Are you the kind of person who falls asleep as soon as someone starts talking about history? If this describes you, perhaps you haven't discovered historical novelist Philippa Gregory. I found her books in an airport bookstore. But my interest in historical fiction, and her novels about the wives of Henry VIII, predates a recent pass through the airport.
Showtime's series "The Tudors" will begin Season 2 on March 30th. The show dramatizes the life of Henry VIII of England and his many wives. I wasn't all that into Season 1 when I saw the initial trailors, but once I watched my first episode, I was sucked in. Henry VIII was a playa! I mean, he was the original P.I.M.P.!
Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. She was a princess in her own right and not just some nobelman's daughter who married into royalty. She was cast aside, however, by the scheming Anne Boleyn, who makes Monica Lewinsky look like an amatuer (oh wait, she was). Showtime does a fabulous job of spelling out the plotting it took to overthrow the Catholic Church's hold on England and put Anne Boleyn on the thrown. After watching Season 1 of "The Tudors," I became obsessed with knowing more about Henry VIII's wives, especially Katherine of Aragon.
This is where Philippa Gregory comes in. The Constant Princess is about Catalina, who became know as Katherine of Aragon. Catalina was betrothed to Henry VIII's older brother Arthur from the time she was six years old. When they married, they originally didn't like one another. But their relationship turned into a passionate affair. Arthur died young, and rather than loose her claim to the English thrown, Catalina said that the marriage was never consumated and she eventually married Henry VIII. Sadly for Katherine, she had several miscarriages and only bore Henry a daughter, making her position on the throne very precarious.
The Other Boleyn Girl is about Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's younger sister. Henry was desperate to have a son to inherit the throne, so he started fuckiknocking boots with the women of the court. Mary was Henry's mistress before Anne was and she actually gave him both a daughter and a son. However, Henry's interest in Mary quickly faded and Anne Boleyn is the woman who eventually became queen. Anne never bore Henry's son and she, too, lost her position and was eventually beheaded and succeeded by Jane Seymour. The Boleyn Inheritance is about 3 of Henry's other wives: Anne of Cleeves, Katherine Howard, and Jane Rochford. I haven't read it yet, but you know it's on my list.
If you're not big on reading, The Other Boleyn Girl has been made into a movie, starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansen as Mary Boleyn. It will hit theaters on February 29th.
Showtime will start Season 1 reruns of "The Tudors" on January 27th to get ready for the March debut of Season 2. So if you're interested in how sexy history can be, check it out!