Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Yes, it is the same woman even though it’s spelled differently.
Quick synopsis: Biographies of Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII and yes then it all went wrong.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Catherine was the daughter of Queen Isabella. Yes, the one who sent Columbus across the ocean. She did more than that, you know.
Fun Fact for History Nerds: How impressive was Catherine during her lifetime? Thomas Cromwell, who was decidedly not a fan of hers, said, “If not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of History.” Sexism aside, it is a compliment.
My Take: Catherine of Aragon was much more than just the woman in the way for Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. She was the daughter of Isabella I and Ferdinand II. She wasn’t even supposed to marry Henry VIII. She was married to his older brother, Arthur, who died six months into their marriage. This short marriage would be how all the divorce nonsense came into being. Also, Henry being one of history’s most notorious hornballs.
Catherine was beloved by the people of England which was not an easy thing to do for a Spanish princess. Spain was not always in favor with England and Catherine had to work hard to earn favor with the people and she did through various charitable functions.
What most people fail to realize is Henry and Catherine were married for a long time before Anne Boleyn came along. In fact, they were married in 1509 and did not get “divorced” until 1533. She had bad luck with children and only gave birth to one who would live to adulthood. Her name was Mary, although many probably know her as “Bloody Mary.”
Man, the Tudors really knew how to pile on the drama.
All three books are well done and in-depth. Can’t go wrong with any of them, although Williams’ and License’s has a bit more detail than Tremlett.
Verdict: Read any of the three and you will get a great story about Catherine.
If You Liked This Try:
- Michael Jones, The Black Prince: England’s Greatest Medieval Warrior
- Kristin Downey, Isabella
- Robert K. Massie, Peter the Great
- Robert K. Massie, Catherine the Great