The King's Pleasure A Novel of Katharine of Aragon

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-12-02
  • Publisher: Touchstone
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Released for the first time in decades, this international bestseller powerfully tells of the life of Katharine of Aragon, from her childhood in Spain to her reign and downfall in England as the first wife of Henry VII. A princess by birth and a queen by marriage, Katharine always held the highest aspirations for her life, never doubting a vision both she and her mother, Isabella of Spain, had of her becoming one of the great rulers of Europe.After a short-lived and childless marriage to sickly prince Arthur of England, Katharine finds herself handed down to his brother, the future king Henry VII, a handsome, passionate man with whom she forms a strong bond of mutual admiration and love. Their relationship seems ideal -- equals in status, ambition, and respect for each other.As the years go by, King Henry becomes consumed by greed, paranoia, and arrogance, with a roving eye that has settled on the young Anne Boleyn. It is this obsession that will lead to his destruction and the humiliation of Katharine, the woman he once would have done anything to protect, forever changing the face of English history and religion.Beloved by her fans and a queen of the genre, Norah Lofts wrote tales of royal Britain that have stood the test of time, andThe King's Pleasureis now reissued for a new generation of adoring readers.


IMules, everybody agreed, were more sure-footed, so Isabella of Spain rode on a mule, her heavily pregnant body wrapped in a rain-repellent leather cloak, on her head a hood of the same material, her feet encased in a pair of boots similar to those worn by foot soldiers. The winter rains had set in and the roads which through the long hot summer had been ankle-deep in dust were now over hoof deep in mud, sticky as glue. Every time the mule put foot down there was a squelching sound, every time it lifted one there was a plop. Sometimes, under the smooth shining surface of the mud, there was a dip; then the mule stumbled, recovered itself with a jerk and a heave and plodded on: sometimes, under a mere skim of mud there was a boulder, thrown in to fill a hole visible last summer; striking one of these the mule stumbled again; recovered and plodded on. Each time this happened Isabella felt like a woman holding a basketful of eggs riding on a seesaw; after each jolt the question, All right? All well? Yes, thanks be to God, no harm done. The child, so soon to be born, would be her tenth; four were alive, thank God; few mothers had been so blessed; but every stumble and jolt she knew a small fear -- not here, please God, not in the open, in the rain. Alcala de Henares is not so far away; the road is bad, the going slow, but please, I beseech thee, let me arrive, settle into the place prepared for me and there let the child be born.She was Queen; she could have ridden comfortably in a litter slung between two mules, or carried on the shoulders of willing men, but to do so would have been a concession to female weakness, and she scorned it. God had called her to take a man's place in the world, and handicapped as she had been by her female body, she had taken that place, filled it adequately, done as much as, or more than, any man could have done -- all by the help of God. She must not weaken now.In everything Isabella could see the hand of God, working slowly, sometimes obscurely but to a sure end. Because there was no male heir she had become Queen of Castile, and she had married Ferdinand of Aragon, thus uniting the two kingdoms and making them strong enough to attempt to drive out the Moors who had occupied the south of the Iberian peninsula for six hundred years. She did not deceive herself; Ferdinand might look upon the campaign, now in its fifth year, as a means to increase his own power; for her it was a Crusade, Christian against infidel, as urgent and important as any Crusade waged centuries earlier to free the Holy Land. For Isabella, Spain was holy land and to wage the war of freedom she had ridden, slept, eaten, suffered and endured alongside her army, showing fortitude in the face of hardship and in defeat a certain grim cheerfulness which communicated itself to the men.The army, with one of its hardest and most successful campaigns behind it, was moving into winter quarters, making on this drear day for the bleak upland town of Alcala de Henares, where there was a palace of a sort. It was a comfortless place, ancient, ill-heated and in poor repair; its owner, the Bishop of Toledo, used it only once a year when he made his visitation, and he took good care that this should be neither in winter nor in summer, but in late spring or early autumn when, for a brief period the weather was tolerable. He was always preceded by a baggage train, laden with hangings and cushions and soft, feather bedding, silverware and little luxuries in the way of food. The Queen of Castile could have taken similar precautions, but she never did. The horses, mules and donkeys in her train were laden enough without carting a lot of useless gear from place to place. Even her personal luggage was kept to the minimum; with her always were her suit of armor, her riding clothes, three changes of linen and two dresses, one plain and simple made of Flemish cloth, the other very fine, a rich

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