The King’s Curse – by Philippa Gregory

17 01 2022

A few years ago I read The Constant Princess, and have finally gotten around to reading the next book in the series! This book runs from 1499-1541, covering quite an expanse of time, but following the story of Margaret Pole. She was a Plantagenet, niece of both Edward IV and Richard III, and cousin of Elizabeth of York who was wife of Henry VII, and so while from a family that had been defeated by the Tudors, was highly involved in the family.

Near the start of this book she takes guardianship of Prince Arthur and his wife Katherine of Aragon, and as time goes on, Arthur passes away and Katherine becomes Henry VIII’s first wife, she becomes one of Katherine’s closest ladies in waiting.

Throughout the book are scattered updated pictures of her family tree so you can keep track of what’s going on as time passes – I always appreciate a book with diagrams!

Life is not easy for Margaret Pole; when life is good it’s very good, but when Henry throws her out of court things become much more frightening.

Henry as a child seems to be fairly delightful, but as he gains power, and time passes without him successfully producing an heir, he becomes much more unbearable. The book covers his first four marriages, and as things go on he seems to become more and more delusional, refusing to acknowledge anything bad that happens, it felt a little pertinent to our current leaders, but with a lot more hangings and beheadings, this situation was clearly much worse!

The other part of the book that felt oh so familiar was when The Sweat spread round the country, and people had to shut themselves away to stop the spread….

It was strange to read about things that were seen as awful at the time they happened, but for us are now perfectly normal: Henry declaring himself head of the church, requiring himself to be referred to as Your Majesty instead of Your Grace, and requiring churches to have the Bible in English instead of Latin.

I didn’t read this for ages because I didn’t know who Margaret Pole was, and so didn’t care much to read it, but I found it so interesting! Yes you take it all with a pinch of salt as it’s fiction at the end of the day, but these are supposedly well researched, there’s a long bibliography in the back, and so there’s definitely some things to learn from it! Looking forward to the next one now!

The Constant Princess – by Philippa Gregory

11 09 2017

I aimed to read a load of books on holiday, but I realised that when I was a child I think I got so much reading done on the long car journeys; now it’s me driving, I’ve lost all that reading time!

I’d been thinking about trying a Philippa Gregory book for a while, and always liked the Tudors, so when it came to topping up an Amazon order to get free delivery I tacked this one on my basket.

She’s written so many books, but helpfully has put a suggested reading order together so you get a chronological flow.

Posted by Philippa Gregory on Monday, July 7, 2014

It may look like I’ve started in the middle, but I decided to go for the one about the first of Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine of Aragon. That said, once I was reading it I kinda wished I’d started one book further back on Henry VII’s wife, but I imagine I’d work my way right back if I did that – maybe one day I will!

We start with Catalina age five in Spain to get a bit of background – at this point she’s already betrothed to Henry VII’s oldest son Arthur (Henry VIII’s older brother), and then quite quickly skip forward nine years to her arrival in England for her wedding to the Prince of Wales.

It’s hard to know how much to share without a spoiler alert because this is based on history – we all know that Arthur died before he made it to the throne because we know there was never a Tudor King Arthur! That said, there’s a lot to read about their relationship, and then of course how she ended up to be married to his younger brother later on.

I’d be fascinated to know where the line is between fact and artistic licence in these books. They are said to be very well researched, but how far does that go? Did a very young Prince Henry really walk her down the aisle to Arthur? Probably. Did Henry VII really storm in her bedroom to check she was attractive when she first arrived to marry his son? Who knows! All sorts of questions arise!

I really enjoyed this and can see me at some point working my way through the series, just got lots of other books to get through in the mean time!