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A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France
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A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  350 ratings  ·  35 reviews

A royal marriage, based on romantic passion and ferocious, unbridgeable religious differences, ends in tragedy ”a history worthy of Shakespeare.

It was, from the start, a dangerous experiment. Charles I of England was a Protestant, the fifteen-year-old French princess a Catholic. The marriage was arranged for political purposes, and it seemed a mismatch of personalities.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 30th 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published May 1st 2009)
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3.84  · 
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 ·  350 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Nov 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
King Charles I followed the royal penchant for drama to a ‘T’. His reign ushered in a bloody civil war, he was beheaded, and in turn: his family was exiled. His wife, Queen Henrietta Maria of France, also lived a high-profile life of twists and turns. Put these two together and the result is quite a remarkable union. Katie Whitaker portrays this marriage in, “A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France”.

Instead of penning a dual biography on
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well-written and moving account of a mismatched couple who came to love each other dearly and who were separated by tragedy. I especially liked the early chapters, where the author separated history from myth.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
The cheesy, generic title does a disservice to a serious, readable account of the reign of Charles I. History-lite, but sufficiently scholarly at that.
Girl with her Head in a Book
When I was seven, my class did a topic on the Tudors. I fell in love. It's never really gone away - I still think the Tudors are fairly amazing. Anyway, when the term's topic ended and we moved on (to the Aztecs, it just wasn't the same thing even if they did have cocoa beans), I tried to console myself by reading further on in my Kings and Queens of England and Scotland book (the Plantagenet Somerset Fry one which is tragically no longer in print) and through this discovered the Stuarts. Someho ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
This book started with a very interesting premise: that the significance of the marriage between King Charles I and Henrietta Maria had been underestimated and that its very nature had been misrepresented and misunderstood for centuries. Whitaker stepped forth to address both these issues.

I'm always skeptical of books with an "issue" or something to prove. Sometimes they're very important and correct, but other times they become myopic in their focus and ignore any contrary data or evidence. I k
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Wonderfully researched, with much insight into how royal courtships and marriages were conducted at the time (very bizarrely to my modern eyes.) It also really brought to life the loving but tempestuous relationship between Charles I and Henrietta Maria, and how their relationship changed over the years. Another huge feature in the book was religion, and the rifts between Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans, and the great passions that people felt for their chosen spiritual paths.

I found it absolu
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a sad book. I am a huge English history buff, in particular Tudor and Stuart monarchies, and King Charles II most of all. I have not read a great deal about his parents, despite their obvious importance and I am less acquainted with the English Civil War than I should be so I decided to start working my way backward and outward in terms of their dynasty.
This book covers the marriage of Charles II's parents, Henrietta Maria of France and Charles the I and their experience before, during and
Wendy Bertsch
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent biography...detestable woman...deluded man.
Janet Russell
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hauntingly brave & loving!

Everybody has heard of the ill fated King Charles I who was executed by the English parliament but we will have only seen portraits of
his wife Henrietta Maria this book introduces us to the real woman herself & her very troubling but eventual happy marriage, the woman herself was brave but sometimes a little childish given her years! Finally she was able to help and even love the man she was sent to marry! I admire her greatly for the woman she was but also feel
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story of Henrietta and Charles unfolds like a novel. She looks a the evidence and presents the case from all angles resulting in a clearer understanding of England's unpopular queen and her unfortunate spouse.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I learned many things. The Stuarts are not a family that I know well and it amazes me to learn what a thing Catholicism was. And poor Charles, who was legit a Protestant unto his death, was insufficiently Protestant and/or too Catholic based on who you asked.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Charles I was pretty much a failure as a King. He did, however, love his French Catholic Queen. The marriage caused him no end of political problems - as he was the head of the Church of England. He also was deposed and lost his head! Not a good ending for him!
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Human quarrels which lead to war even among Christians. Today it's Democrats and Republicans among Americans, will it lead to bloodshed?
3.5 stars.

A decent read, not dull or one of those dense and scholarly books, but as it was the first book I've read on Charles I/Henrietta and the period, I would have preferred a bit more detail regarding the Civil War and its politics.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
There is a good book waiting to be written about the marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, which is a tale of passion, sleaze, politics, religious devotion, war, and disaster. This isn't it.

The main problem of the book is a lack of real focus on the politics of the marriage, public perception in both Britain and Europe based on primary evidence. Buckingham wasn't to blame for the problems of the early years of the marriage - that was the contradictions of the marriage treaty and the confusi
A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France (Hardcover)
by Katie Whitaker
Felicia J.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: English Civil War buffs and beginners
Katie Whitaker has written an impeccably researched, gripping account of a royal marriage that was a personal success but a political disaster. She accomplished the rare feat of keeping me glued to the pages even though I knew in advance how Charles and Henrietta Maria's stories would end.

