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The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court, #1)The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series:   The Tudor Court
Publisher:   Touchstone
Release Date:  2006
Category:  Historical Romance
Setting: England
Author Website:  http://www.philippagregory.com/books

About series:
The Tudor Court series highlights several of the key women in Tudor history who have influenced England. Gregory has a unique talent for combining historical details with fictional portrayals giving readers intriguing stories stacked with knowledge. At the end of each book Gregory provides an Author’s Note section which will let you know where the fiction in her story deviates from history and how she has filled in the blanks. These are great stories that will entertain but I think they will also inspire some readers to do their own research and rediscover an appreciation for history. History doesn’t have to be the boring subject most high school curriculum would make you believe. Gregory should be the spokesperson for a new history ad campaign. We could avoid so many pains if we just took some time to look at our history and learn from our mistakes. The Tudor Court series contains both some success stories and some failures we could learn from.

About this book:
The Constant Princess is an example of why Philippa Gregory’s books are so popular. If you are even somewhat interested in Tudor history you probably think you know everything there is to know about Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII.  Her story has been told many times as we hear retellings of Henry’s lavish young court. But Gregory’s story isn’t told from Henry’s point nor does it outline Catherine of just one of Henry’s eight wives. Gregory tells the story of how a princess from Spain became a beloved Queen of England.

Two things jumped out at me while I was reading this book:

1.) Important women in history live up to their destiny.
As I read Philippa Gregory’s books I’m always amazed at how many of these key historical women grew up knowing their destiny. Catalina, daughter of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, had been engaged to the heir of England’s throne since she was two years old. She *knew* that she would be Queen of England one day with the same level of conviction that we know that sun will rise in the East and set in the West.  I wish for just one day in my life I had such absolute belief in what my mission in life is supposed to be. And maybe that is what makes the women of the Tudor Court so special. It is that complete faith that what they are doing is the right thing.

2.) History is written by the winners and by men.
What we learned in school about Henry VIII and his wives is what was recorded was by those in power and they were often men. There isn’t a historical account that isn’t tainted by the author’s point of view.  Certainly the farther back in history you look the less concern there was for being accurate and more a concern for communicating that the winner was strong, the men are strongest, and the women have faith.  Before I read this book if you had asked me to sum up Catherine of Aragon I would have said that she was a devout Catholic. But the reality is that few feel the level of commitment to God that they portray to the world. And few live their entire lives without questioning something of what they have been told. Catherine of Aragon was no saint.

Read Gregory’s The Constant Princess and you’ll remember that there is always two sides to every story.

Learn about other books in this series:

Book #2: The Other Boleyn Girl – We all know that Henry VIII puts aside Catherine of Aragon for Anne Boleyn, but did you know that before Anne Henry had actually fallen in love with Mary Boleyn. Gregory tells a gripping tale of a love doomed from the beginning and yet key to the future throne of England.

Book #3: The Boleyn Inheritance – History has reported Anne of Cleves as ugly and shy while Katherine (Kitty) Howard reportedly was beautiful but stupid. There must have been more to these women for them to have risen to status of Queen and in this book Gregory doesn’t hold back in showing how risky it is to capture the eye of Henry VIII.

Book #4: The Queen’s Fool – Hannah Green has the sight and that makes her both a good spy in the Tudor court and a possible witch. Caught between the courts of Queen Mary and then Queen Elizabeth this commoner lives anything but an average life among Tudor royalty.

Book #5: The Virgin’s Lover – Elizabeth I’s early years on the throne of England are challenged not only by the French and Scotch but also by internal desires for Robert Dudley. While Elizabeth struggles with desire like any other young lady, she also realizes that to bed the Queen of England is to control the throne.

Book #6: The Other Queen – Mary, Queen of Scots, trusted Queen Elizabeth’s promise of sanctuary, but then found herself a “guest” of England. This is the story of Mary’s years in captivity.

Other books of interest:

The Red Queen Book # 2 of the Cousins’ War series – This book gives you an up close and personal look at Margaret Beaufort, grandmother of Henry VIII. Understanding Margaret Beaufort goes a long way to understanding how Henry VIII could be raised to be so spoiled.

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