64 thoughts on “Top 5 Ways The Spanish Princess Gets the History Wrong

  1. In Reality Catherine seems to have made a hit with the Tudor women. Elizabeth named her last child, the baby she died bearing, after Catherine and as you say Margaret Beaufort remembered her in her will. The match with Spain was very important, showing the Tudor Dynasty had arrived giving the Queen and the King’s Mother every reason to welcome the girl with open arms.
    Catherine’s subsequent troubles were due not to any feminine and domestic hostility but to her sharp reduction in value on the marriage market after her mother’s death and the greedy games of Henry VII and Ferdinand.

    1. Yes we know most of the story is padded and fabricated and is expected from the TV Starz as it was done with previous shows: T.W.Q. and T.W.P. ONE THING that bothers me; Lena betrayed Catherine’s trust 3 times just as Judas betrayed Jesus. I do not want to see Lena return for the 2nd part of the series. Catherine, at the very least needs to banish her. Catherine was too great of a women to have frivolous women around her.

  2. Very interesting amount of information here.

    It’s very often to observe that the filmindustry avoid to have the leading roles too young. Here Arthur and Catherine are adults for the whole series.
    We see the same aspect in “L’échange des princesses”, where both princesses are too old for their roles. The young princess of Orléans was 12, although the actress was 18 and just not looking like a 18th century child.

    But as you implied it, sex is something attractive to the responsibles. If the figures would act typically for their age, it would be a challenge to create a interesting story (although Kenneth Loach did a great job in “Black Jack”).

    I would like to read more about films that capture childhood in history properly.

    1. This always makes me think of The Crucible. Lead antagonist Abigail is only 14, yet she’s always portrayed as much older.

  3. The one I will let slide most easily is their relative ages.I think we all saw from The Phantom Menace what happens when you introduce one half of the love interests in their final casting form (at 14) and one at nine: everyone finds the whole thing creepy.

    Margaret Beaufort has just been screwed since the get-go, along, ironically, with Elizabeth Wydeville and Elizabeth of York, since Phillipa Fucking Gregory decided HERE female empowerment means either literal ass-kicking and murder or witchcraft.

    1. Funny how it’s only found creepy if the female half is older? I mean, The Thornbirds is pretty freakin’ creepy, though.

      1. I didn’t find The Phantom Menace all that creepy, like they met when they were young and then again as grownups but yes the Thornbirds is the creepiest thing ever!! I hate that book and the miniseries with passion. This case, the Spanish Princess, reminds me most of Braveheart’s very fucked up timeline.

    2. Yes but it’s ridiculous to have like a 19-year-old playing someone that supposed to be like nine years old at the time (Henry) there’s no way he could pass for nine-year-old why didn’t they just have an age progression type thing! He was a teenager already

  4. Your first point. 100%. I actually choked on my coffee when I heard that Isabella was portrayed as having physically fought in battles. Why take any moment of time to portray her skills as a politician, her great power, her excellent partnnership with Ferdinand, when you can just show her with a bloody sword? Ugh. ugh, ugh! And of course, the old – well, she’s Spanish, so we show her with black hair and eyes. So annoying.

    And the diminuation of proper names drives me batty – “Maggie” Pole. Triple Ugh!

    1. The nicknames – SO annoying! “Lizzie” in the White Princess, and “Maggie” pole. HOW ABOUT BESS OR MEG, ACTUAL PERIOD-APPROPRIATE NICKNAMES, IF YOU GOTTA NICKNAME??!!

  5. Thanks for this. I wish the book and series had taken as much care. Oh well.

    Anyone who actually watched, did the “I know a schemer when I see one, and I see a Spanish schemer in a skirt” line actually work? Because it seems overwrought.

  6. Would like to add a bit on your 3rd point: Nobody married “for luv”. Well, maybe the poorest of the poors because nobody really cared, but as soon as their was even a wee bit of money involved, it became a business transaction, and love was thought to bee far to flighty an emotion to build something serious on. Certainly not marriage.
    It only in quite recent times that Love got pre-eminent status (with a big grain of salt: fammilies with money still seriously push their kids to marry in their social circle)

    1. They might not have married “for love” but they definitely had love between them when they were wed, which was unusual for most royal couples. Henry grew into an adult around Catherine, and I think I read somewhere that he initially looked to her like an older sister..

      1. Right, and he chose to marry Catherine — when he came of age, and was king on his own — partly because of the Spanish alliance, but also b/c he was attracted to her.

