Part 1: Catherine of Aragon
Ferdinand of Aragon (1452-1516) and Isabella of
Through their marriage, Ferdinand II, king of Aragon
and Isabella I, queen of Castile united the two kingdoms that later
became known as Spain. Pope Alexander VI gave them the title of the
Their joint rule was rigidly centralised. The infamous
Inquisition council was established in 1480 using torture, public
burnings, and secret tribunals to eradicate what it called heresy.
This started with Marranos (Christianised Jews who practised their
religion in private), and Moriscos (Christianised Moors), and then
extended to humanists, protestants, and others who did not agree with
the regime's policies. Nevertheless, Ferdinand and Isabella's
administration was to become the most modern in Europe.
On Isabella's death in 1504 the union of the kingdoms
nearly collapsed when the couple's daughter Joanna and her husband
Philip, with the backing of the grandees, tried to snatch the Castilian
throne. With Philip's death, Ferdinand got himself recognised as
regent of Castile, taking power from his insane daughter.
Ferdinand went on to forge greater international
alliances, including one with England but although, at the time of his
death (1516), Spain was well placed on the world stage, many of his
children and their issue were to die, leaving the country to Joanna
and then Charles I, who favoured his position as Holy Roman emperor.
Arthur, prince of Wales (1486-1502)
With Arthur's birth in 1486, Henry VII of England was
happy that he had a son who would ensure the security of his line
following from his reign, which began just a year earlier. The choice
of name was meant to encapsulate this hope of a happy future, harking
back to the magic of the legendary 'King Arthur' of the fifth or sixth
century, about whom little was known but much was imagined.
Arthur was to die in his teens (1502), a few months
after marrying Catherine of Aragon and beginning what appears to have
been a happy relationship. His younger brother Henry was to benefit
from his untimely demise.