorded to have arrived in London at the time, and were considered luxury servants.
They caused a great impression about the princess and the power of her family.[17] Her Spanish retinue was supervised by her duenna, Elvira

As wife and widow of Arthur

Then-15-year-old Catherine met Arthur on 4 November 1501 at Dogmersfield in Hampshire.[19][20][21] Little is known about their first
impressions of each other, but Arthur did write to his parents-in-law that he would be "a true and loving husband" and told his parents that he
was immensely happy to "behold the face of his lovely bride". The couple had corresponded in Latin, but found that they could not understand
each other's spoken conversation, because they had learned different Latin pronunciations.[22] Ten days later, on 14 November 1501, they were
married at Old St. Paul's Cathedral.[11] A dowry of 200,000 ducats had been agreed, and half was paid shortly after the marriage.[23]

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Once married, Arthur was sent to Ludlow Castle on the borders of Wales to preside over the
Council of Wales and the Marches, as was his duty as Prince of Wales, and his bride accompanied
him. The couple stayed at Castle Lodge, Ludlow. A few months later, they both became ill, possibly
with the sweating sickness, which was sweeping the area. Arthur died on 2 April 1502; 16-year-old
Catherine recovered to find herself a widow.[24]

At this point, Henry VII faced the challenge of avoiding the obligation to return her 200,000 ducat
dowry, half of which he had not yet received, to her father, as required by her marriage contract
should she return home.[25] Following the death of Queen Elizabeth in February 1503, King Henry
VII initially considered marrying Catherine himself, but the opposition of her father and potential
questions over the legitimacy of the couple's issue ended the idea.[26] To settle the matter, it was
agreed that Catherine would marry Henry VII's second son, Henry, Duke of York, who was five
years younger than she was. The death of Catherine's mother, however, meant that her "value" in
the marriage market decreased. Castile was a much larger kingdom than Aragon, and it was
inherited by Catherine's elder sister, Joanna. Ostensibly, the marriage was delayed until Henry was
old enough, but Ferdinand II procrastinated so much over payment of the remainder of Catherine's
Portrait of a noblewoman, possibly
dowry that it became doubtful that the marriage would take place. She lived as a virtual prisoner at
Mary Tudor c. 1514 or Catherine of
Durham House in London.[27] Some of the letters she wrote to her father complaining of her Aragon c. 1502, by Michael Sittow.
treatment have survived. In one of these letters she tells him that "I choose what I believe, and say Kunsthistorisches Museum,
nothing. For I am not as simple as I may seem." She had little money and struggled to cope, as she Vienna.[18]
had to support her ladies-in-waiting as well as herself. In 1507 she served as the Spanish
ambassador to England, the first female ambassador in European history.[1] While Henry VII and
his councillors expected her to be easily manipulated, Catherine went on to prove them wrong.[1]

Marriage to Arthur's brother depended on the Pope granting a dispensation because canon law forbade a man to marry his brother's widow
(Lev. 18:16[a]). Catherine testified that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated as, also according to canon law, a marriage was not
valid until consummated.[28][29]


Catherine's second wedding took place on 11 June 1509,[30] seven years after Prince Arthur's death.
She married Henry VIII, who had only just acceded to the throne, in a private ceremony in the
church of the Observant Friars outside Greenwich Palace. She was 23 years of age. The king was
just days short of his 18th birthday.[30][31]

16th century woodcut of the

Coronation coronation of Henry VIII of England
On Saturday 23 June 1509, the traditional eve-of-coronation procession to Westminster was and Catherine of Aragon showing
their heraldic badges, the Tudor
greeted by a large and enthusiastic crowd. As was the custom, the couple spent the night before
Rose and the Pomegranate of
their coronation at the Tower of London. On Midsummer's Day, Sunday, 24 June 1509, Henry VIII
and Catherine were anointed and crowned together by the Archbishop of Canterbury at a lavish
ceremony at Westminster Abbey. The coronation was followed by a banquet in Westminster Hall.
Many new Knights of the Bath were created in honour of the coronation.[30] In that month that followed, many social occasions presented the
new Queen to the English public. She made a fine impression and was well received by the people of England.[24]

Pregnancies and children

Catherine was pregnant seven times altogether:[32][33]

