Katherine was born in 1485 in Spain, where her mother and father, Ferdinand and Isabella were joint rulers. As was normal for princes and princesses, Katherine was betrothed to Prince Arthur Tudor of England when she was only a toddler - a match that both countries wanted to forge to create a strong alliance. When Katherine was almost 16, she married Arthur in England, and only 6 months later became a widow - possibly because of the sweating sickness. In an effort to keep her dowry, King Henry VII forged another betrothal between Katherine and his second son, Henry - who was now heir to the throne. In 1509, Henry VII died and Henry VIII took the throne, marrying his widowed Spanish Princess and making her Queen of England. It is widely believed that Henry and Katherine were quite happy for the first years of their marriage. Although Katherine never had very much luck bringing children into the world (repeatedly having miscarriages and delivering stillborns), her husband stood by her and remained convinced that they would succeed in providing heirs to the throne. Although Katherine was several years older than Henry, this did not seem to concern him until later in their marriage.
This is the point where Henry broke from the Catholic church - completely destroying the alliance with Spain (a very Catholic country, led by Katherine's nephew, Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor). Katherine absolutely refused to accept the divorce - being completely outraged and horrified that he should want to break a bond that was made before God. She refused to return the Crown Jewels, and abhorred the idea of being known as the "Princess Dowager." Perhaps the most troubling part of the divorce for Katherine was the knowledge that her daughter, Mary, would be booted out of the line of succession, and would no longer be known as "princess."
Henry had seen his marriage as "cursed" - because he had taken his brother's wife for himself. Because of this, he felt God would never have blessed them with sons, as every King needed. However, the English people adored Katherine, and she was known as the "Queen of Hearts." This is her official seal - a pomegranate and a crown. Because it is so clear that Henry and Katherine enjoyed a happy marriage for a while, it makes it especially sad to see their relationship crumble - epecially when we know the fate of the wife Henry replaced Katherine with.
All in all, this was a sad day in England, but it made the Tudor Dynasty what it ultimately became!
RIP, marriage of Katherine and Henry!
"The Lady Katherine is a proud, stubborn woman of very high courage. If she took it into her head to take her daughter's part, she could quite easily take the field, muster a great array, and wage against me a war as fierce as any her mother Isabella ever waged in Spain" -- King Henry VIII