Little Katherine of England was born on the early morning of 25 November 1253 at Westminster Palace as the fifth child of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence. Though she was described as beautiful, something was obviously wrong with her. Diseases like this were not understood at the time and could not be positively identified, and she was either ‘mentally challenged’, ‘deaf-mute’, or had a ‘degenerative disease’. Either way, her parents probably realised she would not live a long and happy life. They adored her anyway. A massive banquet was held to celebrate to which all of the nobility was invited.
Though they loved her, her disease meant that she would never be able to marry and she was never betrothed to anyone. Little Katherine stayed at Windsor Castle with her governess and wet nurses. She was certainly treated like a Princess as an order for ‘gold clothes, with borders embroidered with the King’s coat-of-arms’ survives.
By the autumn of 1254, Katherine was seriously ill, and she went to her governess’ house where a goat was captured for her amusement. Katherine’s condition improved, but by 1257 she fell seriously ill again, and she was urgently removed to Windsor Castle, where she died on 2 May.
Her caretakers were taken care off with a good sum of money and Katherine was given a magnificent funeral at Westminster Abbey. Her parents would not have any further children.