Alison Weir’s ‘Six Wives of Henry VIII’ was one of the best-selling non-fiction histories of the 1990s, and she has now turned to interpreting the lives of the women through the medium of fiction. The stories of each are so varied and dramatic that it is not hard to make an enthralling story based on the truth!
First, of course, is Katharine of Aragon – married as a girl of fifteen to Henry’s brother, Arthur, she later married Henry and was crowned at his side in 1509. Her fight to maintain the validity of her marriage in the face of Henry’s desire to have it annulled after nearly twenty years is the stuff of legend and Alison brings this drama to life in her usual page-turning way…
I am drawn to Katherine of Aragon because of her moral courage and her strength. I believe that, as a woman of high principle and integrity, she deserves to be celebrated as one of the greatest and most loved queens of England. You could see her as the last truly medieval queen, and against Anne boleyn, who has become almost a modern feminist icon, Katherine seems an anachronism in an age of revolutionary change. But she herself did not see it that way. In defying Henry VIII, and in making a stand for what she believed to be right, she thought that she could make a difference, not only to her own life, but to the lives of many others whose convictions were being sidelined - and for that she deserves our admiration. Hers is also a love stry. her love for Henry VIII was deep and true, and it survived every hurt and humiliation that he inflicted on her. Yet her belief in his innate goodness never failed. Such devotion seems almost saintly to us, and is remarkable in any age.
In telling her story, I have tried not to make Katherine too much of a saint. She had failings, naturally, and she could take a blinkered approach to crucial issues, but her innate honesty, loyalty, faith and good intentions make her a most sympathetic character. She shines forth as a devoted and loving daughter, wife and mother, a staunch friend to many, and a brave champion of her rights. Small wonder that Thomas Cromwell said of her: 'Nature wronged her in not making her a man. But for her sex, she would have surpassed all the heroes of history'.
- Alison Weir
To read an extract from 'Katherine of Aragon: the True Queen', click here
To read our interview with Alison Weir, click here