I wonder how the colonization of the new world will fare for burgundy? maybe they can get part of venezuela, suriname and both guyanas in the new world.
Chapter 25 - England from 1501 to 1505
Chapter 25 – England from 1501 to 1505

Catherine of Aragon arrived in Ludlow on a crisp and cold September morning in 1501, when the leaves on the trees had turned into the same glossy auburn hue of her long hair. Her entry had been greeted with unrivalled joy from the inhabitants of Shropshire. It had been almost five months since her husband had left for Wales after their wedding while Catherine had remained in court to learn the ropes and get her footing in the new country. She had left London a month earlier, making stops in Oxford and Worchester along the way, receiving a royal welcome at each place. The sixteen-year-old princess on the road was not the same storm-tossed infanta arriving in foreign shore in spring. Catalina had become Catherine, the uncertainty had been replaced with a solid sense of home, a household in harmony and a sunlit lit joy in her being.

The joy she felt was in large part to the young man awaiting her in at Ludlow Castle. She had not seen her husband, Prince Richard since the end of May. While she had found it strange and rather unfair to be separated from the man whose queen she was to be, Queen Beatrice’s teachings had impacted her the correct way. Now more prepared to take on the role she had been born for; another chapter of her life was about to start. With her came over a dozen ladies in waiting, among them Elizabeth Howard and Maria de Salinas.

Ludlow had been further refurbished during the summer, with polished stone floors in black and white, new stained-glass windows in several of the chambers, colorful carpets on new wooden floors and fabric ordered from Flanders, Brittany, and Milan. Bolts of silk, white linen, and burgundy, green, and crimson velvet added color to the bedchambers. The Spanish dowry that Catherine brought with her had tapestries and gold and silver plate, bringing additional shine to Ludlow. Fat oxen and flocks of sheep grazed the fresh grass in the pastures along the river Teme by the market town, the trees glistered green from the previous evenings rain when Catherine arrived with her entourage to the St Laurence’s Church.

Richard waited by the steps accompanied with his noble companions, household knights and others. While Catherine managed to not fling herself from her richly caparisoned horse straight into his arms, her entire face lit up when she saw him. He had grown an inch or so taller and his limbs stronger since October and with his gleaming brown hair he was indeed a sight to melt any maiden’s heart. To his pleasant surprise, the bride he had left behind had turned into a truly royal lady, with a glowing strength and vitality. Catherine and Richard took a solemn church ceremony on her arrival, upon they entered Ludlow Castle, where the wagons carrying belongings to the princess and her ladies was unloaded and ferried in, supervised by the castellan and a minor army of servants. The first days was spent settling in at Ludlow with the ladies arranging their chambers and getting to know the staff at the castle. Catherine took a fondness to the chapel of St Mary Magdalene in the inner bailey, polished and repainted before her arrival.

The autumn was spent with work and pleasure, attending council meetings, hunting in the marshes, charity, and windy boat-rides on the Teme. The bustling market town provided the prince and princess the opportunity to view wares from different countries. Cloth, shoes, metalwork, all sold at the guilds and stalls nearby. Eager merchants wished to show Catherine fine silks or carved woodworks, as a royal customer was invaluable. The frost began to creep in in November, leaving the grass outside coated with a icy white sheen. The winter sank Ludlow into silence. White snow blanketed the castle, ice crystals formed on the windows and cold winds nipped at noses and cheeks. Catherine wore her warmest clothes, some brought from Castile and others delivered from cloth merchants in England. The Christmas in Ludlow was spent with the Duke and Duchess of York, who arrived a few days before. Ursula la Zouche, heiress to her mother and father’s land had turned thirteen and had married Edmund and they were to leave for the North in Spring. The princess and duchess would become lifelong friends, despite Ursula’s frequent absence from court.

Ludlow Castle.jpg

Ludlow Castle where Richard and Catherine spent their first years of marriage

At July of 1502 Ludlow seemed to be teeming with white roses and other fair flowers. Droves of blooms adorned the windowsills and tables and Catherine would often find a newly made bouquet in her chambers in the mornings. The garden flourished with primroses, myrtles, rosemary, and lavender, where Catherine sat amongst her ladies, doing needlework, reading aloud from books, or playing cards. To complete the picture of perfection, early august, when the trees started to turn yellow and the summer flowers were on the cusp of bloomed over, Catherine told her husband the delightful news she had been made aware of.

The princess of Wales was pregnant.

The autumn of 1502 came with crisp winds, a yellow and red mat of leaves, and the thickening of Catherine’s waist. While the princess seemed to suffer a bit of morning sickness in the first months, no other complications occurred. Catherine and her ladies spent many days in her apartment sewing clothes for the poor in Ludlow and even infants’ garments for the princess’s child. On the sixteenth of March, Catherine entered labour in Ludlow. Her pains began early in the morning and lasted for over twelve hours. Richard had ordered a mass held in the chapel of St Mary Magdalene with most of the household attending. Villagers, tradesmen and others had begun to gather towards the Castle as word spread about the impending birth. It was shortly after seven in the evening as the loud cries of a newborn baby sounded in the chamber. An exhausted Catherine could not help but to laugh in spite of her shivering and aching body, as the midwife cleaned the baby up and wrapped him in clean and warm linen before handing the priceless bundle back to her. Her son glared at her with his half-closed eyes set in a new-born’s scrunchy face, as to ask her why she felt it was necessary to force him out of his cosy and dark home inside her womb.

