1485 (16th December)
Catherine of Aragon was born at Alcala de Henares in Spain the youngest daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile
1489 (26th March)
The Treaty of Medina del Campo – this treaty of mutual agreement between England and Spain was to be sealed by the marriage of Catherine to Arthur
, eldest son of Henry VII
1497 (18th July)
An amendment to the Treaty of Medina del Campo laid out the details of the marriage between Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur of England which would go ahead when Catherine reached the age of 14 years. Her dowry of 200,000 crowns would be paid in instalments – half when the marriage took place and the remainder after the first year of marriage.
1497 (25th August)
Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur of England were formally betrothed by proxy. The Spanish ambassador, de Puebla stood proxy for Catherine.
1499 (19th May)
Catherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur of England were formally married by proxy at Tickenhill Manor, Bewdley, near Worcester, England. The Spanish ambassador, de Puebla once again stood proxy for Catherine.
Work began on the construction of a platform inside St Paul’s cathedral so that the couple could be witnessed taking their vows by the people of London.
1501 (21st May)
Catherine of Aragon left her home at the Alhambra in Granada for the port of Corunna where she would board a boat to England
1501 (20th July)
Catherine reached the port of Corunna in Northern Spain from where she would begin her journey by sea to England. However, she was unable to depart due to unfavourable winds.
1501 (17th August)
A change in the wind meant that Catherine was finally able to set sail for England.
1501 (21st August
A storm in the Bay of Biscay which frightened Catherine to the point that she believed she would die, forced her to return to Laredo, near Bilbao, Spain. The ship carrying Catherine and her entourage was so battered that it had to be repaired before the journey could resume.
1501 (27th September)
Catherine set sail for England a second time leaving the port of Laredo near Bilbao
1501 (2nd October)
Catherine of Aragon and her entourage landed at Plymouth, Devon, England. She was welcomed by the people and escorted to Exeter by the noblemen of Devon and Cornwall.
1501 (16th October)
Messengers from King Henry VII reached Exeter. They brought Catherine a message from the King welcoming her to England. Henry had also sent a delegation of nobles to escort Catherine to London.
1501 (4th November)
Catherine met Arthur for the first time. The young prince and his father, King Henry VII had ridden out from London to meet Catherine at Dogmersfield in Hampshire.
1501 (9th November)
Catherine finally reached Lambeth Palace, London where she was to rest until she formally entered the city.
1501 (12th November)
Catherine made her formal entry into London. Her journey began at St George’s Field, Southwark from where she processed to London Bridge. She was dressed in rich clothes in the Spanish style and warmly welcomed by the people of London. The streets were hung with tapestries and she was greeted along the way by pageants.
1501 (14th November)
Catherine of Aragon was married to Prince Arthur of England at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, England. Catherine was ‘given away’ by Prince Henry who escorted her up the aisle. The ceremony was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Deane, who was assisted by the Bishop of London, William Warham. She wore a white satin dress with a farthingale and over her head wore a veil of fine silk trimmed with gold and pearls. After the ceremony the couple celebrated mass at the high altar. A wedding banquet was held at the Bishop’s palace.
1501 (28th November)
Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain paid the first instalment of Catherine’s dowry, 100,000 gold crowns.
1501 (21st December)
The newly wed Catherine and Arthur left Baynard’s Castle in London to make the journey to Ludlow Castle in the Welsh Marches where, as Prince and Princess of Wales, they would make their own court.
1502 (late March)
Both Catherine and Arthur were struck down with a mystery illness.
1502 (2nd April)
Prince Arthur died of the mystery illness.
1502 (23rd April)
After a funeral service at the Parish church of Bewdley, Arthur was buried in the Abbey of St Wulfstan in Worcester. Catherine, did not attend the funeral because royal tradition dictated that wives did not attend their husband’s funeral. Catherine was also still confined to her bed with the same virus that had killed Arthur.
1502 (late April)
Catherine had recovered from her illness and began her journey back to London.
1502 (after April)
The artist, Michael Sittow, painted a portrait of Catherine as a young widow.
