Catherine of Aragon Facts

First Queen of Tudor King Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon. Imagno / Getty Images

Basic Facts:

Known for: first queen consort of Henry VIII; mother of Mary I of England; Catherine's refusal to be put aside for a new queen -- and the Pope's support of her position -- led to Henry's separating the Church of England from the Church of Rome
Occupation: queen consort of Henry VIII of England
Born: December 16, 1485 in Madrid
Died: January 7, 1536 at Kimbolton Castle.  She was buried in Peterborough Abbey (later became known as Peterborough Cathedral) on January 29, 1536.

 Neither her former husband, Henry VIII, nor her daughter, Mary, attended the funeral.
Queen of England: from June 11, 1509
Coronation: June 24, 1509

Catherine of Aragon Biography:

More Basic Facts:

Also known as: Katherine, Katharine, Katherina, Katharina, Kateryn, Catalina, Infanta Catalina de Aragón y Castilla, Infanta Catalina de Trastámara y Trastámara, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Countess of Chester, Queen of England, Dowager Princess of Wales

Background, Family of Catherine of Aragon:

Both of Catherine's parents were part of the Trastámara dynasty.

  • Mother: Isabella I of Castile (1451 - 1504)
  • Father: Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452 - 1516)
  • Maternal grandmother: Isabella of Portugal (1428 - 1496)
  • Maternal grandfather: John (Juan) of Castile (1405 - 1454)
  • Paternal grandmother: Juana Enriquez, a member of the Castilian nobility (1425 - 1468), second wife of Juan II, and a great-great granddaughter of Alfonso XI of Castile
  • Paternal grandfather: John (Juan) II of Aragon, also known as Juan the Great and Juan the Faithless (1398 - 1479)
  • Siblings:
    • Isabella, Queen of Portugal (1470 - 1498; married to Afonso, Prince of Portugal, then Manuel I of Portugal)
    • John, Prince of Asturias (1478 - 1497; married to Margaret of Austria)
    • Joanna of Castile (Juana the Mad) (1479 - 1555; married to Philip, Duke of Burgundy, later titled Philip I of Castile; six children included Holy Roman Emperors Charles V and Ferdinand I; Charles V played a key role in the struggle over Catherine's annulment and Charles' son, Philip II of Spain, eventually married Catherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary I)
    • Maria, Queen of Portugal (1482 - 1517; married to Manuel I of Portugal, widower of her sister Isabella; her daughter Isabella married Joanna's son Charles V and was mother of Philip II of Spain, who married four times, including Catherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary I)
    • Catherine of Aragon (1485 - 1536) was the youngest of the siblings

    Marriage, Children:

    • husband: Arthur, Prince of Wales (betrothed in 1489, married 1501; Arthur died 1502)
      • no children; Catherine asserted consistently at the end of her marriage that the marriage had not been consummated
    • husband: Henry VIII of England (married 1509; annulled by Church of England in 1533, with Archbishop Cranmer approving the nullification of the marriage)
      • children: Catherine was pregnant six times during her marriage to Henry VIII:
        • January 31, 1510: daughter, stillborn
        • January 1, 1511: son, Henry, lived 52 days
        • September or October 1513: son, stillborn
        • November 1514 - February 1515: son, Henry, stillborn or died shortly after birth
        • February 18, 1516: daughter, Mary, the only one of her children to survive infancy. She ruled as Mary I.
        • November 9-10, 1518: daughter, stillborn or died shortly after birth

    Physical Description

    Often in fiction or depictions of history, Catherine of Aragon is depicted with dark hair and brown eyes, presumably because she was Spanish. But in life, Catherine of Aragon had red hair and blue eyes.

    Ambassador

    After Arthur's death and before her marriage to Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon served as ambassador to the English court, representing the Spanish court, thereby becoming the first women to be a European ambassador.

    Regent

    Catherine of Aragon served as regent for her husband, Henry VIII, for six months when he was in France in 1513.  During that time, the English won the Battle of Flodden, with Catherine taking an active role in the planning.

    About Catherine of Aragon: Catherine of Aragon Facts | Early Life and First Marriage | Marriage to Henry VIII | The King's Great Matter | Catherine of Aragon Books | Mary I | Anne Boleyn | Women in the Tudor Dynasty