The Tudor monarchy

The Aragon alliance

Henry VIIIn 1485, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty of monarchs, came to the throne of England. His elder son, Arthur, was born in 1486 and as a child was betrothed to Katherine of Aragon, daughter of the King of Spain. They were married in 1501 when she was sixteen and he was fifteen.

Arthur, however, died in 1502. Negotiations then took place to enable Henry VII's second son, Prince Henry, to marry Katherine instead, since the alliance between Spain and England was seen as politically desirable.

More on Katherine's first marriage:

In order to do this, a special dispensation had to be obtained from Pope Julius II, since the marriage of a woman with her deceased husband's brother was one of the relationships prohibited by the Church.

The dispensation was granted because the marriage to Arthur had not, according to Katherine's sworn declaration, been consummated – that is, the couple had not had sexual intercourse — and so it could be annulled.

Henry VIII becomes king

In 1509, Henry VII died and his son, Henry VIII, came to the throne. It was shortly after this that Henry was granted the Pope's dispensation to marry Katherine, his brother's widow. They had seven children, but only one survived – a daughter, Mary.

Henry felt that Mary could not possibly follow him in the line of succession to the throne:

  • There had not been a queen as ruler of England for 400 years
  • Then, the accession of a woman had led to civil war
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