Book Reviews

Katherine of Aragón, The True Queen by Alison Weir


Katherine, the daughter of the King and Queen of Spain, came to England and married Arthur, the Prince of Wales, only to be widowed after six months. Political intrigues following her subsequent betrothal to Henry nearly prevented her marriage to the future King, but they were wed following the death of Henry VII, and Katherine became Queen of England at last. She had no way of knowing the man she loved so deeply would eventually become the source of her greatest sorrow.

I’ve already read and loved the second and third books in this series, so I was eager to read Katherine of Aragón, the True Queen. I was saddened to read about her ill-fated pregnancies: two miscarriages, two stillborn sons, and two other children who lived briefly (first-born son, Henry, for 52 days) before succumbing to death—leaving her with only one child, the Princess Mary.

Henry VIII is shown to be a loving husband to Katherine, until it becomes clear that she cannot give him the male heir he so greatly desires. That is when he conveniently begins to have a troubled conscience over having married his brother’s widow, saying it was against God’s law for them to be wed, despite knowing that Katherine’s marriage to Arthur was in name only. Katherine is deeply hurt, outraged that he wants to have their marriage annulled (leaving him free to marry Anne Boleyn and, hopefully, have a son with her), and refuses to agree their marriage is unlawful—not only because she loves her husband, but because she will do nothing to make her daughter illegitimate in the eyes of the world. She refuses to recognize the divorce when it happens, despite the hardships Henry imposed on her over the years, including being separated from her cherished daughter. Katherine maintains to her dying day that she is the Queen of England, and Henry’s true wife.

The reader sees everything through Katherine’s perspective, so there are many things afoot that she is completely unaware of, as she is completely isolated from everything and has little contact with the outside world.  It was brutal to see her get her hopes up about a reconciliation with Henry, only to realize he was still adamant about getting rid of her. And yet, through it all, Katherine’s love for him never wavers, and she remains pious throughout the long ordeal.

This was such a fascinating, compulsive read that I was sad to reach the end after spending four days fully immersed in Tudor England. Weir painted an amazingly vivid world with her words that it almost felt as if I were there, and I thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic novel.

If you love reading novels about the Tudors, and haven’t started reading this series, I highly recommend that you start now!

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Author: Alison Weir
Title: Katherine of Aragón, the True Queen
Series: Six Tudor Queens #1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 31, 2016 by Ballantine Books
Rating: 5 stars

Other books in this series:

About the Book

Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir takes on what no fiction writer has done before: creating a dramatic six-book series in which each novel covers one of King Henry VIII’s wives. In this captivating opening volume, Weir brings to life the tumultuous tale of Katherine of Aragón. Henry’s first, devoted, and “true” queen.

A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage – and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner.

Katherine’s patience is rewarded when she becomes Queen of England. The affection between Katherine and Henry is genuine, but forces beyond her control threaten to rend her marriage, and indeed the nation, apart. Henry has fallen under the spell of Katherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Now Katherine must be prepared to fight, to the end if God wills it, for her faith, her legitimacy, and her heart.

About the Author

Alison Weir (born 1951) is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.

Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her formal training in history at teacher training college.

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