The first wife of Henry VIII
Finally, Philippa Gregory has given us a Katherine of Aragon who is vital, determined, and capable, much different from the pious, dignified victim portrayed in so much of the fiction about Henry’s rejection of her. Novelists have tended to overlook the fact that Katherine raised her daughter, Mary, to become the fearsome, indomitable Tudor monarch that she was. Considering the times, I do not find it difficult to believe that Katherine would have lied about her relationship with first husband Prince Arthur. As far as can be proved, no one but Katherine and Arthur knew the absolute truth of the matter. She was possessed of formidable diplomatic skills, and understood the arts of war. Following her marriage to Henry, she engineered a successful military campaign against the Scots (Flodden) on her own. She knew what she wanted and did what she must to pursue her goals.
Questions of historical accuracy aside, Gregory has done a service to the memory and reputation of a great woman, a feminist a couple of centuries ahead of her time. Her life did not develop as she had hoped and planned, but what a life it was.