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Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife by Amy License: A Book Review

Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife
Author: Amy License
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Amberley Publishing
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 560 
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Catherine of Aragon continues to fascinate readers 500 years after she became Henry VIII's first queen. Her life was one of passion and determination, of suffering and hope, but ultimately it is a tragic love story, as circumstances conspired against her. Having lost her first husband, Henry's elder brother Prince Arthur, she endured years of ill health and penury, to make a dazzling second match in Henry VIII. There is no doubt that she was Henry's true love, compatible with him in every respect and, for years, she presided over a majestic court as the personification of his ideal woman. However, Catherine’s body failed her in an age when fertility was a prerequisite of political stability. When it became clear that she could no longer bear children, the king’s attention turned elsewhere, and his once chivalric devotion became resentment. Catherine’s final years were spent in lonely isolation but she never gave up her vision: she was devoted to her faith, her husband and to England, to the extent that she was prepared to be martyred for them. Banished and close to death, she wrote a final letter to her ‘most dear lord and husband’. ‘I pardon you everything... mine eyes desire you above all things.’ The fidelity of this remarkable woman never wavered. 

     My Review: Catherine of Aragon’s marriage to Henry VIII forever changed the course of England. She is most popularly known as King Henry’s discarded wife. Yet, this biography by Amy License shows that Catherine was much more than that. The author portrays Catherine as a Crusader queen and that she was willing to become a martyr for her faith. Thus, Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife portrays Catherine as a woman of steadfast courage and resilient strength. She was in every sense Henry VIII’s equal.

   I have read many books on Tudors, primarily of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. In fact, it was my interest in the Tudors era that got me interested in high school. The very first book I read that got me interested in the historical fiction genre was The King’s Pleasure by Norah Lofts, a novel centered on Catherine of Aragon. When I first began reading Catherine of Aragon, I was thinking what new information can she present to me because there are many biographies out there about her. After I began reading it, I was astounded. This is the most extensive and detailed biography of Catherine of Aragon that has ever been published so far.

    Even though Catherine of Aragon was queen of England, she was always a daughter of Spain. She strived to be an excellent queen like her mother Isabella of Castile. Catherine was in every way a true Renaissance queen. She pratroned humanists. She was a great strategist because not only did she win the battle against Scotland while she was regent, but she was also well-prepared in her fight of continuing to be Henry’s lawful wife.

  I also like that the author took great detail in how Catherine was a maiden by the time she married Henry. While Arthur and Catherine are the only people who know if their marriage was consummated, Mrs. License gives us evidence to show that she may have been a virgin because of the eyewitnesses’ testimonies. She also gives us many reasons to show why she was Henry’s true wife. All of Europe, including the Protestant Reformation Leader, believed that she was Henry’s lawful wife and gave their reasoning. Therefore, Henry did not have much of a case when he put aside his wife of 24 years.

  Overall, this biography shows why Catherine is still one of England’s most popular queens and why her story continues to fascinate us today. She was in every way Isabella’s daughter. She proved herself a great queen. I think that Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife is the closest we can get to truly knowing her. It covers many aspects of her life. This is a must-read for any fans of the Tudors, especially those who have a special place for Catherine of Aragon in their hearts.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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