The Spanish Princess

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The Spanish Princess
The Spanish Princess (Title Card).jpg
Genre
Based onThe King's Curse & The Constant Princess
by Philippa Gregory
Developed by
Starring
Composers
Country of originUnited States
United Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes16 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Andrea Dewsbery
  • Pat Tookey-Dickson
Cinematography
  • Maja Zamojda
  • Stefan Ciupek
  • Ian Moss
  • Joel Devlin
Editors
  • Jo Smyth
  • Caroline Bleakley
  • David Yardley
  • Nikki McChristie
  • Mark Trend
  • Gez Morris
  • Josh Cunliffe
  • Catherine Creed
Running time54–60 minutes
Production companies
  • All3 Media's New Pictures
  • Playground
  • Giddy Ink
  • Jumping Joseph
Release
Original networkStarz
Original releaseMay 5, 2019 (2019-05-05) –
November 29, 2020 (2020-11-29)
Chronology
Preceded byThe White Queen
The White Princess

The Spanish Princess is a historical drama television limited series developed by Emma Frost and Matthew Graham for Starz. Based on the novels The Constant Princess (2005) and The King's Curse (2014) by Philippa Gregory, it is a sequel to the miniseries The White Queen and The White Princess. It centres around Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope), the eponymous Spanish princess who became Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII (Ruairi O'Connor).

Designed as a 16-part limited series, the first eight episodes premiered on May 5, 2019. On June 3, 2019, Starz ordered the remaining eight episodes, which premiered on October 11, 2020. The series finale aired on November 29, 2020.

Premise[edit]

