The Spanish Princess Recap: Episode 8


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 last of many recaps. Frock Flicks is a family: if I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.

We did it! It’s the finale! We survived! Until season 2.

Henry VII dies while in the bathtub, hanging with his mom. He coughs a little bit, puts a handkerchief over his mouth, and suddenly is coughing blood and dies. Poof! Margaret Beaufort is immediately trying to cover it up until Prince-now-King Henry VIII can be brought to court. She’s running around crazily.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

She was wearing a gable hood, but when Henry dies, she loses that and spends the rest of the episode in a velvet cap (which was, presumably, under the hood).

Oviedo figures out the king has died, despite nothing having been announced, and warns Lina…

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

*fans self*

Who warns Catherine.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

I think this is the undergown she briefly wears in the last episode, now with a lose gown over it?

“Maggie” Pole was arrested in the raid, she’s in the Tower with her kids. Catherine visits her and vows to get her released.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Margaret Beaufort is suddenly freaking the fuck out about the taxes her government was raising, saying they’re illegal and they need to find someone to take the fall. Future Cardinal Wolsey has popped up here and there amongst the king’s advisors.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Catherine knows Henry has been summoned, and apparently there’s only one road into London from the north of the city, so she goes and waits for Henry to ride along. When he does, she intercepts him and tells him that his father has died. The two have a moment — Catherine tells him she loves him, and asks what her fate will be. He tells her they’re royals and they make their own destiny, so of course she will be his queen.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale 2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Margaret Beaufort has decided that Dudley (grandfather? to the future Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who will be Queen Elizabeth I’s love) should take the fall for these illegal taxes. She’s worried the now King Henry VIII will find out about the taxes and be pissed. She has Dudley seized and immediately beheaded without a trial. The executioner botches the beheading, giving Dudley time to tell them all off while spurting blood.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Henry VII is laid out in the chapel, Henry VIII goes to the funeral mass. Midway through, there’s a confrontation with Margaret Beaufort about the taxes and Dudley having been executed without trial.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Princess Mary, looking halfway decent, along with the various extras as well. Why can’t everyone look this good?

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Margaret Beaufort goes to crazytown, running around like a madwoman. She figures out that Oviedo must have warned Catherine, and has him arrested for supposedly stealing a book she gave him. Oviedo is arrested, Lina is distraught, and they get married asap in a combined Catholic/Muslim ceremony (one of O’s fellow soldiers officiates for the Muslim portion). Lina tries to save Oviedo’s life, finally admitting to Margaret Beaufort that Catherine and Arthur’s marriage was consummated. Then the soldiers immediately hang Oviedo; he’s dangling from the rope when Catherine and Henry burst in and have him cut down, barely saving his life.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

At some point Margaret changes into this loose gown.

Margaret Beaufort crazily tells Henry that Lina has admitted Catherine and Arthur’s marriage was consummated, but Henry tells her to bring him Lina and have her swear again that this happened.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Back in the windmill dress and clomping around ridiculously.

Catherine is being dressed for her wedding.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Close up shots of the wedding dress.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Don’t get too excited, her hair is down in back. I have questions about the pearled bands on her chest, which are at a weird angle, and look more like rhinestones than pearls from far away.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Catherine’s wedding dress is actually quite pretty, if I ignore the sleeves, and the weird rope ties on the sides.

“Maggie” Pole is at court, dressed up all fancy (for the wedding?). She hears Margaret Beaufort calling sickly, and goes to her room to find her unattended. Margaret is seeing visions of the Princes in the Tower, which, according to Philippa Fucking Gregory/The White Princess, she had murdered. “Maggie” basically tells her she’s a horrible person.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Some kind of roll/snood combo?

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

I don’t hate the outfit, although why she’s sticking with the higher waist style is unclear.

Catherine receives a letter from her father, who wants her to know what kind of man she’s marrying: her sister Joanna told him that she and Henry had sex while she was visiting. AS THOUGH JOANNA WOULD TELL FERDINAND SUCH A THING, AS THOUGH FERDINAND WOULD CARE, AS THOUGH FERDINAND WOULD WRITE HIS DAUGHTER A SNOTTY “JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF MAN YOU’RE MARRYING” LETTER. Ahem. Catherine goes to confront Henry, who is praying the chapel. He denies shagging Joanna, all is resolved, until he says, with a knowing look, “Of course, you didn’t have sex with Arthur, right?” And Catherine says, “Right,” all with a look on her face of “what have I gotten myself into.”

