Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11, 1509: The New King and His Wife

Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon on this date in 1509. His father had obtained a papal dispensation for this marriage after her first husband, Arthur, died. When her mother, the great queen Isabella of Castile, died in 1504 Henry VII's interest in continuing the alliance with Spain waned--but he did not want to return Catherine's dowry.
She lived in a kind of marital limbo for five years, but when the first Tudor king died, his son took the action of marrying Catherine on his own as soon as he was of age. She was 24 years old; he 18.
As a young woman, Catherine was very beautiful: fair complexion, blue-eyed, with reddish-blonde or auburn hair. It is interesting that she is often depicted in movies and tv series on the Tudors as dark haired and with olive-tone skin (like Irene Papas in Anne of A Thousand Days).


  1. Irene Pappas, ---Great actress but terribly miscast looks wise. But the best is still Raymond Massey, all swarthied up and sisister in the role of Catherine's nephew Philip II. In reality Philip was a little blond blue-eyed fireplug- but hey, that doesn't fit well with the "Black Legend".
    I wish one of the historian/bloggers would post something on the "Black Legend", or the anti-hispanic prejudices of academia.

  2. Poor Catherine...

    I, too, have noticed the way she is often portrayed on film as a stereotypical dark Spaniard. It is rather irritating.

  3. I think it must be to make her look as foreign or "un-English" as possible!
    The WWII propaganda value of "Fire Over England" besides, that movie is great Whig history propaganda, too--emphasizing Elizabeth I's common touch and regret for having Mary of Scotland beheaded as opposed to the machinations of the Spanish king.