"fabric artist and quilter"
Alison Weir weaves her charm with this glorious set of biographies of Mary, Edward and Elizabeth and their cousin Jane who was Queen for just 9 days. Its fascinating for all those that love of Tudor history as it gives personal insight to each individual from what must have been exhaustive research by Weir.
I have to say that they were a very dysfunctional family and the repercussions of such disturbed childhoods showed in each of their characters and in the decisions they made both before they reigned and after their sub sequential successions.
My only disappointment was that it stopped when Elizabeth became Queen however it did mean that I went on to listen to Weir's The Life of Elizabeth I.
Highly recommended for all Tudor history lovers and for those that thought they grew up in a dysfunctional family!
This book is amongst the best I heard so far and a great idea bringing history to life. The author has lead a group of listeners as tourists back to 14th century England and lead us about the country pointing out interesting things and explaining their significance both to the times and also to the future.
The tragic story of Juana would be reason enough to read this book. However, there is so much gained in taking a second look at Catherine of Aragon. Juana is unfortunately remembered as Juana the Mad, but this book examines the evidence and casts doubts on the accuracy of the sobriquet. When she inherited the kingdom of Castile on her mother's death, she ended up at the mercy of men competing to rule it- her husband, her father, and eventually her son Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Not in dispute is her legacy of numerous offspring that married into many royal houses.
Catherine of Aragon faced many difficult times. She left Spain to marry Prince Arthur of England. After Arthur died, she faced years of uncertainty and financial hardship while her father-in-law and father remained in a bitter money dispute over her dowry. Her life brightened when Arthur's brother Henry VIII ascended to the throne and immediately married her only to later leave her when his head was turned by Anne Boleyn.
The book is very good at going into details on the case presented to the church by both sides. Henry is very upset that Catherine couldn't provide him with a son (that lived) and blames this misfortune on marrying his brother's wife (degree of affinity) even though the church granted a dispensation for Catherine and Henry's marriage. One of the weaknesses of this argument that is prominently pointed out in the book is that since Henry's former mistress Mary is Anne's sister, marrying Anne would be violating the same degree of affinity. Anne Boleyn's role (and that of her grasping family) in assisting Henry's side is also detailed in the book.
Catherine is presented as a counselor to Henry during the beginning of his reign. When her crafty father Ferdinand would try to better his own prospects at the expense of Henry and England, Catherine would stand behind Henry and her adopted country. Her intelligence and determination is best shown in her tenacity fighting for her marriage and enlisting the help of Juana's son Charles V to repeatedly pressure the Pope. The book brings out Catherine's concern on how adversely an annulment will affect the future of her daughter Mary. Not only did it affect her prospects as an heir, it also severely affected her marriage choices. Catherine, brought up by the "Catholic monarchs" Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, also despaired at the rise of Protestantism in England and worried about the effect of the broken marriage as well as Anne and her beliefs would have on the country. The book brings out that the unfortunate result of Catherine's struggle to keep her marriage would end up weakening the Catholic church in England by forcing Henry to leave the church to get his much desired marriage to Anne. She also had to endure Henry's punishment of isolating her from her beloved daughter.
The book provides a good look at the children of Ferdinand and Isabella and their influence on the world at the time. The good qualities of Juana have been hidden underneath an accusation of insanity, made by the people who profited the most by her removal from the scene. Catherine of Aragon is more than just a bitter, overly religious first wife- she is an educated woman concerned about the future of her daughter, her country, and her husband.
I discovered this book because I had bought another book George, Nicholas, and Wilhem that was also narrated by Roslyn Landor. I enjoyed the book and her performance and was interested in her other books.