Katharine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry VIII. She had been married to Henry's older brother, Arthur when she was 16,in 1501, but a short time later Arthur became ill and died. It was then agreed that Katherine should be betrothed to Henry, as she had stated that the marriage to Arthur had never been consummated. This would become of great significance. She and Henry were wed in 1509, after he became King. They were married for 18 years and in that time Katherine was only able to give Henry one surviving child, a daughter, Mary (later to become Mary Tuder or "Bloody Mary"). Henry was desperate for male heirs and by 1527 was looking for ways to escape the marriage. He believed that by marrying his brother's former wife they were cursed. He was also deeply enamoured with Anne Boleyn. The Pope refused to annul the marriage and he situation led to the English Reformation, the break from Rome and the setting up of the Church of England with Henry at it's head. He had separated from Katharine in 1531 and then married Anne in 1533, even though his mariage to Katherine was not formally annulled until 4 months later.
Katherine was a devout and pious woman who never accepted the new Church or that her marriage was over, despite being banished from Court and forced to live in much reduced circumstances. She died of cancer in 1536, signing letters as "Katharine the Queen" until her death.
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