Katherine of Aragon
The daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Katherine was sent to England as a young bride to marry Henry VII's heir Prince Arthur. After Arthur's unexpected death, Katherine, now Princess Dowager of Wales was forced into reduced circumstances living off the charity of her miserly father-in-law. Relief came when Arthur's younger brother Henry ascended the throne in 1509, and took her as his wife.
| What began as a happy marriage,
soured in Henry's mind as Katherine was unable to produce a healthy living male heir (only
their daughter Mary survived). As Katherine was his brother's widow, the King began to
question the validity of the marriage, and proceedings for an annulment were started with
the goal of replacing the ageing Katherine with his mistress Anne Boleyn.
The Queen put up a spirited fight for her and her daughter's rights but to no avail. She was divorced in 1533, and lived out the rest of her days banished from the court and from the company of the Princess Mary. To the very end, she defiantly refused to be acknowledged other than as the rightful Queen of England.
Pictured: Henry VIII (John Stide) and Katherine of Aragon (Claire Bloom) from the BBC adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry VIII.
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