1502 (10th May)
Ferdinand and Isabella were anxious not to lose the English alliance and sent a new Spanish ambassador Estrada to initially insist on the return of Catherine’s dowry and when Henry VII refused, to suggest negotiating for a subsequent marriage to Prince Henry. Negotiations were delayed while the court waited to see if the young bride was pregnant. There was much confusion as to whether or not Catherine’s marriage to Arthur had been consummated and Catherine did not comment at all on the state of her virginity.
1503 (23rd June)
A new treaty was signed by England and Spain which provided for the marriage of Catherine of Aragon to Prince Henry. It was agreed that the couple would marry on Henry’s fifteenth birthday in 1506. Ratification of the treaty was subject to a papal dispensation being received allowing the marriage to go ahead.
Pope Julius II granted the dispensation allowing Catherine to marry Prince Henry of England.
Catherine was taken ill with a mystery illness which kept her confined to bed for much of the summer. She was subject to fits of fever and shivering and at times it was feared that she would die.
Isabella of Castile, Catherine’s mother, died. The death of Isabella lowered Catherine’s value as a bride and caused Henry to rethink marrying his son to Catherine.
Catherine had no income of her own and found it difficult to pay her servants. The Spanish ambassador, de Puebla wrote to her father, Ferdinand of Aragon asking his advice.
1505 (27th June)
On the day before he was originally scheduled to marry Catherine of Aragon, Prince Henry, on his father’s instruction, made secret but formal protest against marriage to his brother’s widow. The King wanted to delay the marriage as he hoped to find a better match for his son but at the same time he did not want to formally break off the engagement as he wanted to keep the first instalment of Catherine’s dowry which had been paid after her marriage to Arthur.
Catherine had been living at Durham house but due to her financial situation she was unable to pay her servants. When she complained of her situation, Henry VII ordered her to court.
1505 (24th November)
Catherine’s father, Ferdinand of Aragon, sent copies of the papal dispensation issued by Pope Julius in 1504 allowing the marriage of Catherine and Henry to go ahead. He hoped to persuade Henry to allow the marriage to go ahead.
Catherine’s sister, Juana and her husband Philip of Spain paid a visit to England. Catherine was provided with new clothes for the visit.
1506 (late April)
Henry VII stated publicly that the 1503 betrothal ceremony between Catherine and Prince Henry was invalid because prince Henry had been underage at the time. He stated that he would not enter any further discussions regarding a marriage between prince Henry and Catherine of Aragon until the remainder of her dowry was paid.
Catherine and Prince Henry spent time together and realised that they got on very well. When Henry VII discovered that the pair had been spending time together he sent Catherine to live at Fulham Palace where he said the air would be better for her health.
Henry VII wrote to Ferdinand demanding that he send the second part of Catherine’s dowry to England within six months.
Ferdinand of Aragon appointed Catherine as Spanish Ambassador. She was the first woman to hold the title of Ambassador in Europe. Ferdinand also sent her 2,000 ducats, which helped her situation a little though she was still short of money.
Ferdinand of Aragon had not sent the second part of Catherine’s dowry and so Henry VII was forced to extend the deadline for the payment of Catherine’s dowry to March 1508.
Henry was angry that Ferdinand had still not sent the second part of Catherine’s and broke off Catherine’s allowance leaving her with no income. The Spanish ambassador, Fuensalida wrote to Ferdinand asking him to send a ship to the Thames so that he and Catherine could return to Spain.
Catherine’s financial situation was now worse than ever, not only did she have no money with which to pay her servants, she now had nothing left to pawn.
1509 (21st April)
After a long illness, King Henry VII, aged fifty-two years, died from tuberculosis at Richmond palace, Surrey.
1509 (early June)
Catherine was visited in her private chambers by the new King Henry VIII. He proposed to her and she accepted.
1509 (11th June)
Catherine of Aragon married King Henry VIII in the church of Greenwich Palace. The service was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham.
1509 (24th June)
Henry was crowned King Henry VIII and Catherine was crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey. The coronation service was conducted by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. After the ceremony a coronation banquet was held at Westminster Hall. The streets of London were decorated with tapestries and cloth of gold and food and drink were set out on trestle tables for the people.
