On January 7, 1536, Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII of England died at Kimbolton Castle. She was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. At the age of three, Catherine was betrothed to Prince Arthur, heir to the English throne, and they married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later. Catherine subsequently married Arthur's younger brother, the recently-succeeded Henry VIII, in 1509. By 1525 Henry was infatuated with his mistress Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future MaryI, as heiress presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. He sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England's break with the Roman Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgment of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and considered herself the King's rightful wife and Queen, attracting much popular sympathy. Despite this, she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on January 7, 1536. Catherine's English subjects held her in high esteem, thus her death set off tremendous mourning among the English people. She was interred at Petersborough Cathedral.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Royal Tombs: A Guide to the Lives and Burial Places of British Monarchs. The book can be purchased from Amazon at the following links:
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