In August 1509, two months after the wedding, Catherine's first pregnancy was announced. On
31 January 1510, she miscarried a girl.
In May 1510, four months after the loss of her first child, Catherine announced her second
pregnancy. A son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall, was born on 1 January 1511. In his honour, guns Catherine watching Henry jousting
were fired from the Tower of London and the city bells were rung, beacons were lit and free in her honour after giving birth to a
wine was distributed to all the population. Five days after his birth, on 6 January 1511, the
son. Henry's horse mantle is
prince was christened at Richmond Palace, his godparents being the Archbishop of
Canterbury, the Earl of Surrey and the Countess of Devon. On 22 February 1511, after only 52 emblazoned with Catherine's initial
days of life, the young prince died suddenly. It was said that he died of an intestinal complaint. letter, 'K.'
By early 1513, Catherine was pregnant again.[34] On 30 June 1513, Catherine was left as
regent in England when Henry VIII went to fight in France. On 17 September 1513, she went
into labour prematurely and gave birth to a boy who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth.

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In June 1514, Catherine announced her fourth pregnancy. On 8 January 1515, she gave birth to a stillborn boy.
In the summer of 1515, Catherine announced her fifth pregnancy; however, less hope was placed on an heir following her previous failed
pregnancies. On 18 February 1516, Catherine delivered a healthy girl at 4 a.m. at Greenwich Palace, Kent.[35] She was named Mary and
christened three days later (21 February) with great ceremony at the Church of Observant Friars. Despite his evident disappointment,
Henry VIII said that if it were a girl this time then surely boys would follow.
In 1517, Catherine suffered another miscarriage.
In February 1518, Catherine announced her seventh pregnancy. In March, she visited Merton College, Oxford, and also made a
pilgrimage to the shrine of St Frideswide, asking for a healthy son. On 10 November 1518 she gave birth to a daughter, but the child was
weak and lived only a few hours.

On 11 June 1513, Henry appointed Catherine Regent in England with the titles "Governor of the
Realm and Captain General," while he went to France on a military campaign.[36] When Louis
d'Orléans, Duke of Longueville, was captured at Thérouanne, Henry sent him to stay in Catherine's
household. She wrote to Wolsey that she and her council would prefer the Duke to stay in the
Tower of London as the Scots were "so busy as they now be" and she added her prayers for "God to
sende us as good lukke against the Scotts, as the King hath ther."[37] The war with Scotland
occupied her subjects, and she was "horrible busy with making standards, banners, and badges" at
Richmond Palace. The Scots invaded and on 3 September 1513, she ordered Thomas Lovell to raise
an army in the midland counties.[38]

Catherine rode north in full armour to address the troops, despite being heavily pregnant at the
time. Her fine speech was reported to the historian Peter Martyr d'Anghiera in Valladolid within a
fortnight.[39] Although an Italian newsletter said she was 100 miles (160 km) north of London
when news of the victory at Battle of Flodden Field reached her, she was near Buckingham.[40] Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans
From Woburn Abbey she sent a letter to Henry along with a piece of the bloodied coat of King Holbein the Younger circa 1540
James IV of Scotland, who died in the battle, for Henry to use as a banner at the siege of

Catherine's religious dedication increased as she became older, as did her interest in academics. She continued to broaden her knowledge and
provide training for her daughter, Mary. Education among women became fashionable, partly because of Catherine's influence, and she
donated large sums of money to several colleges. Henry, however, still considered a male heir essential. The Tudor dynasty was new, and its
legitimacy might still be tested.[42] A long civil war (1135–54) had been fought the last time a woman (Empress Matilda) had inherited the
throne. The disasters of civil war were still fresh in living memory from the Wars of the Roses.[43]

In 1520, Catherine's nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V,[44] paid a state visit to England, and she urged Henry to enter an alliance
with Charles rather than with France. Immediately after his departure, she accompanied Henry to France on the celebrated visit to Francis I,
the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Within two years, war was declared against France and the Emperor was once again welcome in England, where
plans were afoot to betroth him to Catherine's daughter Mary.

