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Catherine of Aragon


Born: 16 December 1485
Died: 7 January 1536 (Natural causes)
Birthplace: Alcala de Henares, Spain
Best known as:

First wife of Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon was the first of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. As a child she was betrothed to Henry's older brother, Prince Arthur; they were married in 1501 but Arthur died six months later. Catherine subsequently married Henry on 11 June 1509. She was pregnant by him at least six times but only one of the children, Mary, survived. Desiring a male heir, Henry used his political power and, with the assistance of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, had his marriage to Catherine annulled in 1533. Henry then married Anne Boleyn. The act of divorce proved highly significant: it caused Henry to break with the pope and thereby led to the English Reformation. After the divorce, Catherine was not executed (as were some of Henry's later wives) but was expelled from court and died two years later at Kimbolton Castle. Her only surviving child became Mary Tudor, also known as Bloody Mary, who reigned from 1553-1558.

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