On this day in 1503 Prince Henry Tudor and Katherine of Aragon were formally betrothed

Following the premature death of her husband, Prince Arthur Tudor, Katherine of Aragon found herself widowed at the age of 17. Both King Henry VII and King Ferdinand of Aragon and his wife Queen Isabella of Castile were keen not to lose the alliance that was formed between England and Spain. Therefore on 10th May 1502 negotiations began for the new heir to the English throne, Prince Henry, to be married to his brother’s widow.

Dr De Puebla was nominated by the Spanish to be their ambassador and representative during the negotiations. De Puebla began meeting daily with the English council to work out an agreement that would benefit both countries.

On 23rd June 1503 a treaty was signed between the two nations and a formal betrothal took place two days later on 25th June 1503.

It was agreed that the newly betrothed couple would marry before Henry’s 15th birthday on 28th June 1506. This allowed enough time for a Papal dispensation to be obtained by both England and Spain. The dispensation allowed the marriage to proceed despite the fact that Katherine had been married to Henry’s brother. It also covered Katherine if the first marriage had been consummated, something that Katherine denied for her whole life and in court when Henry began proceedings to annul his marriage on the moral and religious grounds that by marrying his brother’s wife he was breaking the word of the bible.

With the death of Queen Isabella in November 1504, King Henry VII saw his son’s match with Katherine as weakened as without Castile Katherine’s inheritance significantly weakened. With this King Henry VII began to encourage his son to abandon the match.

On 27th June 1505, the day before the intended wedding day and Prince Henry’s birthday Henry declared that he no longer wished to marry Katherine and with this the betrothal was broken.

Katherine was left uncertain of her future. Henry VII was unwilling to allow her to return to Spain as it would mean that he would have to return her dowry from her marriage to Arthur. This was another reason why Henry persuaded his son to not go through with the marriage as King Ferdinand had only fulfilled half of the dowry and was stalling on paying the rest.

With no money or allowance from the King, Katherine was forced to live in poverty and had to resort to selling her personal belongings to survive along with her maids. By reducing her income Henry VII was hoping to force Ferdinand into paying the second half of the dowry owed when Ferdinand heard the conditions Katherine was living in. However, this never came to happen.

Miserable and suffering ill health Katherine wrote to her father asking that she returned to Spain and entered into a nunnery. Instead Ferdinand granted Katherine the position of Spanish Ambassador to the English court.

Katherine would eventually marry Prince Henry but waited until 1509 when King Henry VII died. You can read about Katherine and Henry’s wedding here https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/on-this-day-in-1509-king-henry-viii-married-katherine-of-aragon/

Katherine of AragonKatherine of Aragon

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