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Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen    by Alison Weir order for
Katherine of Aragon
by Alison Weir
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Alison Weir writes excellent Tudor historicals, such as The Lady Elizabeth and The Marriage Game. They are credible and empathetic. Her latest, Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, takes on a lady beloved by the populace, despite being a foreigner, who sadly suffered several miscarriages and failed to give the king a male heir. It made me see Katherine in a very new light.

Here she is portrayed as a compliant wife, with a deep faith, who loved her husband very much and tried to make allowance for his faults. But her faith - and her love for her daughter Mary - did not allow her to give him what he finally wanted and renounce their marriage, allowing him the chance of a male heir.

Alison Weir tells Katherine's story with all its ups and downs from young Princess Catalina's arrival in 1501 England to wed Arthur, Prince of Wales to the sadness of his death (their marriage not consummated), and her precarious and penurious position in England after it and her beloved (and powerful) mother Isabella's death.

We see the individuals in Katherine's entourage vying for power over her, and her attempts to do right by them, despite the fact that she was often unable to pay what was owed to them. We also see a young Henry attracted to his older brother's fiancee, but under his father's control. Through all this, Katherine's fate was very dependent on events in Europe, that determined her value to England.

Finally, Henry was anointed king at eighteen and 'rescued her from poverty, ignominy and humiliation.' She found him glorious and happy years followed, marred only by Katherine's miscarriages and the early death of an infant son. But enmity grew between England and Spain, damaging Katherine's position. Wolsey encouraged a French alliance. And in 1525, Katherine was no longer able to bear children, the beginning of the end for her.

Everyone at Court knew of the King's Secret Matter, his attempt to have their marriage annulled. Then came his affair with Anne Boleyn and the rise to power of Thomas Cranmer as his counselor. Of course we all know the rest, and Katherine's situation steadily worsened, though she insisted on her love and forgiveness for Henry to the end. It's a fascinating and absorbing account, which I definitely recommend to you.

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