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King Henry VIII of England was notorious for his obsession with producing a male heir to succeed him. And even when he did – third wife Jane Seymour gave birth to Prince Edward in 1537 – Henry continued to be unlucky in love. Interestingly, although Henry VIII is famous for his six wives, less well known is the fact that the king’s marriage to his first wife, the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon, lasted the longest – much longer than his other five marriages put together.
Catherine and Henry's marriage resulted in one surviving daughter, Mary, over the course of nearly 25 years together. Although much of their marriage was reportedly happy, after a number of miscarriages and stillbirths, and without a male heir, the determined Henry divorced Catherine, despite it being forbidden by the Catholic Church, in 1533.
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived:
- The Pope's refusal to grant Henry an annulment to end his marriage to Catherine led him to break away from Rome and create the Church of England.
- Henry VIII was married six times between 1509 and his death in 1547. After Catherine, Henry married Anne Boleyn (who was executed for adultery), followed by Lady Jane Seymour (who died during childbirth), Anne of Cleves (annulled), Catherine Howard (also executed), and Catherine Parr (who survived him).
- Catherine of Aragon had previously been wed to Henry’s older brother, Prince Arthur, who died after an illness at age 15, just five months into the marriage.