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Catherine of Aragon

Your research paper could begin: Catherine of Aragon was born December 1485 near Madrid to her parents King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. At a very young age Catherine was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, the oldest son and heir of the English throne. Prince Arthur and Catherine were married in 1501 at the age of sixteen. Five months after their marriage, both became ill. Catherine recovered, however Arthur died.

Catherine of Aragon

Seven years later, Catherine married Arthur’s brother Henry VIII. She was twenty-three years old and Henry was almost eighteen and had just ascended to the throne. The following year Catherine gave birth to a stillborn daughter. Over the next few years she became pregnant five more times. Her second child was Henry, Duke of Cornwall who lived only fifty-two days before his death. Yet another stillborn son followed him. In December she had another son whom they named Prince Henry, but he too died shortly after his birth. Finally, on February 18, 1516, Catherine gave birth to Mary who was a healthy baby. Catherine had one more daughter who only lived a very short time.

Catherine's list of unfortunate attempts at children with Henry VIII is as follows:

  1. Stillborn Daughter
  2. Henry, Duke of Cornwall - lived 52 days
  3. Stillborn Son
  4. Prince Henry - Died shortly after birth
  5. Mary - Lived a healthy life
  6. Stillborn Daughter

Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII

Henry was determined to produce a male heir to the throne of England and decided that he must have a new wife to produce this heir.  His first choice was Anne Boleyn, but he would have to divorce Katharine in order to marry her.  Henry might be the king, but he was not all powerful and his request to divorce would have to be approved by Pope Clement VII would owed allegiance to Emperor Charles V, the nephew of Katharine of Aragon.  Henry VIII and his advisors considered several spouses for Mary from the time she was a young child in order to secure alliances.  In 1525, Mary became the Princess of Wales, but Henry was determined to secure a male heir to the throne, so he began negotiations for a divorce when he realized that he was not going to get a male heir from his union with Katharine.  Mary ascended to the throne in 1553 and remained there for five years, but she endured many difficulties and humiliations before her coronation. 

Henry the VIII became dissatisfied in Catherine because she was unable to bear him a son and heir to the throne. He became interested in one of Catherine’s Ladies in Waiting, Anne Boleyn. In order to be with Anne, Henry had to get his marriage to Catherine annulled by the Catholic Church. The pope refused to annul the marriage, but Henry could not be dissuaded and annulled the union himself. Henry banished Catherine after she refused to accept his decision. Catherine lived out the rest of her life at Kimbolton Castle and died there in 1536.

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