There is so much to learn about the six women who married the famous English king, Henry VIII.
A lot of people are fascinated by the story of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and often forget about the woman he betrayed in order to be with her – His first wife, Katherine of Aragon.
Katherine was born in Spain in 1485 and was the daughter of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. From a young age, Katherine was seen as a way to bring together an allyship between Spain and England. She received a formal education and knew a lot about politics. She married the English Prince Arthur, the son of Henry VII, as a teenager in 1501.
Prince Arthur died one year after their marriage, so Katherine became a widow at 16. Prince Arthur’s brother was Henry VIII, who took the throne in 1509. He fell in love with Katherine and was encouraged to carry on the English and Spanish alliance. With his father’s blessing, Henry VIII married Katherine in 1509.
Although Katherine was six years older than Henry, they were a very happy couple for many years. Not only was Katherine beautiful and elegant, but she was also very smart and politically savvy. For instance, when England went to war with France in 1512, Henry VIII trusted Katherine to help make decisions for their country.
However, things started falling apart as tensions grew around the couple because they struggled to produce a male heir. Katherine gave birth to several children, but sadly, only one survived, their daughter, Mary, who would become Queen Mary I in 1553.
As Henry VIII grew frustrated with Katherine over her inability to give birth to a healthy male heir, he began falling for one of her ladies-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn. He soon fell in love with her and wanted to marry her, but because he was Roman Catholic, he was heavily discouraged from divorcing Katherine.
Therefore, Henry VIII went to great lengths to end his marriage with Katherine and marry Anne. So, he took poor Katherine to court, where, over a grueling process, he testified their marriage was not valid. Around 1527, Anne agreed to be Henry VIII’s new wife, so he began the annulment process between him and Katherine, despite her being a faithful wife and queen all those years.
Katherine was very resilient and fought Henry VIII to prove to the court that she was England’s rightful queen. She fought hard for a long time, until in 1533, when Henry VIII became the new head of the ‘Supreme Church of England’ and was able to banish her from the royal court himself.