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

More wedding gown: that damask is NOT a 16th c. pattern (maybe art nouveau?), and the side ties annoy me (plus the overly poofy chemise), but otherwise, I do think it’s pretty.

2019 The Spanish Princess episode 8 finale

Henry goes easter colors for his wedding outfit? I’m mostly good with it, but my eye was immediately drawn to the lacing gap at the waist.

And, we did it! We survived! What travesties await in season 2? Do you want recaps?


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.

54 Responses

  1. Sam Marchiony

    I facepalmed so hard when I saw them hanging Oviedo. Like… did no one stop and say, hey, maybe we shouldn’t show a black man being HANGED in 2019.
    Anyway, yeah, the Dudley executed was Robert Dudley’s grandfather Edmund, which did actually happen. But I refuse to give them credit when their main premise (Catherine sleeping with Arthur) means Henry was RIGHT during The Great Matter, and yet they still claim this to be a feminist show!

    • Terézia Marková

      Yes, the whole thing with Dudley is historically accurate… Except for that thing where Margaret Beaufort got him executed, ASAP (in the real world, he was executed like a year after being imprisoned), and without trial at that. They are really looking for every excuse to demonize that poor woman, aren’t they?!

      • Sam Marchiony

        I mean, they make this entire series seem like it happened over the course of a year, it’s kind of ridiculous. And she’s also the last character who’s been there from the beginning, unless you count “Maggie” who was a baby in The White Queen. What will we do without a Margaret Beaufort to chew scenery? It’d be like having Reign without Megan Follows!

      • Charity

        IKR? They always wreak horrible revenge on Margaret Beaufort at some point. Wonder who is going to be the horrible “feminist” next season now she’s dead? :P

        • Sam Marchiony

          I suspect it might be Anne Boleyn, assuming she isn’t reduced to awful-incest-having-witchy-alpha-bitch.
          I just jinxed it, didn’t I?

          • Charity

            I don’t know if the writer wants to get into The Other Boleyn Girl years or not. I guess we’ll see. Starz may renewe the damn thing for another season just to get in Anne Boleyn.

            • James

              Nah. It’ll be Maggie Pole – the title screen DOES say that it is taken from “The Constant Princess” and “The King’s Curse” in which Maggie plays a big role. Evidently, judging from the series, they have gone with the whole Anne Boleyn being born in 1501 for the series, so she won’t play a role until the last few episodes…

        • Lady Hermina De Pagan

          Next season the big bad will be Bessie Blount, The Man Eater who will try and come between true love.

            • mjsamuelson

              My guess is season 2 ends up covering a huge amount of time, in the same vein as The White Queen. They could progressively age up Anne over a handful of episodes. Alternately, the groundwork is laid for them to give us Philandering Harry, so I’d look for an aged-up Mary Boleyn before they go to Anne.

              • James

                They have said they want to “conclude” Catherine’s story, which would mean going to 1536… so year, presumably season 2 is going to cover a 27 year gap and they’ll just use make-up to age the characters.

            • James

              It depends on what sources you go for with Bessie. Sources differ between Bessie’s birth; some sources say 1498 and that she was 21 at the time of Henry Fitzroy’s birth and that she was 16 when the affair began in 1514. Other sources say she was born in 1500 or 1502 and was between 14 and 12 when the affair began. So for Bessie, it depends on which age they go with, really…

              • Charity

                I’m guessing she was older. Henry in general seemed to go for more mature girls; Katherine Howard being the exception.

      • Cheryl

        Yes not sure why Margaret Beaufort is being portrayed so demonically and she would have never been allowed to run around wreaking havoc. She certainly was not present at Dudley’s execution nor would she have passed sentence. Why are we devoting so much time to fictional character Lina? I appall the Phillippa Gregory novels. They are so historically inaccurate yet I keep watching! The real history is so fascinating. Why butcher it so mercilessly!

    • Aleko

      Eh? Why should they not show a black man being hanged in 2019, just as much as a white man? It’s not as though he’s hanged for being black; he’s hanged for being a lousy Spaniard who has p**ed off the Queen enough for her to want to trump up a charge against him. In the Tudor period making your self an inconvenience to the monarch was enough to get *anyone topped in short order.

        • Aleko

          Ah, now I get you, but that’s – I think – mainly an American reaction. Lynching never having been part of Black history in Britain, it honestly just didn’t occur to me, and I don’t think it would to most Brits.

