Prince Arthur was the eldest son and heir of Henry VII, King of England, and his wife, Elizabeth of York. Arthur was the symbol of the union of the warring houses of Lancaster and York. His father, Henry VII, was Lancastrian and his mother, Elizabeth of York, was a Yorkist. Arthur himself was the symbol of the union of the houses, ending the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII decided to name his firstborn son after the legendary King Arthur and he decided that Winchester was representative of Camelot. In the 16th century the location was St Swithin’s Priory in Winchester (today Winchester Cathedral Priory). He was born at around 1am on 20 September 1486, just 8 months after the marriage of his parents, meaning he was either 1 month premature, or his parents had consummated their union without waiting for an official marriage.
Prince Arthur would later marry Katherine of Aragon, but would die just short of his 16th birthday in 1502, leaving his brother to become the future Henry VIII.
Brigden, Susan, New Worlds, Lost Worlds (2000)
Gunn, Steven & Monckton, Linda, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales: Life, Death and Commemoration (2009)
Lisle, Leanda de, Tudor: the Family Story (2013)
Loades, David, The Tudors: History of a Dynasty (2012)
Weir, Alison, Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (2008)
Event– Marriage of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon
Location– Greenwich Palace, England
The wedding of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon isn’t as well-known as their very public divorce. Katherine was the widow of Henry’s older brother, Arthur, who had died in 1502. Henry would later allege that this was an impediment from which the Pope couldn’t dispense.
Katherine and Henry had been betrothed for 6 years by the time that they married, and it wasn’t certain that they would marry even after the betrothal. When Katherine’s mother, Isabella of Castile, died Katherine was seen as less valuable on the marriage market as she was no longer the product of a united Spain. Henry VII began to look elsewhere for a bride for his son.
When Henry VII died in 1509 Katherine’s fortunes changed overnight and the marriage negotiations were successfully brought to an end in May 1509. The marriage licence was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, on 8 June 1509.
The marriage was a private ceremony in the queen’s closet at Greenwich Palace on 11 June 1509 with just a couple of witnesses in attendance. Katherine was aged 23 and Henry just 18 – she was beautiful still and he was in his prime. The marriage wasn’t only a love match (it was rumoured that Henry wanted Katherine when she was married to Arthur), but a political one as well.
As soon as the wedding itself was over, preparations were made for their joint coronation which happened just a couple of weeks later.
Amy Licence, Catherine of Aragon: an Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife (2016)
Garrett Mattingley, Catherine of Aragon (1960)
David Starkey, Six Wives: the Queens of Henry VIII (2004)
Giles Tremlett, Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen (2011)
Foreign alliances were the backbone of the Tudor dynasty (1485-1603). They were a way to demonstrate support for a new dynasty, and cement its credentials. The claim of Henry VII to the English throne wasn’t that strong on its own, but was strengthened by political marriages, like that of Katherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur in 1501. However, wars also demonstrated that the dynasty had a right to the throne – Henry VII claimed that since he beat Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Richard wasn’t the rightful ruler and Henry was. Foreign alliances were also used to neutralise threats from enemy countries, like Scotland. Several of these instances will be examined in the following essay.
The most important foreign alliance in the sixteenth century was the marriage of Prince Arthur, heir to Henry VII, to Katherine of Aragon, daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1501.This marriage demonstrated that the Spanish monarchy recognised the claim of the Tudors to the English throne. Refusing the marriage would show that the Spanish didn’t believe Henry VII to be the rightful King of England. Continue reading “How important were Foreign Alliances in Promoting Support of the Tudor Dynasty?”→
The marriage between Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon had been in the making for two years before it actually took place, and it had been proposed as early as 1489.[i] The marriage between Arthur and Katherine of Aragon was intended to involve England in European politics.[ii] England had been in the midst of a civil war for half a decade, but now she was ready to re-enter international affairs. The only job intended for Katherine was to produce sons and heirs for the English throne.[iii] Their children would unite the blood of England and Spain. A dispensation was needed to allow the marriage to go ahead, as Katherine and Arthur were both descended from John of Gaunt.[iv] Gaunt was the third surviving son of Edward III.
1501 – Katherine of Aragon marries Prince Arthur of England.
1502 – Prince Arthur dies.
1504 – Pope Julius II annuls marriage of Katherine and Arthur.
1509 – Henry VIII succeeds to the throne and marries Katherine of Aragon:-
Katherine testified that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, and so a dispensation was granted to allow her to marry Henry. The matter of consummation was later a central issue in the divorce.