The King's great matter

In 1525, Henry VIII became enamoured of Anne Boleyn, a lady-in- The Six Wives of
waiting to Queen Catherine who was 11 years younger than Henry. Henry VIII
Henry began pursuing her;[45] Catherine was no longer able to bear
Catherine of Aragon
children by this time. Henry began to believe that his marriage was
cursed and sought confirmation from the Bible, which he interpreted
to say that if a man marries his brother's wife, the couple will be
Anne Boleyn
childless.[46][7] Even if her marriage to Arthur had not been
consummated (and Catherine would insist to her dying day that she
had come to Henry's bed a virgin), Henry's interpretation of that
Jane Seymour
The Trial of Queen Catherine of biblical passage meant that their marriage had been wrong in the
Aragon, by Henry Nelson O'Neil
eyes of God.[29] Whether the Pope at the time of Henry and
(1846–48, Birmingham Museums)
Catherine's marriage had the right to overrule Henry's claimed
Anne of Cleves
scriptural impediment would become a hot topic in Henry's
campaign to wrest an annulment from the present Pope.[29] It is possible that the idea of annulment had been
suggested to Henry much earlier than this, and is highly probable that it was motivated by his desire for a son. Catherine Howard
Before Henry's father ascended the throne, England was beset by civil warfare over rival claims to the English
crown, and Henry may have wanted to avoid a similar uncertainty over the succession.[47]
Catherine Parr
It soon became the one absorbing object of Henry's desires to secure an annulment.[48] Catherine was defiant
when it was suggested that she quietly retire to a nunnery, saying: "God never called me to a nunnery. I am the

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King's true and legitimate wife".[49] He set his hopes upon an appeal to the Holy See, acting independently of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, whom
he told nothing of his plans. William Knight, the King's secretary, was sent to Pope Clement VII to sue for an annulment, on the grounds that
the dispensing bull of Pope Julius II was obtained by false pretenses.

As the Pope was, at that time, the prisoner of Catherine's nephew, Emperor Charles V, following the Sack of Rome in May 1527, Knight had
difficulty in obtaining access to him. In the end, Henry's envoy had to return without accomplishing much. Henry now had no choice but to put
this great matter into the hands of Wolsey, who did all he could to secure a decision in Henry's favour.[50]

Wolsey went so far as to convene an ecclesiastical court in England with a representative of the
Pope presiding, and Henry and Catherine herself in attendance. The Pope had no intention of
allowing a decision to be reached in England, and his legate was recalled. (How far the pope was
influenced by Charles V is difficult to say, but it is clear Henry saw that the Pope was unlikely to
annul his marriage to the Emperor's aunt.[51]) The Pope forbade Henry to marry again before a
decision was given in Rome. Wolsey had failed and was dismissed from public office in 1529.
Wolsey then began a secret plot to have Anne Boleyn forced into exile and began communicating
with the Pope to that end. When this was discovered, Henry ordered Wolsey's arrest and, had he
not been terminally ill and died in 1530, he might have been executed for treason.[52] A year later,
Catherine was banished from court, and her old rooms were given to Anne Boleyn. Catherine wrote
in a letter to Charles V in 1531:

My tribulations are so great, my life so disturbed by the plans daily invented to

further the King's wicked intention, the surprises which the King gives me, with
certain persons of his council, are so mortal, and my treatment is what God knows,
Catherine and Henry's daughter The
that it is enough to shorten ten lives, much more mine.[53][54] Lady Mary

When Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham died, the Boleyn family's chaplain, Thomas
Cranmer, was appointed to the vacant position.[55]

When Henry decided to annul his marriage to Catherine, John Fisher became her most trusted counsellor and one of her chief supporters. He
appeared in the legates' court on her behalf, where he shocked people with the directness of his language, and by declaring that, like John the
Baptist, he was ready to die on behalf of the indissolubility of marriage. Henry was so enraged by this that he wrote a long Latin address to the
legates in answer to Fisher's speech. Fisher's copy of this still exists, with his manuscript annotations in the margin which show how little he
feared Henry's anger. The removal of the cause to Rome ended Fisher's role in the matter, but Henry never forgave him.[56][57] Other people
who supported Catherine's case included Thomas More; Henry's own sister Mary Tudor, Queen of France (though as a member of the Tudor
family and of royal blood, she was safe from any punishment and execution); María de Salinas; Holy Roman Emperor Charles V; Pope Paul III;
and Protestant Reformers Martin Luther[58] and William Tyndale.[59]

Banishment and death

Upon returning to Dover from a meeting with King Francis I of France in Calais, Henry married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony.[60] Some
sources speculate that Anne was already pregnant at the time (and Henry did not want to risk a son being born illegitimate) but others testify
that Anne (who had seen her sister Mary Boleyn taken up as the king's mistress and summarily cast aside) refused to sleep with Henry until
they were married. Henry defended the legality of their union by pointing out that Catherine had previously been married. If she and Arthur
had consummated their marriage, Henry by canon law had the right to remarry.[61] On 23 May 1533, Cranmer, sitting in judgement at a special
court convened at Dunstable Priory to rule on the validity of Henry's marriage to Catherine, declared the marriage illegal, even though
Catherine testified she and Arthur had never had physical relations. Cranmer ruled Henry and Anne's marriage valid five days later, on 28 May

