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December 16, 1485 – Birth of Catherine of Aragon

Catherine of Aragon, Aged Around 11, by Juan de Flandes (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Catherine was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, the monarchs whose marriage created a dynastically unified Spain – and whose children were placed into strategic marriages that brought them important alliances.

The oldest daughter, Isabella, was married to King Manuel of Portugal. She gave birth to a son, Miguel, but then died…so, following a papal dispensation to get around the Levitical prohibition, her younger sister Maria took her place. Sound familiar?

[In the unlikely event that you’re scratching your head, Catherine of Aragon married Prince Arthur Tudor of England…and when he died after six months, a papal dispensation was obtained to allow her to marry Arthur’s younger brother Henry, who went on to become Henry VIII.]

Interestingly, when Henry sought to annul his marriage to Catherine, his principal argument was that the Pope did not have the right to issue a dispensation where the first marriage had been consummated…which explained why Catherine could not bear him a son. And yet, when we look at Catherine’s older sisters, we see a situation where the first marriage was definitely consummated (since it resulted in a child) but the second one proved fertile…

As any Tudorphile will tell you, blame Henry!

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Published inOn This Day

One Comment

  1. Barbara Cross-Nicolosi Barbara Cross-Nicolosi

    Dear Henry loved to bend the rules to suit himself. Poor Catherine suffered mightily for his arrogance.

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