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Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon Baptized a Son!
January 5, 1511 was the day that the son of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon was baptized. A son? But, Mary was the only child of the two, right? Henry did have a son with his first wife. The two had six children in total but only Mary survived infancy. This was common in the 16th century due to the poor medical care.
The First Son of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII
Their first son was born on New Year’s Day, 1511 and was baptized just four days later. Beacons were lit to celebrate the young Henry – named after his father and grandfather. He was given the title of Duke of Cornwall, which was uncommon for first born sons; they were usually given the title Prince of Wales. It was expected that he would become Prince of Wales at a later date.
Louis XII of France was named the Godfather of Prince Henry and gave him lavish gifts, including a 99oz cup and a salt holder made of gold. The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, and the Duchess of Savoy, Margaret of Austria were also named Godparents of the young prince. However, Neither Louis XII or Margaret could attend the baptism and had to have proxies stand in for them. These were Richard Foxe, the Bishop of Winchester and Anne of York respectively.
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A Stronger Relationship
It is likely that Henry VIII already loved his wife. This was mentioned in a number of songs that Henry had written for Katherine during the early years of their marriage. The birth of their son helped to strengthen that relationship as it proved that she was able to provide an heir that the country needed.
The court were happy about the birth of the son and he was nicknamed the “Young Prince Hal” and “The New Year’s Boy”. Katherine’s position as Queen of England became stronger.
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Sudden Death of Henry, Duke of Cornwall
Prince Henry died suddenly on February 23, 1511. The cause of death has never been recorded, as with many infant deaths. The mortality rate was extremely high for infants, which is why having as many sons as possible was important for Kings of England. Henry and Katherine were saddened by the death of their son and he had a state funeral, which was held at Westminster Abbey.
Henry attempted to distract himself from his grief by waging war against France with Ferdinand II of Aragon; Henry’s father-in-law. Katherine prayed continually on a cold hard floor through her grief, which worried many of the people around her. However, the two knew that they were young and more sons were possible. This was not the end of the marriage between the two and it would be over a decade later that Henry’s eyes strayed from Katherine indefinitely.
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More Disappointment for the King and Queen of England
Two years after the death of their son, Katherine and Henry had another son but he was stillborn. In December 2014, a third son was born and named Henry, Duke of Cornwall. It was common for subsequent babies to be given the same name as previous sons to help continue that name in the family due to the high mortality rate. However, the new Prince Henry died within a month of his birth and very little is known about him.
It is likely that a living heir would have prevented Henry VIII from creating the religious reformation in England to marry Anne Boleyn. The inability to provide a living heir was cited as a reason for the divorce when Henry went through Rome. He used this as proof that the marriage between the two was not valid in the eyes of God, despite the papal dispensation gained. There has been a number of fiction written with an alternate reality where one or two male heirs survived between Katherine and Henry.
Katherine only had one child that survived infancy. Mary, who later became Mary I of England, was born in 1516 but it was not enough to save the marriage between her parents. She is known as Bloody Mary by many after burning 300 Protestants at the stake. She married Philip II of Spain but they never had any children and she was succeed by her half-sister, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I of England.