Catherine couldn’t help but to smile at her son as she stroked his tiny fingers and caressed the shell of his ear. “Mi hijo amore” she whispered. The dark tufts of hair on his scalp told her that he would not inherit her auburn hair, but the blue eyes were all hers. “If you only knew how welcome you are to us all.” Raising her head, she beckoned one of her ladies to her side.

“Go and find the Prince of Wales. Tell my husband I have given him a son and heir.”

Catherine bid the wet-nurse to bring her son outside of the room to await Richard, as she did not feel quite well enough to receive him yet. Her ladies sponged her sticky limbs off with warm water and cleaned her long, damp hair with wet linen before rubbing it dry and combing it carefully. It was after she had changed into a clean nightgown and the dirty bedclothes had been replaced by new ones, that she admitted him into the room. Richard, used to his Spanish wife’s sense of propriety did not object to the wait. Catherine had given him a healthy son and if she wished to be in privacy for several days, he would have been okay with that too. Richard stayed in her chamber for an hour, before Catherine gently shooed him out as she felt the need to sleep. Both newly made parents were delighted with their baby, who had fallen asleep after drinking himself full of the wet-nurse's milk. A few days later the baby boy was christened at St Laurence’s Church. He had been named Richard like his father and grandfather and messengers had left Ludlow for the court in London to announce that the Prince and Princess of Wales had a legitimate and strong son and that the succession had been even more secured than it was before.


Catherine of Aragon and her firstborn son in 1503

Days of festivities followed the christening as Richard offered up the fruits of the cellars towards the inhabitants of Shropshire and the local aristocracy came to partake in the joy. A jousting had been arranged, where young knights and nobles competed against each other wearing gleaming armour astride magnificent horses. It proved to be splendid opportunity for the young noblemen to showcase their capability before their Prince, and to curry favour with their future monarch. Richard expanded his circle of friends afterwards as more young men attached their future to his and Catherine got more ladies in waiting.

And gifts, gifts aplenty for both Prince, Princess and baby Dickon. Silver cups, rings of gold, ropes of pearls, scarlet cloth, smocks of fine Breton linen, furs from foxes, bears and beavers arrived, as well as baskets of fish; conger eels, sturgeons, lampreys were delivered to the household. Fishermen in Cardiff near the coast also sent other catches from the sea; oysters, clams and cockerels packaged in ice and hay as a gift. From the nearby Cheshire County came rounds of Cheshire cheese and barrels of salt for the household. And wine arrived from seemingly every wine merchant with a connection to the crown. French, rhenish, Burgundian of all sorts. Plenty of ale and beer of various stoutness added to the supply in Ludlow. Gifts of fresh fruits also arrived, winter apples, lemons, oranges for the tables.

Catherine mostly rested as the festivities carried on, reading in the window nook and taking small walks around her apartments with a few of her attendants. The ladies had taken to working in shifts, as they took turn to participate in the celebrations before returning to their mistress to let the next one out. The returning women always shared details about what happened outside, what courses was served, well wishes for the Princess and small gifts of food or trinkets to be handed to her.

A few weeks after the birth, more gifts began to make their way to Wales. News from Ludlow had arrived in Spain, Portugal and Savoy where Catherine’s family resided. Her parents, Ferdinand and Isabel were delighted by the news and wasted no time in sending their youngest daughter royal presents; most importantly a necklace of white and red roses of enameled gold that Isabel had worn when the English ambassadors had arrived in Medina del Campo to arrange the betrothal of the Infanta and the Prince back in 1489. The passing of the necklace to Catherine was a important signal that she herself would now serve as the connection between her natal kingdom and England that she had married into. She also gifted a large balas ruby for Richard, while Ferdinand sent a fine robe lined in sable to his son in law. Juan and Catherine, King and Queen of Navarre and Prince and Princess of Asturias and Girona had sent along a large oaken chest with the Spanish pomegranate carved unto it containing bolts of damask, silks and velvets and packages of Castel soaps and other fragrances that Catherine would have known from their parents’ court.

Her eldest sister Isabella in Portugal had arranged for packages of assorted spices from the Indies to be sent to Catalina as well as a ruby studded bracelet and a gold and sapphire ring. Richard would receive a pair of fine hawkers’ gloves from Prince Alfonso himself. From the Duchy of Savoy came two fine golden chalices encrusted with freshwater pearls and small garnets, two richly decorated caparisons for horses, as well as a letter from Juana to her sister.

