Katy and Arthur…did they or didn’t they?
Arthur looking about 46, but actually aged 15.
The very beautiful Katherine of Aragon
So today is the 514th wedding anniversary of Prince Arthur Tudor (the son of Henry VII and Catherine of York), and Katherine of Aragon. The wedding took place at St Paul’s Cathedral after Henry VII had gone all bridezilla and planned the festivities to the point of perfection. Katherine had been betrothed to Arthur since being 3 years old, so anticipations for the day were high.
Henry was super exited about the union of his son and the Spanish Princess. It mean an alliance with Spain and a fuck-tonne of cash for his treasury. Katherine brought with her a massive dowry and the security of a future baby for the Tudor dynasty. Katherine was the daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabelle I of Castile. Ferdinand had made Henry promise that she would be treated as his daughter, never neglected and always shown the utmost respect. Henry had asked in return that Katherine did not show up with a gang of mingers as her ladies in waiting.
Katherine arrived in England after a ridiculous 3 months at sea to be greeted with masses of affection and a shit load of gifts. The public loved her, (after all this would hopefully mark the next generation of security for the throne and after the Wars of the Roses a few years previously, this is what the public craved). Its fair to say that the whole country celebrated the arrival of the beautiful Spanish princess and could not wait until the wedding.
The wedding itself was a grand affair: Henry VII had arranged street pageants and celebrations for the public to get involved with. He had even arranged a fountain outside the Cathedral which flowed with wine in order to keep the public in high spirits, (though this turned out to be a fucking nightmare, as the treasury refused to foot the bill, so it had to come out of Henry’s own pocket. Since everyone in Tudor times liked a drink it cost a small fortune).
The Cathedral itself was draped with rich scarlet fabrics and the best tapestries that money could buy. The wedding itself took pace on a raised platform and was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury whilst a chorus of trumpets sounded to announce the couples joyous day, (though probably not as the service took place as I image that to be quite distracting…not that many people would understand it anyway, what with it all being in Latin).
To make sure the day went well, Henry had enlisted the service of a holy gang: 19 English bishops and abbots (you never can have enough), to the 1 token member of the Spanish clergy there to represent Katherine. Good effort Henry. One weird thing was that the 16 year old Katherine was escorted to the alter by her soon to be brother-in-law, the most ostentatious ten year old in the country, The prince Henry Tudor.
Henry VIII as a young boy looking like a knob. Power and money aside, how did he manage to bag the ladies? seriously, how?! There are no words for this painting.
After the ceremony the couple retreated to a banquet and that good old favourite Tudor past time of consuming so much meat and ale that their liver turned into a type of human foie grais. The festivities continued late into the night: both at the palace and in the streets. There was dancing, drinking and the odd pageant. The couple were said to be truly into each other (to be fair even if you wasn’t, you would do a good job of pretending, especially when your new father in law had a reputation as a bit of a badass and was partial to a bit of the old head removal).
After the celebrations the couple were then sent to bed. Katherine’s ladies got her ready and prepared the new bride for what was about to come next, (to be honest what they were to prepare her for was a rather sickly 15 year old boy, so they were probably telling her not to get her hopes too high). Arthur was sent into the room and the newly weds were left alone.This was a night that would later come back to be proper pain in the arse for Katherine later in her life.
The following April the young prince Arthur died, possibly of something like sweating sickness or TB, but this meant that Katherine was widowed only a few months into her marriage. This left a problem for Henry VII, as he needed to keep her dowry and if Katherine went back to Spain he would have to give it back to Ferdinand. After a few years, Katherine had become as good as prisoner in the Tudor household. She was kept in squalor and treated badly. In order to keep her about the place, Henry decided to marry her off to his younger son, Henry, (he had contemplated marrying her himself after the death of his wife…how grim is that?!).
I like to think this was a Tudor time equivalent to a tarot reading, predicting Katherines second marriage to an over excitable, ginger animal.
Contrary to what you may think, Henry and Katherine were very much in love in the early days and were a couple not to fuck with. Henry would pop off for a war and Katherine would stay at home and rule the country. However, after 24 years and a distinct lack of sons Henry’s eyes began to wander. That’s when he met Anne Boylen.
Now this bitch was all up in Katherine grill, stealing her man and making a right mug out of her, so much so that Henry sought after a divorce. What does this have to do with Katherine’s marriage to Arthur? I hear you ask… well remember I said their wedding night would play an important part in Katherine’s future? This is where that comes in.
Henry had found a bit in the bible which stated something along the lines of ‘if you marry your brothers wife, bad shit will happen and you will encounter a fuck load of bad luck’. Henry used this to suggest that was the reason that the couple had never had a son and a load of children that had died in infancy. This was his grounds for divorce. Katherine countered it by saying that she had never consummated her marriage to Arthur so it was never actually ‘a marriage’ in the first place and therefore Henry was talking a load of old bollocks (just for a change).
Whether Katherine and Arthur did actually ‘hop on the good foot to do the bad thing’ we will never know. You can find evidence to suggest either, for instance Katherine was devout catholic and would never have lied in case she pissed off God and lost her place in line at the pearly gates. It was also common that Tudor youngsters, such as Katherine and Arthur on the night of their wedding, were dissuaded from shagging as it was feared that it lead to ill health, (so much so that Katherine was nearly kept in England as Arthur was sent to Ludlow in Wales, for fear of them having sexy fun times). In the other camp however, Arthur was noted to have come from the bedroom in the morning with a real thirst because he has ‘been in the midst of Spain’, which in itself makes me thing of a boasting teenager and also makes me want to vom. To be fair in a time where sexual education was either a quick chat 30 second prior to it happening, or rape, anything could’ve happened. My thinking is that if Katherine was as beautiful as records say, she could’ve done something as simple as brush her nightgown accidentally on his leg and he would’ve gone off like a firework…but who knows?
It didn’t matter either way though, because Henry took it upon himself to make himself the head of the church and therefore divorce Katherine regardless, (apparently the new religion was for the good of the people and definitely not because Henry was a fucking idiot with a wandering cock). So, I will leave you pondering whether 514 years ago, at maybe even this exact moment, the young prince Arthur was getting his end wet or not.
Happy anniversary to Katherine and Henry
Nobody actually knows if Katherine and Arthur consummated their marriage.