There’s something to be said about The Spanish Princess not being afraid to show the decidedly unglamorous life of a penniless, sixteenth century princess. Catherine-ever more destitute and desperate-clings to the shrinking hope that Harry will honor his pledge to her. Major problem with that: Harry is nowhere at court and in the wind. Blocked at every turn by Lady Margaret Beaufort, Catherine’s situation is dark, dank and disparate.
La Infanta isn’t the only one suffering. England is in the grip of a crushing depression. Tenant farmers can’t make their quotas and the wealth gap between the landed nobles and gentry (not to mention the royal family) couldn’t be more extreme. There is no food, no fuel and whole families are left with nothing. One such family is Catherine’s former hostess, Maggie Pole. With the untimely death of her husband, Maggie and her children are forced out of their home when the crown calls in their debts. With nowhere to turn, Maggie makes the heartbreaking decision to split up the kids; one to the monks, one to her cousin and one stays with her at the nunnery. It’s a move no mother wants to ever make.
As Catherine tries to obtain any morsel of information she can get, an interesting familial change comes forward. Her sister Juana (queen of Castile) is committed by their father Ferdinand. With Juana out of the way, Catherine takes the reins as the Spanish ambassador to England. This allows her back into court and access to the royal family, much to the ire of Lady Margaret. Her first diplomatic move is to arrange the by-proxy marriage of princess Mary, a ceremony that goes off without incident and impresses the king. Catherine is coming for their necks and Lady Margaret can’t stop her.
Two of the most interesting characters, Lina and Oviedo, continue being fantastic and beautiful together. With her Catholic upbringing and Oviedo’s Muslim heritage, the two would seem to not see eye-to-eye on religion but are actually surprisingly calm about it. What they are absolutely not in agreement with is Oviedo spying for Lady Margaret. Lina believes he should have loyalty to La Infanta but Oviedo saw how Isabella and Ferdinand brought the Inquisition and were homicidal fanatics-he decides to continue to take his chances with the English. A decision he’ll end up regretting.
With Catherine helping princess Mary get over her fear of her proxy marriage and being a friend to the young girl, Mary spills the tea regarding Harry’s whereabouts. La Infanta rides again…
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