Teenaged princess Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Spanish rulers Isabella and Ferdinand, finally travels to England, to meet her husband by proxy, Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent of Henry VII of England, to whom she has been betrothed since she was a child. Unwelcome by some, she and her diverse court, including her lady-in-waiting Lina, who is of Moorish ancestry, struggle to adapt to English customs. Catherine is horrified to learn that Arthur's younger brother, the arrogant Henry, Duke of York, is the author of the romantic correspondence she has received. When Arthur dies suddenly, her destiny as the one who will bring peace between Spain and England seems in doubt, until she sets her sights on Prince Henry.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Guests[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
Part 1[a]
1"The New World"Birgitte StærmoseEmma Frost & Matthew GrahamMay 5, 2019 (2019-05-05)0.393[1]
October – November 1501. Princess Catherine of Spain arrives in England. When she meets Arthur, Prince of Wales, Catherine is disappointed that he is not as romantic in person as he was in his letters. She later learns it was Arthur's younger brother, Harry, who exchanged letters with her. Elizabeth, the queen, tells Catherine that the brother of her cousin, Maggie Pole, was beheaded because Catherine's mother, Queen Isabella of Castile, would only pledge Catherine's hand in marriage if there were no other claimants to England's throne. As Harry walks Catherine to the altar on her wedding day, he admits that he initially exchanged letters with her to hurt Arthur, but later found that her letters excited him.
2"Fever Dream"Birgitte StærmoseMatthew GrahamMay 12, 2019 (2019-05-12)0.398[2]
November 1501 – April 1502. After the wedding, Arthur and Catherine stay in his father King Henry VII's household for a short time. Arthur and Harry's sister Meg learn that Henry has offered her hand in marriage to James IV of Scotland to form another alliance for England. Catherine begs Maggie Pole's forgiveness for being the reason Maggie's brother was murdered. Arthur and Catherine set off for Ludlow Castle, to set-up their own household, and become closer as they learn more about each other. Maggie Pole and her family accompany them. Arthur becomes gravely ill. Henry and Elizabeth race to Ludlow, but arrive too late. Henry informs Catherine she will return to London and stay in the royal household until they know if she is with child.
3"An Audacious Plan"Daina ReidHelen ChildressMay 19, 2019 (2019-05-19)0.456[3]
April 1502 – February 1503. Catherine learns that Isabella is arranging another alliance marriage. Catherine hides her true condition to bide her time in England, which would solve many problems for her, her maid, Lina, and her guard, Oviedo. Catherine tells Lina, and later Harry, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated. Harry proposes and asks Henry to request a papal dispensation so he and Catherine can marry. Meanwhile, Elizabeth goes into labor. After a difficult stillbirth, Elizabeth realizes that she is not going to survive. Before her death, she has a vision that the Tudor line will end if Harry and Catherine marry and begs Henry to prevent the marriage. As Catherine writes to Isabella for her blessing to marry Harry, mourning bells peal for Elizabeth.
4"The Battle for Harry"Daina ReidNicki RennaMay 26, 2019 (2019-05-26)0.500[4]
March 1503. Edmund de la Pole, the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne and a cousin of both the late queen and Maggie Pole, is plotting to overthrow Henry. Henry tells his mother Margaret that Harry wants to marry Catherine. She confronts Catherine about her alleged virginity then orders her out of the palace. Margaret bans Maggie from court when Maggie states Catherine may be telling the truth. Henry learns Maximilian I is protecting Edmund de la Pole. Henry sets his grief aside to see Meg off as she departs for Scotland to marry. He hosts a feast to celebrate the future and invites Catherine. Henry makes an announcement that indirectly fulfills the late queen's dying wish: a royal marriage between himself and Catherine.
5"Heart Versus Duty"Lisa ClarkeAndrea Thornton BoldenJune 2, 2019 (2019-06-02)0.546[5]
August 1503 – December 1505. Catherine is torn between her duty to marry Henry and her desire to marry Harry. Meg arrives in Scotland and is pleasantly surprised by her betrothed. Harry tells Margaret, and later Catherine, that if Catherine wants to marry him instead of Henry, he will fight for her. Catherine fears her fate should she reject Henry and crush his pride, but decides to follow her heart. She convinces Henry that the alliance with Spain will be weakened when Harry becomes king if she is Henry's widow instead of Harry's wife. Henry withdraws his intentions, but reminds Catherine and Harry that they can only marry if the Pope grants a dispensation and if Spain pays the remainder of Catherine's dowry. Maggie's husband dies unexpectedly.
6"A Polite Kidnapping"Lisa ClarkeEmma FrostJune 9, 2019 (2019-06-09)0.493[6]
January – April 1506. Catherine learns that her mother has died, her sister Joanna is queen of Castile, and her father will not pay her dowry. Joanna and her husband Philip are stranded in England. Henry, hoping Philip's father, Maximilian I, will turn over Edmund de la Pole, secretly delays repairs to their ship. Maggie is destitute. To extract a forced confession about Catherine's virginity, Margaret offers assistance to Maggie, which she refuses. In exchange for her dowry, Catherine tells Joanna how she can escape England: Joanna will persuade Maximilian to turn de la Pole over to Henry or lose trade with Castile, if Henry takes an oath to spare de la Pole's life. Rather than pay Catherine's dowry, Joanna forms a new alliance with England at the suggestion of Margaret: betrothing Joanna's son Charles to Harry's younger sister, Mary.
