Finishing Out Season 2 of The Spanish Princess

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Well, people, we have finally reached the end of The Spanish Princess (2019-2020)! That’s right, Starz has announced that this will be the final season (their next project will be an adaptation of some of Alison Weir’s fiction and non-fiction books about Eleanor of Aquitaine, which should be … interesting?). And I’m glad, because I can’t see these actors playing older Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII.

There were just two episodes left to watch, and in them we go through what this show is portraying as “the end” of Catherine and Henry’s relationship (no divorce proceedings; Anne Boleyn barely pops up as The Next Floozy before things end). I’ve been much happier with season 2 (plot- and costume-wise), except for the fundamental issue of having Catherine having lied to Henry about sleeping with her first husband/his brother, Arthur. As I’ve previously explained, that just in no way understands the essence Catherine’s character and so makes the foundation of the show super shaky and implausible.

Margaret Tudor continued to be overacted by poor Georgie Henley. I am sort-of happy that they got the whole “firing cannons at her deadbeat husband” thing, although the context was different, and I seriously doubt Margaret did the firing herself.

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Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scotland

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I’ll be fine not seeing these bared teeth again any time soon.

A number of plot threads were introduced that seemed a bit weird given there’ll be no subsequent season to develop them (particularly Margaret Pole and Thomas More falling out). Lina’s plans to leave England felt more appropriate to a denouement, although let us note Rosa showed up wearing Catherine’s season 1 sari bodice dress:

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Hey, royals did pass on clothes to their attendants, so it’s plausible?

I gave them some major side-eye for Anne Boleyn. I actually liked how they approached it — Anne was just a rando at court until Henry took a fancy to her. But they skipped over Mary Boleyn and reversed the casting of the two sisters:

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That’s allegedly Mary between Lina and Catherine, and then Anne on the far right. Which seems opposite, hair color-wise, if nothing else. Also, not a huge fan of Anne’s dress.

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This actress just doesn’t read “Anne Boleyn” to me. At all.

Costume-wise, these episodes finally found early 16th-century Tudor dress! I actually applaud costume designer Pam Downe for getting us there and realize she had to connect her designs to those of season 1, although I wish she would have gotten there sooner. More specific thoughts:

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I actually really liked this fabric on Catherine’s sleeves/forepart. Okay, the blue is probably too bright, but I like the Moorish pattern. It worked well on screen.

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I think this may be one of the 3D printed fabrics Downe described previously.

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There were some kicky shrugs instead of partlets…

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But then real, honest-to-goodness partlets!

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This dress was very beautiful, and it has the hanging, turn-back sleeves that are The #1 Typical Element of Tudor Dress! (at least to me)

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I was however confused by this capelet/cape thing. It looks like the long hanging parts are OVER the shorter capelet?

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I admit I liked the trim layout on this not-a-French-hood — the points are offset, instead of aligned with the center of her face. It made it look like sun rays.

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This dress is total fantasy, but it’s pretty!

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But then Catherine and Henry have a Big Fight while hunting, and Catherine has put on this silk/rayon-y velvet overrobe that’s 16th century meets 1890s.

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I get that it was supposed to be impractical, and the long train was a metaphor, but it just doesn’t seem like something you’d go riding in.

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This hat isn’t an Unfortunate Biggins, but it is just plain unfortunate.

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Still underwhelmed by Princess Mary.

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They tried to make Henry bulkier and hairier. It just BARELY worked.

And then, HOLY SHIT Y’ALL, THIS HAPPENED:

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Maggie Pole gets a Not Bad French Hood! Look! No Sticky Uppy!

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WAIT! What is this? I do believe it’s a Really Quite Good French Hood! Holy crap!

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And then “Maggie” is in a squared-corner hood of the kind fashionable during Queen Mary I’s reign (1553-58).

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I.E., 20 years in the future. Oh well, it has an actual hood!

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And then Catherine busts out the Actual Tudor Dress with AN ACTUAL GABLE HOOD!!! (And a stupid metaphor involving releasing a bird from its cage, which has been done to death, but whatever.)

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My only quibble is that the forehead bands come down too low on the face.

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Look! It’s what we should have been seeing for the entire season!

 

What did you think of The Spanish Princess season 2?

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

29 Responses

  1. Roxana

    Wow! Hanging sleeves and a gable hood! Be still my heart!! Of course they left out the heavily jeweled billiment that should decorate the gable hood and the French hood too but give them a B for effort!
    Anne Boleyn is much too conventionally pretty.

    Reply
  2. Shashwat

    Margaret’s teeth baring was hilarious.
    The actress playing Anne Boleyn felt miscast.She looked too cute to evoke her charisma.
    I was honestly expecting a nun’s habit for Catherine in the final episode.I am surprised that they didn’t put a birdhouse on her to pass off as a gable.

    Reply
  3. susan l eiffert

    That first pic of Maggie’s French hood looks like it has polyester upholstery trim that’s been badly glued on.

    Reply
  4. Jennifer Faith

    I just hated this whole show from a history standpoint. If they wanted to do a culturally diverse girl-power show set in Medieval England they should have just left actual history out of it. The most historically accurate thing about it was that Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon and they had a daughter named Mary. That’s it. It makes “The Tudors” look spot on by comparison!

    Reply
        • Andy

          Probably a dropped sub-plot where Catherine had a fling with Oviedo (Lina’s husband) and he’s really Mary’s father.

          Reply
          • spanielpatter14

            Not that I’d blame Catherine for having a fling with Oviedo (who wouldn’t want to have a fling with him?!), but if Mary was fathered by Oviedo, she’d have been a more lively child, I think; and do more than stare out morosely at the world.

