Starz' "Spanish Princess" is like a chocolate chip cookie. The wonderful chocolate nuggets are the real history, surrounded by a tasty but completely fictional dough.
Here are the real historical nuggets, sorted for you. For more such nuggets, see my blogs on the previous episodes, at https://maryannphilip.com/blog .
The "Cloth of Gold" episode portrays events that occurred between 1517, the year of the "Apprentice Riots," and the "Field of the Cloth of Gold" itself in 1520. Starz does not mention two things needed to separate fact from fiction here: first, Katherine's father, Ferdinand of Spain, died the year Mary was born (1516), and the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian, died in 1519. The grandson of these two monarchs then became Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain.
Starz brought him to England as "Charles V" in the first "Camelot" episode, when he was only nine years old and just plain "Duke Charles." That was total fiction, as was his appearance at the "Cloth of Gold" in this episode. He wasn't there. But he did meet briefly with King Henry and Queen Katherine—for the first time in all their lives—in Dover when the English monarchs were on their way to "the Cloth of Gold" summit. Charles himself was en route between Spain and "the Low Countries" where he had been raised by his paternal family. By inheritance and election by German princes, he now ruled the largest empire since Roman times, incorporating much of Europe. (His mother, Katherine's sister Juana, remained locked in a tower in Spain, allegedly hopelessly insane.)
At that time of the Cloth of Gold summit, Katherine's daughter Mary was already betrothed to the Dauphin of France—and had been, since age 2. So the supposed negotiations between Henry and Francis over this betrothal were fictional, as was the insult from Francis that triggered the wrestling match between the two monarchs portrayed in "Cloth of Gold." The wrestling match did happen, however. And Henry did lose, to his considerable embarrassment. There was also a great deal of jousting and other knight-in-shining-armor stuff, which Starz does not portray. The real "Field of the Cloth of Gold" was famous primarily for the staggering amount of money the two kings spent, showing off and being studiously polite to each other. Starz does not capture this, likely because they simply didn't have the budget for it.
Starz also flipped these events with "the Apprentice Riots" which occurred three years earlier. According to Queen Katherine's biographer Patrick Williams, Wolsey, King Henry and Queen Katherine orchestrated the scene where Katherine begged Henry to be merciful to those who participated in the riots, after the ringleaders had been hanged and cut in quarters. The idea was to show the Queen as empathic and the King as merciful, and it worked well. Their popularity soared, as Starz hints. But the royal family was never endangered by these riots, which were indeed directed against foreigners perceived as taking English jobs. Mary—who was only a year old—was not kidnapped and witnessed nothing of these events, even as an infant.
Starz is getting back to the truth in one respect: both Queen Katherine and Lady Margaret took great care to see that Princess Mary received an excellent education, something both of them had themeselves, though educated women were rare at the time. It is also true that Princess Mary was later betrothed to Charles V, and eventually married his son.
There are only two more episodes, and a great deal left to happen! I'm wondering why the last one is called "Peace." I won't spoil the ending, for those who don't know it. I do hope Starz lets Katherine find peace.