7"All is Lost"Stephen WoolfendenHelen ChildressJune 16, 2019 (2019-06-16)0.509[7]
September 1506 – 1508. Catherine learns there is to be a double wedding in Spain: Mary to her nephew King Charles, and Harry to her niece Eleanor. Oviedo proposes to Lina and tells her he is working for Margaret. Harry is torn between his duty to marry Eleanor and his desire to marry Catherine. Maggie seeks shelter with Catherine and Lina. Catherine's father King Ferdinand writes that Joanna's husband has died and Joanna is not fit to rule Castile. Ferdinand is now guardian to Joanna's children and Castile's regent. He makes Catherine the Aragonese ambassador to England and promises her dowry. Catherine's new status allows her and Lina to move back into the palace. Oviedo provides Margaret with the names of de la Pole's co-conspirators, which now include Maggie and her eldest son. He later protects Maggie's son during a raid.
8"Destiny"Stephen WoolfendenEmma Frost & Matthew GrahamJune 23, 2019 (2019-06-23)0.528[8]
April 1509 – June 1509. Henry VII dies. New king Harry reaffirms his desire to marry Catherine. Margaret accuses Edmund Dudley of treason for her own illegal activities and he is beheaded. Harry pardons Maggie and her children and they return to court. Margaret extracts a forced confession from Lina about Catherine's virginity by accusing Oviedo of theft and demanding his hanging. Lina and Oviedo marry before his hanging. Harry and Catherine arrive in time to save Oviedo's life. Harry learns the Pope granted a dispensation sometime before Henry's death. Margaret dies, haunted by her own history. On their wedding day, Catherine receives a letter from Ferdinand stating Harry slept with Joanna. Harry denies it, and Catherine again denies that she ever slept with Arthur.
Part 2[a]
9"Camelot"Chanya ButtonEmma Frost & Matthew GrahamOctober 11, 2020 (October 11, 2020)0.252[9]
Spring and Summer 1511. Catherine's father Ferdinand comes to England to make an alliance against France. Edward Stafford is injured in a joust, losing his right eye. Lina conceives Oviedo's child. Oviedo, General Howard and Stafford take an army to a pre-arranged meeting point in Spain, only to be betrayed by Ferdinand, who uses the English as a distraction to take Navarre for himself. Prince Harry, six-month-old son of Catherine and Harry, dies, while Catherine beseeches God to forgive her vanity. Furious with Spain and heartbroken at the loss of her son, Catherine receives a gloating letter from her father and reaffirms to the English people that she is English first and she will give another son to England. She affirms to Harry that they will invade France without Spain's help.
10"Flodden"Chanya ButtonSimon Tyrrell & Matthew GrahamOctober 18, 2020 (October 18, 2020)0.173[10]
Late 1511 – October 1513. King Harry invades France without the aid of King Ferdinand, leaving a vulnerable England open to a Scottish invasion. Meg attempts to keep the peace in Scotland but an invasion is insisted upon by the warring clans and supported by her arrogant husband, King James IV. A pregnant Catherine is left to rally troops and defend England from the Scottish forces of King James IV at the Battle of Flodden. With inspiration from her mother, Queen Isabella of Castille, Catherine is willing to risk everything for her new country while Meg attempts to intervene after she suffers from a terrifying dream regarding her husband's fate. Upon their reunion, Catherine and King Harry suffer a devastating loss.
11"Grief"Chanya ButtonRita KalnejaisOctober 25, 2020 (2020-10-25)0.180[11]
Late 1513 – Late 1514. Catherine suffers from horrible depression after her and King Harry's tragic loss. Lina confides to Maggie that she struggles feeding her children. Catherine must regain herself enough to fight to restore her marriage with Harry, who blames her for his lack of male heir. Meg too must find a way to restore peace in Scotland after the bloody Battle of Flodden resulted in the death of her husband, King James IV. As Meg's child is now king, a regency is put in place with many clans voicing their refusal to follow a woman regent. Meg's regency is contingent upon her remaining a widow.
12"The Other Woman"Lisa ClarkeKate Verghese & Emma FrostNovember 1, 2020 (2020-11-01)0.233[12]
Early 1515 – February 1516. Meg risks everything for new love, putting her future in Scotland at risk. Meg unsuccessfully attempts to get Harry's help with the situation in Scotland, but he refuses out of anger over her second marriage and her loss of control within Scotland. Meanwhile, a very pregnant Catherine struggles with the nauseating possibility Harry is cheating on her with Anne Hastings. Catherine refuses to be like her sister Joanna and requests Harry tell her about his affairs, to which he coldly denies ever even having an affair. Maggie helps to dispel rumors of Harry's affairs, but Catherine later discovers Harry is indeed having an affair, and it's with her own maid, Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount.
13"Plague"Lisa ClarkeKate O'Riordan & Emma FrostNovember 8, 2020 (2020-11-08)0.221[13]