Catherine of Aragon announced that she was pregnant.
1510 (31st January)
Catherine was prematurely delivered of a stillborn daughter. Miscarriage and stillbirth were a common occurrence in the sixteenth century.
Catherine announced a second pregnancy
1511 (1st January)
A son, Henry, was born to Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Guns were fired from the Tower of London and the city bells were rung. Beacons were lit to announce the royal birth to the country.
1511 (6th January)
Prince Henry was christened at Richmond. His godparents were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Earl of Surrey and the Countess of Devon.
1511 (22nd February)
Prince Henry died at Richmond Palace. Both King and Queen were deeply upset. The infant prince was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Catherine accompanied Henry on a progress of England. A progress was a form of working holiday where the monarch would visit different regions of his land staying with noblemen.
1513 (15th June)
Catherine accompanied Henry and his army of around 11,000 men to Dover where they would make the crossing to France.
1513 (30th June)
Catherine said goodbye to Henry and he set sail from Dover bound for Calais. He appointed Catherine, who was pregnant again, to act as regent in his absence. She was given the titles Captain-General of the Home forces and Governor of the Realm.
1513 (9th September)
The English defeated the Scots at the Battle of Flodden Field. Catherine ordered that the bloodied coat of James IV be sent to Henry in France.
1513 (17th September)
Catherine went into labour prematurely and was delivered of a son that died soon after birth.
Catherine announced that she was pregnant again.
1515 (8th January)
Catherine of Aragon was delivered of a stillborn son.
Catherine of Aragon announced her fifth pregnancy.
1516 (23rd January)
Catherine’s father, Ferdinand of Aragon died
1516 (18th February)
Queen Catherine gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 4am at Greenwich Palace. The child was named Mary. Although the birth was celebrated there was disappointment that the baby was not a boy.
1516 (21st February)
was christened in the Chapel of Observant Friars, Greenwich.
Catherine announced her sixth pregnancy.
Queen Catherine visited Merton College, Oxford. The visit was combined with a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Frideswide.
1518 (5th October)
Princess Mary aged two years was formally betrothed to Henri, the Dauphin of France.
1518 (10th November)
Catherine of Aragon was delivered of a daughter but she was weak and died within days.
Catherine was upset and hurt when she learnt that Henry’s former mistress, Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount
had given birth to a baby boy. Henry recognised the child as his own and he was named Henry Fitzroy
1519 (late Summer)
Catherine began to withdraw from court life. It is thought that the number of pregnancies and stillbirths had affected her health. She may have also been suffering from depression.
1520 (11th – 22nd June)
Field of the Cloth of Gold
Catherine accompanied Henry to this summit meeting between Henry and Francis I of France held in the no man’s land between English Guisnes and French Ardres
Mary Boleyn became King Henry’s mistress
1522 (19th June)
Princess Mary and Charles V were formally betrothed in the presence of the English court.
Henry stopped having sexual relations with Catherine. He was beginning to doubt the validity of his marriage.
1525 (late June)
Charles V formally renounced his betrothal to Mary stating his intention to marry Isabella of Portugal.
Princess Mary was sent to Ludlow to establish her own court in the Welsh marches. Catherine was upset that her daughter was to be sent away from London.
Princess Mary returned to London to celebrate Christmas with her parents.
Princess Mary returned to Ludlow.
1527 (early March)
The Bishop of Tarbes, in England to negotiate a French marriage for Princess Mary, questioned the validity of Henry’s marriage, having married his brother’s widow, and the legitimacy of Princess Mary.
Henry was becoming increasingly concerned about his marriage. In particular he was concerned by a passage in Leviticus that warns of the consequences which would be inflicted by God on anyone marrying his brother’s widow. Henry reasoned that the consequences in his case were a lack of a male heir. He decided that he had to divorce Catherine.
1527 (22nd June)
Henry told Catherine that they must separate because they had been living in sin. He asked for her cooperation and said that she could choose a house to retire to until the matter was resolved. Catherine was very upset and told Henry that her marriage to him was lawful and that she would resist any move to have the marriage annulled.
