Book #21 - The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
Going along with my current Henry VIII kick, I decided to backtrack a little from Anne Boleyn and subsequent wives and read Gregory’s version of Katherine of Aragon’s life. My previous reading and viewing of The Tudors had given me a pretty clear idea of how spiritual and headstrong Katherine was in her late life, but I really had no clue about her beginnings.
As the youngest of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, Katherine was promised to Arthur, Prince of Wales, for as long as she could remember. What I liked about this story was that it revealed the fact that she had indeed consummated her marriage with Arthur, and that they were very much in love. However, as a dying wish, he asks her to marry his brother and become queen of England. As we know, she did in fact fulfill this promise to her late husband.
In envisioning Katherine as a young girl and bride, and then as a powerful and cunning leader, Gregory allows for a far more complex version of the queen. She is religious, yet there are moments where her beliefs briefly buckle under the pressure of various demands. Yet overall, she comes across as a confident young woman and later, a strong woman.