1517 – June 1519. A betrayed Catherine's grief increases as she takes out her anger on Bessie, King Harry's lover. Catherine continues to struggle caring for her newborn daughter, Mary, due to her not being the male heir she promised King Harry. When the plague hits London, the court flees to Hampton Court, Wolsey's house. Maggie and Thomas More remain behind in an empty and surprisingly romantic palace. Catherine reveals to an excited King Harry that Bessie is with child, causing Catherine further anguish due to Harry's seeming acceptance of the unborn child. Meg returns to Scotland to reclaim her crown and children but has to make peace with the new regent, John Stewart, the Duke of Albany. She also confronts her traitorous second husband, the Earl of Angus. Wolsey reveals he's been made a Cardinal by the Pope. The King of France dies, leaving King Harry's sister Mary the Dowager Queen of France, who secretly marries Charlie Brandon, much to King Harry's rath. Harry begs Catherine to give him a son. To Harry's immense joy, Bessie gives birth to a healthy son.
14"Field of Cloth of Gold"Lisa ClarkeKelly JonesNovember 15, 2020 (2020-11-15)0.234[14]
June 1520. Catherine is jealous of Harry's blossoming relationship with his son by Bessie Blount. To strengthen England's alliance with France after the death of King Louis, Cardinal Wolsey plots to marry Princess Mary to the Dauphin of France. Catherine attempts to instead betroth Princess Mary to the new King of Spain, Charles. Meg faces off again with her estranged husband the Earl of Angus, leading her to seek an end to their marriage. A great gathering in France is the backdrop to a political stand-off between Catherine and Cardinal Wolsey, with Catherine championing Charles and Wolsey championing Francis. King Francis demands a high dowry, questioning Catherine's former marriage to Prince Arthur, believing Princess Mary is not a "true Princess" as a result. After taking advice from her old lady Rosa, Catherine begins bonding more with her daughter and is determined to educate her for her role as future Queen of England. Meanwhile, in London, men who are unhappy with the King and the current state of things lead riots throughout the city. Oviedo vows to protect Lina and his family during the unrest while also blaming the King for the riots. King Harry decides who he will give Princess Mary to in marriage and Catherine convinces the King to show mercy to the rioters after revealing she's pregnant.
15"Faith"Rebecca GatwardSimon Tyrrell & Matthew GrahamNovember 22, 2020 (2020-11-22)0.290[15]
Early 1521 – 17 May 1521. Catherine implores King Harry to allow Princess Mary to succeed Harry as Queen, but he prefers their potential unborn son as the heir. Meg continues seeking a way to end her marriage to the Earl of Angus, who in turn, seeks help from King Harry. Harry opines that the Pope could legally end his sister's marriage, causing Catherine to worry. Catherine in turn lends support to Angus by implying Meg is lovers with the Duke of Albany and thus immorally motivated to end her marriage. Meanwhile, a new religion is rising, as are tensions within London and the court. Catherine suggests she and Wolsey set aside their differences and join forces to stop the Protestant heretics. Lina confronts Catherine over her fears for the future of England because of religious persecution, which Catherine angrily rejects while claiming she's defending the true faith. Meg returns to London and is at odds with Catherine over her desire to end her marriage. Catherine suffers a devastating loss, comforted by Lord Stafford. Cardinal Wolsey plots with Harry to "cleanse" the court, leading to Stafford's demise. Maggie discovers a horrifying secret about Thomas More. Catherine attempts to influence an increasingly paranoid Harry, without success.
16"Peace"Rebecca GatwardEmma Frost & Matthew GrahamNovember 29, 2020 (2020-11-29)0.315[16]
1521 – 1525. As Harry loses himself to madness, the stakes have never been higher for Catherine. Harry accuses Catherine of killing their son and threatens to kill her while banishing Maggie from court. Catherine becomes increasingly desperate, leaning on her daughter and her faith. In Scotland, Meg continues to fight for her son right to the throne of Scotland and reclaims custody of her sons from an exiled Albany. Harry bestows honors upon his son by Bessie Blount. Catherine asks for Mary to be honored as the heir to which Harry says he's waiting to bestow that honor on his son. The King's sister Mary reveals to Catherine that the King now supports Meg's attempts to annul her marriage, leaving Catherine to wonder about her own fate as Harry is introduced to Anne Boleyn. Maggie's titles are again attained. Harry again confronts Catherine about whether she consummated her marriage with Arthur, which she again denies. Harry claims that she's the cursed party in their marriage since he's fathered a son. Later, an angry Harry questions Wolsey about divorce when Maggie tells him the truth about Catherine and Arthur. Oviedo and Lina contemplate leaving England. Meg's son is crowned King in Scotland with her ruling by his side. Catherine finally confesses to a furious Harry about consummating her marriage with Arthur. Catherine begs Meg for help, but it's denied. At night, Catherine follows Harry and sees him with another woman. Lina and Oviedo decide to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Catherine tells Harry she will live away from court but she will always be his wife. As she leaves, she tells Anne she will never be Queen.
  1. ^ a b Some sources refer to the two parts of the limited series as seasons.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On March 15, 2018, it was announced that Starz had greenlit the production. Emma Frost and Matthew Graham were set to serve as showrunners in addition to executive producing alongside Colin Callender, Scott Huff, Charlie Pattinson, and Charlie Hampton. Production companies All3 Media's New Pictures and Playground were expected to be involved.[17]

