The Spanish Princess Recap: Episode 4


It’s Festivus, aka, The Spanish Princess (2019), Starz’ new adaptation of a Philippa Fucking Gregory book about Catherine of Aragon, has premiered! Strap in for all sorts of historical wtf-ery and some deeply wackjob costuming by Phoebe de Gaye in the next of many recaps. Frock Flicks is a family: if I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.

Sorry this one is late! I was at the Fêtes Galantes at Versailles in Paris (go ahead, hate me if you must) swanning about in an 18th-century costume in the Hall of Mirrors. Life is hard! In fact, I’m writing this from Paris where it is currently 3 million degrees, but the pain au chocolat is divine … Luckily, you’ll get another Spanish Princess recap (episode 5) tomorrow! Onwards!

Various people are plotting against the Tudors! Some unknown person is massing an army in France to invade England. Luckily Margaret Beaufort has spies everywhere.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

A plotter with boy-band hair.

Prince Henry has a sad, because his mother is dead. Catherine cheers him up with yet another random story of Life in Spain (olé!), this time about a bull.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

I ranted about this deeply shitty attempt at 1970s macrame blackwork in one of my preview posts.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Henry looks RIDICULOUS in his lead singer of a New Romantic group gear.

Rosa is constantly discussing whether she and Lina will be marrying Tudor nobles as promised. Lina is constantly trying to get her to shut it. Rosa is also still shagging her married English lord.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4


Henry VII is despondent about his wife’s death and is unwashed and hanging with lions. Margaret Beaufort tries to talk sense into him, then declares she will serve as regent until Henry gets his shit together. She holds a council with various lords and discusses all the various anti-Tudor plots.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Weird cape-y thing on her dress.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

The various guys look pretty decent, especially the more minor ones who actually get hats.

Henry VII tipped off Margaret Beaufort about Prince Henry’s plan to marry Catherine, and she is Not Having It. Mostly she seems concerned that it’s a sin; also she seems to think Catherine is a schemer.

Mags shows up in Catherine’s apartments and THROWS HER OUT. Not, like, “hey, we’ve arranged lodging for you at X location,” but “get out.”

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

I spent this entire episode thinking “Catherine would look so much more royal if she actually owned more than 2 hairpins.” People, updos can BE ELABORATE and therefore fancy in a way that hair-streaming-down doesn’t.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Lina’s dresses may be WTF but they always fit her very well; and she may be queen of head necklaces, but she always manages to look elegant.

Prince Henry and best-bro-friend “Charlie” are playing boules WHILE SHIRTLESS. Margaret Beaufort turns up to try to talk Henry out of wanting to marry Catherine, quoting scripture at him about marrying your brother’s wife is unclean and will mean no children; he quotes back at her the other key biblical quote about how it’s a brother’s duty to marry his dead brother’s wife.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4


2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Ridiculous codflap action.

Prince Henry goes to visit King Henry, suddenly all dressed AND WEARING AN ACTUAL HAT. I am pleased!

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Catherine and her ladies move out. She runs into Princess Margaret, who’s all “yeah how’s that destiny working out for ya?”

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Rosa owns actual sleeves!!

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Margaret is starting to look less dumpy, so that’s something.

“Maggie” Pole lurks.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

In a high-waisted dress that looks totally random compared to what everyone else is wearing; also, ear flaps?

Margaret Beaufort continues to wield control; she discovers that it’s “Maggie” Pole’s cousin that’s leading the French troops.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Wait, she’s wearing something reasonably period-accurate! Stop freaking me out! In the closeups, you can see her lower sleeves are even pinned on with gold pins.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

The hatless boys need hats, but otherwise, I am surprisingly pleased with all of this!

Lina scopes out a house in London for Catherine; Oviedo comes with and tries to sweet-talk her into marrying him and getting out of the lady-in-waiting game. Lina feels a duty to her parents and to Catherine.

