Catharine of Aragon
Queen of England
1485 – 1536 A.D.
Catharine of Aragon, Queen of England, the first wife of Henry VIII and fourth daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Castile and Aragon. She went to England in 1501 and was married to Arthur, Prince of Wales; never a wife, except in name, Catharine was left a widow by the death of Arthur in April, 1502. A few months later, a second marriage was projected for her by her father-in-law, Henry VII, with his second son, Henry, as yet only a boy of 12 years. This marriage took place in June, 1509, immediately after Henry’s accession to the crown as Henry VIII.
The fact that she bore Henry but one daughter and no son that survived, leaving the throne without a male heir, and the advent of Anne Boleyn into the king’s life, moved Henry to attempt a decree to nullify his marriage with Catharine, and a marriage with Anne that would bring him a son to secure the succession.
When Pope Clement VII refused to declare the marriage void, a trial to annul the marriage was begun in England but Catharine with courage and dignity held fast to her rights, and appealed to the Pope for justice. Henry, setting the Pope at defiance, married Anne Boleyn in January, 1533, and the following May Cranmer declared the first marriage void, while Pope Clement pronounced it valid thus bringing about the alienation of Henry VIII fro the Roman see.
Queen Catharine did not quit the kingdom, but lived, closely guarded at Kimbolton Castle until her death. In the meantime, although absolutely friendless and harassed by ceaseless persecution, she displayed heroic courage and surprising mental powers, defeating every base design of the king and his agents to induce her to sign away the rights of herself and her daughter Mary.
The character of Catharine was unimpeachable, and her disposition sweet and gentle. She endured her bitter and undeserved misfortunes with extraordinary resolution, and at the same time with great womanly forbearance, of which a striking instance was the compassion shown by her for her fallen enemy, Cardinal Wolsey.
The play of Henry VIII by Shakespeare and Fletcher gives an interesting dramatic picture of Catharine, Henry and Wolsey.
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.