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  1. I still don’t believe Katherine’s denial. I think she told Henry she was a virgin and refused to back down from that under any circumstances for fear of looking weak. As for “Arthur had been ill or sickly for many years,” what is the source for this? Not in any of the history books I’ve read, only from defenders of Katherine. Writers have said that Edward VI was a sickly child, and that wasn’t true. II doubt Henry VII and Elizabeth would have sent they son and heir to Wales if there was any doubt about his health. Can anyone cite reliable sources?

    • Pilar

      Katherine had not need to lie. A widowed and non-virgin woman could get a second marriage a second marriage like Margaret of Austria and Isabella of Aragon, Katherine’s sister. Manuel I of Portugal married two sisters, the Pope granted him a bull.Why did Henry VII want to separate Arthur and Katherine for two years after their marriage? If Arthur was so strong and healthy I do not understand separating him from his wife, making love is not like going to war. In July 1500 it was reported that Henry VII was worried that his son would not be strong enough the following year for marriage.
      In the trial celebrated at the Cathedral of Zaragoza, Aragon, in 1531, Spanish witnesses who served Katherine in England told that the Prince sneaked out of her room early,’surprising everyone’, with Katherine later pointing to a young boy in her service and muttering to her ladies that ‘I wish my husband the prince was as strong as that lad because I fear he will never be able to have relations with me.’ Nicholas West, bishop of Ely, declared how he doubted that the marriage had been consummated, since Katherine had often told him that she had not been carnally known by Arthur.
      The contemporary herald’s account in The Receyt of the Lady Katherine describes the Prince as suffering from ‘the most pitiful disease and sickness that with so sore and great violence had battled and driven in the singular parts of him inward; that cruel and fervent enemy of nature, the deadly corruption, did utterly vanquish and overcome the pure and friendful blood, without all manner of physical help and remedy.’ That Arthur’s illness affected his testicles has been inferred from the description of his sickness affecting ‘the singular parts of him inward’ and it has also been suggested that he died of testicular cancer, which can spread quickly in young victims. Katherine’s physician, Dr Alcaraz, later explained that she was still a virgin because ‘the Prince had been denied the strength necessary to know a woman, as if he was a cold piece of stone, because he was in the final stages of phthisis’.
      According the contemporary account in The Receyt, Prince Arthur was in decline since Christmas, ‘from the Feast of the Nativity of Christ unto the solemn feast of the Resurrection, at the which season grew and increased upon his body, whether it was by surfeit or cause natural, a lamentable and most pitiful disease and sickness.’ Probably Arthur did not show any alarming symptoms until he was at Ludlow.
      If Arthur and Katherine had consummated their marriage, her union with Henry would be incestuous and contravene canon law. A dispensation from the Pope was needed to overrule the impediment of affinity. If the marriage had not been consummated -as Katherine was always to insist- the Pope had to dispense Henry and Katherine from the impediment of public honesty. Though most canonists argued that affinity arose from intercourse, a growing segment in the sixteenth century asserted that affinity came not from intercourse but from societas conjugalis, simple cohabitation as man and wife, regardless of whether or not the union was consummated. Then the fact that Arthur and Katherine had lived together as man and wife was enough to bring forth the impediment of affinity irregardless of Katherine’s virginity. If so, then the bull, which mentioned only affinity but not public honesty, would have been considered an implicit dispensation of the latter by virtue of the explicit mention of the former and the inclusion of the word ‘perhaps’ (forsan) to cover any uncertainty. Thus, no separate dispensation for public honesty would have been needed and Henry’s marriage to Katherine would still be sound. But his adultery with Anne’s sister Mary Boleyn placed him in the same forbidden degree of affinity to Anne as he was to Katherine by virtue of her marriage to his brother.
      The theological issue should really have centred on whether Arthur and Katherine had had children. Deuteronomy insists on the brother marrying a widow if the original husband had not had children by her. But Henry VIII relied on Leviticus, which forbade a man to marry his brother’s widow. Although the ban in Leviticus did not apply when the brother had died childless, as Arthur had.

    • Pilar

      Prince John of Asturias, Katherine’s brother, was a sickly young man and his parents married him to Margaret of Austria. He was seventeen years old, Arthur fifteen. Charles II of Spain was a sickly young man and married twice. With his first wife, Marie Louise of Orléans, he could not consummate his marriage during months. And Arthur spent much of his childhood and adolescence away from the court of his parents. And it is possible that Arthur was not seriously ill until his last years. I believe that Katherine deserves her presumption of innocence. And it is possible that Arthur was not seriously ill until his last years. I believe that Katherine deserves her presumption of innocence.

    • Pilar

      Prince Arthur as heir to the Crown had to fulfill his obligations and learn to govern. He had to go to Ludlow, even if he was sick.

      • B.

        I think arguing whether they consummated or not does not make sense, it is repeating the same topic over and over again, where we have no way to prove it either way; it is not like it does matter today. I agree there is possibility Katherine lied but I personally believe her. If others don’t, then fine. I agree with Pilar’s argumentation, Katherine knew of the precedent and there is a contemporary report corroborating Arthur’s weak condition year before the wedding. It is absurd to assume that he must have been always super healthy (note that I am not claiming he was always sickly) because otherwise he would not have been sent to Wales. I know more sickly princes and such who could not consummate their marriages for quite a time, but still as heirs they were obliged to do their duties. Juan de Aragón was a sickly child, raised on special food, unlike his robust father, he had a harelip and his health being checked on daily basis. But the prince had his own court, away from his parents, was schooled in the warfare, participated in huntings, which he liked, and after his marriage to Margaret, was sent to Salamanca by his parents, in order to learn how to govern over his own staff and court. The fact he was weak physically (and in fact died shortly afterwards) did not stop his parents from sending him away. That’s pretty normal. I would not use testimonies of witnesses from Zaragoza as a proof of anything, like I am not using testimony of Henry VIII’s witnesses, because both sides may have been accused of propaganda. But judging by contemporary sources (from the time of the marriage) I don’t see any reason for KoA to lie. There are two foreign reports speaking of Arthur’s condition between 1497-1500. One is positive, the other negative, which does not mean either of them is untrue. Many things could happen within three years. But like I said, let people believe whatever they want, it is not going to change anything.

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