    • Constance

      I think she & Arthur did have sex though…Catherine had great reasons to stick to that declaration and probably viewed it as a valid fib since she was “meant” to be Q of E per God, so…whatever it takes. Also she never said a word during the pregnancy watch in real life either…only used the virgin line when threatened to be expelled etc…

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    Like CoA would risk her immortal soul by lying. More PFG wrongness.

    A Catholic would never, never marry in a partial Islamic ceremony at this time. CoA parents drove the Moslem population out of Spain. PFG cannot get basic Spanish History 101 right. She is an equal historical fuckup.

    I hope you have a great reward for reviewing this shit.

    Your screencaps were drole.

    BTW. I’m reading I Know My Own Heart. It’s great. Anne Lister is so CURIOUS. She’s interested in everything.

    Have fun at Costume Con.

    • Heather

      For the record, PFG didn’t include Oviedo, Lina or a partial Islamic marriage between the two of them. That was nowhere in the book. 😉

    • mjsamuelson

      As usual, modern political commentary can’t be left on the table. Starz would have considered it blasphemy to miss a chance for a totally inaccurate interfaith marriage ceremony – as if this isn’t the same England that’s going to burn heretics at the stake in a very short time.

    • James

      Actually, COA could lie; if it’s for her daughter’s sake – i.e lying to stay Queen so Mary stays a Princess – then it’s for a “noble” cause and her immortal soul is not harmed. So she could lie.

      • Charity

        Doesn’t really fly with Catholicism, since she’d still be lying to a priest, which is a damning sin.

        • James Swann

          Except if she’s lying for “God’s plan”; God’s plan was for her to be Queen… and, to do that, she has to lie. So, she COULD lie to fulfil god’s plan…

  3. K

    I can’t help but wonder if the wedding dress isn’t made of damask, but devoré. It looks like the darker portion has a bit of pile to it. But, considering the amount of polyester utilized in this piece, what is a technique invented a few centuries in the future between friends?

  4. Terézia Marková

    From the way you’re describing it, Catherine’s confrontation of Henry over his alleged affair with her sister must’ve been hilarious.
    “Did you shag my sister while she was there?!”
    “Uhm… No?”
    “And did you sleep with my brother while you were married?!” looks into the camera like a character on The Office
    “No!” also looks into the camera
    “Okay! Let’s get married! God, that was so close! We almost had a conflict there!”

  5. Nzie

    I still can’t believe this crap gets a season 2.

    Also, the executioner… wouldn’t he just… keep hacking? I mean, the guy had one job, kill the dude. And he lets him bleed out long enough to spill the beans?

  6. Teresa Alley

    What happened to the dispensation that Isabella & Ferdinand got from the pope when Arthur died, which allowed Catherine to marry Henry ‘even if’ the marriage with Arthur had been consummated??? Margaret Beauford cackling on about ‘you don’t have a dispensation’, when Catherine already had one?!?! Give me one good reason why Margaret Beaufort loathed Catherine with such a white-hot hatred? And finally – 2 tax collectors, Empson & Dudley were executed BY HENRY VIII after his ascension to the throne. But we can’t let our red-haired hero look bad, can we? No, we must pin more dirt on Margaret Beaufort. LOL on the windmill dress – it is really hideous!

    • Cheryl

      By the way Margaret Beaufort was dead when Edmund Dudley was executed. She died in June 1509. Dudley was executed in August 1510.

  7. Coco

    The problem with the windmill dress is that it is being used incorrectly. Catherine should yell, “WINDMILL, ACTIVATE!” And the door to the Tower of London will blow open, freeing Margaret Pole, Oviedo’s executioners are blown out to sea, and the letter with the Pope’s dispensation is lifted from Margaret Beaufort’s papers to fly directly into Catherine’s hands. After all, Isabella of Castile defeated the Moors with the power of the windmill dress. Cervantes referenced this in his first draft of ‘Don Quixote,’ which is where we get the well-known saying ’tilting at windmills dresses.”

  8. Hannah

    YES WE WANT RECAPS. I’ve looked forward to these every week.

  9. Roxana

    Oh My God.
    I don’t recall the exact details of Henry VII’s death but it was in his own bed and young Henry was right there in the room having been kept right at his father’s side for the seven or eight years he was heir apparent.
    Margaret Beaufort was technically regent for a few months until Henry turned eighteen but she doesn’t seem to have done much. Her only son’s death took her hard. Once she saw her grandson crowned and married she had little more to live for and didn’t long survive.
    Margaret Pole was still posing as a poor widow and boarding with the Bridgetine Nuns. She was definitely not in the Tower and there was no de la Pole plot for her to be implicated in.
    Henry VIII had Dudley and Empson tried and executed in a cold blooded play for popularity. It is doubtful that either man had done anything illegal but they were symbols of Henry VII’s unpopular fiscal policy..