    2. I’ve always thought of Victoria and Albert as the European celebrity couple who popularized romantic love as a sound basis for marriage. (Not that theirs wasn’t founded on a few other wee factors, such as royal status.*) And that was less than 200 years ago, not very long in historical terms.

      *Although, as we know, VI could be surprisingly unbiased about class and color. She was Queen, damn it, and if she liked you, you were cool.

    3. YES!! Pt. #3 is the thing I have hated about Every. Single. Costume. Drama. EVAAARR. THANK YOU!! Princesses would have been raised from birth to expect to bring pride to their lineages by marrying foreign princes and having lots of heirs. Margaret and Mary Tudor were lucky enough and smart enough to eventually get their own ways, but their first marriages belonged to their fathers to make. They may have been grossed out about the bed bits, but they would never have demurred. And they would have been proud that they were going to represent their family as queens of other kingdoms.

      This pride of place is also missing in most of these dramas. It’s one of the things I like best about this characterization of Katherine. Her speech to herself about being a daughter of Spain strikes me as being spot on. What they had her do with it, otoh, dumb as rocks, but.

  7. All of the abysmal history in the Spanish Princess bothered me. Re Isabella of Castile, she also encourage women’s higher education. All of her daughters were given excellent educations.
    Point 2: CofA wouldn’t have had a Moor as an attendant, the reconquest was only about 9 years (1492 Ferdinand of Aragon took the last Moorish stronghold, Granada).
    Point 3: Mary Tudor, the White Queen was a redhead and so I believe was her elder sister, Margaret.

    I could go on but I believe that most points were covered by you and all of us.

    Tullamore Dew or….?

      1. When I saw the portrait of Princess Mary and Charles Brandon years ago I thought the hair was an auburn red. And I read somewhere that her hair was reddish.

    1. Actually, the character of “Lina,” Catherine’s lady-in-waiting, is mostly correct. From Amy Licence’s biography, describing Catherine’s Spanish servants: “There was Catalina, once the queen’s slave, who used to make her bed and attend to other services of the chamber, who had been married to a morisco named Oviedo, a crossbow-maker at Valdezcaray. They had lived in Malaga, but after being widowed, she had gone with her daughters to live in her home town of Motril. She had formed part of the royal household when the said queen [Catherine] and her husband, Henry, met for the first time in 1501.”

      1. There is a rather large difference in status between lady in waiting and personal slave. That given, a more realistic portrayal of Catalina and her intimate service to Catherine could be fascinating.

        1. In this instance, I accept the artistic licence. It’s fucking demoralizing to be Black and see enslavement as the main portrayal in period pieces.

      2. I didn’t know about the book until you referred to it earlier. I have requested a copy from my library through I.L.L.

      3. There’s an article about Catalina here: https://www.historytoday.com/history-matters/other-catalina. It makes the point that Catalina, as the princess’s bedmaker, was quite possibly the one other person who really knew what had taken place between Arthur’s and Catherine’s sheets! But also that she wasn’t ‘Catalina de Cardones’, who was another, much higher-born, member of Catherine’s entoruage.

        However, the ethnicity of the actors cast as Lina and Oviedo is quite misleading. They were ‘moriscos’, or ‘Moors’, that is, Spanish people converted from Islam or descended from Muslims. The ethnic origin of the population of Al-Andalus was a mixture. The largest group were Berbers, originally from North Africa; next largest were the Arabs; the remainder were descendants of the pre-Islamic Spanish population.They were on average darker than (most) Europeans, but certainly not Sub-Saharan black like Aaron Cobham and Stephanie Levi-John.

    2. Catherine in real life was apparently very short…under five foot. Later in life she was said to be as wide as she was tall. Even at 15 she was described as plump. Not tall and slim.
      As for her mother, I can’t get past the mania for burning people she shared with Mary Tudor…the religious mania she handed over to Catherine.i have trouble with Catherine as far as clinging to her refusal to divorce even when her friends would burn because she would not relent. She could have ended the executions long before Moore and the bishop were tortured and killed. And don’t get me started on Thomas Moore and his mania for killing anyone not on the same page as he was…okay got off on a rant here lol. I love the era but hate the religious craziness and all the hypocrisy.

  8. To add to the nonsense that is the consummation question, it didn’t seem to be such a big deal at the time of Arthur’s death. It was only treated as such when Henry needed an excuse to divorce Catherine; after all, they had a fucking papal dispensation! Henry later simply argued that it doesn’t mean anything, because pope has no right to give such permission. Groom’s age and political situation were much bigger hurdles for the prospective marriage.

