Catherine of Aragon would be one of the many women in King Henry VIII’s life during his time on the throne. Was Henry VIII related to Catherine of Aragon?
Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were distantly related with their closest linkage being the first Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt. This relation made them distant cousins.
Henry VIII was the great-great-great-grandson of John of Gaunt on both his paternal and maternal family lineage. Catherine of Aragon was John of Gaunt’s great-great-granddaughter through her mother Isabella I of Castile.
Read on to learn about the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and their common family linkage.
The Marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of the King of Spain and had been married to Henry VIII’s older brother, who died without an heir to the throne. This allowed Henry VIII to take the throne and become King of England.
In 1509, upon receiving permission from the pope and Roman Catholic Church, Henry VIII married his elder brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon.
Catherine of Aragon could not give Henry VIII a son that would be the male heir. She would have three sons, but they would all die as newborns, which was not uncommon in England at the time. Many of their other children died during pregnancy.
Because of Catherine’s lack of success in having a surviving son, Henry decided he wanted to marry a woman named Anne Boleyn instead. To do this Henry would have to get permission from the pope to annul his marriage with Catherine.
Divorce was not allowed in royal families at the time, as the Roman Catholic Church strongly believed in upholding the sanctity of marriage and believed that European rulers should be setting the example for their people.
Henry used his older brother’s marriage to Catherine as grounds for an annulment of the marriage, citing a passage from the Old Testament that said:
“If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an impurity; he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.”
The pope refused to grant the annulment, which caused Henry to split England from the Catholic Church, establishing the Church of England. After the annulment, Anne Boleyn would have a daughter, but would never give Henry a son.
The closest evidence that Henry and Catherine of Aragon were related to each other was through John of Gaunt, the first Duke of Lancaster.
Henry VIII was John of Gaunt’s great-great-great-grandson from both his paternal and maternal sides. Catherine of Aragon was both John of Gaunt’s great-great-granddaughter through her mother, Isabella I of Castile. This would make them distant cousins.
While some have suggested that Catherine’s problems having children may have been caused by her relation to Henry VIII, they were much too distantly related to cause any serious medical issues.