Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review: Catherine of Aragon: Henry's Spanish Queen, By Giles Tremlett

8 January 2017

Book Review: Catherine of Aragon: Henry's Spanish Queen, By Giles Tremlett

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Yesterday was the anniversary of Queen Catherine of Aragon's death at the age of fifty in 1536 at Kimbolton Castle in  Cambridgeshire. I've read every book I can find on Catherine of Aragon in the course of the research for my new book on Henry VII. Each has it's high points, a fascinating detail here, a new insight there - sometimes a thought-provoking theory.

All this reading has given me a deeper understanding of what it might have been like for Catherine, arriving in England without even being able to speak the language. After her tragically short marriage to Prince Arthur, which left her widowed at sixteen, Henry VII was less than helpful, continuing the 'negotiations' about her dowry until his death.

Meanwhile, Catherine is forced to sell off her jewels and borrow money for food. Giles Tremlett makes the most of the scant information about Catherine's early life - but it is his engaging account of her later life which makes this book one of my favourites. 

It is important to remember that Catherine lasted twice as long as Henry VIII's queen as all the other five put together. She was laid to rest in Peterborough Cathedral on the 29th of January - while Henry VIII is reported to have dressed in yellow, put a white feather in his cap and danced with Anne Boleyn's ladies. 

Giles Tremlett's access to original material from the Spanish archives adds a freshness to this biography that I highly recommend for anyone interested to understand more about the life of Catherine of Aragon. 

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About the Author
Giles Tremlett is a British author, journalist and broadcaster based in Madrid, Spain. He has lived in, and written extensively about, Spain almost continuously since graduating from Oxford University twenty-five years ago. He is Contributing Editor at The Guardian and Madrid Correspondent for The Economist magazine. His books have been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Dutch and Serbian. He has contributed to several academic collections on Spanish history and is currently preparing a biography of Isabel of Castile. Giles is on Twitter @gilestremlett.


  1. So tragic. I have a hard time with true stories like this because I feel deeply for the people and their plights. All the same it's fascinating to know. Thanks for the review.

  2. I've always found this period and place interesting since reading about another Katherine, Katherine Swynford, who was the ancestor of Henry VII.

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