Catherine of Aragon – childhood and betrothal to Arthur, prince of Wales

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 Prince of Wales.

Arthur Prince of Wales.

arthur prince of wales 2

Arthur holding a carnation flower as a sign of his betrothal to Catherine of Aragon.

Arthur was a heir for the English throne.

Arthur was a heir for the English throne.

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.

Catherine of Aragon posing as Maria Magdalen with her sacred vessel.

Catherine of Aragon posing as Maria Magdalen with her sacred vessel.

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.

Wax figurine of Catherine of Aragon with a monkey.

Wax figurine of Catherine of Aragon with a monkey.

The hope was of course that she would give him a male heir.

Catherine of Aragon posing as the virgin Mary with baby Jesus.

Catherine of Aragon posing as the virgin Mary with baby Jesus.

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

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4 thoughts on “Catherine of Aragon – childhood and betrothal to Arthur, prince of Wales

  1. Pingback: Maria of Aragon married her sister’s widower | hemmahoshilde

  2. Catherine of Aragon was awesome. I absolutely adore her as I do her daughter, Mary the First, Queen of England. Henry the Eight should never have divorced her because he loved her. If he didn’t love her, it would not have taken so long for him to do what he did in 1533. He literally destroyed England. Turned it topsy turvey. And that Elizabeth, oh, my God, so high and mighty. She did not want rule Scotland but just England and yet she interfered in Scots politics every chance she got when Mary, Queen of Scots was in her personal rule between 1561 and 1567 in Scotland. It was a sad day with Francois the Second of France died. Mary, Queen of Scots should have ruled France beside that King. He was actually a very nice King.

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  3. Pingback: Catherine of Aragon wedding night | hemmahoshilde

  4. Pingback: Don’t sweat it Arthur of Wales | hemmahoshilde

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