Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen

Eamon Duffy writes:

Catherine of Aragon was Henry VIII’s first and longest-lasting queen, at the heart of his glittering court for almost two decades. In the early years of their marriage, the Spanish princess, daughter of the most glamorous monarchs in Europe, must have seemed every bit as regal as her husband. Yet in the historiography of Tudor England she has become a shadowy figure, a sad frump eclipsed by her savage husband and the brazen mistress who supplanted her. Giles Tremlett’s splendid biography seeks to correct that perception. Notoriously, Henry came to hate the cast-off wife he once doted on, but it’s Tremlett’s contention that when Henry made Catherine his enemy, he found to his cost that he had never encountered a tougher opponent, ‘on, or off, the battlefield’. It is the book’s achievement to make that claim both intelligible and persuasive.

(LRB 28 July 2011)

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