Catherine moves to her dingy new place. She says she can’t get Prince Henry to advocate on her behalf because he’s in mourning.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Wearing her best Pyramid Collection cape.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Princess Margaret is being fitted for her wedding dress. The Scottish King wants them to wear matching dresses; she cracks a funny snark about how she hopes he doesn’t always want to make them look like demented twins or something.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

I’m pretty sure those straps are from her stays.

Prince Henry comes to visit Catherine, who doesn’t do herself any favors by being grumpy about her new digs.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

I don’t understand the center front lacing here.

Margaret Beaufort tries to convince Prince Henry that Catherine is a schemer; you can tell she’s getting to him.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

At night, so it makes sense she’s taken off her hood.

Catherine goes out IN THE STREET, FOR A WALK, UNESCORTED. Multiple locals say “bless you princess.”

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

She turns the corner and there’s Prince Henry, who takes her hunting. He gets all cranky and implies she’s trying to manipulate him.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Henry rocking the emo goth look.

Margaret Beaufort summons “Maggie” Pole to try to get Mags to confirm that Catherine and Arthur had sex. Mags says what she knows, but won’t go so far as to say 100% they had sex, because she wasn’t in the room. Margaret Beaufort throws a shitfit and has Mags banished from all royal residences. Mags gets sent home; en route, her cousin who is leading the anti-Tudor invasion kidnaps her and tries to get her to ally with him; she tells him she just wants to stay neutral and live a quiet life.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Suddenly we’re in mix-n-match 1530s Florence?

Princess Margaret is ready to head to Scotland; she’s incorporated some of her mother’s wedding dress into her own, and she gives a piece to her father. This brings him out of his stupor, and he suddenly shows up, freshly bathed and well-dressed to see her off. She’s bummed that “Aunt Maggie” isn’t there to say farewell.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

I like the loose gown; don’t love the hair-looped-over-the-roll thing.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Princess Mary is doomed to live in her One Crushed Velvet Dress.

Not pictured: Oviedo gets conscripted into the English army, where Margaret Beaufort tries to recruit him to spy for her; he’s grumpy at Lina for not agreeing to marry him. Queen Isabella writes to Catherine to tell her to come home, since she doesn’t have a papal dispensation; Catherine throws a tantrum and screams that she WILL be Queen of England!!

King Henry issues an invitation to Catherine to a dinner where he has a big announcement to make; Catherine assumes it’s about her engagement to Prince Henry. Uh, I think you’d be in the know if that was about to happen. Instead, the king announces that his wife’s deathbed request was for him to marry Catherine, and he’s going to do it. Prince Henry flounces out, upset. Catherine’s reaction is mixed.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 4

Special occasions always call for upholstery trim!


See y’all tomorrow for my recap of episode 5 of The Spanish Princess!


About the author



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.

28 Responses

  1. Roxana

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight, England has been INVADED and everybody at court is too wrapped up in weddings to bother about it?

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    I just hope you’re being greatly rewarded for watching this effing crap. Not only is the history wrong, wrong, wrong, (do I need to fill the page with wrongs like ‘Romani aut domus’) and the costumes suck Megaly, but I can’t help compare it to Gentleman Jack whose costumes are so period and gorgeous – even though it’s like 300 years later.

    • Tanya Stewart

      I know I’m dating myself, but Prince Henry’s tousled hair reminds me of JFK…

      • M.E. Lawrence

        1) It is very JFK. And very RFK. Both Prince Henry and Charles Brandon also look like c. 2019 bros to swoon over. I cannot WAIT for Mantel’s last Cromwell novel to appear, which will mean more “Wolf Hall” on television eventually. I don’t much like the casting, but at least it’ll be a beautiful, intelligent, carefully researched production.

        2) “…the Fêtes Galantes at Versailles in Paris (go ahead, hate me if you must) swanning about in an 18th-century costume in the Hall of Mirrors.”

        I do hate you, Kendra, but I also admire your excellent taste.

  3. Heidilea

    Is any of this plot line based in any form of reality?

