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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Early Life of Henry VIII and His First Wife Catherine

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The Tudor Dynasty

Henry VIII is the son of the famous Henry VII, the King that fought in the Wars of the Roses and managed to place himself upon the throne of England, thus ending the war and creating one single rose which represents the dynasty of the Tudors.

Henry VIII was the second son and the third child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. From a young age Henry was given a lot of titles, he was appointed Constable of Dover Castle, Lord Warden of Cinque Ports, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Warden of the Scottish Marches and Duke of York.

From a young age he was given the best education available from the current leading tutors. Henry was fluent in French and Latin. But the problem here is that not much of his early life it’s known because Henry wasn’t supposed to become king.

There was a long line in front of him and a slight chance that he would ever sit on the throne. From the six siblings of Henry, only three would survive. His brother was marrying Catherine of Aragon the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II and Isabella I.

Suddenly the mother of Henry, Elizabeth died in the year 1503. The sources are suggesting that he was devastated and heartbroken, there is an image showing how Henry mourns the loss of his mother. Henry could be seen wearing green clothing and crying on the bed.

Before the death of his mother, Arthur died in 1502 at the age of 15 from sweating sickness. His marriage to Catherine was only a couple of weeks old. His death made things complicated because everything fell upon Henry who was only 10 years old.
There was a debate among the council whether or not Henry should become the next king and a deal was struck. Henry was to be the next in line for the crown and he was proclaimed Duke of Cornwall in 1502 and Prince of Wales in 1503.
The problem was that Henry wasn’t educated to become a king, his father gave him few tasks, he wasn’t supposed to go out in public and as a result of this Henry would ascend the throne without the proper knowledge of how to rule.

Because the marriage between Arthur and Catherine was broken, Henry VII wanted to renew his alliance with Spain by offering a second marriage between Henry and Catherine, the widow of his brother.

There was a debate about this and Isabella agreed to the marriage and on 23 June 1503 a treaty was signed and they were betrothed two days later. But the mother of Catherine passed away and there was a problem within the kingdom of Spain – Catherine was in limbo and didn’t know what to do about the marriage or her family.

Henry VII died on 21 April 1509 and his successor Henry VIII was only 17 years old. His father was buried on 10 May and days after the burial Henry declared that he would marry Catherine, with a couple of issues about the papal dispensation and marriage portion.

Also, Henry accomplished the dying wish of his father which was about this marriage. Henry’s marriage was on 11 June 1509 in Greenwich. Their coronation was at the tower of London in Westminster Abbey, one day after their wedding. Here is an image of Eighteen-year-old Henry VIII:

Once Henry had the throne in his hands the first decision was to arrest two of his father’s ministers. They were charged with high treason and were executed in the year 1510.

He executed them because of some money laundering and corruption, which he then returned to the public to build an image for himself. He also made some changes with the House of York, who were potential claimants to the throne and could cause trouble in the near future. His father imprisoned a couple of them and some were executed.

His wife Catherine was pregnant and his first child was born on 31 January 1510 – it was a girl. In four months Catherine was pregnant again.

Soon their son Henry was born after their first child was lost. A lot of celebrations occurred and festivities held because the child was a boy. A two-day joust was held known as the 1511 Westminster Tournament, but a big tragedy occurred seven weeks after the child was born, resulting in the child’s death. Catherine would have two stillborn children until the birth of Mary.

In the meantime, it was known that Henry had a lot of mistresses. He had public affairs and everyone knew about them. He had a “good” marriage with Catherine and she didn’t protest about his affairs. She was pregnant again with another girl who was also stillborn.

This shows the life of Henry the VIII youth and his first marriage to Catherine.

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