Until the end of her life, Catherine would refer to herself as Henry's only lawful wedded wife and England's only rightful queen, and her
servants continued to address her by that title. Henry refused her the right to any title but "Dowager Princess of Wales" in recognition of her
position as his brother's widow.[60]

Catherine went to live at The More castle in the winter of 1531/32.[63] In 1535 she was transferred to Kimbolton Castle. There, she confined
herself to one room (which she left only to attend Mass), dressed only in the hair shirt of the Order of St. Francis, and fasted continuously.
While she was permitted to receive occasional visitors, she was forbidden to see her daughter Mary. They were also forbidden to communicate
in writing, but sympathizers discreetly ferried letters between the two. Henry offered both mother and daughter better quarters and
permission to see each other if they would acknowledge Anne Boleyn as the new queen. Both refused.[63]

In late December 1535, sensing her death was near, Catherine made her will, and wrote to her nephew, the Emperor Charles V, asking him to
protect her daughter. It has been alleged that she then penned one final letter to Henry, her "most dear lord and husband":[64]

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My most dear lord, king and husband,

The hour of my death now drawing on, the tender love I owe you forceth me, my case being such, to commend myself to you, and
to put you in remembrance with a few words of the health and safeguard of your soul which you ought to prefer before all worldly
matters, and before the care and pampering of your body, for the which you have cast me into many calamities and yourself into
many troubles. For my part, I pardon you everything, and I wish to devoutly pray God that He will pardon you also. For the rest,
I commend unto you our daughter Mary, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I have heretofore desired. I entreat you
also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants I
solicit the wages due them, and a year more, lest they be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above
all things.
Katharine the Quene.

The authenticity of the letter itself has been questioned, but not Catherine's attitude in its wording, which has been reported with variations in
different sources.[65]

Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle on 7 January 1536.[66] The following day, news of her death reached the king. At the time there were
rumours that she was poisoned,[67][68][69] possibly by Gregory di Casale.[70] According to the chronicler Edward Hall, Anne Boleyn wore
yellow for the mourning, which has been interpreted in various ways; Polydore Vergil interpreted this to mean that Anne did not mourn.[71]
Chapuys reported that it was King Henry who decked himself in yellow, celebrating the news and making a great show of his and Anne's
daughter, Elizabeth, to his courtiers.[72] This was seen as distasteful and vulgar by many. Another theory is that the dressing in yellow was out
of respect for Catherine as yellow was said to be the Spanish colour of mourning. Certainly, later in the day it is reported that Henry and Anne
both individually and privately wept for her death. On the day of Catherine's funeral, Anne Boleyn miscarried a boy. Rumours then circulated
that Catherine had been poisoned by Anne or Henry, or both, as Anne had threatened to murder both Catherine and Mary on several
occasions. The rumours were born after the apparent discovery during her embalming that there was a black growth on her heart that might
have been caused by poisoning.[73] Modern medical experts are in agreement that her heart's discolouration was due not to poisoning, but to
cancer, something which was not understood at the time.[74]

Catherine was buried in Peterborough Cathedral with the ceremony due to her position as a Dowager Princess of Wales, and not a queen.
Henry did not attend the funeral and forbade Mary to attend.[74]

Catherine was a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis and she was punctilious in her
religious obligations in the Order, integrating without demur her necessary duties as queen with
her personal piety. After her divorce, she was quoted "I would rather be a poor beggar’s wife and be
sure of heaven, than queen of all the world and stand in doubt thereof by reason of my own

The outward celebration of saints and holy relics formed no major part of her personal
devotions,[76] which she rather expressed in the Mass, prayer, confession and penance. Privately,
however, she was aware of what she identified as the shortcomings of the papacy and church
officialdom.[76] Her doubts about Church improprieties certainly did not extend so far as to support
the allegations of corruption made public by Martin Luther in Wittenberg in 1517, which were soon
to have such far-reaching consequences in initiating the Protestant Reformation.

