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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