One of the biggest controversies in European history, one that would change the face of religion in England, is whether or not Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII, and his new wife Catherine of Aragon, ever did the deed.
Here are the known facts, at the time of marriage, Arthur was fifteen and Catherine just shy of sixteen years old. Prior to the marriage, Arthur had stated that he found his new wife to be pleasing to him and that he was feeling 'lusty and amorous.' It was also perfectly acceptable for two people of such a young age to be married and engage in sexual intercourse.
The couple were put to bed as was customary in the day. The following morning a joyous Arthur loudly proclaimed his need for water, that he had 'spent the night in Spain' and being a husband was very 'thirsty work.'
There are some that say he may have made these comments to cover up the fact that he hadn't been able to do his deed, but why would he? We know how boisterous and proud Henry VIII his brother was, what's to say that Arthur was not the same when it came to sexual prowess?
The young couple shortly after the marriage moved to Wales where they took up their duties as Prince and Princess of Wales at Ludlow Castle. There they remained for six months until Arthur's death. If Arthur was so weak and sickly why would he be sent to live at the drafty, cold, remote castle?
It was after his death, with the help of her duenna Doña Elvira, that Catherine was able to say the marriage had not been consummated. (However Catherine and her duenna were never close, and she ended up betraying Catherine later in life.)
Historians say that Arthur was frail. What evidence they have is not clear other than he wasn't a great sportsman. The causes of his death are really unknown, and have been attributed to the 'sweating sickness' that claimed many lives during that time. Others who believe the marriage was consummated say Arthur expired from overexertion.
Whatever the uncertainty is, a pregnancy did not result from her short marriage to Arthur, and she became pregnant almost immediately upon wedding Henry VIII.
The Pope believed the marriage had never been consummated and issued a dispensation saying that her marriage to Arthur was not consummated and she was free to marry his brother Henry VIII, however that wouldn't happen for about eight years after Arthur's death. We don't know if Henry thought she was a virgin on their wedding night or not. We do know that in order to set her aside after twenty-four years of marriage so he could wed another, that he did believe she'd slept with Arthur.
Many say that Catherine was such a pious woman, honest and religious and that she would never lie about whether she consummated her marriage with Arthur. If she said she didn't, then she didn't. But we also know of her strong conviction. She was an extrememly powerful woman, and very smart. She knew that if she conceeded to having slept with Arthur that she could indeed be set aside. That her daughter the heir to the throne would be claimed illegitimate and her marriage to Henry VIII annulled. She would not have admitted to such a thing knowing how it would hurt her daughter's future.
What do you think? Did they or didn't they?