Fact Checking The Spanish Princess: Episode 2

After last week’s episode, I was waiting for this week’s to go off the rails, historically-speaking, and it did. Lots of “deviations from history” here – sometimes, massively. I’ll tackle them one at a time.

Firstly, I don’t get show!Catherine’s problem with the Scots. This episode really vilified them. Everyone was trashing them. Catherine thought the Tudors ought to “butcher them all.” Why? Because they are a Protestant country? If so, Martin Luther didn’t nail up his Protestant Thesis until 1517. This is 1501/1502. Oops.

“Meg” (Margaret) complains that the Scots are rude, uncouth, sexually suggestive, and peeing on the chapel walls. Why? It’s true, Henry created an alliance with Scotland through his daughter, Margaret. But… that’s another thing. Her whining about him being too “old” (29 wasn’t “old” for a male monarch’s first marriage, and he was considered a hunk), and her whining about having to marry the king of Scotland is very modern-thinking (“Forced marriage, ew”). Margaret Tudor was raised, in real life, like Catherine of Aragon, to know she had a duty to marry to form an alliance for her country. This Scottish alliance was years in the making and she was made aware of it at a young age. She submitted without too much complaining, even if she felt apprehensive. Margaret was not like her little sister Mary, who openly objected to marrying the French King, and negotiated a promise with her brother that after his death, she could marry whomever she chose. She certainly would not be rude enough to object to the Scottish marriage in front of the Scottish ambassador! =P

IMO, Catherine hating the Scots is an obvious setup for when her army decimates them when they invade England in a decade, in order to make that her personal vendetta and hatred for the Scots. Except, Katharine harbored no ill will toward the Scots. They invaded, and the Howard family slaughtered them—the Howards had land bordering Scotland and a long-term hatred for the Scots. They cut them off from Scotland and swept through them. But more on that, in that episode.

The series shows Catherine at a banquet the day after her marriage. Didn’t happen. Tradition kept Catherine to her chambers for a day of prayer and reflection. Arthur went with his father to the church to give thanks for his new wife. She stayed in seclusion. After a prayerfully-mindful day of gratitude, she attended the wedding jousts. She would certainly not be expected to perform English dances with her husband, including ones she doesn’t know – which would have been seen as a “humiliation” of the Spanish.

This episode had a lot of Tudors feuding in public – whether it was Margaret throwing a hissy fit over her intended marriage prospects, or Harry and Arthur shoving each other around. Also would not have happened. The Tudors were appropriate to the situation, and aware of their reputations; Harry’s worst crime after the wedding was to toss off his outer jacket (complaining it was too hot) and – scandalously!! – dance without one! An indulgence his amused father permitted, because… everyone adored wee Harry. Who, I might remind you, was ten years old at the time. Not an angry, sullen teenager.

The scene of “I respect the beauty of Islam” speech Catherine gives Arthur is straight out of the book, and just as ridiculous here as it was on the page. As a Catholic Monarch, Catherine had no respect for Islam. She was not tolerant of other religions. She may have appreciated the beautiful stonework of Moorish Spain, but she would have seen Muslims as barbarous, misguided heathens. Catherine had just come out of a lifetime of infighting in Spain, where her parents had to put down rebellion after rebellion incited by the Moors. Tolerance was not her middle name. But she has to be woke coz this is 2019.

Catherine sleeping with Arthur is the plot of Gregory’s book. In real life, she swore before priests she never consummated her marriage. Lying in confession is a damning sin. As a devout Catholic who believed in hell, she would not risk eternal damnation on a lie. Her entire life shows how devout she was, and how seriously she took her Catholic beliefs. Therefore, she told the truth. End of story.

Don’t know why people are wearing plague masks around sweating victims. Also don’t know why Lina fell prey to the sweating sickness, given only English people were susceptible to it. No one knows what this illness was, but it swept through England in cycles for about 50 years and died off, presumably as the English became immune to the disease. The sweat killed people usually within twenty-four hours – there was no time to tell the king and queen of their son’s illness (if that’s even what it was) and send for them; and it would be ridiculous for them to come, considering one or more of them could catch it and die. Henry and Elizabeth received the news of Arthur’s death in London, where they mourned together. The queen sent her best black coach to carry Catherine home, swathed in black ribbons of mourning. Catherine had also fallen sick (which suggests it was influenza and not the sweat) and had to delay her travel.

Lastly, Elizabeth’s statement about Catherine (“What will happen to her?” “I don’t care”) is wildly inaccurate. Elizabeth and Catherine were incredibly close, and good friends at the time. Catherine needed a mother figure and Elizabeth provided that for her. Elizabeth and Isabella had been writing to each other for years, often about Catherine. So this whole “antagonistic females” thing is pure fiction. And annoying. 😉

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