I don't know if I've ever seen an author use their sources so well. Whitaker wove the words of the couple's contemporaries seamlessly into her text, making 400-year-old events seem vivid and immediate.

I retaine
Paul Schulzetenberg
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
A Royal Passion is intensely well-researched. The author makes some claims that past research on this topic has been shortsighted and not as thorough. Assuming that her characterization of previous works are correct, she's done a good job of debunking those previous works. There are footnotes and quotes galore in this book, which just goes to show how much work went into this book. I don't doubt that this has become one of the go-to academic books for this topic, purely based on the strength of ...more
Mary George
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books, history
Great Book! I did get somewhat frustrated at Charles and Henrietta as they plunged toward what I knew was going to be their certain destruction. They seemed so isolated and clueless as to what was going on in the country as they both toyed with the Catholic religion in an England which was violently opposed to Papists in any way. I wondered why Charles was so stupidly reckless and gave into the childish whims of the much younger wife, Henrietta. They plunged England into civil war which ended in ...more
May 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
I think the author spent too much time referring to her research notes instead of translating her findings into something that resembled her own conclusions. What little of her opinion did bleed through took a fairly apologist stance--it seems pretty clear to me that Henrietta Maria was at the heart of the English Civil Wars, even if it wasn't intentionally (though I'm not sold on that POV). One nice thing? With all of the quotations marks, I didn't have to wonder if it was true, just about the ...more
Jamie Jones Hullinger
Nothing spectacular but it was still an interesting relationship to learn about. I actually knew very little about Charles and Henrietta. It seemed an unlikely pairing but ultimately turned into a deeply involved, loving relationship. While Whitaker made the subtle argument that Henrietta had little to do with Charles I's dealings with parlament I have to disagree. While I do not believe that she was fully responsible for the onset of the Civil War and Charles I's beheading...I do believe that h ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it

I enjoyed the details of the relationship, especially the ones gleaned from the couple's letters. The middle was a little dull because its focus shifted onto the political maneuvers of the Civil War. I also wish that the author would've gone more into Henrietta's relationship with her children, because the last 20 years of her life were all crammed into one chapter. Henrietta's widowhood is as relevant to the romance as the marriage years were. Still, I generally enjoyed how Whitaker chose
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it
It always takes me a while to get through historical biographies as opposed to historical novels, but I really enjoyed this book on Charles I and Henrietta. Certainly not as juicy as the Tudors and Henry VIII but a good story. Whitaker did a great job organizing all the information so the book flowed nicely, which can be a challenge. For the book to be about their love story, I did feel like it focused more on the political aspects rather than their personal story, but that may have something to ...more
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
The English Civil War is definitely one of my more hazy periods of history, so I really enjoyed this look at two of the people at its root. Whitaker did a great job of creating a portrait of Charles and Henrietta's humanity and their affection for each other, without making it an apology for the shortcomings of either. The only part I found slow going was the period from the Scottish revolt to Henrietta's flight and Charles' capture, but I don't care much for military or political discussion tha ...more
Anna Hanson
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Enlightening and clearly written, the history of Charles I and Henrietta's relationship comes into clear, sharp focus. Going from infatuation to disillusion to mature love, we see the unlikely growth of a royal couple, marrying for political and dynastic reasons, turning into true affection and dependence on each other.
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly written biography of a marriage that reads nearly like historical fiction. The marriage of King Charles I and Henrietta Maria was a (doomed) union between a Catholic Queen and Protestant King. Despite being filled with devotion and best of intentions, their story unravels as unrest takes over England and ends both prematurely and tragically.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting and enlightening read about another British Queen with immense influence and power. I'm eager to read more books by Katie Whitaker. A book that is a must-read after reading this book is Charles Spencer's Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier.
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I feel I really understand their marriage and why Charles I acted as he did. The book allows us to understand Charles and Henrietta far better than we usually do from just reading a history book. I would recommend it if you are interested in this period of English history.
Nov 21, 2010 marked it as plan-to-read
Another one that pairs up nicely with the new Catherine of Aragon book.
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Katie Whitaker did a Ph. D in the History of Science at Cambridge, where she was awarded the Thirlwall Prize and Medal for the best original research by a young scholar under 30. She has also been a Century Fellow at the University of Chicago where she was awarded an MPhil. She lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.