Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, was born this day in 1485. In spite of being the wife displaced by Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon has her own notable place in history.
Catherine was the daughter of the Spanish Kings...Isabel of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon. When her parents united in marriage, they also united the Christian populations of Spain. Together, these two kings and their kingdoms ran the Moors out of Spain once and for all. While the merits of what they did can be disputed, there's no doubt that they were a formidable force. Having established the safety of their kingdom, they proceeded to fund the voyages of Christopher Columbus, establishing Spain as a world power in the New World. Catherine of Aragon grew up in this court. Warrior blood ran in her veins...but so also did the love of discovery and the appreciation of knowledge that had been well established by the Moors in Spain.
It was because of her royal blood lines that Henry VII first sought Catherine of Aragon as a bride for his son and heir, Arthur. When Arthur died, she was kept in virtual poverty while her parents and father-in-law used her as a pawn in international polictics. Henry VII, in an effort to keep Catherine's substantial dowry, arranged for Catherine to marry his second son, Henry. That marriage was delayed for more bickering over doweries and treaties, and of course a little problem with Canon Law, as in a widow couldn't marry her husband's brother. Catherine swore to the Pope that her marriage to Arthur had never been consumated, and she and Henry were granted their dispensation to marry. Even then it took until the Old Man's death before Henry would consent to take Catherine as his wife. The two were married and coronated in the same month, June of 1509. Read More about Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII.