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.
PEOPLE, THERE WILL BE A SEASON 2 OF THIS FIESTA OF HISTORICAL INACCURACY. STRAP IN.
Catherine and Henry are shmoopy, just need her dowry.
News from Spain – the Queen of Castile’s ship has been blow off course, and she is in London! Except, it’s not Queen Isabella, but Queen Juana (or Joanna, as this show anglicizes her). (Side note, this all really happened). And, this is how Catherine supposedly learns of her mother’s death.
Queen Joanna is all fiery “olé!” Spanish-ness.
She’s here with her husband, Philip the Handsome, Archduke of the House of Habsburg, which was currently ruling the Low Countries (Belgium/Netherlands area). Margaret Beaufort is STOKED because of the possibility of negotiating directly with the Hapsburgs for them to turn over rebel Edmund de la Pole.
Catherine arrives at court and is the only one (along with her ladies) dressed in mourning. Joanna is NOT sad about her mother’s death, and not terribly sisterly towards Catherine.
Henry tries to be sympathetic to Catherine, but his father interrupts him angrily, telling him to go make pleasantries with the Spanish royals.
Henry VII is weirdly and randomly hot for Joanna, who forces Catherine to join her for a “Spanish” dance that is an awkward and ungainly sort-of-flamenco number.
Lina tracks down Oviedo and tells him she will marry him, and that Catherine has given her a dowry. He tells her to give it back, and that they will marry when he can support her.
Catherine finally gets Joanna on her own. Joanna is in a crappy situation, with her husband philandering all over the place and both him and her father (Ferdinand of Aragon) trying to take control of the Castilian crown. While Catherine is sad about her mother’s death, Joanna is NOT — her mother used to abuse her in order to try to make her more religious, but Joanna doesn’t believe in god (again, true).
Catherine means to ask Joanna to pay the final half of her dowry, so she can marry Henry, but the two get too busy discussing Joanna’s problems, and Joanna is pretty prickly.
Rosa is stoked, because Stafford has been avoiding her, but has FINALLY asked to meet with her.
The English are inventing reasons why the Spanish ship isn’t ready to leave; Joanna is pissed.
Stafford stands up Rosa, who is destroyed; Lina agrees to hunt him down and talk to him.
Catherine accidentally finds Philip shagging a servant. She’s also remembered her mother abusing Joanna when they were children. She approaches Joanna and confirms her memories, and then asks for her dowry, selling it as a means of Catherine finding her own strength and saying it will mean an ongoing alliance between Spain and England.
Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort are busy negotiating with poncy Philip about Edmund de la Pole, with no sign of Joanna.
Henry VII is pissed at Philip’s arrogance and refusal to really negotiate. He takes it out on Prince Henry, slapping him. Catherine is there to be sympathetic, taking Henry to the kitchens to treat his resulting bruise.
Joanna shows up, is bitchy to Catherine who leaves, then tries to intimidate/seduce Henry.
Henry at first resists, then maybe succumbs, it’s unclear.
Stafford has abandoned Rosa, who has a miscarriage.
Catherine tells Joanna that the English are making up reasons to keep the Spanish royals in England in order to negotiate with Philip. She asks Joanna to agree to pay her dowry, and in return tells her about the negotiations and that the English want de la Pole.
Joanna bursts in on the negotiations, and makes an agreement to turn over de la Pole with Henry VII.
Throughout all of this, Margaret (sorry, “Maggie”) Pole is flat broke. Her tenants can barely pay their wages, and then she’s informed that she owes a gazillion back taxes to the crown. Royal officials strip her house of value, and she can barely feed her children.
She’s summoned to court, and goes because she’s trying to care for her children. Turns out Margaret Beaufort wants to try one more time to get Maggie to say that Arthur and Catherine’s marriage was consummated. Maggie refuses, Margaret throws a shitfit and says her children can starve.
Lina gets some info out of Oviedo.
Margaret Beaufort has had a brainwave, and offscreen has agreed with Joanna to marry Princess Mary* to Joanna and Philip’s son Charles. Joanna shows up in the middle of Catherine and Henry’s shmoopy picnic to announce that she no longer needs Catherine’s support and won’t pay her dowry.
* I was right, new clothes for Mary = she gets to become an actual character!
How many more of these are there?
Ghod how bad is this going to get.
Mary, La Reine Blanche, Duchess of Suffolk was a redhead. Yes she was briefly betrothed to Charles V – the same Chuck V who became Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, father of Philip of the Armada fame and bane of Henry VIII’s existence over his aunt’s divorce issue. So I guess the show is .5 0/0 accurate. Failure Will Robinson.
Argh. Henry VII became enamoured of Juana who was, as you said, a redhead.
Huzzah for 85 percent accurate peasants!
Please someone cancel this travesty.
Henry VII I’d express an interest in marrying Juana after Philip’s death but it wasn’t her voluptuous charms that fascinated him but her vast tracts of land – castille.
snickering at vast tracts of land
I could be wrong, but I read that Henry VII was interest in marrying Juana because she resembled his dead wife, Elizabeth,
Well, they were both redheads, but I am not sure how similar-looking they were otherwise. And Juana was a rich heiress at the time, being the queen of Castille and all; of course, any plans for marriage were only made after her husband’s death, when her “madness” (by modern standards severe depression, not helped by daddy Ferdinand treating her like shit and fueling her mental health problems) started, so they were quickly scrapped. Also Ferdinand was probably like “I am the only gross old man allowed to exploit my daughter for political gain” anyway.
I can only watch this travesty due to mild interest in the romances of Spanish staff…otherwise it is terrible and Catherine speaking English is a joke…she did not speak a word on arrival and never got too great at it. And Henry was barely 11 at the time, not a great strapping brute. I do believe Catherine’s scheming though…she wrote letters to her father after her marriage telling him how she managed Henry and would keep him on Spanish side, which of course she could not do. I get they are trying to give her “power” in this version but she had almost none and only for the earliest part of her marriage. It did not last. The clothing is the least offensive part of this mess…
I’ve been hate listening to Phillipa fucking Gregory books while I do housework, because I love pain, and I’ve discovered that its possible to mess up historical costuming In Print. So far, she’s had leather pants (excuse me, ‘britches’), a heavily faceted diamond engagement ring, a separate skirt and bodice worn by a noblewoman, high leather boots worn when not riding and a head necklace.
Non accurate historical costuming in books is such a pet peeve of mine!
Same!! I absolutely hate it when Im reading a good historical novel and then something completely ridiculous comes up. There are a few common ones like corset described as an overgarment (is that a word lol) and ripping straight through clothes when having sex (the corsets are totally forgotten at this point).
That must add an extra energy to the scrubbing and sweeping.
It’s still a train wreck and I still can’t stop watching. Ugh!! And I can’t believe that Queen “Joanna” ever wore her hair in that hot mess hair style.
If she did, it’s no wonder they had her committed.
So nice of Juana to become fluent in English just in case her ship was blown off course.
Did they not mention that Philip and his sister were partly raised by Margaret of York, Richard III’s sister? Margaret of York might even be alive in whatever this timeline is. I kind of expect the last scene of the season to be Catherine and Harry looking at each other at the altar and saying, “Finally! It’s been a crazy eight months!”
People are really watching this? I mean, not forced to do it at gun point, or just beig heroic like Kendra.
Watching it for pleasure. Really really real like.
My brain has stopped, the frockflick part of me is agonizing in a corner (probably drunk), and I’m only reading this.
Kendra, Frockfickturi te salutant!
Wait, Juana I. didn’t believe in God and was abused by her mother?! The first time I learn about this! Is that an actual Thing That Happened?!
Per Wikipedia, yes? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joanna_of_Castile#Rebellion_against_her_mother's_Catholicism
Wikipedia also marked this article as unreliable because of faulty sourcing, so yeah. It just doesn’t very plausible to me.
Sounds like the Black Legend of Evil Spain to me.
I have read a nice historical book on popular historical myths and legends once (written by regular historian, it mostly consisted of researching the source material to see if it supported the story). There was a whole chapter about Juana of Castile and the theories about religion. It was mostly about interpretation of some words. One historian (not Spanish, btw.) was interpreting passages from letters by Queen Isabel as instructions to torture Juana and it was mostly because she had some sectarian leanings (pre-Reformation, just some Christian considered heretic by Rome). But the author of this book was saying that a more reasonable explanation is that it’s the then-Spanish spelling for “consent”. She quotes some letters where servants were saying that Juana went on a hunger strike wanting something and Isabel replies with instructions for the supposed “torture” – the more logical explanation is surely just “give her what she wants”. Plus there is a question of how a girl brought up in the extremely strict and religious Spanish court would even get contact with any heretics.
It seems that they managed to resist the “Spanish=dark hair” stereotype with Catherine, but succumbed to it with Joanna.
Still laughing over Lina’s face in picture 12–i like to think she’s thinking “i may be smiling now, but if i have to wear another head-necklace, i will choke a bitch.”
Literally everything about Juana’s look and acting choices here SCREAMS “we wish we could have gotten Helena Bonham-Carter to play this role.”
I know this is a train wreck, but I kinda dig Catherine’s mourning get up as something for Halloween, or Goth does Renfaire, not as a historical repro. I even like Joanna’s weird drippy pearls.
It could be worse, they could have really gone with the Juana la Loca thing. I’m kinda surprised they didn’t go for it. So, they didn’t totally ignore facts? Wooo?
There’s a surprising amount of real history in this episode. Philip and Juana did visit England, they did turn over Edmund de la Pole. Then of course they mess it up by ignoring Ferdinand”s existence and this crap about Isabella being abusive.
Its a mark of how horrible that this show is that I get excessively excited when I spot something that is actually historically accurate.
Which, yet again, brings up the question “HOW FUCKING LONG CAN THIS GO ON?” I confess that I did read/skim the PFG novel: interesting enough, but unlikely and unhistorical–kind of young-adult. Why is the telly version being spun out past four episodes? (Yes, rhetorical question.)
Re: the bra. In “Chicago”, especially Cell Block Tango (but also All that Jazz), that style bra was used to keep Zeta’s boobies in order. In fact, I was fascinated by the variety of bras/costumes that met each actress’s needs. (Actually took notes for myself)
Re: Philippa Fucking Gregory, my hubby and I saw her on an episode of Time Team, presented as a historian for the saga of the Grey family. He now calls her PFG. Also, Time Team lost a lot of cred on that one.
BTW, The Countess of Salisbury was one of the richest peers in England. Not some marginal one manor gentlewoman.
Yes. This has been infuriating me.
BTW, the name “Helena Snakenborg,” is fucking amazing.
Helena was a Swedish novlewoman who visited England as a lady in waiting to a Swedish princess. She started a relationship with the feckless Marquess of Northampton who couldn’t marry her because he had a living wife. Helena entered Elizabeth’s service and became a great favorite at court. She and Northampton did eventually marry but he died shortly afterwards.
Princess Margaret and Princess Mary should also be redheads. Just sayin’!
Juana was not a redhead. She had brown hair, like her father.
I totally didn’t understand the romantic subplot between Henry and Juana. Juana only had eyes for Philip. She was obsessed with him. Sure, she hated that Philip cheated on her, but she never slept with someone else for revenge. Wtf, show? Even the book didn’t posit that.
Joanna wasn’t tortured by her mother. Never. She was religious, just not very devout. She might have some secret leanings towards reformers, but as they are only 20 years away from Luther thats not so weird. Besides, she raised her daughter in captivity in Tordesillas all by herself and Catherine went on to be a queen of Portugal and was just as catholic as any habsburg princess. Joanna was religious enough and not an atheist.