Six Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, The True QueenSix Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six Tudor Queens: 1 Katherine Of Aragon, The True Queen is the latest historical novel from renown historian Alison Weir. The first in a series about Henry VIII’s six wives, I was lucky to read an ARC, this is a huge book coming in at 553 pages and I believe the Hardback may be longer at 624 pages, expected publication date 5th May 2016.

The first part opens in 1501, sixteen year old Catalina, a Spanish Princess sails to England for her marriage to fifteen year old Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII. Catalina is now to be known by her English version of her name, Katherine and she faces a new language, new food and very cold weather. Katherine’s first meeting with Arthur is at the Bishop’s Palace in Dogmersfield, this village today is a stone’s throw from where I currently live and the local pub “The Queen’s Head” proudly displays a Pub sign with a picture of Katherine and a local House also bears her name, hundreds of years later, even the Bishops Palace still has a large residence built on it’s foundations which is now a Hotel.

Moving on Katherine and Arthur are married, but Arthur is very sickly, probably suffering from Tuberculosis. They move to the Prince of Wales’ residence in Ludlow, but Arthur dies after just six months of an unconsummated marriage. The political games of power marriages were so important to the royal households of England, France, Spain, Flanders and beyond. They made or broke wars and wealth. Katherine was next to be betrothed to Arthur’s ten year old brother Henry, after a couple of years of negotiations they were betrothed when Henry was just twelve years old, but even this was no safe guarantee as power shifted in Europe. Katherine’s usefulness to the English throne peaked and dipped, delaying her marriage, leaving her in a form of poverty at one time while Kingdoms were won or lost. It wasn’t until 1509 when King Henry VII died that Katherine could finally marry Henry.

Even through there was a large age gap between the couple, Henry was devoted and Katherine fell in love with him. Henry oozed wealth and extravagance and huge amounts of money were spent on his wedding, his crowning and on the palaces he owned. Every Kings wants a male heir to succeed him, this stabilises politics and power and became Henry’s priority. As Henry preferred pomp and play to political governing he appointed Thomas Wolsey, who later took the title Lord Chancellor. Wolsey also rose through the Church and ended his days as a Cardinal.

Katherine fell pregnant seven times during her marriage to Henry and lost six of those children with only daughter Mary surviving. This put a great strain on their marriage as Henry became more and more desperate for a male heir. Political powers turned in Europe too with treaties and friendships turning and turning again. Katherine was ever adamant that relations with Spain should stay strong, but Henry blamed her when her father Ferdinand of Spain signed a treaty with Maximilian of Flanders and Louis of France, keeping Henry out of the power struggles.

Court rumours flew about Henry’s romantic affairs while Katherine struggled through pregnancies, but she refused to believe ill of Henry and remained devoted to him as was her duty as a wife. However when it became obvious that Katherine would bare no more children, Henry’s desperation for a male heir became apparent. The “Great Matter” threw the country into turmoil as Henry questioned the legality of marrying his brother’s wife, even though at the time they had been given special permission form the Pope. Katherine was a devout Catholic, but Henry became persuaded by new religious thinkers, he began querying the power of the Roman church in England and his passion for Anne Boleyn had a huge sway on his beliefs and actions.

In this book Weir paints Anne Boleyn as a powerful and greedy political mover with much support, she helps topple Wolsey and with men like Thomas Cramner and Thomas Cromwell now holding much sway in Henry’s courts, Katherine is kept from her daughter and put under near house arrest while Henry declares himself head of the English church and divorces Katherine so he can marry Anne. Katherine is stripped of her title, her assets and her household until her dying day, but she always believed in her love for Henry and her true right as Queen of the English throne.

This is a very long and detailed book, as is my review, which lovers of Tudor History will enjoy.

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Beach Reads Blog Tour 2015 Day 3 #BeachBooks @Alison_Williams #wwwblogs


Whoa! It’s Day 3 of our Holiday! With amazing book suggestions for your own vacation.