In 1523 Alfonso de Villa Sancta, a learned friar of the Observant (reform) branch of the Friars
Minor and friend of the king's old advisor Erasmus, dedicated to the queen his book De Liberio
Michael Sittow, Mary Magdalene,
Arbitrio adversus Melanchthonem denouncing Philip Melanchthon, a supporter of Luther. Acting
probably using Catherine as model
as her confessor, he was able to nominate her for the title of "Defender of the Faith" for denying
Luther's arguments.[77]

Catherine was of a very fair complexion, had blue eyes, and had a hair colour that was between reddish-blonde and auburn.[78] In her youth
she was described as "the most beautiful creature in the world"[79] and that there was "nothing lacking in her that the most beautiful girl
should have".[9] Thomas More and Lord Herbert would reflect later in her lifetime that in regard to her appearance "there were few women
who could compete with the Queen [Catherine] in her prime."[80][81]

Legacy, memory, and historiography

The controversial book "The Education of Christian Women" by Juan Luis Vives, which claimed women have the right to an education, was

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dedicated to and commissioned by her. Such was Catherine's impression on people, that even her
enemy, Thomas Cromwell, said of her "If not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of
History."[5] She successfully appealed for the lives of the rebels involved in the Evil May Day for the
sake of their families.[6] Furthermore, Catherine won widespread admiration by starting an
extensive programme for the relief of the poor.[6] She was also a patron of Renaissance humanism,
and a friend of the great scholars Erasmus of Rotterdam and Saint Thomas More. Some saw her as
a martyr.[82][83]

In the reign of her daughter Mary I of England, her marriage to Henry VIII was declared "good and
valid". Her daughter Queen Mary also had several portraits commissioned of Catherine, and it
would not by any means be the last time she was painted. After her death, numerous portraits were
painted of her, particularly of her speech at the Legatine Trial, a moment accurately rendered in
Shakespeare's play about Henry VIII.

Her tomb in Peterborough Cathedral[84] can be seen and there is hardly ever a time when it is not
decorated with flowers or pomegranates, her heraldic symbol. It bears the title Katharine Queen of Statue of Catherine at Alcalá de
England. Henares

In the 20th century, George V's wife, Mary of Teck, had her grave upgraded and there are now
banners there denoting Catherine as a Queen of England. Every year at Peterborough Cathedral there is a service in her memory. There are
processions, prayers, and various events in the Cathedral including processions to Catherine's grave in which candles, pomegranates, flowers
and other offerings are placed on her grave. On the service commemorating the 470th anniversary of her death, the Spanish Ambassador to the
United Kingdom attended. During the 2010 service a rendition of Catherine of Aragon's speech before the Legatine court was read by Jane
Lapotaire. There is a statue of her in her birthplace of Alcalá de Henares, as a young woman holding a book and a rose.[85]

Catherine has remained a popular biographical subject to the present day. The American historian Garrett Mattingly was the author of a
popular biography Katherine of Aragon in 1942. In 1966, Catherine and her many supporters at court were the subjects of Catherine of
Aragon and her Friends, a biography by John E. Paul. In 1967, Mary M. Luke wrote the first book of her Tudor trilogy, Catherine the Queen
which portrayed her and the controversial era of English history through which she lived.

In recent years, the historian Alison Weir covered her life extensively in her biography The Six
Wives of Henry VIII, first published in 1991. Antonia Fraser did the same in her own 1992
biography of the same title; as did the British historian David Starkey in his 2003 book Six Wives:
The Queens of Henry VIII.[86][87][88] Giles Tremlett's biography Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish
Queen of Henry VIII came out in 2010, and Julia Fox's 2011 dual biography Sister Queens: The
Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile.

Places and statues

Grave of Catherine of Aragon in
In Alcalá de Henares, the place of Catherine's birth, a statue of Catherine as a young woman Peterborough Cathedral
holding a rose and a book can be seen in the Archbishop's Palace.
Peterborough is twinned with the Spanish city of Alcalá de Henares, located in the wider
Community of Madrid. Children from schools in the two places have learned about each other as part of the twinning venture, and artists
have even come over from Alcalá de Henares to paint Catherine's tombstone.
Many places in Ampthill are named after Catherine. Also in Ampthill there is a cross in Ampthill Great Park named "Queen Catherine's
Cross" in her honour. It is on the site of the castle where she was sent during her divorce from the King.
Kimbolton School's science and mathematics block is called the QKB, or Queen Katherine Building.

