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Catherine Of Aragon

February 16, 2012 by staff 

Catherine Of Aragon, Catherine of Aragon (16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536), also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales. In 1507, she also held the position of Ambassador for the Spanish Court in England when her father found himself without one, becoming the first female ambassador in European history. For six months, 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. The controversial book “The Education of Christian Women” by Juan Luis Vives, which claimed women have the right to an education, was 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.” William Shakespeare described her as “The Queen of Earthly Queens”, and during her early years as queen consort she was described as “The most beautiful creature in the world.” She successfully appealed for the lives of the rebels involved in the Evil May Day for the sake of their families. Furthermore, Catherine won widespread admiration by starting an extensive programme for the relief of the poor. She was also a patron of Renaissance humanism, and a friend of the great scholars Erasmus of Rotterdam and Saint Thomas More.

At the age of three, Catherine was betrothed to Prince Arthur, heir to the English throne, and they married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. Catherine subsequently married Arthur’s younger brother, the recently-succeeded Henry VIII, in 1509. By 1525 Henry was infatuated with his mistress Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as heiress 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 break with the Roman 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 declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgement of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and considered herself, as did most of England and Europe, the King’s rightful wife and Queen until her death. Now acknowledged by Henry only as Dowager Princess of Wales, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January 1536.

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