Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII

Article excerpt

Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII. By Giles Tremlett (New York: Walker & Company, 2010, Pp. xiii, 428. $28.00.)

Both in books and in courses Catherine of Aragon is past over-or overwhelmed-by the dominance of her husband's, Henry VIII, personality and place in history. She is either a victim or an obstacle to resolving the king's problem, the absence of a male heir. Catherine was born in 1485 in Madrid to the first Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella; a deep religious faith and piety was instilled in Catherine during her childhood and remained a constant factor in her life through her death in 1536. Catherine became an instrument in Spanish and English marriage diplomacy during the late 1490s as both new dynasties strove to legitimize themselves through marriages with other royal families. After extended negotiations the marriage of Catherine to Arthur, the eldest son and heir to Henry VII was arranged; they were married in 1501 but the marriage was short-lived. Arthur died five months after the wedding leaving Catherine in a rather precarious position. During this brief marriage, some at court speculated if the marriage had been consummated; Catherine remained quiet on the matter but some argued that Arthur was weak and not capable of sexual intercourse-others advanced the notion that his early death was due to exhaustion brought on by excessive sexual activities. Ferdinand and Henry VII were eager to sustain the "alliance" and agreed that Henry VII's new heir, Henry, would marry Catherine. That wedding occurred in 1509 shortly after Henry VII died. Tremlett argues that during the first decade of the marriage Catherine and Henry VIII were genuinely happy together and Catherine earned the admiration and support of the English people. Of her six pregnancies, only Mary-born in 1516-survived infancy. When Henry was in France fighting a war, he entrusted the defense of England to Catherine; she succeeded in leading the English forces in repelling an invasion of the Scots. …

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