Catherine of Aragon was the youngest sister of Joanna the mad. She was born in 1485. She was already betrothed at age 3 to Arthur, prince of Wales.
Arthur was the heir apparent for the English throne. Henry VII could claim the throne for himself and the marriage of Catherine and Arthur was supposed to give Arthur a stronger claim to the throne because Catherine actually had a stronger claim to the English throne through her mother Isabella. She was also her father-in-laws third cousin on the maternal side. At the time the Tudors weren’t so respected by the other royal families in Europe because he was a descendant of a bastard child of John of Gaunt that only later in life legitimized the five children of his mistress. To be a bastard child or even the child of a bastard child even with a king for a father or grandfather was a disgrace in that era.
So Catherines background was very convenient for the tudors. She was also beautiful and educated. Catherine was educated by a tutor, Alessandro Geraldini, who was a clerk in Holy Orders. She studied arithmetic, canon and civil law, classical literature, genealogy and heraldry, history, philosophy, religion, and theology. Catherine had a strict catholic upbringing.
She learned to speak, read and write in Spanish and Latin, and spoke French and Greek.She was also taught domestic skills, such as cooking, dancing, drawing, embroidery, good manner, lace-making, music, needlepoint, sewing, spinning, and weaving. Erasmus later said that Catherine “loved good literature which she had studied with success since childhood”. So lucky Arthur would get a babe with brains.
The hope was of course that she would give him a male heir.
They first had to wait until they had the legal age to marry though. The Tudors also had to pay 200.000 crowns as a dowry for Catherine. That is more than 5 million pound in today’s money. In 1497 the marriage was issued and they were betrothed by proxy (so they did not meet in person). They needed a special permit from the pope to get the marriage issued because Arthur was under 14. He must have been about 11 when he got betrothed and about 13 when he was married by proxy in 1499. Catherine would have been around 15 then so not much older. Nowadays we would consider both of them to be minors but in medieval times only Arthur was considered a minor. 15 was an acceptable age to get married.
good afternoon, friends! Hilde