Spelling of her name

Her baptismal name was "Catalina", but "Katherine" was soon the accepted form in England after her marriage to Arthur.[76] Catherine herself
signed her name "Katherine", "Katherina", "Katharine" and sometimes "Katharina". In a letter to her, Arthur, her husband, addressed her as
"Princess Katerine". Her daughter Queen Mary I called her "Quene Kateryn", in her will. Rarely were names, particularly first names, written
in an exact manner during the sixteenth century and it is evident from Catherine's own letters that she endorsed different variations.[b]
Loveknots built into his various palaces by her husband, Henry VIII, display the initials "H & K",[c] as do other items belonging to Henry and
Catherine, including gold goblets, a gold salt cellar, basins of gold, and candlesticks. Her tomb in Peterborough Cathedral is marked "Katharine
Queen of England".[89][90]

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Catherine of Aragon's arms

while queen[91]

In art and media

Over the years, numerous artistic and cultural works have been dedicated to Catherine, have been written about her, or have mentioned her,
including some by her husband Henry VIII, who wrote "Grene growth the holy"[92] about and for her, and Juan Luis Vives, who dedicated The
Education of Christian Women to her.[93]

Catherine of Aragon has been portrayed in film, television, plays, novels, songs, poems, and other creative forms many times, and as a result
she has stayed very much in popular memory. The first episode of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, is told from her point of view (and in which she
is portrayed by Annette Crosbie). Charlotte Hope plays her in the STARZ mini-series The Spanish Princess, which is based on the book The
Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. William Shakespeare's play Henry VIII succeeds in recreating with great accuracy Catherine's
statement about the legitimacy of her marriage at the court in Blackfriars before King Henry, and Shakespeare's portrayal of Catherine is
remarkably sympathetic; however, most of the rest of the play is an attempt to absolve many, especially Henry VIII, and the timing of key
incidents (including Catherine's death) is changed and other events are avoided (the play makes Henry nearly an innocent pawn in the hands
of a dastardly Cardinal Wolsey, and the play stops short of Anne Boleyn's execution).

In January 2013, the National Portrait Gallery in London revealed that its curators had recently discovered that a portrait at Lambeth Palace
formerly believed to have been a portrait of Catherine Parr in fact shows Catherine of Aragon. The National Portrait Gallery announced that
the painting, which had hung in a private sitting room of the Archbishop of Canterbury since at least the 19th century, would be paired with a
portrait of Henry VIII already in the museum's collection, and would remain at the museum on loan.[94]

Music and rhymes

The song "Green groweth the holly" is said to have been written for her by Henry VIII.[95]
In the children's nursery rhyme "I Had a Little Nut Tree" she is the "King of Spain's Daughter."[96]
In Rick Wakeman's album The Six Wives of Henry VIII, "Catherine of Aragon" is listed as Track no. 1.[97]

Catherine is the main character in:

Katharine, The Virgin Widow, The Shadow of the Pomegranate, and The King's Secret Matter
(later published in an omnibus Katharine of Aragon) by Jean Plaidy[98]
My Catalina by Maureen Peters
The King's Pleasure by Norah Lofts[99]
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory (a novel about Catherine's younger years)[100]
Patience, Princess Catherine by Carolyn Meyer (young adult novel)[101]
Isabella's Daughter by Charity Bishop
Catherine of Aragon/My Tudor Queen by Alison Prince
Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir[102]
Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters (The Katherine of Aragon Story Book 1)
by Wendy J. Dunn[103]
Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate History of Henry VIII's True Wife by Amy Licence[104]
Catherine is a character in:

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy Dame Ellen Terry as Catherine of

The Trusted Servant by Alison Macleod Aragon
The Other Boleyn Girl, The King's Curse and Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa
The Dark Rose, Volume 2 of The Morland Dynasty, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel[106]
I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles[107]
Keeper of the King's Secrets by Michelle Diener[108]

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Theatre, film, stage, and TV

Catherine was portrayed by:

Sarah Siddons in the 18th century, in Shakespeare's Henry VIII. She told Samuel Johnson that the role of Queen Catherine was her
favourite of all the Shakespearean roles she had played, as it was "the most natural".[109]
Violet Vanbrugh in the 1911 short film production of William Shakespeare's play Henry VIII (first film portrayal).[110]
German actress Hedwig Pauly-Winterstein in the 1920 film Anna Boleyn.[111]
Rosalie Crutchley in The Sword and the Rose, an account of Mary Tudor's romance with the Duke of Suffolk in 1515.[112]
Greek actress Irene Papas in Hal B. Wallis' film Anne of the Thousand Days (1969).[113]
British actress Annette Crosbie in a 90-minute television drama titled "Catherine of Aragon", the first part of the BBC series The Six Wives
of Henry VIII, for which she won the 1971 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress.[114]
Frances Cuka in the 1972 film Henry VIII and His Six Wives, based on the above TV series.[115] Keith Michell reprised his role as
Henry VIII. A scene was incorporated between Frances Cuka and Charlotte Rampling (playing Anne Boleyn) to show their quiet, glacial
Annabelle Dowler in Dr. David Starkey's 2001 documentary series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.[116]
Spanish actress Yolanda Vasquez, a brief appearance in the British TV version of The Other Boleyn Girl (January 2003), opposite Jared
Harris as Henry VIII and Natascha McElhone as Mary Boleyn.[117]
Assumpta Serna in the October 2003 ITV two-part television drama Henry VIII, which starred Ray Winstone in the title role.[118] Part 1
chronicled the king's life from the birth of his bastard son, Henry Fitzroy until the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536. David Suchet co-
starred as Cardinal Wolsey.
Marge Simpson (voiced by Julie Kavner), as "Margerine of Aragon" in The Simpsons episode "Margical History Tour".[119]
Maria Doyle Kennedy in the Showtime 2007 television series The Tudors opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry. For her performance,
Kennedy won an IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Television,[120] and a Gemini Award for an Actress in a Featured
Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series.[121]
Ana Torrent in the 2008 film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl, with Eric Bana as Henry VIII.[122]
Virginia Weeks portrayed her in the play Six Dead Queens and an Inflatable Henry.[123]
In 2008 she was played by Victoria Peiró in the film The Twisted Tale of Bloody Mary.[124]
She is played by Siobhan Hewlett in the 2009 documentary Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant.[125]
Kate Duchêne in a 2010 adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry VIII at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.[126]
Joanne Whalley in Wolf Hall.[127]
Natalia Rodríguez Arroyo in the Spanish historical series Isabel.[128]
Mélida Molina in the Spanish historical series Carlos, rey emperador.[129]
Paola Bontempi in the BBC One history programme Six Wives with Lucy Worsley.[130]
Jarneia Richard-Noel in the 2017 musical Six, by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.[131] It is set for a 2019 West End run.
Charlotte Hope portrays Catherine in the Starz mini-series The Spanish Princess which is based on two novels by Philippa Gregory. The
series air in May 2019.[132]

Ancestors of Catherine of Aragon
16. John I of Castile[136]
8. Ferdinand I of Aragon[136]
17. Eleanor of Aragon[136]
4. John II of Aragon and
18. Sancho Alfonso, 1st Count of
9. Eleanor of Alburquerque[137]
19. Beatrice of Portugal[142]
2. Ferdinand II of
20. Alonso Enríquez[138]
10. Fadrique Enríquez de
21. Juana de Mendoza (es)[138]
5. Juana Enríquez[133]
22. Diego Fernández de Córdoba (es)[139]
11. Mariana Fernández de
23. Inés de Ayala (es)[139]
1. Catherine of

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24. John I of Castile (= 16)

12. Henry III of Castile[136]
25. Eleanor of Aragon (= 17)
6. John II of Castile[134]
26. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of
13. Catherine of Lancaster[134]
27. Constance of Castile[143]
3. Isabella I of Castile
28. John I of Portugal[140]
14. John, Constable of Portugal[140]
29. Philippa of Lancaster[d]
7. Isabella of Portugal[135]
30. Afonso I, Duke of Braganza[141]
15. Isabel of Barcelos[141]
31. Beatriz Pereira de Alvim[141]

See also
Descendants of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon
List of English consorts

a. Canon law took this verse out of context, and Deuteronomy 25:5–10 required levirate marriage.
b. Catherine's endorsement of different spellings can be identified in numerous letters, signing herself as 'Katharine the Quene' in a letter to
Wolsey in 1513 and as 'Katharine' in her final letter to Henry VIII dating to Jan 1536.
c. As Latin inscriptions were used in structures, a "C" represented the numeral 100, so a "K" was used instead. The same was applied
during the time of Henri II and his wife Catherine during her state entry in Paris on 18 June 1549.
d. Philippa of Lancaster was the daughter John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster to his first wife Blanche of Lancaster,[144] making her half-
sister of Catherine of Aragon's maternal great-grandmother Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster to
his second wife Constance of Castile.