For several of the women in Catherine’s household, the gifts were a subject of frequent chatter. It seemed like presents fit for an empress had arrived in Ludlow in the weeks after the birth. Their princess’s family must be as rich as the Sultans in the Indies, they gossiped when Catherine unwrapped treasure after treasure.

Upon her churching six weeks after the birth, Catherine entered the chapel in St Laurence’s Church in splendor, wearing richly decorated clothes and jewelry glistering around her neck, wrists and fingers. And while spring turned to summer in Ludlow, Catherine delighted in her marriage. Small trinkets found their way into her chamber at times, a bouquet of sweet-smelling herbs and flowers at the window, carved wooden figures of animals, scented ointments, leather-bound books and small brooches and jeweled buttons appeared in the mornings and in evenings, placed by unseen hands.

“I sense my lord husband is content with his schemes of spoiling me to the point of indulgence. I must make confessions so that I may not fall into avarice, but oh mother, the love I am blessed with has made me the most happy woman in Christendom now. Your grandson is now four months old and the summer is at its most lovely time now. We both enjoy the court games and rides across the countryside where everything seems like a canopy of verdant green stretching out as far as the eye can see.

Your loving daughter, Catalina, Princess of Wales.”

Summer turned into autumn and autumn changed into winter while the year in England became 1504. In late summer, the Prince and Princess of Wales left Ludlow to make their way back to London and the court. A letter from King Richard had arrived a week before, calling his heir to him. Richard III had begun to suffer from heart problems in the spring and it was affecting his health. Prince Richard needed to return to court and help his father with government. Little Dickon would travel with his parents, in a covered carriage with his nurses as companions. Catherine did not yet know that she had conceived her second child shortly before they left, but a few weeks she could delight the court that she was expecting another prince or princess. As Prince Richard established his household in Sheen Palace where his father resided for the last months of his life, Catherine took up residence in Windsor Castle and organised the nursery for her son. The Sheen palace had been renovated and expanded as a fire had broken out in 1492. The hammer-beam roof from the Middle Ages had stood no chance against the burning flames that tore through the palace. Thankfully tapestries, jewelry and clothes had been saved from the fire and no one had suffered severe injuries.

Richard had ordered construction to begun the year afterwards and it had been finished in 1500, shortly before Catherine arrived in England. It would become a very important center for Richard and his successors. It was a large construction of brick and white stone with the trademark architecture of the renaissance, long galleries, a hefty library and richly decorated chapels. Paneled windows let the light in and it boasted with large and pleasant gardens and a fountain in the marbled inner courtyard. Tennis facilities and archery butts had been placed as well as tables where one could indulge themselves in dice, card or chess games. Both King Richard and Queen Beatrice would enjoy Sheen for several years.

Sheen Palace in 1505.jpg

Sheen Palace in 1505 (ignore that it says Richmond Palace underneath)

It would be at Sheen were King Richard III of England would pass away on the 18th of May in 1505. On the same day, Catherine of Aragon, now Queen of England would deliver her second child and first daughter, Princess Elizabeth of York, named for her late grandmother Isabel of Castile who had passed away in November of 1504. A few hours after the birth, a herald entered her lying in chamber and greeted her as the new Queen Consort of England. Thus, the reign of Richard IV had begun.

Author's Note: So begins the reign of King Richard IV of England and his queen Catherine of Aragon. This chapter is just a big f*** you to the part of Catherine's life where she spent her first years in England in a damp castle and a household in dissaray and a husband who died so early. A fresh and renovated comfy palace, a loving (and living) hubby and two strong bouncing babies! And all the presents in the world to her! Initially I just wanted to show some food that could have come across Catherine and Arthur's table in Wales and then it just escalated from there. And Catherine drowning in presents from her family and loved ones is just my favorite thing ever! Have fun spotting the Game of Thrones reference! ;)
Last edited:
Absolutely loved the chapter! Little Dickon has such loving parents! And Richard IV's reign begins with Bess's birth! That ought to be a good omen!
Absolutely loved the chapter! Little Dickon has such loving parents! And Richard IV's reign begins with Bess's birth! That ought to be a good omen!
So do I! And baby Dickon is the apple of his parents eye (even if he's now got competition from little Bess). What can I say, the death-birth juxtaposition is fun to play around with.
So do I! And baby Dickon is the apple of his parents eye (even if he's now got competition from little Bess). What can I say, the death-birth juxtaposition is fun to play around with.
And our litte muffin Catalina will surely leave her mark on England, one of it's best consorts.
Loved this! Please make sure that the new Queen Consort doesn't indulge in unhealthy fasts as I'm sure a bad diet-too little is just as bad as too much-was probably a main factor in OTL Catherine's pregnancy problems...
Loved this! Please make sure that the new Queen Consort doesn't indulge in unhealthy fasts as I'm sure a bad diet-too little is just as bad as too much-was probably a main factor in OTL Catherine's pregnancy problems...
Her unhealthy fasts were a result of neglect that happened as a result of being left in a limbo after Arthur's death and her value crashing with her mother's death. So no starvation or bloodletting here!