A Pomegranate of Many Seeds: Catalina of Aragon’s Tiny Tudors

“The incredible partnership between Queen Elizabeth of York and Dowager Princess Catalina would first be seen when it was time for Margaret Tudor to depart for her marriage to the King of Scotland. Margaret would be accompanied on her progress north by her mother and sister-in-law.

Undoubtedly, the presence of Elizabeth and Catalina would’ve been a balm to thirteen-year-old Margaret as she left her home behind, and indeed, a fragment of a letter from her to the Duke of York attests to such: ‘To have our dearest mother and sister by my side as I entered Edinburgh was no small consolation. I know not how I might have comported myself without them there to steady me.’

Elizabeth and Catalina were both known as mediators who possessed equal amounts of patience and determination, so it is no wonder that they would come to combine their talents as the matriarchs of the Tudor dynasty. The years following that trip to Scotland would bring far more trouble to the mother and daughter-in-law than an anxious bride, however.”

— Maya Marks, “The Queen and The Dowager Princess”

“Henry, then Duke of Cornwall, would be the first of his siblings to be betrothed; when he was two-and-a-half, King Henry VII secured for his grandson the hand of Eleanor of Austria, the most prestigious match in Christendom. Next, in late 1505, Arthur, Duke of Somerset, would be engaged to the great heiress, Elizabeth Grey.

Elizabeth and Mary’s engagements were matters of greater contention. They would have to wed rulers, and their mother, Catalina, pushed strongly for King Henry to pursue the hand of her nephew, Charles of Austria. However, Charles was already betrothed to Claude of France, who would bring as her dowry (in compensation for renouncing her rights to Brittany) the duchy of Burgundy, and the French claims to Milan and Naples. Henry VII was well aware that no dowry England could offer would ever be suitable to lure the Duke of Burgundy away from his son’s French engagement.

As such, he turned to another nephew of Catalina’s: João, Prince of Portugal, in hopes of a renewal of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance and tying England to the wealthiest country in Europe. Henry’s hopes would come to fruition when the betrothal contract between João and Elizabeth Tudor was signed on the 21st of October 1506.”

— Anthony Baker, “The Tudors Triumphant”

"My little nephew doth make the Tudor name proud. He looked older than his four years as he knelt before Father to take his solemn oath as Prince of Wales. None assembled for the ceremony were immune to little Hal's charms, not even Father. When he placed the coronet on Hal's red curls, I dareth say there were tears in the king's eyes."

— Entry from the royal Lady Mary Tudor's diary, dated 17th July 1506

“The four unexpected posthumous heirs of Arthur Tudor were going to need proper households, staffs, and educations, as befit their statuses as the future of England. Unfortunately for the children’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and mother, Dowager Princess Catalina, individuals of the caliber to bring up royalty didn’t just fall out of the sky.

Lady Margaret Bryan was appointed governess to the younger Mary Tudor (recently betrothed to the Dauphin of France). That left the other three children. Catalina was keen on her daughters receiving as extensive an education as she had, and she also wanted one of her Spanish entourage to be made governess of Elizabeth, owing to her Portuguese betrothal. Queen Elizabeth, however, opposed her namesake granddaughter ‘being brought up a Spanishwoman’. Henry VII wisely chose to stay out the quarrel between his wife and daughter-in-law, leaving the two women to reach a compromise: Lady Bryan would have charge of both the royal ladies, with assistance from Catalina’s distant cousin, the Countess of Cabra.

Arthur Plantagenet, Queen Elizabeth’s half-brother, was appointed head of the two princes’ household, as the boys were not to be separated until it came time for Henry to take up his place in Ludlow by order of their mother and grandmother, both of whom wanted the brothers to be raised close.”

— Maya Marks, “The Queen and The Dowager Princess”