Katherine of Aragon’s Family Tree
Here is Katherine of Aragon’s family tree.
A Spanish princess. Raised to be modest, obedient and devout. Destined to be an English Queen.
Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And for her there is no comfort in any of it. At sixteen years-old, Catalina is alone among strangers.
She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother.
She cannot trust even those assigned to her protection.
KATHERINE OF ARAGON. The first of Henry’s Queens. Her story.
Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir has based her enthralling account of Henry VIII’s first wife on extensive research and new theories. She reveals a strong, spirited woman determined to fight for her rights and the rightful place of her daughter. A woman who believed that to be the wife of a King was her destiny.
History tells us how she died. This captivating novel shows us how she lived.
PART ONE: THE PRINCESS FROM SPAIN
Chapter 1: 1501
The coast of England was closer now. Standing at the balustrade of the deck, high above the stern of the ship, with tendrils of red-gold hair whipping about her face, Catalina could see green and brown hills and the spires of churches, with houses huddled together beside them; and, at a dizzying distance below, between the land and the rolling vessel, the grey, churning sea. How different it all looked from La Coruna, with its warm blue waters and its mighty Tower of Hercules, or the dramatic wide sweep of the bay of Laredo! Everything was going to be different from now on.
Her maid-of-honour and dear friend, Maria de Salinas, was standing beside her. ‘It cannot be long now till we come into port,’ Catalina said. ‘When I think how many years I have dreamed of coming to England, I cannot quite believe I am nearly there. I thank God that you are with me, Maria. I would not want to face this alone.’ There was no one else to whom she would have admitted that.
‘And I am glad of your Highness being with me,’ Maria replied. She was two years older than Catalina, and they had been friends all their lives. It was typical of Maria to have pulled off her cap and let her rippling long night-black hair blow free in the wind. She was almost dancing with anticipation, her large eyes luminous as she gazed at the land ahead. Catalina reminded herself that Maria was also going into the unknown.
It was expected that she and the other young ladies in attendance on their Infanta would be found well-born husbands in England. But where Katherine was facing the future with a certain trepidation, Maria could barely contain her excitement.
‘Soon I will come face-to-face with Prince Arthur,’ Catalina said. She had been told countless times that her betrothed was a golden prince, beautiful and graceful with many excellent qualities, and that the English people hailed him as their great hope for the future. ‘I pray that I may please him.’ And that all will be well.
‘Judging by his letters, he is as eager to meet your Highness as you are to see him. You are lucky to have a husband who loves you.’ Maria smiled encouragingly – and not a little enviously.
‘But how can he love me when he has never met me?’ Catalina asked, voicing a concern she had kept to herself for a long time. ‘Was he that much taken by my portrait?’ Master Miguel, her mother’s court painter, had taken an excellent likeness.
‘He could hardly have failed!’ Maria said. ‘You are so pretty.’
‘He is just fifteen!’ Catalina retorted. ‘He is nearly a year younger than I am. I think he has been told what to write, just as I was. And’ – she bit her lip – ‘I fear he is young for his years. Remember how my coming was postponed for a year until he was ready to be married, and then it was postponed again?’
That had been a strange business, veiled in secrecy. Not even to Maria would Catalina confide her secret suspicions that all might not be quite well with Arthur – and that some dreadful
deed had finally made possible her coming to England. It was as if saying them out loud would confirm them. ‘At least it gave me time to learn French!’ she said brightly. King Henry’s Queen
and his mother, the Lady Margaret, had specially requested it, as they spoke no Spanish or Latin. And they had urged that Katherine cultivate a taste for wine, as the water in England was undrinkable. She had duly complied. She had expected many such requests and instructions to prepare her for her life in England, but there had been just one more, one that had immeasurably troubled her.
‘King Henry wants me to forget Spain,’ Catalina revealed.
‘He thinks I will be happier by not remembering it. Dr de Puebla wrote that to the King my father.’ Dr de Puebla was Spain’s resident ambassador in England, and it was he who had negotiated her marriage.
‘King Henry means well, I am sure, Highness,’ Maria soothed.
‘I can never forget my homeland,’ Catalina declared, tears welling as visions of the land of her birth came to mind, ‘but I am determined to be a good Englishwoman.’ She blinked the tears away.
‘We must make ready,’ she said. And then, mimicking her duenna, ‘I must always remember that, as soon as I set foot on English soil, I am longer the Infanta Catalina but the Lady Katherine, Princess of Wales!’ Catalina had been told that her name must be anglicised to please her husband’s future subjects, for one day, when King Henry died and Prince Arthur
succeeded to the throne, she would be queen of England.
I was to be chief mourner – I, for whom Queen Jane had done more than anyone. She could never have filled the shoes of my dear, sainted mother – no one could – but she had done her very best to restore me to my rightful place in my father’s affections, and for that I shall always be grateful.