            Reply
  5. Lynne Connolly

    Tudor women didn’t wear blue. At all (find me one!) The reason being that servants wore blue at the Tudor court. Don’t want to be taken for a servant!
    Yes, they wore blue elsewhere on the continent, but not in England.

    Reply
    • Andy

      In the actual paintings it looks they just wore combinations of red, black and yellow/gold, is that true?

      Reply
  6. Eleanor De Clare

    The series’ clothes improved in the last 2 episodes, the story didn’t. What they did to Anne Boleyn was awful. Not only that nude scene, but also the fact that they didn’t have her any chance to speak or defend herself. In the interviews Emma Frost and her crew seemed to resent Anne’s popularity, like… C’mon, the woman has been dead for 500 years, she went through a lot of shit… How can you call yourself a feminist and refer to Anne as “overrated” or “that witch”?

    The square French hood on Maggie… Isn’t it based on the Hoods seen in the 1520s Holbein sketches of Anne Cresacre & Cecily More, rather than those of the the Marian Era? Is what I thought when I watched TSP finale, and I felt delighted!

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Yeah, I didn’t get into the boob shot with Anne although I rolled my eyes through the whole thing.

      Good point on the squared off French hood! You’re right, it does look like those worn in the 1520s Holbein images. My mistake!

      Reply
    • Roxana.

      That could definitely be a kennel hood, but it’s worn too far back and is severely under decorated like Catherine’s gable hood.

      Reply
  7. Charity

    I haven’t caught up on this yet, but… to me, the Anne Boleyn actress looks too “sweet” to be a fiery Anne. She looks timid to me, which doesn’t fit my image of Anne. Some pretty costumes, though. And I agree with you, Catherine lying about her marriage doesn’t fit Historical Catherine at all. Though the things they did to Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort in the earlier series are just as bad. :P

    Reply
  8. Coco

    You forgot that Maggie Pole’s unrequited love for Thomas More fizzled out when she discovered he was into torturing heretics and she wasn’t.
    Also, how is it consistent with her character that Catherine “I respect Islam” of Aragon gets a whiff of Martin Luther and wants to set the Protestants on fire herself?
    I wonder if Mary will grow up to realize they set her non-native, tamed pet free in the middle of winter.

    Any thoughts on who would be good at portraying Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II? I had a terrible thought that Stars, having employed him once already, will push to cast the actor who plays Henry in this.

    Reply
    • spanielpatter14

      Yes, all I could think of at the end was ‘that poor bird’; since I doubt that tropical birds like parrots could survive freedom in the cold outdoors of England’s winter. The pseudo-historical ending reminded me of the ending of the “Other Boleyn Girl” movie – both ended with the heroine taking a daughter of Henry VIII away from him, without his permission, to go live in the country somewhere. Never would have happened! And the real Catherine would never have willingly left Henry; she believed he was her husband.

      It’s as if the show’s creators decided that real history, i.e. the truth, was not good enough for 21st century viewers; or that we couldn’t handle the truth of Catherine’s rise and fall, so they spun a feminist fairy tale (which also entailed Margaret Tudor practically frothing at the mouth because she’s a crazy Tudor or whatever). Real feminists can handle the truth of history, even if women suffered historically. The greatness in Catherine of Aragon was that although she suffered the effects of Henry’s anger and scorn and detachment, she never gave up on him or their marriage; never relinquished her right to be Queen of England, and died as a brave Spanish Princess.

      Reply
    • Roxana

      Is it necessary to say More never tortured any heretics? As a layman he wouldn’t be involved in the trial or examination of heretics at all.

      Reply
  9. Badalice

    I really liked the patterned velvets used this season. That dark turquoise pattern on Catherine, while not completely historically accurate, is just beautiful and I wish I could get my hands on some of it for sewing. Joanne’s, when does The Spanish Princess collection come out?

    Reply
  10. M.E. Lawrence

    I don’t get Starz; can any of these people, apart from Harriet Walters, act or were they just cast for their looks?

    Reply
    • HerImperialMaj

      Nope. If they’re not going to write a good script, why bother looking (and paying) for talented experts instead of high-cheekboned sexpots who will do as many nude scenes as you ask?

      Reply
  11. HerImperialMaj

    It’s a shame they went for such a shaggy look for Henry. He had a beard, yes, but he, being as vain as any king, kept it and the rest of his appearance meticulously neat.

    Reply
  12. Guest

    I don’t mind a portrayal where KOA sleeps with her first husband, she wouldn’t have done anything wrong (especially when she got a dispensation for sleeping with Arthur when she married Henry, it was all clear as far as the pope went).
    And religious people are capable of lying, and as long as she was able to confess her lies, I think she would be all clear with that as well? Maybe pay some indulgences, idk.
    I guess it’s the fact that she didn’t mention never sleeping with Arthur in her last confession, despite Chapuys having expected her to do so, that makes me think it might have happened. She might also not have done so of course, but there’s enough doubt that I’m okay with either portrayal. That’s the least offensive TSP did imo, they did much worse things (like Katherine taking newborn Henry Fitzroy away from his pleading mother,or her ignoring her daughter Mary, wth??)

    I thought Anne was cute, she was historically so young during the timeframe of TSP, that it genuinely refreshing to see a more sweet faced actress, instead of “sexy”, “cold”, “cunning” that seems to be popular with Anne castings for some strange reason. Did not expect that from the showrunners who calls her a witch😶
    Was not surprised that they eventually made her take off her clothes and reduce her to being a sexy body, that sadly seems to be the norm when it comes to Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard

    Reply
  13. Milli

    I ironically thought Anne’s casting was alright face wise. She was supposed to be average pretty. The only quibble is on actress’s acting choices and script but yeah, i would take pretty , effort making dresses over garbage bag The White Princess costumes any day

    Reply

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