      • M.E. Lawrence

        Oh, yes! Ever so hard. And it’s just–boring, you know, and has to be simplified and tarted up and made relevant to our little dumbed-down, 21st-century brains.

  10. Saraquill

    How much booze do you need to get through Season 2? Will your livers be safe?

  11. Katie O'Donnell

    This was such a weird, wild ride. It was like I had no idea what to expect just from one sentence to the next because nothing makes any sense – not even on a historical level, but just from pure storytelling! If all this mishmash of history came together into something that was a good story I would be maybe a little more forgiving but I don’t know what this is lol

  12. Aleko

    “Catherine knows Henry has been summoned, and apparently there’s only one road into London from the north of the city, so she goes and waits for Henry to ride along.”

    Actually that’s not far off the truth. There was only one main road leading north to Lincoln and York, and that entered the city at Aldersgate. There was only one leading northwest to St Albans, the Midlands and the mid-Welsh Marches, and only one westward to Bath, Bristol and the west country, and they both entered the city at Newgate. Et cetera. So if you knew where someone was coming from, you only had to wait at the appropriate gate and you would indeed meet them, unless they were deliberately trying to avoid you and took a long hike around the walls to come in by a different gate.

  13. mjsamuelson

    It was special, there’s no doubt there. I’ve been watching mainly to try and anticipate the quality snark y’all put out :-)

    But yeah, all three series have made me wonder what the heck PFG has against Margaret Beaufort. I got a decent sense in The White Queen that she was nuts, but for a reason. After that it just spiraled into undiluted crazy (and by this series, they left her devout Catholicism at the gate – can we talk about how the Margaret Beaufort they set up would never have given anything the Pope had touched to a heretic, much less what the real MB might have done in that situation?? Not that “devout” means anything in these shows beyond occasional kneeling before crucifixes and constantly having a Rosary at one’s hip).

    The loose dress thing that Catherine wears for a good chunk of this episode is just….all I can say is I liked it better than the windmill dress, which isn’t saying much, as I like sackcloth better than the windmill dress.

    I wonder, now that Henry VII is dead, can we stop calling Henry VIII “Harry”??? Also, what are the chances that the Meghan Markle conspiracy theories find themselves attached to Catherine’s future storylines….

  14. Elizabeth Edwards

    I’ve been watching along with more and more shock at the devolution of Margaret Beaufort. For a show that touts itself as feminist and a way of showing the women’s side of history, they sure did go out of their way to make a woman who was not a devil into one.

    Catherine apparently forgetting her devotion to the Catholic Church is another one that’s been grating at me. I mean having her sleep with Arthur when she never would have lied to risk her soul was bad enough but just in general it’s like they only remembered how devout she was on occasion. Just like they peppered in reminders that Margaret B was a child bride to?? Garner sympathy after they destroyed her character?? I can’t even figure that one out, especially the random flashback to child her giving birth to Henry.

    TWQ and TWP were still very “history? I don’t know ha” but they didn’t enrage me the way this one has. And yet you know I’ll be watching season 2, especially to see how Anne Boleyn is demonized (because apparently showing the women’s side of a history in which they were used as literal pawns, fuck them kids, right? The Henry’s were pure beans surrounded by crazy power hungry harlots!)

    • Elizabeth Edwards

      (That was supposed to say “literal pawns MEANS fuck them kids”, apparently I can’t edit that last bit to actually make sense)

  15. Patrick Keogh

    Henry’s wedding outfit is definitely one of the better costumes in the show, along with whenever Margaret actually wears a gable hood.

  16. Pat F.

    I can’t decide which was more annoying – the Catholic & Muslim-officiated wedding of a condemned Muslim thief about to be hanged to his Catholic bride (annoying because I doubt that it would have been allowed even if they could have found a Muslim cleric to co-officiate), or the fact that after sitting through all those episodes of Catherine’s angst, they didn’t show her actual wedding to Henry (or if they did, it went by so quickly that my eyes didn’t register the ceremony).

  17. Lillian

    Why did Margaret just suddenly realize that the taxes SHE instituted could get her in trouble? I thought she was supposed to be smart. Or are they trying to imply she has dementia?

    • James Swann

      I think the implication, Lillian, is that she assumed Henry VII would live for another 10 years or so and she’d be dead of old age anyway, so it wouldn’t matter.