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Catherine of Aragon: Henry's Spanish Queen

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  3,393 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
The youngest child of the legendary monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was born to marry for dynastic gain. Endowed with English royal blood on her mother's side, she was betrothed in infancy to Arthur, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Henry VII of England, an alliance that greatly benefited both sides. Yet Arthur died weeks after their ...more
Kindle Edition, 479 pages
Published by Faber & Faber (first published November 1st 2010)
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Jerry Jr.
Mar 27, 2011 Jerry Jr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this biography with a very clear notion of what I did not want: merely another rehearsal of the same events and anecdotes of "the King's Great Matter" that has been recounted or fictionalized countless times. Too often, Catherine of Aragon in these accounts is treated--that infamous wedding night with Prince Arthur aside--as if she quite simply sprang into existence the moment Henry VIII decided their marriage was over. The backstory--where this woman came from, how she came to be who ...more
This book may be unique in English-language historical literature; at least, I can't think of another like it. There are many, many books about Henry VIII, or the six wives of Henry VIII, or Anne Boleyn (Catherine of Aragon's successor/usurper), but I can't think of a single full-length biography of Catherine herself. Most of the books about Henry's wives act as if she only stepped onto the scene when Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn. This covers her entire life, beginning with the background ...more
Catherine of Aragon was a remarkable woman – the daughter of the great Queen Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, a formidable leader of the Battle of Flodden, and eventually known for being displaced by Anne Boleyn but holding true to her wedding vows. Catherine was born for the history books but is often outshone by the aforementioned Anne Boleyn. Giles Tremlett brings Catherine to the forefront in, “Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII”.

Tremlett begins “Catherine of Ara
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the Week
A compelling account of the life of the Spanish Infanta who became Queen of England, then changed the course of Tudor history by refusing to grant Henry VIII the divorce he needed to marry Anne Boleyn.

Yolanda Vazquez reads Giles Tremlett's new biography of Catherine of Aragon, the tenacious woman whose marriage lasted twice as long as those of Henry's five other wives put together.

Abridged by Alison Joseph
Producer: Eilidh McCreadie.
Dec 17, 2016 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I previously knew very little of Catherine of Aragon other than that she was Henry VIII's first wife and that her tenure in that role lasted longer than that of the other five wives put together. The gap in my knowledge has now been put right by Giles Tremlett's excellent and detailed study of the lady in question; there is even some fresh material from Spanish archives that has not been seen before.

Catherine was of royal descent, being the daughter of Ferdinand V of Aragon and Isabel I of Casti
I bought this book at Heathrow looking for something to while some time away during a 24 hour flight. And I was hooked – the normal inflight entertainment didn’t stand a chance.

The book is well written and very readable. It provides a lot of background information on Catherine’s parents and the situation in Spain and her early years in England, all of which shaped her character. The passages about Catherine’s youth in Spain and the descriptions of the scenery and palaces, especially the Alhambra
Dec 21, 2010 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Amazingly well done biography. Tremlett combs through account books and diplomat reports and uses them to present a on the ground picture of the life of Catherine of Aragon, showing the life of this remarkable woman in terms both in character and actions.
Sep 26, 2011 CF rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliantly well researched book. Starting from Katherine's early life in Spain, being brought up by her two formidable parents Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, it is easy to see where she inherited her determined and strong personality.

From her first marriage to Henry VIII's elder brother Arthur, and what actually happened during that short time (the sources are very conflicted depending on whose side the writer was on) to her years stuck in England before she could marry H
Jun 02, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to come across this book in a bookstore recently! I had read and loved Ghosts of Spain (by Tremlett) 2 summers ago before moving to Madrid for a year. As a Tudors nerd, I was very excited when I saw he had written a biography of Catherine of Aragon, but I could never manage to quite get my hands on a copy.

As a few other people have suggested in the reviews, I found the first half of the book much more interesting, since it focused on the comparatively untold story of Catherine's
Feb 11, 2013 Lina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biographical
I have ready many books on the Six Wives of Henry the VIII and have seen many adaptations and the wife that has always captured my interest was Katherine of Aragon. Mainly because there was so little put into her and after Anne Boleyn arrives she sort of takes over the narrative. Unfortunately, biographies on Katherine were limited and outdated. This is the first one to appear in nearly fifty years.