Henry VIII’s third queen is dead, leaving the King’s only son without a mother and the country without a queen. And as preparations are being made for Queen Jane’s funeral, her stepdaughter, the Lady Mary, laments the country’s loss.
But, only a month later, the King has begun his search for a new wife. Will Mary accept this new queen, or will she be forced to live in the shadows of Queen Katherine, Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane for ever?
A spellbinding companion piece to Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen, featuring the first chapter of the novel.
The Grandmother’s Tale by historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to the spellbinding third novel in the Six Tudor Queens series, Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen
SIX TUDOR QUEENS. SIX NOVELS. SIX YEARS.
The Chateau of Briis: A Lesson in Love by historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to the Sunday Times bestseller Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, the second novel in the spellbinding series about Henry VIII’s queens.
‘May I have the pleasure of your hand in the dance, mademoiselle?’
1515 – Dressed in wine-coloured satin, with her dark hair worn loose, a young Anne Boleyn attends a great ball at the French court. The palace is exquisitely decorated for the occasion, and the hall is full with lords and ladies – the dancing has begun. Anne adores watching the game of courtly love play out before her eyes, though she is not expecting to be thrown into it herself. But moments later, a charming young man named Philippe du Moulin approaches to ask for her hand in the dance. And before she can resist, so begins Anne’s first lesson in love.
The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today is an e-short and companion piece to the Sunday Times bestseller Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession, the second novel in the spellbinding series about Henry VIII’s queens.
Jo, historian and long-term admirer of Anne Boleyn, takes a group on a guided tour of the Tower of London, to walk in the shoes of her Tudor heroine. But as she becomes enthralled by the historical accuracy of her tour guide and the dramatic setting that she has come to love, something spectral is lurking in the shadows . . .
The Blackened Heart by foremost and beloved historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece that bridges the first two novels in the Six Tudor Queens series, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick will delight in this mysterious tale, drawn together from fragments of history – and a good dose of speculation. Or is it…?
Margery Otwell, a self-made gentleman’s young daughter, gets her first taste of courtly life when she takes up a position as chamberer to Lady Peche of Lullingstone Castle. Dances, music, feasting – and a seduction – follow, and Margery learns the rules of courtly love the hard way.
Saved from disgrace by the kindly Sir John Peche, Margery finds herself at court waiting on Queen Katherine. Little does Margery know that she is already a pawn in a game of power, irrevocably bound to the fall of the lady she will come to love as her mistress, Queen and friend.
Six Tudor Queens: Writing a New Story is an introduction to the Six Tudor Queens series by eminent historian Alison Weir. The lives of Henry VIII’s queens make for dramatic stories that will offer insights into the real lives of the six wives based on extensive research and new theories that will captivate fans of Philippa Gregory and readers who lost their hearts (but not their heads) to the majestic world of Wolf Hall.
In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal …Read extract
The idea of writing a series of six novels about the wives of Henry VIII came suddenly to me as I was discussing another proposal with my agent. It was an obvious choice, for I have studied Henry’s queens over several decades, and published books on them, notably a collective biography in 1991, which I am now re-researching and rewriting.
The lives of the six wives make for dramatic stories. The extensive research I have done has afforded new insights into their lives. In all the romancing, for example, has anyone noticed the evidence that tells us what Anne Boleyn felt about being pursued by Henry VIII? Or that Henry VIII, an overprotected teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? I could go on…
I want to seek out the truths that lie behind the historical evidence and, for this, fiction is a versatile medium because it offers scope to develop ideas that have no place in a history book, but which can help to illuminate the lives of these queens. A historian uses such inventiveness at her peril – but a novelist has the power to get inside her heroine’s head, which can afford insights that would not be permissible to a historian, yet can have a legitimate value of their own – although I believe that the fictionalised version must be compatible with what is known about the subject.
Arthur: Prince of the Roses by bestselling historian Alison Weir is an e-short and companion piece to her stunning novel, Katherine of Aragon, the first in a spellbinding six-novel series about Henry VIII’s Queens. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick will love this insight into the story of this illfated Tudor prince.
‘You are the first prince of my line, the Tudor line.’
Arthur, the first Tudor prince, is raised to believe that he will inherit a kingdom destined to be his through an ancient royal bloodline. He is the second Arthur, named for the legendary hero-king of Camelot.
To be a worthy ruler, he must excel at everything – and show no weakness. But Arthur is not strong, and the hopes of England weigh heavy on his slight shoulders. And, all the while, his little brother Harry, the favoured, golden son, is waiting in the wings.
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian (and the fifth best-selling historian overall) in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Katherine Swynford, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York. Alison has also published five historical novels, including Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth. Her latest biography is The Lost Tudor Princess, about Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox. She is soon to publish Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Life Patron of Historic Royal Palaces, and is married with two adult children.
Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 2.7 million books worldwide. She has published seventeen history books, including Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York, and five historical novels. Her latest biography is The Lost Tudor Princess. She is soon to publish Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, the first in a series of novels about the wives of Henry VIII.