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Cahill Marrón, Emma Luisa (2012). Arte y poder: negociaciones matrimoniales y festejos nupciales para el enlace entre Catalina
Trastámara y Arturo Tudor (in Spanish). UCrea.
Lehman, H. Eugene (2011). Lives of England's Reigning and Consort Queens. AuthorHouse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4634-3057-3.
Thomas B. Deutscher, Peter G. Bietenholz (1987). Contemporaries of Erasmus. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-2575-3.
Wilkinson, Josephine (2009). Mary Boleyn: the True Story of Henry VIII's Favourite Mistress. Amberley Publishing. ISBN 0-300-07158-2.
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Froude, James Anthony (1891). The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon. NEW YORK, CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
Maclagan, Michael (1999). Line of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. Little, Brown & Co.
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Dowling, Maria (1986). Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII. Other. ISBN 978-0-7099-0864-7.
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Brecht, Martin (1994). Martin Luther: shaping and defining the Reformation, 1521–1532. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-2814-7.
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Morris, T. A (1998). Europe and England in the Sixteenth Century. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-15041-5.
Morton, Henry Vollam (1955). A stranger in Spain. Methuen. ISBN 978-0-413-52200-9.
Eagles, Robin (2002). The Rough Guide History of England. Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-85828-799-7.
Rex, Richard (2003). The Theology of John Fisher. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-54115-2.
Jestice, Phyllis G. (2004). Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-355-1.
Starkey, David (2003). Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII. ISBN 0-06-000550-5.
Williams, Neville (1971). Henry VIII and His Court. Macmillan Pub Co. ISBN 978-0-02-629100-2.
Bietenholz, P. G.; Deutscher, Thomas B. (2003). Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and
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Farquhar, Michael (2001). A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings,
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"Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536)" ( BBC. Retrieved
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"Catherine of Aragon Biography" (
/catherine-of-aragon.html). Biography Channel. Archived from the original (
of-aragon.html) on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
"John Blanke—A Trumpeter in the court of King Henry VIII" (
// Blackpresence. 12 March 2009. Archived from the original
( on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
"Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England" ( King's College, Pennsylvania.
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John E. Paul (1966) Catherine of Aragon and Her Friends. Fordham University Press ISBN 978-0-8232-0685-8
Mattingly, Gareth (2005) Catherine of Aragon. Ams Pr Inc. ISBN 978-0-404-20169-2
J.O. Hand & M. Wolff, (1986) Early Netherlandish Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington (catalogue) ISBN 0-521-34016-0
Tremlett, Giles. (2010). Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-23512-4
Cahill Marrón, Emma Luisa (2014). "Medieval or Modern Queen? Catherine of Aragon's role in the Anglo-Spanish alliance and her
contribution to the introduction of New Learning in England" (
Williams, Patrick. (2012). Catherine of Aragon. Amberley. ISBN 978-1-84868-325-9
Gardner, Laurien. (2008). The Spanish Bride: A Novel of Catherine of Aragon (Tudor Women Series).Berkley Trade. ISBN 0-425-21996-8
Prince, Alison. (2010). Catherine of Aragon (My Royal Story). Scholastic; 1 edition. ISBN 978-1-4071-2071-3
Froude, James Anthony (1891). The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon: The Story as Told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the
Court of Henry VIII ( Scribner.
Luke, Mary M. (1967). Catherine, The Queen, a biography of Catherine of Aragon, first wife to Henry VIII. Coward-McCann, Inc.
Lofts, Norah. (2008). The King's Pleasure: A Novel of Katharine of Aragon. Touchstone. ISBN 978-1-4165-9089-7
Plaidy, Jean (1968). Katharine of Aragon. Robert Hale Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7091-0511-4.
De rebus Britannicis collectanea, cum Thomae Hearnii praesatione notis et indice ad editionem primam. Ed. altera
( White. 1774.
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/books?id=Rcs_AAAAcAAJ). Strahan and Cadell., [Miscellaneous State Papers, vol.1 (1778) (
/books?id=Rcs_AAAAcAAJ) pp. 1–20, instructions for her wedding to Arthur.
Lindsey, Karen. (1995). Divorced Beheaded Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII. ISBN 0-201-40823-6
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External links
"Catherine of Aragon" ( Encyclopædia
Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). 1911.
Catherine of Aragon's divorce papers and other Tudor treasures online to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession
( ( – An overview of her life, accompanied by a portrait gallery ( – An in-depth look at her life and times
A geo-biography ( of the Six Wives of Henry the VIII on Google Earth
Guardian unlimited (,,1930761,00.html), letter from her to Pope Clement VII
Katharine of ( – An Official Website For Her Cause
Project Continua: Biography of Catherine of Aragon (

Catherine of Aragon
House of Trastámara
Born: 16 December 1485 Died: 7 January 1536

English royalty

Vacant Queen consort of England Vacant

Title last held by Lady of Ireland Title next held by
Elizabeth of York 1509 – 1533 Anne Boleyn

Diplomatic posts

Ambassador of Aragon to England

Preceded by 1507 – 1509
Succeeded by
Rodrigo Gonzalez de Puebla with Rodrigo Gonzalez de Puebla (1507–1508)
Gutierre Gómez de Fuensalida (1508–1509)

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