On April 21st 1509 Henry VII left this life at the age of 57 and was succeeded by his 17 year old son and namesake.
Although young Henry already at his brother Arthur´s death had been betrothed to the young widow, the wedding had been stalled several times, not least as his father was dissatisfied with Spain for not having paid the dowry in full.
Some year followed when Catherine lived in a kind of limbo as her father wasn´t particularly interested in getting her back home and Henry wasn´t particularly interested in letting the remaining son marry her, or par the allowance she was entitled tot as a dowager princess. For a while Henry VII is said to have contemplated rectifying his widower status by marrying Catherine himself, but nothing ever came of it. The planned wedding between Catherine and the young prince also became of lesser interest to Henry VII when Isabel of Castille suddenly died, as that meant that king Ferdinand was no longer king over a united Spain, but only over Aragon, an ally of a much lesser importance.
It is said that Catherine during these years lived in penury, but here the word is used in the widest of meanings. No doubt she had to make do with less than she was used to, but compared to the very poorest in the English society, I dare say that she still was doing quite well. The general tenants had no jewels to sell when times got hard.
But enough about that, I won´t get on a high horse towards Catherine, she did have to fight over time. But back to the spring of 1509 when a handsome and headstrong teenager had become king. A dispensation had been applied for from the Pope due to affinity, as they according to the laws of the time basically had become siblings when Catherine married Arthur. The dispensation was granted on the assumption that the previous never had been consummated, something which would be the focus of events 20 years later.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While Catherine’s first wedding took place amid great pomp and ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral, she was married to England’s new, but as yet uncrowned king in a small private ceremony in Greenwich Palace, on this day June 11th, 1509. Catherine was 23 years old and Henry would be 18 only weeks later.
According to reports to Spain from the country’s ambassador in England the formal ceremony read as following;
“Most brilliant Prince, it is your will to fulfill Treaty marriage entered into by your father , the late King of England, and the parents of the Princess of Wales * , the king and queen of Spain , and the Pope has granted this marriage to take the princess who is here today to your legal wife?
The king replied: Yes .
Most famous Princess … (same text adapted for Catherine )
The Princess replied Yes. “
Two weeks later, on Midsummer´s Day, June 24, Henry and Catherine was crowned at Westminster Abbey. They traveled in the procession from the Tower of London, where all aspiring monarchs spent the night before their coronation, through a decorated and celebrating London to Whitehall Palace, from where they went on foot to the Cathedral, where the ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham with 28 other bishops present. Historian David Starkey writes that there was magic in the air that day. Fires burned in the city and both Catherine and Henry was magnificent in their adorned coronation robes. During the ceremony, which lasted for hours, Catherine was placed on a chair that was lower than Henry’s. Henry’s coronation chair is still on display at Westminster Abbey (see picture).
After the ceremonials, it was time for the festivities. A banquet which lasted for days was held in Westminster Hall, followed by the tournaments and celebrations for two days. There was hope in the air, a new king and queen were crowned and everything was going to start anew.
Henry – David Starkey
The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Alison Weir