The Spanish Princess Recap: Episode 5


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.

Prince Henry argues with the king about pops’ plan to marry Catherine. Margaret Beaufort is grumpy about “Maggie” Pole.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Margaret Beaufort has a new, stripey loose overgown.

Catherine has a meal with King Henry, where he tries to gently woo her.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Catherine adds some kind of beige overlayers to her printed-quilting-cotton dress that look like burlap from far away. I have many questions about the print/design Rosa is wearing.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Up close, you can see that that beige fabric is a brocade/jacquard, but… THE BACK CAPE ISN’T FINISHED, THEY JUST USED THE SELVAGE, which wouldn’t bother me so much except for the THREAD FRINGE.

The king has Catherine pose for a portrait.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Must preserve the upholstery trim fantasy maiden of yore dress for posterity!

“Maggie” Pole is happy having been banished to her country house with her children; her husband keeps trying to point out that there’s no escaping the court intrigues and she needs to suck it up for the sake of their children. He finds a book she’s looking at that has her cousin’s (who is currently leading a rebellion) inscription it, and warns her that she has to tell the king if her cousin has contacted her; she denies he has.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Unnecessary lacing on the sleeve.

Henry accosts Catherine while she’s praying and throws a tantrum because she won’t say she wants to marry him and not the king; Catherine rightly argues that her choices are limited.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Princess Margaret arrives in Scotland, and is thrilled to discover her new husband is young and hot. He has a passel of bastard children who are there to greet her.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

All she needs to do is lose the machine-embroidered, high necked chemise and she’d start looking much more attractive…

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

A fun variation on skirt hiking: the skirt-hiking curtsy! For your most ungainly of ladies/girls/whatever!

Margaret Beaufort informs Lina and Rosa who they are going to marry (Lina is going to marry Charles Brandon, which, wtf?). Rosa, however, is pregnant by her married lover the Duke of Stafford.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Prince Henry shows up at a council meeting acting insolent. He informs his dad that Edmund de la Pole (“Maggie”‘s cousin leading the invasion) is in London. Margaret Beaufort can’t believe he’d withhold such crucial information.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Lina goes to Oviedo for advice on where to get Rosa help with an abortion. Oviedo is still grumpy that she won’t run off with him.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Lina goes to a whorehouse to get an abortifacient for Rosa. The madam is very suspicious, saying that she’s one of Catherine’s ladies and wouldn’t it be terrible if this news got out.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Margaret Beaufort tries to soothe Prince Henry by getting the Duke of Stafford to bring him a bunch of whores.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Wearing the entire wardrobe from The Borgias?

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Henry resists the whores, and tells Margaret Beaufort that he’s in love with Catherine. He turns up at Catherine’s house in the middle of the night to tell her that he wants to fight for her; she’s very “I have to do my duty/I have no choice.” He kisses her.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

“It’s cool, there’s nothing scandalous about a guy turning up at my house in the middle of the night while I’m wandering around in my dressing gown.”

Lina is upset that Catherine may be choosing her heart (Prince Henry) over her duty (King Henry). She confesses she’s in love with Oviedo. Catherine is a jerk about it, and basically says she’ll be thrown out with nothing if she marries him.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Catherine decides to randomly take Lina and go to visit “Maggie” Pole to apologize for getting her banished. No one seems to question the two gallivanting around the countryside. Catherine essentially confesses she’s in love with Prince Henry to Mags; Mags warns her that he’s very passionate but not very constant. On the way home, Catherine tells Lina that she will support her marriage to Oviedo and give her a dowry.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Wearing her best upholstery-fabric, dropped-waist Laura Ashley dress.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Queen Isabella writes scathingly (no idea why) to Catherine giving her permission to marry King Henry. She drops that Catherine’s sister Juana has gone mad after the birth of her child.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Catherine’s portrait is (ahem) coming along.

Catherine tells Henry to randomly meet her in a field, where HER HAIR IS UP/MY JAW HAS DROPPED and she tells him she loves him and wants to marry him. He’s shmoopy.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

WAIT WHAT? Maybe she stole “Maggie”‘s hairpins when she visited??!!

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

I have questions about those sleeves.

Catherine goes to King Henry and points out the obvious, that if KH marries her, the Spanish alliance ends with his death since any children they have won’t inherit the throne. Of course, in reality, KH was also very interested in keeping Catherine’s dowry.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Okay, so the front & back lacing could work if it’s a kirtle (an undergown), but then WHY IS IT SPLIT IN BACK.

Rosa can’t bring herself to have an abortion. She goes to the Duke of Stafford and tells him in the middle of an archery social that she’s pregnant, and all she wants is for him to find her a place to live and support the child. He says ok, but there’s some foreshadowing that things may not work out.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

Is that… ikat print?

King Henry summons Catherine to tell her that he agrees she and Prince Henry can marry, surprising Margaret Beaufort, but warns her ominously that the rest of her dowry must be paid.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

And in a ridiculously obvious accident, “Maggie” Pole’s husband is crushed by a wagon and dies.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 5

How many head necklaces await us in the next episode?

46 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Ghod, this keeps getting worse by each episode. I do not know where to start. From CoA and wearing what looks like farthingales as fore-parted underskirts to the history. Henry VII as a Catholic would be barred from marrying his dead son’s widow. Argh. Brandon had a tad more sense than marrying a woman who’s virtue is none and has zero money.

    Can I have loads of Chateau Mouton and Chateau Lafite Rothschild along with the Belle Epoque bottle of Perrier Joust delivered to your hotel room?

    Why does Philippa Fucking Gregory inflict travesties upon us?

    • Heidilea

      OMG, I kno rite? Each screen cap I’m like “Ugh, ugh, UGH, UGGHHHHH, AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” And the PAINTING. WHAT IN ACTUAL FROCK?!

    • shellieeyre

      Henry VII did in fact toy with the idea of marrying Catherine, albeit briefly. The non consummation that made it OK to marry HVIII would have made it OK to marry HVII.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Not without a Papal Dispensation.

        Pope Alexander VI issued one and if my memory is correct worded it that consumption might have or might not have happened.

        • Roxana

          Basically early modern royalty had little difficulty getting any impediment dispensed. It didn’t really matter whether the marriage had been consummated or not, but the pope had to know which to phrase his paper right.
          Marriage to Henry the father could have been as easily legalized by the pope as to the son. The real issue was Catherine was no longer a good match and both Henrys might do better elsewhere.

      • Angie Wilson

        You’re absolutely right. He wanted to stop Henry from marrying Catherine.

    • Roxana

      Not to mention the Countess of Salisbury collecting eggs and her husband, SIR Richard Pole, trusted cousin and right arm of the king doing manual labor in his shirt!!!
      Don’t these people understand how important this couple was? How wealthy they were? How trusted? Obviously not.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Margaret Salisbury had a claim to the throne. Her father George Duke of Clarence – of malmsey wine game – was Edward IV younger brother. Her mother was Isabella daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. She cleverly made no claim to the throne and lived a circumspect life. She was a proponent, friend and confident of CofA and her eldest son, Cardinal de la Pole brought Catholicism back under his cousin, Queen Mary I.

    • Heidilea

      I know! WHY.


    • Susan Pola Staples

      I spewed my coffee bc I was drinking it at the time.

      Any news from Kendra and La Belle France?

    • M.E. Lawrence

      That might be the worst faux-period-portrait I have ever, ever seen. (And FPPs tend to be bad.)

      • MoHub

        It’s not even good as a modern-day portrait. And its clearly not painted by layering tinted washes over grisaille underpaint.

  2. Nzie

    I’m impressed these recaps don’t just repeat “I have questions” and “What the frock?!” after every still. But poor “Maggie” gets the worst imo. I mean, hey, let’s approximate a manner of dress that’s been out of style for a couple hundred years and then put this 1980s jumper over it? Literally the only thing I like in these photos so far is the face of the Duke of Stafford, and of course the character’s a cad so…

  3. Erin E.

    Whoaaaaaaaa. That green drop-waist curtain gown takes the cake for me. Glad she’s collecting eggs in a 1986 Homecoming dress.

  4. Damnitz

    Your Project to look the whole series reminds me of my attempts to see many German movies or series of the same “Quality”.
    I don’t know if it really is necessary or just time of your life lost for nothing.

  5. Andrew Schroeder

    So is whats-her-name basically playing Lady Edith in ugly upholstery brocades?

    • Roxana

      Personally I am wondering what a Bronte sister is doing in the sixteenth century!

  6. LisaS

    You have questions about the sleeves. I have questions about the Hobby Lobby faux fur scarf (?)

  7. Lillian

    Wait a second… shouldn’t Isabella be dead by now?

    • Roxana

      Yes she should.
      And Juana didn’t go off the rails until Philip’s death, though her balance was precarious before that.

  8. Terézia Marková

    Wait, the super-religious Margaret Beaufort suddenly approves of her grandson sleeping with prostitutes?! The hell?! I get that religious people can be hypocritical, but because it’s her, it feels like either further demonization, or shitty, inconsistent writing. And because the show was written by the people it was written by, I don’t even know which one is it!

    • Charity

      It’s shitty writing. :P
      EF (Emma Frost) really showcases her ignorance of Catholicism in this series. She’s also terribly inconsistent in-between episodes and even 30 minutes later. (Margaret: Kat can’t marry Harry, it’s profane and ungodly! One episode later: her father in law can marry her tho, it’s fine. :D)

  9. Sam Marchiony

    The vision of Isabela telling Catherine that Henry will betray her and “break the world” for it, like OH GEE, I WONDER WHO/WHAT THEY COULD BE TALKING ABOUT.
    And can you believe this what-the-frockery has been given ANOTHER eight episodes?

  10. Coco

    Rosa and Stafford have had so little characterization that when she told him she was pregnant I couldn’t tell if his reaction was, ‘Woe is me, if only cruel fate and society would let me be with the woman I love’ or ‘Time for mmmmurder…’

    The show has been renewed for a second season so look forward to more of Margaret Beaufort being the only one with any competence, Ferdinand if Aragon not existing, and the Lucy that is the universe snatching the football away from the Charlie Brown that is Maggie Pole.

    • Lillian

      Honestly, the characterization of EVERYONE seems a little lacking. Catherine randomly decides to let Lina marry Oviedo because… reasons? Catherine is so desperate to become the queen of England, yet marrying King Henry is a no go because… prince Henry is hotter? And Isabella wants Catherine to marry King Henry instead of prince Henry because… why?

    • Roxana

      In fairness to the real Duke of Buckingham providing for a mistress and their bastard would be no biggy. He could easily afford it and itvwoulsnit hurt his reputation at all, he would be doing the correct and gentlemanly thing.

      • Kendra

        Exactly! Rosa is being as agreeable as she possibly could, in reality Stafford would be thrilled.

        • Roxana

          Quite. Rosa is playing by the rules too. She’s been discreet and clearly intends to go on being so. She’s not making any outrageous demands just the decent minumum. Buckingham should send her to one of his manors and maintain her and the child until he can make permanent arrangements, ei: a respectable marriage with some obliging gentleman of reasonable rank and means.
          Such things were done everyday, as far as his world was concerned Buckingham would have behaved properly and generously. Lady Buckingham would pretend to know nothing about it as her lord had neatly tidied up his own mess.

  11. anniebuck

    What makes me the sickest, and always has with these stupid, stupid shows, is that some people will believe that this is History. I see the future: online arguments about Isabella of Castile, in armor, wielding sword and bow against her enemies. It’s so sad. She was an powerful woman and queen, but for modern audiences to think she’s cool, she’s got to be physically fighting herself. Ugh.

  12. Lynne Connolly

    I’m still here. I can’t believe this is this bad. But it is. Thank you for taking this stuff for us. They must have emptied the upholstery department of their store of choice. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more tassels.

  13. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    Am I the only one who noticed that the burgundy velvet gown Catherine is wearing when she gets the letter from her mother, is the totally the Majestic Velvets Gabriella set?! This is almost as bed as when the costume department for Robin Hood 2010 bought a gown from Armstreet Armoury, put it in the film and then marketed the same dress in cheaper materials for purchase.

    • Terézia Marková

      I mean when Reign did it, at least it had the balls to market their own shit and had it be all like fancy and designer.

  14. Charity

    The inconsistencies in this show are killing me. Characters change their minds with no rhyme or reason, their motives are rarely consistent and often contradict themselves from earlier in the episode / series. That to me is even more painful than the historical inaccuracies or the ridiculous fabrics — good writing demands the audience understand changes made and changes of “heart.” You don’t just bring them up out of nowhere.

  15. ConsiderTheBees (@Wildfyrewarning)

    I never understand why, if people want to make some vaguely old-timey costume drama, they don’t set it during the Norman invasion era. For starters, it’s a fascinating story, and any of the dozen or so Matildas and Margarets who were around at the time would make a great protagonist. Also, where we have TONS of paintings and descriptions of what Tudor-era royals were, there are a lot less primary sources on the Conquest, which means you could play around with it a little more without it being so obviously “wrong.” Instead they keep choosing the ONE era that even most lay people can recognize some clothing from and then just doing it all wrong. It’s baffling to me.

    • Roxana

      I agree with you. The period is full of strong women and conflict but poor in name recognition which I suppose is the problem.

    • Gail F

      I’d love to see a Norman conquest miniseries; or a miniseries about John of Gaunt & Katherine Swynford.

      • M.E. Lawrence

        Oh, yes! A beautifully filmed and costumed series, with good research and intelligent scripts.

        (Please, goddess, don’t let P.G. get interested in writing about J of G and Katherine Swynford. Anya Seton’s novel was gorgeous, and we don’t need Gregory screwing things up with fantasies about Geoff Chaucer.)

  16. Roxana

    I don’t know about Margaret but personally I’d be prepared to take such an adorable passel of bastards to my heart. James IV was quite the womanizer, which may have been to Margaret’s advantage as he seems to have been wise enough to gently woo his child wife and put off consummation till she was ready for it. Which suggests he was the kind of womanizer who cares about his partner’s feelings and wants to keep things pleasant and friendly between then.

    • Roxana

      BTW James did have five known bastards as depicted though these children are way too old: the tall boy is presumably Alexander, future Archbishop of St. Andrew’s who will die with his father at Flodden, the oldest girl next to him must be Catherine Stewart, future countess of Morton, and the three remaining cuties are James, future Earl of Moray (not the famous one), little Janet Stewart and Margaret Stewart

      • Terézia Marková

        Well, those were just the surviving ones; presumably, there were others, that died in childhood.

        • Roxana

          Or weren’t acknowledged. Either James cleaned up his act after Margaret came along or he got a lot more discrete.