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June 11, 1509 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon in her wedding dress, from The Spanish Princess
Catherine of Aragon in her wedding dress, from The Spanish Princess

Catherine of Aragon waited seven long years for this marriage to take place. Just three months earlier, she had actually given up hope: she wrote to her father pleading to let her come home (Letters & Papers describes the way she “implores him to send for her immediately that she may go to Spain, and spend the short remainder of her days in serving God, which would be the best thing that could happen to her”). But then the world changed and a new king was on the throne – one who had long been charmed by the Spanish princess and decided to fulfill the marriage treaty his father had let languish for so long.

Spanish state papers give us the key part of the formal vows they exchanged at their wedding:

Most illustrious Prince, is it your will to fulfill the treaty of marriage concluded by your father, the late King of England, and the parents of the Princess of Wales, the King and Queen of Spain ; and, as the Pope has dispensed with this marriage, to take the Princess who is here present for your lawful wife?
The King answered : I will.
Most illustrious Princess, etc. (mutatis mutandis).
The Princess answered : I will.

The phrasing included the key concept “as the Pope has dispensed with this marriage” – it was a decision that Henry VIII would come to regret. But in the meantime, the young couple was in love and would stay that way for a long time…

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Published inOn This Day

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