    1. The biggest issue with gaining the divorce was Henry’s ego and Henry himself! He thought himself as a great religious and humanist scholar. By using the affinity argument and refusing to allow the separation to progress privately, he forced the Pope and Catherine to act as they did. Instead of using the same reasoning that Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louie VII of France used to annul their marriage of Consanguinity to the 4th Degree, his arguments branded Catherine as a liar and whore. He gave her no way to save face, especially since she strongly believed that she was destined to be the Queen of England. Catherine was not a fool and she knew that England was not cosmopolitan enough to easily accept a female ruler and that Henry needed a male heir to secure the throne.

      1. I don’t know about the Eleanor of Aquitane solution – it seems, at least to me, that in the Tudor times annulation was much less common, at least of royal marriages than in the early middle ages. For example, despite numerous reasons for dissolution (consanguinity, dubious consent on the side of bride, her infertility) the marriage of Henry IV and Margaret of Valois was dissolved only after tedious negotiations. As for the possibility of female ruler, Catherine’s mother was one, so I can’t imagine she would have much sympathy for Henry in this regard – sure, it would be difficult for Mary to establish herself, but possible, as the fact that she actually did become a queen shows. And there is also a possibility of Mary’s husband becoming the king by her side or instead of her.

  9. Thank you for vindicating Margaret Beaufort. PFG and EFF’ vendetta against the awesome badassery that was the real Margaret Beaufort pisses me off. I’ve spent the last 7 weeks bitching about this show’s historical inaccuracies and general WTF? logic, so seeing someone else doing it is refreshing. Ha, ha.

  10. OMG! I just read a posting on YouTube in which th eposter talked about his love for the period based on watching The Tudors. I had to let him know that the series and history were two separate things.

  11. “Catherine is shown being disappointed to learn that what she thought were letters she had received from her fiance Arthur were actually jokes written by his younger brother Henry”

    IF this was true (and note: it’s not) I think it would be totally understandable for Catherine to be disappointed or upset. She believed that, through these letters, she and Arthur had established the bedrock for a successful, and maybe even loving, marriage. It’s not unnatural for her to be pleased with that outcome. Even here (and it makes my skin crawl to give this show any credit), it doesn’t really change anything: she still marries Arthur and becomes Princess of Wales.

    1. Yes, but Henry would have been 7-8-9 when writing those letters, and moreover, there’s NO WAY those letters weren’t read and/or dictated by tutors, parents, and ambassadors before they were sent. In other words, there’s no way anyone could have written on the down-low.

  12. Much as I admire male pulchritude the shirtless scenes bother me because no man in the sixteenth c. would appear shirtless in public. Stripping to your shirt was daring enough and as far as any man would go when working or exercising.

    1. I myself chalk it up to “acceptable breaks from reality”. ;)
      But seriously, that’s actually male version of the old “I don’t care if it’s historical, I just want my tits out”.

  13. The portrait, shown here as Catherine of Aragon painted by Michel Sittow, is now thought to be one of Mary Rose Tudor, painted about 1514, when she was betrothed to Charles V. The painting was shown in the Michel Sittow exhibition last year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as a portrait of Mary Rose Tudor. The identification is based on both the dating of the age the wood panel it is painted on and the Tudor roses in her jewelry.

    There was another work in that show that has been identified as a portrait of her as Mary Magdalene in Detroit https://www.dia.org/art/collection/object/catherine-aragon-magdalene-61540

    1. With all due respect to expert opinion, why would Mary Tudor be wearing a collar of Ks alternating with Tudor Roses?

  14. The Blessed Margaret “Maggie” Pole. Why draw this woman as a dithering ditz always on the verge of crying. From what I’ve read, she was a rather brilliant estate manager once her lands were restored.

    1. Because ‘good’ women have to be weak and ineffectual? Only bad women can be strong and effective.

  15. Yeah I dunno why “PFG” has such a hatred for Margaret Beaufort. I suppose her devotion to religion made her the easiest, laziest antagonist to the pseudo-pagan witches she portrays Elizbaeth Woodville and her mother as.
    The weird part is she isn’t even conistent with that. I like to listen to “PFG”‘s books while traveling for work, because you don’t have to pay attention, it’s mildly amusing and it’s easy to fall asleep to, and Iirc she does include the part where Woodville and Margaret Beaufort conspire to wed Elizabeth of York to Henry Tudor in the White Queen…and then in the White Princess Beaufort is back to being an antagonist who seems like she’d shoot Elizabeth of York out of London in a cannon if she had the chance.

