As you could read earlier on my blog Catherine of Aragon was betrothed to Prince Arthur of Wales since she was 3 years old. In 1497 they had been betrothed by proxy and 19 may 1499 they were married by proxy. He wrote after that to “his dearest spouse”
“I cannot tell you what an earnest desire I feel to see your Highness, and how vexatious to me is this procrastination about your coming. Let [it] be hastened, [that] the love conceived between us and the wished-for joys may reap their proper fruit.”
He also told the Spanish ambassador on that day that
“He much rejoiced to contract the marriage because of his deep and sincere love for the Princess”.
In 1501 when they both were 15 it was finally time to meet each other in person and celebrate.
The couple met for the first time in person 4 november 1501. Prince Arthur wrote to her parent’s that he would be a
“true loving husband”
and that he was immensely happy to
“behold the face of his lovely bride”
Unfortunately the two couldn’t communicate because they had mastered different Latin pronunciations :).
They were married on 14 November 1501 in Old St. Paul’s Cathedral. Catherine wore a white satin wedding dress embroidered with pearls and gold threads and a white silk veil that fell to her waist with a border of gold, pearls and gemstones. She wore her hair loose as a sign of virginity. After that there was a wedding banquet at Baynards Castle with a wine fountain and all kinds of entertainment.
And at the end of the night of course the wedding night…which took place at Lambeth Palace.
Nowadays what happens in the bedroom is (supposed to be) private, but in their time the sex life of royals was considered state business. So they had a public bedding where almost everyone in the court went to see how the undressed prince and princess went to sleep in bed together. The priests had sprinkled the bed with holy water and prayed for them to have a fruitful marriage. There were violins and tabors playing to set the mood. They really weren’t subtle.
What happened during the night is long debated. At the time people just assumed that the couple had done their duty and that they had intercourse.Their was no reason to assume anything otherwise. They were married: both parents and the church had made it clear that not only was it ok to have sex with each other it was their duty because England needed a male heir ASAP. The herald assumed they did because he said
‘And thus these worthy persons concluded and consummated the effect and complement of matrimony.’
Also the prince himself said some interesting things that makes it likely that they had a normal wedding night despite their young age. He said on his wedding day that he felt “lusty and amorous.” He was said to have bragged about his wedding night the morning after to his mate Sir Anthony Willoughby. He said to Willoughby:
‘Willoughby‘, ‘bring me a cup of ale for I have been this night in the midst of Spain’.
And later he said openly and in presence of Catherine of Aragon:
‘Masters, it is good pastime to have a wife’.
He also went back to St Paul’s to give thanks to God
‘that so prosperously His goodness had suffered everything of this laudable [marriage] to be brought to its most laudable conclusion.
After even more festivities Prince Arthur and Catherine were send to Wales where Arthur was going to be the new ruler.
They set up their court in Ludlow Castle.
Unfortunately their marriage would be over after only half a year, because Prince Arthur of Wales unexpectedly died exactly 514 years ago on 2 April 1502.
Have a nice weekend every one, Hilde