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WHAT STARZ SKIPPED AND GOT WRONG IN KATHERINE'S EARLY YEARS AS QUEEN IN SPANISH PRINCESS

Katherine of Aragon as the Madonna by Michael Sittow. Baby is NOT Henry IX

Katherine of Aragon was reigning queen of England for twenty-two eventful years, which Starz is packing into eight episodes. Viewers who complained that the first episode was rushed were right: it roared by some scandalous and fascinating events detailed in my latest real history mystery, Cannon Conspiracy. For example, Episode 1 did not mention Henry VIII's affair with the Duke of Buckingham's sister during Katherine's first pregnancy, which ended in stillbirth (a daughter) and a rip-roaring royal fight when Queen Katherine found out about Anne Stafford. Go to link below if you want that missing story.

 

To be fair, Starz got what historians would regard as the important historical details right. King Ferdinand of Spain did double-cross Henry, which left English soldiers stranded and starving while Ferdinand conquered Navarre, using Henry's army as a distraction. And wily old Ferdinand wrote letters bragging about how he had outfoxed his young, naïve son-in-law. The diplomatic history behind those events involved Pope Julius II's campaign against France and was much more complicated than portrayed. But the essence was right.

 

However, while Starz portrays Ferdinand and most other central characters well, it changed some human details to make the story more dramatic. As an amateur historian that saddens me, because the real history is dramatic already:  

 

Baby Henry only lived 53 days, and did not die lying on a cold floor next to Katherine while she was praying. Cannon Conspiracy gives a (minority view) reason for his death.  It was definitely natural causes, but Henry—not Katherine—may be accountable. Cannon Conspiracy is only $2.99 and the first chapter addresses this question. Go to https://www.amazon.com/Maryann-Philip/e/B009WCCZ6O?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1601576474&sr=8-1  or follow the link on this site.


King Ferdinand never visited his daughter Katherine in England, much less dragging his "heir, Charles V" with him. Charles—his grandson, oldest son of Juana "La Loca"—was eleven years old and known as "Charles of Burgundy" when this scene occurs. He didn't become Charles V for another 7 or 8 years, lived in the Netherlands (then called "the Low Countries") with his paternal family, and was not yet Ferdinand's heir. (Ferdinand remarried after Queen Isabella died, and still hoped for a son. He and Isabella had five children but only one boy, who died in adulthood.) Princess Mary was, at the time of this scene, betrothed to Charles of Burgundy—Starz got that much right. But she was only 14 or 15 herself, if we fix the date for the scene to 1511. (Baby Henry was born January 1, 1511 and Henry held an enormous celebratory joust shortly afterwards, as shown by Starz. King Ferdinand's double-cross that stranded the English army occurred in 1512.) So both Princess Mary and Charles of Burgundy were portrayed as being much older than they actually were. They never met, at least in youth.           

 

Their betrothal was broken off for diplomatic reasons, shortly after the events in Episode 1, and Princess Mary ended up marrying….but no, Starz will surely cover that. And you will find yourself saying, "Poor Princess Mary" because Henry forced her to marry someone repulsive.
 

To my knowledge, Katherine never gave a speech like the one at the end of Episode 1, though she was certainly capable of it. The English loved her throughout her reign and beyond, and her loyalty to Henry (as opposed to her father) was not questioned.

 

I will continue to blog about the real history behind the events as portrayed by Starz as new episodes play. (Some of you saw Episode 1 early. How did you do that?)  You will be able to find those blogs at https://maryannphilip.com  or through my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/nicolamachiavellimysteries/  

 

Meanwhile, enjoy this great new series!

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