New Catherine of Aragon Biography

Today sees the release in the UK of Giles Tremlett’s “Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen”, the first biography of Catherine of Aragon since Garrett Mattingly’s 1963 book. I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance copy of this book and I have been devouring it. It is a fantastic read and really helps you to understand why Catherine fought for her marriage and the rights of her daughter.

In his book, Tremlett does not simply retell Catherine’s story by concentrating on her marriage to Henry VIII, he goes right back to 1468 when Catherine’s mother, Isabel de Trastámara, was proclaimed the future queen of Castile, a defining moment in Spanish history, and looks at Catherine’s early life in Spain, the context in which she was brought up.

You can read more about this wonderful biography, and my thoughts on it, in my review “Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen” over at our Tudor book review site. The good news for Americans is that this book is due for release in the USA on 23rd November.

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14 thoughts on “New Catherine of Aragon Biography”
    1. I love your blog, Nasim, so plug away!
      I’m lucky in that I live near to the Alhambra (just over an hour away) and it’s a beautiful palace and fort and it is very moving to wander around it and actually think that Catherine enjoyed its gardens and palaces. What a shock to go from an idyllic palace with running water, both hot and cold, and citrus trees, to England and particularly to damp and cold Ludlow!

  1. I know this is utterly random, but what is this trend in book covers of cutting off the top of people’s heads in order to make the art look more ‘arty’? I’ve never understood that! Whoever designs Phillippa Gregory’s covers is a primary culprit!

    1. Yes, Elizabeth Norton’s book on Margaret Beaufort is the worst for this because its cover is Natalie Dormer in the red velvet Pembroke dress with her head cut off. I think it’s to keep costs down. Instead of paying for a photo-shoot the publisher can buy an existing photograph and simply chop the head off. Another interesting one is Julia Fox’s book on Jane Boleyn which has a headless Jane Seymour on the front.

      1. Poor Natalie Dormer, having her head cut off twice! Anyone who watches the series will recognise the Pembroke dress and know who it is anyway. That goes for the Jane Boleyn book too. Any history buff will recognise it as Jane Seymour. You’d think they would be smart and use less famous paintings.

  2. I totally agree that Giles Tremlett is an extremely good writer, easy to read and am in accord with Claire on his book “Ghosts of Spain”.

    I have not read this new book which may already point out the remarks I am about to make.

    I think it was Alison Weir who mentioned that Katherine was advised in advance not to drink the water in England as it was putrid but stick to wine or beer instead. Again (I believe it was Weir who commented on this) that Katherine introduced “Salad” to England, although the hot variety due to washing in cold water.

    However, in Philippa Gregory’s “The Constant Princess” (???) I would not believe the fastifiousness about cleaniless which Katherine mentions so much about the Moorish lifestyle as people in Spain were actually arrested if they “washed” too much.

    Katherine, through her mother’s family must have inherited some of the “quirks” (which was then known as madness) that affliected her Grandmother and her sister known as “Joan the Mad”.

    I don’t know if Giles mentioned the now recognised problem of “SAD” (Sunshine Acquired Deficiency). if Katherine was brought up in Madrid and the South, she would have been exposed for the first 15 years of her life to almost perpetual sunshine (although not always heat). throughout the year. In those days England was going through extremely poor weather conditions throughout the year and I am sure living in Ludlow those first 6 months did nothing to help the lady and addeded to this the treatment she received at the hands of both her in laws and parents afterwards.

    Am amazed she didn’t committ “Hari-Kari” before!

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