Catherine of Aragon wedding (night)

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.

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Burchett, Richard; Preparatory Sketches of Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon; Parliamentary Art Collection.

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Portraits of Arthur Prince of Wales and Catherine of Aragon


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 :).

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St Paul’s cross


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St Paul’s Cross

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St Paul’s Cross


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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.

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This wedding dress is quite close to how Catherine’s wedding dress was described though Arthur would’ve dressed in white satin as well.


Tapestry portraying the wedding between Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur of Wales.

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Wedding between Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur of Wales

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Wedding between Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur of Wales


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Prince Arthur of Wales and Catherine of Aragon

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Catherine of Aragon married to Arthur of Wales


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Catherine of Aragon married to Arthur of Wales

And at the end of the night of course the wedding night…which took place at Lambeth Palace.

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Lampbeth 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.

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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.

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Tapestry showing Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon on their way to Wales.

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






7 thoughts on “Catherine of Aragon wedding (night)

  1. Hilde, how can we have a nice weekend when this is the anniversary of Prince Arthur of Wales death. Do you not know how different English history would have been if he had lived like he should have lived out his life? Henry the Eight would never have become King and he would have gone into the Church and because he was there, he would protect the Church and what happened with the Dissolution of the monasteries would never have happened because Prince Arthur, when he became King would never have sought to divorce Catherine of Aragon because he was in love with her. Even if she did not give him a son. |f they only had a daughter, Arthur would have made sure that the girl would succeed him but it would never enter Arthur’s head to divorce Catherine of Aragon. He would have been like Charles the Second, King of England who would not divorce Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, even though his ministers went on their hands and knees for him to do so. Charles the Second said how could he possibly be so cruel to so loving a wife. He was cruel enough to her already for he could not resist other women but to divorce her? Charles the Second could not even think of doing that to Catherine of Braganza and after that, do you know how much more Catherine of Braganza loved him. She worshipped the ground he walked on. Even though he was King and Catherine of Braganza knew that Kings had many mistresses, he was also her husband and it galled her to no end, especially Barbara Castlemaine. Horrible, horrible woman. She would have killed her own baby with her own hands if Charles the Second did not claim it as his own. Her husband was well rid of her. She was insane.


    • Aaw well I really hope you will have a nice weekend anyway Catalina :). I think you’re absolutely right that Henry changed England forever, but I more think of it as interesting to think what would have happened if Arthur hadn’t died. I think the weak link wasn’t actually Catherine even though she had a hard time getting pregnant and keeping the baby but I read that it’s possible that Arthur was impotent. If that’s true than Catherine wouldn’t have had a baby at all and there would not have been a queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth or a Prince Edward VI. I think England was always going to end up as one of the first countries to become protestant though simply because they could. It was much easier for England to against the wishes of the pope than for the French, the Spanish or the Germans on the continent. It’s easier to do that knowing there’s a sea to protect you. And who is to say what would have happened. Maybe Anne Boleyn would have seduced Prince Arthur instead and that wouldve really crushed Catherine’s heart. Some things are just impossible to know.


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  3. Pingback: Catherine of Aragon – childhood and betrothal to Arthur, prince of Wales | hemmahoshilde

  4. Ya, well, it would definitely have been horrible if Queen Mary the First had not been born. And I know what you mean about England going the Protestant way because it could. England was bad that way. Look at Henry the Second, King of England but there were enough English Catholics to keep the Catholic Church steady in England. It would not have been bad if Elizabeth had not been born and it would not have been bad if Edward the Sixth had not been born. Like I said before, Princess Mary Tudor should have wed with Charles the Fifth of England. He was the best match for her, even though they were first cousins. She would have had a child or more children with Charles and they would have died together. They both died in the same year. He died in September and she died in November of 1558. Queen Mary’s courtiers would not tell her that the Holy Roman Emperor had passed away.

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