February 18, 1516: Birth of Mary I

Janet Wertman

The Lady Mary, by Master John (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1516, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon had been married for seven years. Catherine had been pregnant more than seven times, though all her children had been stillborn or died shortly after birth – most notably a son, Henry, who lived for 52 days before sloughing his mortal coil.

Finally, Catherine gave birth at Greenwich to a healthy girl. The delighted parents named her Mary, and christened her “with great ceremony” three days later at the Church of Observant Friars. Her godparents included her great-aunt the Countess of Devon, Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey, and the Duchess of Norfolk. Henry was immensely proud of his daughter, doted on her….but became more and more disappointed that no little brother came to join her in the nursery.

In 1516, Catherine was only 31, there was still time for the royal couple…

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