I enjoyed reading this because it only presented the facts and allowed us to make our own minds a
Jan 03, 2011 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a Tudor history junkie. My mom started me on Jean Plaidy practically in the crib, and I've never looked back.

This is the first truly sympathetic, in depth portrait of Catherine that I've read. It was so interesting to read the other side of the glamorous, scandalous Great Matter of the King. Because Elisabeth I was so beloved and ruled so wisely and long, the world tends to focus on her doomed, tragic, pathetic mother, and Bloody Mary's mom gets relegated to the dowdy impediment to the birt
Nov 21, 2010 Bettie☯ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brazilliant Laura and R4 listeners
Nothing new brought to table here, and without even any sparkle to make this worth while as an also-ran.

blurbification - A compelling account of the life of the Spanish Infanta who became Queen of England, then changed the course of Tudor history by refusing to grant Henry VIII the divorce he needed to marry Anne Boleyn. Yolanda Vazquez reads Giles Tremlett's new biography of Catherine of Aragon, the tenacious woman whose marriage lasted twice as long as those of Henry's five other wives put to
Leanda Lisle
Jun 27, 2013 Leanda Lisle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Henry VIII boasted to ambassadors of his vivacious eighteen-month-old daughter Mary, 'this child never cries'. The affectionate father was at the same time also a loving husband to Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon. When that changed so did the child, and there were tears aplenty, as well as a legacy of blood and fire.

Giles Tremlett's book is the first full-length biography of Catherine in forty years. Tremlett lives in Spain, where he works as a journalist for The Guardian, and had immediate a
Dec 02, 2014 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine of Aragon has commonly been reduced to a supporting character in the notorious Anne Boleyn's world. A thorn in the king's side; a woman to be pitied; matronly; a friendless foreigner; faithful and pious. Basically, Catherine has been reduced to the long-suffering figure of "the wife." I have always been frustrated with the contemporary retellings of Henry VIII and his six wives, whose stories always seem to begin when Henry met Anne, as if Catherine had not been on the Tudor scene sinc ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting take on Henry VIII's long suffering queen. What I liked about it was it came across unbiased. Though she is a sympathetic historical figure, a lot of the biographies I read of her skew a lot of facts, and add in unnecessarily biting commentary about Anne Boleyn (because it really takes two to tango and King Henry should get just as much shit, if not more, as her if you're going to do it).

This is the first biography I have read of her that brings up her being (possibl
Jan 05, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. I've read extensively on the Tudor and Elizabethan eras; it's probably my favorite subject aside from science fiction. I've never experienced this level of detail and felt such compassion for Henry's first queen, Catherine of Aragon as I did here.

This is the first book that I've read to treat Catherine not as a conservative roadblock, shroud all in black and rosaries, but as a victim (albeit not a helpless one) of a king with the whims of a hummingbird, and a governmen
Apr 14, 2016 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough well researched and very readable biography of Catherine of Aragon. The history sits alongside Catherine so that the person isn't lost in the sweep of events. Henry should have looked at his mother-in-law's reputation more closely before he tried to get rid of his wife. The youngest child of Isabella of Castille was the one commentators said was most like her mother.
Carey Combe
Very disappointed in this book. It added nothing more than what I knew already from general history . Badly written for example, "She knew she had been good while England had been bad to her" - ehhh. Uncompelling, unsympathetic and generally poor. What a shame.
Kelli Praest
May 03, 2012 Kelli Praest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first book review so, I hope this goes well! I've had way too much coffee and too little sleep and I do believe you can really tell! Next time I write a book review, I think I'm going to go with way too much wine, just to spice things up a bit. ;)There may be some...a billion.. spoilers, so read with caution. Can you really spoil history though?

