Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s Spanish Queen
This major biography adds a refreshing new focus by using extensive material from Spanish sources. The picture that emerges of this extraordinary woman will excite Tudor aficionados and others. Tremlett highlights two points that continue to intrigue historians: Catherine’s obstinate refusal to concede divorce by admitting that her marriage to Arthur had been consummated, and the question of whether England would have remained Roman Catholic had she chosen to go quietly into a convent. He adds a third, albeit speculative, point that is worth highlighting: even when her situation was most dire, Catherine chose not to instigate her English supporters to demand the protection of her nephew Charles V’s powerful empire. Catherine inspired loyalty in nearly all of those who came to know her, none more so than the faithful Maria de Salinas who sailed to England with the 15-year-old infanta in 1501 and contrived to be at her side a week before she died in January 1536. This enthralling read offered one more surprise: the publishers have successfully resolved an old gripe by including 86 pages of footnotes and a 10-page bibliography on their website, thereby establishing the credentials for this ‘popular’ work to be taken extremely seriously.