Beach Read Postcard

Today my guest is Alison Williams

Alison Williams

I’m very lucky in that my ideal holiday destination is actually where I’m going this year (and where I went last year) – a beautiful restored farmhouse in a secluded valley in the Lot-et-Garonne area of Aquitane in France. I love France – the food, the weather, the people, the attitude to life, and our holidays there are always wonderful. Lot-et-Garonne isn’t as well known or as touristy as some other regions in France and yet it is beautiful. I have an incredibly busy life and here I can truly relax, unwind and breathe. And read, of course.

I like to take a mixture of genres and a mixture of formats – some on Kindle because I can read seven or eight books a week when I’m on holiday and there just isn’t room for them all, and some paperbacks, because I appreciate it when other holidaymakers leave books for future guests, and I like to do the same.

A book about the place I’m going to.


As we’re in Aquitane, and because I am fascinated by history and particularly by women in history, I shall be taking Alison Weir’s ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England’. I love this area of France, and so I’d love to know more about its history. I’ve also read about Eleanor before – married to Louis VII and then England’s Henry II, her sons were Richard the Lionheart and King John. She had a huge influence on the politics of the time and lived to the ripe old age of eighty-two. A fascinating woman. Or find this book on

stephen king

A book that interests me

I’ll also be taking Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. I read King’s novels voraciously as a teenager. I’ve heard excellent things about this book – part memoir, part writing master class – and can’t wait to read it. But realistically, a holiday is probably the only time I have when I’ll be able to read it thoroughly and properly. It’ll definitely have to be the paperback version – and it won’t be getting left behind. Or find this on


A book I’ve mean meaning to read for ages is Hilary Mantel’s ‘A Change of Climate’. Anyone who knows me at all knows I have a bit of an obsession with Hilary. She’s a marvellous writer and I love her novels. A holiday – where there are no pressures and no time constraints – is the ideal time to relax and give this book the attention it deserves. A family saga about ex-missionaries living in Norfolk, this is a book unlike the historical dramas that have made Mantel so popular, but a storyteller is a storyteller, and Mantel writes just as well about the modern day as she does about history. Or find it here on




For me a holiday is all about escaping the day-to-day and a book that I can really escape with is Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’. I have no idea now how many times I’ve read it – with the exception of Hilary Mantel, the Brontes are the only writers I can read again and again – but every time I read it I’m swept away to those wild moors and can truly lose myself. This has to be read in paperback format – I have about five rather raggedy, well-thumbed copies, including the one I filched from my son when he had to study it for his English ‘A’Level (he is somewhat less enamoured!) so will leave one behind. Or find it here on

The Black Hours by Alison Williams

The Black Hours by Alison Williams

And of course, I’ll be leaving a copy or two of my own novelThe Black Hours’ . A very dark historical drama, based on the life of the notorious Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, ‘The Black Hours’ is probably best read in bright daylight (so you don’t get too scared) with a revitalising glass of wine or two at hand. Or find it here on

Now all I need is a guarantee of hot weather, a few bottles of the local red, and a pile of croissants and chocolate éclairs. Perfect.

Beach Reads Drift Wood

Guest Author is Gill Jepson

Todays guest author is Gill Jepson she is a teacher and adult education trainer. Here are Gill’s replies;

1) Tell me your name

Gill Jepson

2) Where do you live?


3)When did you start writing?

I have always written from being a child but seriously from 2004

4)What type of books do you like writing the most?

Fantasy/history/adventure genre for children through to adults

5)Pass on 3 tips about writing or publishing.

Write about what you know or what you are passionate about, have a notebook at all times to capture ideas as they occur, read, read, read and then write, write, write

6)What was the last book that you read? How would you rate it?

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. It was an excellent read, pacey, interesting , well researched and poignant


7)Now choose just one of your books and add a link to it.


Thank you

Best wishes

Gill Jepson