Fact-Checking The Spanish Princess: Episode 6

Much to my joy (note the sarcasm), Starz has renewed this for another 8 episodes next year. Please note a moment of silence in mourning. Ha, ha.

Once again, the choices made by the writers in these episodes puzzle me. The Tudors continue to be ridiculous in pubic, with Harry bickering openly and mocking his father, his father stating that “maybe” he’ll choose another heir (… huh? The Tudor bloodline was super important; any other choice would threaten the English throne), Harry boasting back that he’s God’s anointed (yeah, just like his father is, so Respect), Harry lecturing his father on morals (when it was the other way around, Harry being the later promiscuous king and his father being faithful to his wife in a period when NO KING WAS FAITHFUL TO HIS WIFE). Etc. It all accumulates in an absurd moment where Henry punches his son in the face and storms off like a tantrum-throwing child. Yeah. So. That just happened.

There is only one rule in Philippa Gregory’s universe: women must be rivals. Never friends, always at odds. So naturally, Princess Juana shows up in England and is a royal bitch to her youngest sister, which … everything about this, apart from her husband being a man-whore and them being shipwrecked on English shores, is a lie. In real life, Catherine knew about her mother’s death long before Juana got shipwrecked. She traveled with the court to meet her sister and Archduke Philip. Catherine hoped for an alley in her impoverished state, and instead was disappointed to find her sister “disinterested” – not out of some wrathful childhood resentment (I guess because Catherine honors their mother’s memory, and Juana hated her guts for being an abusive hellcat – again, huh?? I have never read anything about Queen Isabella abusing her children as described in this episode) but because Juana was completely self-absorbed and wrapped up in her husband. Literally nothing mattered to her except Philip and obsessing over his sexual affairs. She was not a bold, ambitious queen, but a lovesick twit who was abused by her husband. Catherine noticed on her visit that Philip never let them speak alone, perhaps fearing Juana might confide in her, and whisked his wife quickly away from the party back to her room.

The true story of Juana is even more tragic – deemed “unstable” by both her husband and her father, she was routinely locked up, accused of insanity, and mistreated / imprisoned for most of her life, where she proved a somewhat passive prisoner wholly disinterested in ruling Castile. She was certainly not the rebellious, promiscuous woman depicted here, who blasphemes and does not believe in God. Juana, like the rest of the Spanish monarchs of the period, was highly religious. Even in captivity, she adhered to her religious traditions (mass, prayer, fasts, etc) each week. So no, Isabella never strung her up by her wrists and placed weighs on her feet to punish her for being a heretic. WUT.

It’s true Henry took a fancy to her, because Juana was drop-dead gorgeous, but he was not nearly this childish about it. Juana certainly did not scheme to “screw over” her baby sister through a Spanish-Anglo alliance. I’m also seriously confused about her scene with Harry, which leaves it ambiguous as to whether they slept together or not. (For a series about the Tudor court, there’s an awful absence of people in general. Royals go walking, riding around, meet up in rooms, etc., and there’s literally no guards, no servants, and no one watching them, which is in no way accurate. Budget restrictions. At least The Tudors had about 80 badly dressed extras in most of their court-related scenes.)

Margaret Beaufort needs to make up her mind about whether she likes or hates the Spanish, because she gives me whiplash. On the plus side, I am liking Harry and Catherine. She’s less abrasive and irritating than her earlier episodes, and I felt bad for her this week. He is even rather sweet at times, and I think how he looks at her, how he pines after her, and how he reacts around her is accurate to how it was, historically, of course at a much later date than this (he was still too young at this point). I still find his father’s representation too soft, and I’m not thrilled with the continued characterization of the relationship between Margaret Beaufort and Lady Pole.

It’s true Lady Pole’s fortunes took a terrible turn after Sir Richard’s death. He was a nobleman with limited estates, who had served Prince Arthur’s household as his Lord Chamberlain, a position of honor but that had very little financial compensation. After Arthur’s death, he undertook leadership over the Welsh Council, which offered him a meager income. Once he died, Margaret had no source of income, because she inherited nothing in her family’s attainder. There’s no proof she appealed to Margaret Beaufort and was denied assistance; contrary to popular opinion, the king’s mother did not have unlimited resources. Her son taxed her household along with everyone else. But the hostility between them is unlikely – it was more a case of general disinterest and neglect on the king’s part. This just makes Margaret out to be vindictive, and she… wasn’t.

Until next week, peeps.

2 thoughts on “Fact-Checking The Spanish Princess: Episode 6

Add yours

  1. When I saw this episode, I googled Joanna especially as the torture sounded completely made up for drama! Surprisingly, wiki alleges that this did indeed happen, making this one of the few historical (possible) accuracies of the show!

    1. I did see that, but since Wiki isn’t a credible source (anyone can edit Wiki), I’d have to see / read the original source and know who it was before I’d believe it.

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