19 thoughts on “WCW: Catherine of Braganza & Mary of Modena

  1. I’ve only seen Shirley Henderson as Catherine, but it was awesome. She goes after Charles when he genuinely deserves it, and she’s fearless. I’ve always felt a little bad for Catherine, but I’d argue she ended up being one of the few women Charles actually respected, and that isn’t nothing. Mary of Modena was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and her awful sons didn’t help. (Someone may’ve recently been rabbit holing 17th century Europe on Wikipedia. Don’t judge.)

    1. Shirley Henderson definitely got my respect in that role and I agree, even as woefully as Charles II treated her, I think he had a deep respect and even affection for her (My proof of this is the fact that he refused to annul their marriage numerous times despite his advisors urging him to and that it would have made much sense at the time since she couldn’t seem to bear a living child. Th only explanation I can think of for him staying in the marriage is that he liked Catherine).

      1. Charles was not faithful but he was intensely loyal to his wife. He couldn’t keep in in his breeches but he could and did comfort her during her miscarriages, and stand up for her against parliament and anti catholic activists. He does seem to have admired and respected her and they eventually worked out a modus vivendi that got her as much attention as his other women.

  2. I would guess that the average English person would have been more knowledgeable about Portuguese politics in the 1660s than they are now. Portugal was in decline, but still a Great Power at the time.

    I think that Catherine was identified as being from the House of Braganza because the civil war which put them in power was still recent history. Portugal and England were long-time allies by that point, mainly because Spain was a common enemy, but Portugal was taken over by Spain in 1581 when Philip II of Spain became king of Portugal. Philip’s enemies became Portugal’s enemies, so Portugal fought on the side of the Spanish in 1588. The Braganzas kicked out the Hapsburgs in 1640, so Catherine’s connection with them would have made her very popular in England.

    She is usually credited with popularizing tea in England, so every stereotype of Englishmen which involves their world revolving around a cup of tea stems ultimately from her.

    1. It’s also possible that the name ‘Catherine of Braganza’ was an expedient intended to avoid a hissy fit from the Spanish ambassador (“She can’t be ‘of Portugal’, my master is the RIGHTFUL King of Portugal!”): Old Rowley always was one for the easy life, if only he could find some way to enjoy it.

    1. No, those are all the MISTRESSES – they just left out the various one-night stands, afternoon delights, morning glories and other fleeting passions so that there would actually be some room on His Majesty’s bed and so they could keep the camera close enough to distinguish details of the various faces.

  3. Catherine of Braganza also appears in The First Churchills, but she has no lines and I cannot find out who played her. Sheila Gish is very sympathetic in this series. She was the very much younger second wife of James (not too much older than her stepdaughters) and is also shown as acting as a matchmaker between Sarah Jennings and John Churchill. The “bedpan” scene is properly ambiguous. It’s a great series- I’d love it if you can review it. Lots of history which rarely appears on screen,(how often do you see the 1690s?) and the best Charles II!

      1. You watched Six Wives of Henry VIII – it’s much the same quality. Just think of the full bottomed wigs on some of those Whigs! (To say nothing of the Tories!). And ladies in fontages! And mantuas! :). Some of Sarah’s dresses she wears in the 1670s style get reworked in 1680s style – which I would think actually happened in real life. And there’s James Villiers as an very shrewd and funny Charles II and Margaret Tyzack as poor unfortunate Queen Anne.

      2. I too love Shirley Henderson as Catherine, she wonderful in everything from Catherine Minola in Shrew to opposite David Suchet in The Way We Live Now. I too am a First Churchills fan and I beg for a review.

  4. Also royals were often denominated by their “house” rather than the country. So Anne of Austria was actually from Spain, but a Hapsburg – hence the House of Austria.

  5. “She’s one of the few (only?) English queens to return to her native country” I believe Margaret of Anjou, the fierce wife of the ill-fated King Henry VI, also returned to her native France after her husband and son were killed during the War of the Roses.

      1. It’s nice to know that Catherine was appreciated back in Portugal and was politically active and influential not vegetating in seclusion. Going home seems to have been a good move for her.

  6. The “warming pan baby,” the child of James II and Mary of Modena was the Old Pretender. It was his son Charles who was The Young Pretender, the one who led (and lost) the ’45 rebellion. The name “Bonnie Prince Charlie” was a Victorian romanticism, not a name any of his contemporaries would have recognised.

  7. Fun fact! Catherine of Braganza is the eponymous Queen of the New York City Borough.

    (yes, that’s weird)

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