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BIOGRAPHICAL: She had received an excellent education at their court. She had long red-gold hair and blue eyes, and in her youth was considered pretty. As was common for princesses of the day, her parents almost immediately began looking for a political match for her. When she was three year old, she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales. She went to England in 1501 and was married in November, but Arthur died in April 1502.
A few months later Henry VII arranged a second marriage for Catherine with his second son Henry, then 12 years old . A papal dispensation enabling Henry to marry the widow of his brother was obtained in 1503. Henry succeeded to the throne in April 1509 and in June he married Catherine.
Although the marriage was, on the whole, fairly successful, the pro-Spanish sympathies of Catherine brought some difficulties during the periods of French alliance. Catherine bore Henry six children, only one of whom, a daughter.
Catherine as the first wife of King Henry VIII, occupies a prominent place in history because the question of her marriage to Henry was a factor in the Reformation in England. In 1527 Henry tried to annul his marriage to Catherine so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, who he hoped would give him a male heir to the throne. The pope refused to make a decision on the proposed annulment, and in 1533 Henry was married to Anne by the archbishop of Canterbury.
In 1534 the pope finally declared that the first marriage was valid, thus bringing about the alienation of Henry VIII from the Roman Catholic church. Catherine did not quit the kingdom, but was thereafter closely guarded. During this time she displayed heroic courage and steadfastly refused to sign away her rights and those of Mary, later Mary I of England.
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