Catherine managed to get a letter out of the country to her nephew, Charles V, telling him of her situation in England. She asked Charles to speak to Henry on her behalf and also to persuade the Pope to make sure that the case was tried in Rome.
It became common knowledge that the King had set Catherine aside for Anne Boleyn
and this was not well received. Anne Boleyn was booed and jeered whenever she appeared in the streets.
Catherine of Aragon was very popular with the population and whenever she was seen she was greeted with cries of “victory over your enemies”.
Princess Mary returned to court because she was in poor health.
Wolsey met Catherine’s almoner, Robert Shorton. Shorton insisted that Catherine’s first marriage had not been consummated and stated that there were Papal bulls in Spain which allowed Catherine and Henry to marry despite any impediment. Wolsey told Shorton to impress upon Catherine that she should retire to a convent leaving Henry free to remarry.
1528 (29th September)
Cardinal Campeggio arrived in England from Rome. He had been sent to hep Wolsey try the King’s marriage.
1528 (early October)
Catherine chose her legal counsel – William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, Dr Henry Standish, Bishop of St Asaphs, Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London and John Clerk, Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Catherine announced that she had in her possession a copy of the dispensation issued by Julius II in 1504 that allowed her to marry Henry regardless of whether her marriage to Arthur had been consummated or not.
1528 (24th October)
Campeggio met Catherine and advised her to enter a convent and retire gracefully. However, Catherine made it clear that her first marriage had been unconsummated and that she intended to live and die a married woman.
1528 (late October)
Catherine stated that she would not accept the findings of Wolsey and Campeggio’s court and that she would only accept the findings of the Pope himself. Campeggio was annoyed that Catherine would not retire to a convent and felt that she was compromising the position of himself and the Pope since the case would necessitate questions of theology and the relationship of theologians and God.
1528 (late October)
Catherine was notified by letter that she was inciting the people to rebellion by riding out and that if she persisted in working against the King then she would be separated from both the King and her daughter, Mary.
Catherine was separated from princess Mary and kept in isolation. She continued to refuse to enter a convent.
1528 (late November)
Wolsey wrote to Catherine telling her that the copy of the Papal dispensation she had in her possession was useless since no court would recognise a copy. He told her that she had to send to Spain and have the original brought to England for the court to see. Catherine was worried that if the original was brought to England it would be destroyed.
Catherine lodged an appeal to Rome against the authority of the Legatine Court and the ability of Wolsey and Campeggio to try her marriage.
Henry asked Catherine to choose those she wished to represent her during the forthcoming trial. Although she still refused to acknowledge the authority of the legatine court she chose Archbishop Warham, Cuthbert Tunstall Bishop of Ely and St Asaph and her main suppporter, John Fisher Bishop of Rochester.
1529 (31st May)
Wolsey and Campeggio opened court at Blackfriars. Henry and Catherine were summoned to appear before the court on 18th June.
1529 (16th June)
Catherine made formal protest to Rome against the Legatine Court.
1529 (18th June)
Catherine was loudly applauded as she made her way to the Legatine Court. Once inside, she challenged that authority of the Court and the qualification of the two legates to hear the case. She stated her wish for the case to be heard in Rome, but this was denied. Both Catherine and Henry were told to reappear on 21st June.
1529 (21st June)
The Legatine court reassembled at Blackfriars. Henry spoke of his fears that his lack of male heir was evidence of God’s displeasure that he had married his brother’s widow. Catherine, in reply, made a very moving speech asserting the validity of her present marriage. She then walked over to Henry and knelt at his feet. She asked him to take pity on her as she was a foreigner. She also asked Henry to bear witness that she had been a virgin on their wedding night. Turning to the two legates she then stated that she did not recognise the authority of their court and asked for the case to be referred to Rome. When this was refused she turned and walked out of the court. Catherine was declared in contempt of court and a citation was made calling for her to return on 25th June.
1529 (25th June)
The legatine court reopened. Catherine did not appear and was declared in contempt of court. The trial continued in her absence.
1529 (28th June)
At the legatine court John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, spoke saying that in 1527 Henry had asked all bishops to voice their opinions on his marriage. The Bishop now stated that in his opinion the royal marriage was legal for he believed that the papal dispensation granted in 1503 had removed any impediments there might be to the marriage.