    1. The fact that Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort conspired to wed Elizabeth of York to Henry VII is one of the most incredible and brilliant intrigues in world history and deserves much more credit than it gets in these series.

      1. Two women team up to take down an usuper and murderer and succeed despite the failures of the men around then. Sounds like a good story to me.

        1. You got it. No need to embellish the history of this time period as everything that actually happened was remarkable!

  16. Oh definitely, there’s a much more interesting story in that alone than in the whole of PFG’s “Cousin’s War” series.
    But I guess she needed the page space for those weird fairy tale interludes she shoves in the beginning of each chapter, or something.

    1. So true! Despite three husbands she seems to have exercised a remarkable degree of agency which shows her strength of character but her second husband, Henry Stafford, and his family, appear to have been very fond of her, and of course her first brother in law, Jasper Tudor was a lifelong friend and ally. All of which suggests she was far from being the cast iron bitch beloved of the likes the PFG.

  17. For an “academic” you should realize just HOW distracting all your cursing is in this article. “Fuck this fuck that cut a bitch.”Are you serious? I, myself, curse a lot….but girl, you need to put together a sentence without filler words or sounding like a whining teenager. Your article would be much more effective without it. I had to stop reading because even though your information is correct, this sounds like an argument put forward by one of my middle school students…. sorry

    1. If I were writing for an academic audience, I would 1000% agree with you — but I’m not. It’s also for comic effect, and to demonstrate my level of irritation. So, it’s consciously done.

      1. I was inclined to strongly disagree with you, given the “academic” label pasted by you — and above all: That it’s an adult[e/]-rated fiction but boy..

        From the looks of it: You couldn’t be more right!

        For somebody posing as a “History”-whiz( itself a pseudoscience relying almost totally on thesis, TBH) — and above all, for a show that lacks even moderate swearing( I’ve catched-up to the end of Pilot): Your argument stands the litmus-test.
        I would even add that the author could also be acting like a senile, Coprolaliac old-hag than just a stereotypical teenager.

        P.S. The fact that you didn’t take any legible issue in the nudity and even the frank exploration of human-sexuality certainly contributed significantly in my final-position. Because otherwise, you would’ve been just-another[ post-Victorian] Puritan.

    2. Haha..! 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾

      I actually do get your point, as well. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

      However, at the risk of getting accused of “mansplaining”: That doesn’t mean the invocation of any derogatory-/ethnically-charged language/expletive should be a strict “no-no” in an academic-discourse by skirting it around with euphemisms and all. That sounds Puritan. The application of contentious-language uncensored must be predicated on the connotation of a given discourse.
      In fact, I personally also believe that the language sound be uncensored when any contentious-term is being invoked as[ part of] a proper-noun.

  18. Thank you! I watch this show like I watch any made-up fantasty. PFG is a hack. Didn’t she start her ‘biography’ of Anne and Mary as saying Anne was the older sister? Now she has Katherine going into battle in maternity armor. Seriously? I do watch the shows, but you just can’t take them seriously. These were strong, important women, I hate to see their stories turned into such a a travesty.

  19. Lies, lies and more lies…. I think the worse injustice committed by the series is that it does not capture that Henry was only 9 years old when Arthur married Katherine. Today, if some 16 year-old woman was pursuing my 9 year-old, she needs to be locked up.

    Catherine of A never fought at Flodden and their certainly never was coats of armor in maternity sized.

    I feel crap like hers makes people believe lies about real people. She isn’t writing historical fiction… No, she’s writing libel that a living person can sue for.

  20. I just started watching season two and they’ve already got the newborn baby that died At a month and a half, looking like he’s three months old why are they doing this it makes it even worse?

  21. I hate this show, and will never watch it again. They make Catherine out to be a terrible mother, she leaves her baby boy lying on the church altar while she prays, he is then dead by the time she’s finished. She doesn’t want Mary and neglects her, wanting nothing to do with her because she was born a healthy girl instead of a healthy boy. What? Catherine and Mary were extremely close, they adored each other, had a strong mother and daughter bond. And what was going on at the end of season two where Henry VIII brought Catherine into the woods to try and have her assassinated? Then Catherine saw Henry fall for Anne Boleyn’s charms and decided to leave the palace with only her daughter and a bird in tow. There’s so much more that’s annoying in this but I can’t think of it.

    1. I’m glad I didn’t waste time watching it. I hate it when they do stuff like that. It’s so senseless. The true story is incredibly compelling.Why alter it like that? I don’t get it.

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