    • Roxana

      Well it was suggested that Henry the father should marry Catherine. The issues were simple; no Henry wanted to keep Catherine’s dowery, he could certainly use a spare or two and Henry the son was only ten years old. Also Catherine had lost most of her value on the marriage market when her mother died.
      However I am pretty sure this invasion by Margaret Pole’s cousin is fictional or at best displaced chronologically.

  4. Lillian

    Well at least they didn’t go with the whole White Wedding dress thing. But the history still sucks, even if they costumes have improved…slightly.

  5. Charity

    At this point, I am mainly watching it for Harriet Walter. She is freaking awesome as Margaret Beaufort. Even if the script won’t let her be anywhere near the Real Deal, she steals every scene she is in with her snarky side-glances.

  6. Andrew B

    Hot weather + athletic activity ALWAYS me think “this is just the time for some snug leather trousers!” It is like they are reading my mind.

  7. Northcountry Gal

    Poor Margaret Beaufort – that this very decent scholarly woman should be regularly slandered in so many fictional renderings (both in novels and now on TV) is simply disgusting.

    • Roxana

      I don’t understand why every author seems to find it necessary to make Margaret an antagonist. She was much admired in her own time.

      • Terézia Marková

        Probably because she can’t be made young and hot and get a love interest like a proper female lead should, amirite? Who cares about gross old women, especially when they were (spits) religious? /s

        In all seriousness, this is just sad. Such a great lady and noone does her justice! Then there’s her son, known for his ruthless cunning, being horribly dumbed down since The White princess… I hate Philipa Gregory sometimes.

  8. Black Tulip

    “Maggie” Pole – clearly she just wants to stay neutral, live a quiet life, and continue to exert her iron grip on the English hairpin supply.

  9. Susan Pola Staples

    Hopefully, Kendra will take tons of pics of her in the dress at Versailles..
    And has she been to Francois I castles in the Loire?

    • Saraquill

      Has she had the chocolat Africaine at Angelique’s? I consumed it at age twelve, and still remember the taste.

  10. Keith Fraser

    Is Henry’s topless codpiece boules (soon to be added to the Summer Olympics) partner CGI? He looks like he fell out of a mildly risque graphic novel/manga about hunky half-vampire half-angel boyz who’re deep and broodingly angsty and angstily brooding and looking for love (in between slaughtering legions of mooks with their mad fighting skillz).

    Maybe the hairpin budget got spent on protein shakes and chest wax?

  11. picasso Manu

    This is going to date me, but Henri is VERY 80s: the leather pants, the open shirt, the emo/goth look, the HAIRCUT, for God’s sake!
    Oh, and speaking of leather pants, what’s going on with that codpiece? Boule buddy’s thing seems to stand where it should, but Henry’s makes it look like he’s got an elephant trunk in… Oh, ok, I get it.
    Really, gentlemen, the size of your equipment is not that important. At least, I’ve yet to meet a woman that grants it the same importance that the average male does. Or seems to. Honest, do you really think about it 24/7?

  12. Elizabeth K. Mahon

    I just heard yesterday that Starz has given the greenlight for a 2nd season of The Spanish Princess, so we can look forward to more historically inaccurate shenanigans and questionable costumes.

  13. Roxana

    Henry VII was genuinely devestated by his wife’s death. According to contemporary accounts he took himself off somewhere private and saw nobody but his mother for a time.
    Margaret B could not declare herself regent. She’d have to be officially named so by Henry. She wasn’t.
    Young Henry would not be visiting his mother’s tomb in his shirt it would be indecent and totally shock Catherine. A shirt was undress.
    At first nobody was quite sure what to do with Catherine, as I recall she went to Durham house which in on the Strand not in the City of London.
    There is no way Catherine or Henry would be wandering the city streets alone and unattended. If Catherine wanted some exercise she’d walk in the garden. If she wanted to shop or see the sights she’d mount a horse or get in a horse litter and be escorted by servants and ladies.
    If Henry wanted to call on Catherine he too would have come on horseback and attended. Honor and respect for Catherine would require it.
    There is no way Henry and Brandon would be bowling topless. One stripped to one’s shirt and no farther. Less in public was unthinkable.