1529 (mid July)
Henry ordered the legates to visit Catherine and persuade her to submit to his wishes. Catherine was reluctant to receive them privately saying that they could speak freely in front of her women. Despite their persuasions she maintained her belief in the legitimacy of her marriage.
1529 (16th July)
Pope Clement VII decided to revoke the commission granted to Wolsey and Campeggio and refer the King’s divorce case to Rome.
1529 (23rd July)
The legatine court reassembled at Blackfriars. The court was packed as it was rumoured that a decision would be made. However, Campeggio merely announced that because of the large number of documents to be examined he would be unable to give judgement today. He went on to say that the court would now have to be adjourned until October because it was practice in Rome to break for the summer months. The court was shocked and the duke of Suffolk shouted “It was never merry in England while we had Cardinals among us.” Henry walked out of the court.
Henry was furious when he received a summons from Rome to appear before the papal curia. He was becoming aware that the Pope may never grant him a divorce. He realised that he needed to find another solution.
Thomas Cranmer told Henry that he believed the marriage should be tried by the Doctors of Divinity in the Universities for it was them that studied the Bible and were therefore better qualified to discuss its meaning. If the marriage were found to be invalid then all that would be necessary would be for the Archbishop of Canterbury to pronounce the King a free man.
A new Spanish ambassador, Eustache Chapuys arrived in England. Although he was committed to Catherine he quickly realised that there was little he could do since Henry was set on a divorce.
1529 (early December)
Catherine was ordered to leave Greenwich Palace and go to Richmond.
1529 (24th December)
Catherine was brought back to court for Christmas because there was a general sense of unease since she had been sent from court. However, Henry told Catherine that even if the Pope declared their marriage to be lawful he would shill have his divorce. He told her that the Church of Canterbury was more important than that of Rome and that if the Pope found against him he would declare the Pope a heretic and marry whomever he chose.
1529 (late December)
Catherine was sent back to Richmond.
Catherine wrote to her representative in Rome, Dr Pedro Ortiz and begged him to put pressure on the Pope to find her marriage lawful.
Catherine was taken ill again.
Catherine was present at court for the Twelfth Night celebrations and Henry sat at the same table with her.
1531 (5th January)
The Pope issued a brief which ordered Henry to separate from Anne Boleyn. The brief had been issued at Catherine’s request. When it was presented to him, Henry merely glanced at the paper and put it aside.
Henry visited Catherine on a regular basis hoping to persuade the people that he had been forced to set Catherine aside against his will.
1531 (31st May)
A deputation of Privy Councillors – Dr Stephen Gardiner, Rowland Lee, Dr Sampson and Longland, Bishop of Lincoln – were sent to try to persuade Catherine to agree to an annulment of her marriage. She refused and went on to deny Henry’s Supremacy of the Church and stated that she would only abide by a decision made by the Pope.
1531 (11th July)
Henry moved the court to Woodstock for a spell of hunting. He did not tell Catherine about the move, choosing, instead, to leave her and Mary alone in the deserted apartments at Windsor. On finding her husband gone, Catherine wrote to Henry expressing her regret that she hadn’t been up to say goodbye to him when he left to go hunting.
Catherine was told that she should leave Windsor. She was asked to choose a place of residence for herself, either a nunnery or a smaller palace. Catherine was unhappy and wrote to Henry telling him that he had taken matters too far. Henry sent her to The More.
Catherine was not invited to court for Christmas and Henry returned her gift saying that as they were no longer man and wife it was not proper for them to exchange gifts.
Catherine was instructed to leave The More and move to the palace at Bishop’s Hatfield in Hertfordshire.
Catherine’s closest friend, Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby, was ordered to leave Catherine’s household. she was told not to make any attempt to communicate with Catherine.
Thomas Abell, who had spoken in public for Catherine, was sent to the Tower.
1532 (13th September)
Catherine was told to move to Enfield which offered less comfortable accommodation.
John Forrest, a member of the Observant Friars at Greenwich, former confessor of Catherine, was imprisoned for supporting Catherine rather than the King.
