Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The King's Grace

The King's Grace  by Anne Easter Smith

   The King's Grace is a great book by Anne Easter Smith about the illegitimate daughter of King Edward IV, Grace Plantagenet.  She is a woman who is barely recorded in English history.  This left lots of room for Anne Easter Smith to tell Grace's story and to link her with Perkin Warbeck, a young man who claims to be one of the boys in the tower.  The boys in the tower are the sons of King Edward IV.  They were put in the tower by their uncle Richard, when he became King of England.  The boys were never seen again and no one knows what happened to them, no one claimed to kill them and their bodies were never found.  To this day, what happened to them remains a mystery.

   Grace Plantagenet is the illegitimate daughter of King Edward IV, she was raised in a convent by nuns and eventually taken in by King Edward IVs widow, Elizabeth Woodville.  After King Edward IVs death, Elizabeth goes into sanctuary and takes in Grace.  Grace stays in the care of Elizabeth for many years, learning about the family and trying to stay in power.  Grace forms a bond with Elizabeth and her daughters and feels that she needs to solve the mystery of her half brothers.
    Grace had never been recognized as a princess like her sisters, because she is illegitimate.  She will never hold the importance they have and will probably never have a great marriage like they will.  When Elizabeth's daughter marries, Henry Tudor, things start to look up for Elizabeth Woodville and her young ward.  Things quickly turn and Elizabeth Woodville is force out of court and sent to an Abbey.  They are living like peasants with little belongings, poor clothing and no contact with the court.   Grace hopes for the day when she can get out of the Abbey.

    The fight for the York's has not ended at this point.  There are people claiming that one of Edward IVs boys is alive and has been spotted throughout Europe.  The woman behind this story and these sightings is Grace's Aunt Margaret of York, the sister of King Edward IV.   Grace travels to Burgundy to meet her Aunt and to find out what she can for Elizabeth Woodville.  Grace learns that this man, Richard, is her half brother.  She has this feeling that he is who he says he is.  Being that Grace has no knowledge of him at all, except for what people have told her she has no choice but to believe his story.

    With finding out about Richard, who many call Perkin Warbeck, she is back at the Tudor court and with her sisters.  She end up marring a young man whom she knew when she was a young girl.  He tries to keep an eye on  her and also tries to keep her from upsetting the King and his mother.  In and out of the Tudor court she goes, all while trying to help this young boy she believes to be her half brother.

    As the story grows it is more about Perkin than anyone else, except for Grace's involvement and her trips to Burgundy to see Margaret.  Being the great problem solver that Grace is, she does piece together to story of Richard and finds the truth of who he really is.

   The King's Grace is such a great story about the princes in the tower and Grace.   Grace has this determination to be a part of this family and to solve the mystery.  Anne Easter Smith puts this story together really well.  I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Tudors and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower!


The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory


    The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory is another great read!  This is the story of Catherine of Aragon also known as Catalina, Infanta of Spain and the Princess of Wales.  She has know this title her whole life and always knew she would become Queen of England.

     At a very young age Catalina, Infanta of Spain, knew she was going to be Queen of England.  She had seen war and known that woman can fight on the battle field and win wars.  Catalina, Infanta of Spain, was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales.  She knew that one day she would have to leave her family and travel to England to become the Princess of Wales and eventually become the Queen of England.

    When she leaves her home to move to England she is out of place in a strange land with a strange language.  Arthur, Prince of Wales is not what she had expected and their relationship is off to a rocky start.  After some troubles and a fight for power between the young couple the fall madly in love with each other.  They are inseparable, yet no one knows this.  Arthur's Grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, ran the Tudor court and told the young couple when they could be together.   This did not stop the young couple from being together and planing their future and the future kingdom.

   Arthur is stricken with an illness that ultimately takes his life, leaving Catalina alone in a strange land with nowhere to go and a deathbed promise to keep to her husband.  She must tell the ultimate lie and stick to it.  The battle over who gets to keep Catalina becomes quite petty.  King Henry VII does not want to send her back to Spain, due to her dowry not being paid in full and her parents seem to not want her home.  This little battle over where Catalina will end up is both a blessing and a curse for the young Princess.

   Catalina is forced to live in poverty by the King.  She sits in a little home with a small amount of ladies to care for her.  In this time she is trying to work out her plan to keep her promise to her late husband.  She was born to be the Queen of England and she is going to die trying, nothing will stop her from doing God's will.

    King Henry VII is left a widow and needs to take a new wife, when he comes up with a plan to keep the dowry owed by the Spanish and Catalina.  He plans to take her for his new wife, but this will not work for the young Princess.  She wants to be Queen of England, she was born to be Queen of England.  After some more time waiting in poverty, her chance finally comes.

   King Henry VII passes away and leave his second son, Henry, Prince of Wales, the throne.  King Henry VIII honors his betrothal to his brother's widow.  He marries Catalina, Infanta of Spain, making her the new Queen of England.

    Queen Katherine has a long road ahead of her, she must keep her young husband in line and she must produce a son.  Not only does she have these tasks ahead of her, she must also fight to make the England that she and Arthur had dreamed of.

   This was a fantastic read about Katherine, Queen of England, first wife of Henry VIII.  Many know how this history ends, Philippa Gregory gives us a little more on Katherine, Queen of England.  Katherine of Aragon was a strong woman, she was even stronger than we thought.  A must read for anyone interested in the Tudors.