With the premiere of The Spanish Princess later tonight, we take a look at the real royalty behind the drama.
Catherine of Aragon
The Spanish Princess‘ titular character is, of course, Catherine of Aragon. Born in 1485 as the youngest daughter of the Catholic Monarchs; Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon. By the spring of 1489, negotiations for Catherine’s marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales, were underway. The formal betrothal between Catherine and Arthur finally took place at Woodstock Palace on 15 August 1497. On 19 May 1499, they were married by proxy at Tickenhill Manor. From that moment on, Catherine was known as the Princess of Wales and she had not even left Spain yet. On 21 May 1501, Catherine left Spain for good. She never saw her parents again. On 14 November 1501, Catherine and Arthur married in person. Later that day, the bedding ceremony would follow and it would become the most famous bedding ceremony in history. If only she had known what was to come. At the end of the year, Catherine and Arthur travelled to Ludlow Castle but by the end of March, both had fallen ill. On the evening of 2 April 1502, Catherine was still ill in bed as her young husband succumbed to the disease. As the years went on, Catherine found herself in a dire state. She had little funds and was not supported by King Henry VII. She wrote to her father asking for help, but he neglected her. It wasn’t until the death of Henry VII in 1509, that things finally would change for Catherine. She would now, at last, fulfil her destiny and become Queen of England. Read more about her here.
Arthur, Prince of Wales
Catherine’s first husband was Arthur, Prince of Wales, who was born in 1486 as the son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. He was considered to be unusually tall for his age and was considered to be handsome. He exchanged letters with his future bride in Latin until 1501 when they were deemed old enough to be married. After their marriage, they moved to the Welsh Marches, where both Arthur and Catherine fell ill. Tragically, the 15-year-old Arthur died while Catherine survived.
Lady Margaret Beaufort was born on 31 May 1443 at Bletso as the daughter of Margaret Beauchamp and John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset. On 1 November 1455, Margaret – just 12 years old – married 24-year-old Edmund Tudor, a half-brother of King Henry VI. The marriage was consummated straight away, despite contemporaries commenting that Margaret was of small stature and underdeveloped. She fell pregnant in early 1456, but Edmund never lived to see the birth of his child. He died on 1 November 1456 of the plague. On 28 January 1457, still only 13 years old, Margaret gave birth to her only child, a son. He was the future King Henry VII. Read more about her here.
Margaret Pole – “Maggie”
Margaret was born in 1473 as the daughter of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, and his wife Isabel Neville. George was a younger brother of King Edward IV, the father of Elizabeth of York, making Margaret and Elizabeth first cousins. George was executed for treason but Margaret’s brother Edward, the Earl of Warwick, remained a potential heir to the throne. After years of imprisonment, he was executed for treason. Long before that, Margaret was given in marriage to King Henry VII’s cousin, Sir Richard Pole, whose mother was a half-sister of the king’s mother, Margaret Beaufort. When Arthur, Prince of Wales married Catherine of Aragon, Margaret became one of her ladies-in-waiting but her household was dissolved when Arthur died. She returned to her post when King Henry VIII married Catherine in 1509.
Henry, Prince of Wales – “Harry”
Henry was born in 1491 as the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. He grew up in the shadow of his elder brother Arthur until Arthur’s untimely death in 1502. At the time, Henry was just 10 years old. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1503. He remained out of the public under strict supervision. He was initially betrothed to Catherine in 1503 but he rejected her at the age of 14. They did not marry until 1509 after Henry became King.
Margaret was born on 28 November 1489 as the daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. She was thus the sister of both Arthur and Henry. Margaret was still only a child when she was offered in marriage to the 25-year-old King James IV of Scotland. Her father did not want the wedding to take place right away, and it wasn’t until 1500 that the necessary papal dispensation was obtained, because they were related. The marriage treaty was finally signed on 24 January 1502 and the proxy wedding took place the following day at Richmond Palace. The 12-year-old Margaret was now Queen of Scots. She was supposed to leave for Scotland before 1 September 1503, and Margaret suffered the loss of two family members before she left. Her brother Arthur died on 2 April 1502 and her mother died following childbirth in February 1503. She finally left for Scotland in June 1503. Read more about her here.
King Henry VII
King Henry VII was born in 1457 as the only child of Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond. His claim to the English throne was through his mother who was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III. Through his father, he was a descendant of Charles VI of France. Considered a threat to the throne, he was exiled several times and mostly grew up in France with his uncle Jasper. He conquered the throne in 1485 from King Richard III and married Richard’s niece, Elizabeth of York to unite their houses.
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York was born in 1466 as the eldest daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward IV of England. Her life changed forever upon the early death of her father in 1483. Her brother succeeded as King Edward V but the York children were declared illegitimate and Edward V and his younger brother Richard were put in the Tower from which they never emerged. With her uncle Richard now on the throne, Elizabeth slowly made her way back to court but she and her sisters remained illegitimate. She was betrothed to Henry Tudor who seized the throne in 1485 and they married in early 1486 – uniting their two Houses. She gave birth to birth to eight children – of which four (Arthur, Henry, Margaret and Mary) survived. Elizabeth died in 1503, shortly after giving birth to a daughter named Katherine. Read more about her here.
Isabella was born in 1451 as the daughter of John II, King of Castile and his second wife Isabella of Portugal. Her elder half-brother was Henry IV of Castile and she also had a younger brother named Alfonso. Henry’s marriage to Joan of Portugal had produced a daughter but her paternity was doubted. Isabella became her brother’s heiress presumptive and she married the future King Ferdinand II of Aragon. She became Queen Regnant of Castile in 1474. She and Ferdinand had seven children together, of which five survived to adulthood. Catherine was their youngest child while their second daughter Joanna eventually succeeded as Queen of Castile after the tragic deaths of their only son Alfonso, their eldest daughter Isabella in childbirth and their grandson Miguel in infancy. Isabella died in 1504. Read more about her here.
King Philip I of Castile
The future King Philip I of Castile was born in 1478 as the son of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I by his first wife Mary of Burgundy. He became the husband of Joanna of Castile in 1496 and became King by right of his wife when she succeeded her mother in 1504. He died in 1506 at the age of 28.
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