25th January 1533
Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in the private chapel in Whitehall Palace.
Henry ordered Catherine to move to Ampthill which was some distance from London. Catherine wrote letters to both the Pope and Charles saying that she wanted no bloodshed and would not sanction any invasion of England on her behalf.
1533 (1st April)
Convocation declared by 14 votes to 7 that if Catherine’s first marriage had been consummated, then her marriage to Henry was against God’s law and as such invalid.
1533 (5th April)
Convocation ruled that the Pope did not have the authority to issue a bull setting aside the ruling in Leviticus that no man shall marry his brother’s wife. The ruling was opposed by Fisher.
1533 (7th April)
Act in Restraint of Appeals
The passing of this act forbade all appeals to foreign tribunals in all spiritual, revenue and testamentary cases. Spiritual and secular jurisdiction was to be the ultimate responsibility of the King and the Pope’s right of intervention was abolished. It was obvious to all that this act had been passed to prevent Catherine making any further appeal to Rome.
1533 (9th April)
The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk were sent to Ampthill to tell Catherine that Henry and Anne were married. She was told that as she was now no longer queen she must use the title Princess dowager of Wales. She was allowed to keep her property but her servants and household expenses would now be her responsibility. She was also told that if she submitted to the King’s will she would be generously provided for.
1533 (8th May)
Thomas Cranmer opened court and duly summoned Catherine to appear.
1533 (13th May)
Thomas Cranmer declared Henry’s marriage null and void on the grounds that it was contrary to divine law. Bishop Fisher was the only bishop to protest against the decision and secretly appealed to Charles to intervene, using force if necessary. However, although angry, Charles had no intention of starting a war.
1533 (3rd July)
Catherine was visited by a deputation of Councillors led by Lord Mountjoy and told that if she would submit to the King’s wishes he would provide her with a handsome estate but that if she continued to resist then things would go badly for her daughter and servants.
1533 (late July)
Henry was furious with Catherine’s continual obstinacy and ordered her to move to the Bishop of Lincoln’s Palace at Buckden in Huntingdonshire.
7th September 1533
A daughter, Elizabeth
, was born to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn at Greenwich Palace, London.
1534 (23rd March)
Act of Succession
This Act excluded Mary from the succession and instead settled it on the children born from his marriage to Anne. It registered the invalidity of Henry’s first marriage and proclaimed his second to be legal. The Act also gave Henry the power to extract oaths from any of his subjects regarding the provisions of the Act. Anyone refusing to swear the oath would be guilty of treason.
1534 (early April)
Catherine refused to swear the oath of succession. She now feared for both her own and her daughter’s life. She only ate food prepared by trusted servants and kept a constant watch on all strangers.
Catherine moved to Kimbolton Castle where her apartments were more comfortable than those of Buckden. From her window she could look across the rooftops to the country beyond. She also had her own chapel behind which was a small walled garden where she could walk on fine days.. She was attended to by two of Henry’s loyal subjects, Sir Edmund Bedingfield and Sir Edward Chamberlain. They were told that Catherine was to receive no visitors unless they held a special licence from the King.
Catherine refused to swear the Oath of Succession
Catherine’s health began to deteriorate. The Spanish ambassador begged permission to visit her but it was refused.
Catherine’s health continued to worsen. Her friend Maria de Salinas, Lady Willoughby, begged permission to visit her but permission was denied.
The Spanish ambassador, Chapuys, tried to formulate a plan to help Catherine and Mary to escape from England. However, he eventually concluded that an escape was too dangerous since both Catherine and Mary would be executed if discovered.
Catherine was taken ill and confined to bed with chest pains.
1535 (30th December)
Catherine was thought to be dying and so Henry gave permission for the Spanish ambassador, Chapuys to visit her. Mary was still refused permission to visit her mother.
1536 (2nd January)
The Spanish ambassador Chapuys visited Catherine at Kimbolton Castle.
1536 (5th January)
Maria de Salinas, Catherine’s friend, forced her way into Kimbolton Castle to visit her friend.
1536 (7th January)
Catherine of Aragon died. It is thought that she died from cancer, though many people at the time believed that she had been poisoned by Anne Boleyn.