This book seemed very anti-Boleyn to me. Giles Tremlett often refers to Anne as "Boleyn". I have been an Anne Boleyn fan since Natalie Dormer
Sarah Beth
I was really interested in reading this biography of Henry VIII's first wife, because although I have encountered Catherine as a character in numerous novels and other historical works, I knew little about her life before becoming queen. Most Tudor novels focus on the drama of the end of Catherine's marriage and Henry's remarriage to Anne Boleyn, and Catherine is generally portrayed as the older, stubborn, barren wife, preventing Henry from annulling their marriage, and demonstrating a deep-seat ...more
Shelli Castor
Jun 30, 2014 Shelli Castor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this book. The book started off slowly and could at times get bogged down in superfluous descriptions. However, I know the author was trying to establish a background for Catherine, Henry VIII's first queen. Because information about Catherine's early years is scarce, Giles Tremlett, a Spain-based journalist, relies on facts about Spain and the Spanish royal family at the time of Catherine to give us a picture of what life might have been like for the first fifteen years of the ...more
Johanna H.
This Book of Catherine made me really admire her in a way that no Book that i've read about the Wives of Henry had made me admire her before.
Most Books i read about her seemed to start with her later life because they showed so little of her life as a young child and woman. This Book gives a really thorough description of her life in Spain, her Parents, her Siblings and her life as a child. How she came as a young woman to England and the hardships she had to endure before she became Queen of En
Dec 14, 2011 Emilie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: histories
I have read many biographies on the Queens of Henry VIII, but never an entire work devoted to only Catherine of Aragon. Tremlett does not portray Catherine as many have come to see her, as the angel wife who was set aside for a seductress. The beginning of the work starts with Catherine's parents, explaining the importance of the marriage of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. Catherine's childhood is then written out, the influence of her mother is greatly stressed. Her religion too, c ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This is an interesting and useful examination of a pivotal moment in European and English history. It goes into more detail than I recall from Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII or Henry VIII: The King and His Court. (Though I'd say that these books are useful background.) Tremlett also consults Spanish sources which (as I recall) Weir did not.

More like 3.5 stars. The things that stopped me from giving it four stars are some instances of word confusion (mother instead of father when refer
Mar 17, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Every year as my mind turns to thoughts of Scarborough Faire, the local Ren Fair set in Elizabethan times, I find myself reading up on the time period. I went to the library for Spring Break and found a new biography with a new viewpoint.

Giles Tremlett gained access to the Spanish archives while living in Spain. Through the archives he found the papers regarding Henry VIII's first wife. Normally when we read about Catherine, her life is based on English history with English biases. With this boo
Aug 02, 2012 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aside from a bit of backtracking within chapters, which could be confusing if you weren't paying attention, I really enjoyed this biography. I've always thought Catherine got a raw deal from Henry but I sort of empathized with Henry's desperate need for a son. Somehow in this book the need for a son comes very late in the book and Henry is portrayed as just a mass of lust. Catherine went into menopause very early according to this book and then it all gets confusing. I still think she got a raw ...more
Chris Demer
Jun 23, 2011 Chris Demer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is an excellent historical portrait of a most interesting woman. I learned a lot about her personality, her character and the really insulting way she was treated by Henry, once he had his eye on Anne Boleyn.
Catherine was stubborn, no doubt, but she had principles. She maintained her legitimacy to her death (by natural causes) at the age of 50. Her management of a difficult and painful situation changed the course of English (indeed European) history. Her response to Henry's pursuit of ann
Aug 23, 2012 Aubrey rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Okay, it's not The's BETTER.

I will admit that I picked up this because while -- nay, because! -- my husband and I were watching season two of The Tudors. I didn't want to have an I've-seen-the-movie-but-I-haven't-read-the-book scenario, and I feel that I enjoyed both the book and the film more because I experienced them simultaneously.

For a nonfiction book, this was a quick, enjoyable read. I loved the background on Catherine of Aragon and her illustrious ancestors. I loved the des
Oct 31, 2013 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, tudors
Katharine (or Catherine, Kateryne, Catalina, etc.) of Aragon was Henry VIII's Queen Consort for twice as long as all his other wives put together. She spent most of her life in England, from when she first arrived as the fifteen year old bride-to-be of Henry's elder brother Arthur. Her childhood, however, was spent at the Spanish court and Giles Tremlett starts with the Spanish archives to tell the story of her upbringing and how this helped her develop into a Queen.
There is plenty of informatio
Jan 03, 2011 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whew, glad I wasn't so far off of the other reviewers on this one--was a bit nervous that I would be. This book is excellent, truly, for the general readership of the Tudor era. It is clearly written, provides enough background without being overwhelming and presents the “King’s Great Matter” in a straight forward way. For anyone more familiar with this time period, you will not learn anything new. Goodness, that sounds pompous but I don’t mean to be—just that I have read a great from the Tudor ...more
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Giles Tremlettis the Guardian’s Madrid correspondent. He has lived in, and written about, Spain for the past twenty years.
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