Henry Tudor, named after his father, Henry VII, was born June 28, 1491 in Greenwich Palace. Since he was the second son, and not expected to become king, we know little of his childhood until the death of his older brother Arthur. We know that he attended the wedding celebrations of Arthur and his bride, Catherine of Aragon, in November 1501 when he was 10 years old. Shortly after the wedding, Arthur and Catherine went to live in Wales, as was tradition for the heir to the throne. But, four months after the marriage began, it ended, with the death of Arthur Prince of Wales.
A treaty was signed that would allow Catherine to marry the next heir to the throne -- Prince Henry. Until then, Catherine's parents, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain would send over 100,000 crowns worth of plate and gold as a wedding gift and Henry would pay the agreed upon dowry. It was deemed necessary for a papal dispensation to be issued allowing Henry to marry Catherine, as she was his dead brother's wife, and this marriage was prohibited in Leviticus. At the time, and throughout her life, Catherine denied that her marriage to Arthur had even been consummated (and given the boy's health, that is most likely the case) so no dispensation was needed. However, both the parties in Spain and England wanted to be sure of the legitimacy of the marriage, so permission from the pope was sought and received. This issue would be very important during the Divorce and the Break with Rome. The marriage still did not take place however. Henry VII had been slow to pay his part of the arrangement and her parents were refusing to send the marriage portion of plate and gold. The stalemate continued until Henry VII died on April 22, 1509 and his son became Henry VIII. Henry was just shy of 18 years old when he became king, and had been preparing for it from the time of his older brother Arthur's death. At this age, he was not the image that we usually call to mind when we hear the name Henry VIII. He was not the overweight and ill man of his later years. In his youth, he was handsome and athletic. He was tall and had a bright red-gold cap of hair and beard, a far cry from the fat, balding and unhealthy man that is often remembered. Henry's marital career is probably the thing that he is most known for. The story of HYPERLINK "https://tudorhistory.org/wives/"Henry's wives is told on their own pages.
King Henry VIII
Shortly after becoming king, Henry VIII took Catherine of Aragon as his bride. He inherited £1.5 million pounds from his father. There has probably been more interest in the wives of Henry VIII than in the King himself, although it is impossible not to wonder about the man that brought these six women together in history. Their lives were all unique, yet all had fates ultimately decided by the same man. Two were divorced, with one getting a much better deal than the other. Two were beheaded, one falsely accused, the other probably not. One died shortly after giving birth to the male heir Henry so desperately longed for. One survived as his widow. There has been some of discussion of the spelling of the wives' names, especially with regards to the three Catherines. It is not possible to say that any one spelling is correct or incorrect since in all cases, they each employed different spellings for their own names. Here is the convention I decided to use after reading "Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII" by Karen Lindsey: Catherine of Aragon, Kathryn Howard and Katherine Parr. This way they can each be referred to with little confusion.
Divorce and Reformation
Catherine of Aragon was the youngest surviving child of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. She was born on the 16th of December 1485. As was common for princesses of the day, her parents almost immediately began looking for a political match for her. When she was three year old, she was betrothed to Arthur, the son of Henry VII of England. Arthur was not even quite two at the time. When she was almost 16, in 1501, Catherine made the journey to England. It took her three months, and her ships weathered several storms, but she safely made landfall at Plymouth on October 2, 1501. Catherine and Arthur were married on 14 November 1501 in Old St. Paul's Cathedral, London.