On May 17, 2018, it was reported that the first two episodes would be directed by Birgitte Stærmose and that most episodes in the series would be directed by women.[18]

On June 3, 2019, Starz announced that the series would return for another eight episodes and that Graham and Frost "always intended for The Spanish Princess to span 16 episodes, but they wrote a natural stopping place after the first eight just in case."[19] Part two would be broadcast in 2020, with stars Charlotte Hope and Ruairi O'Connor returning to the show as Catherine and Henry,[20] "along with other key cast."[21] It was confirmed on June 9, 2019, by showrunner Emma Frost, that both Georgie Henley and Olly Rix, who portray Meg Tudor and Edward Stafford, would return for the next eight episodes and that Meg's role would be "huge in the back eight" and that "we are totally with her story, we're up in Scotland, we're sort of Spanish Princess meets Outlander" and that Stafford would get some "redemption."[22] Richard Pepper's agent confirmed, on May 8, 2020, that he would return as Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire.[23] Jordan Renzo's return as Charles Brandon was confirmed by the part two teaser trailer on May 7, 2020 and Laura Carmichael's return was confirmed in an interview done by Emma Frost and Matthew Graham; the same interview confirmed that part two would "move around from France to England to Scotland a lot more and tell three interconnected stories."[24]

Casting[edit]

Alongside the directing announcement, it was confirmed that Charlotte Hope, Stephanie Levi-John, Angus Imrie, Harriet Walter, Laura Carmichael, Ruairi O'Connor, Georgie Henley, Elliot Cowan, Alexandra Moen, Philip Cumbus, Nadia Parkes, Aaron Cobham, Alan McKenna, Richard Pepper, Olly Rix, Jordan Renzo, Daniel Cerqueira, and Alicia Borrachero had been cast in the series.[18]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography for the series commenced on May 15, 2018, at Wells Cathedral in Wells, Somerset.[25]

Principal photography for part two commenced on September 26, 2019[26] and finished on March 11, 2020,[27] one day before lockdown due to COVID-19. Some filming took place at Mendip Hills, which doubled for Flodden Field.[citation needed]

Release[edit]

On December 20, 2018, a "first look" still image from the series was released.[28] On January 25, 2019, a teaser trailer for the series was released.[29]

On March 7, 2019, the series was given a May 5, 2019, premiere date.[30] On September 10, 2020, the trailer for part two was released; the eight-episode installment premiered on October 11, 2020.[31]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The series received mixed to positive reviews in the United States. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, part one of the series has an approval rating of 75% based on 12 reviews, with an average rating of 7.13/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Spanish Princess blends soapy melodrama with beautifully rendered historical set-pieces to paint a rounder — if still not fully realized — portrait of an often overlooked queen."[32] However, reflecting the low viewer ratings The Spanish Princess received, only 25% of Rotten Tomatoes audience members liked the show, so it had a 75% negative rating with viewers. The Spanish Princess Season 2 is only rated at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, without a sufficient numbers of ratings to gain a positive or a negative "Tomatometer" reading.

In Spain, the series caused curiosity upon release, but later received a combination of hard criticisms and tired indifference. It was accused of "wild historical inaccuracy", and has been described by various media as "insulting", "offensive", and "as full of stereotyping as sadly expected". The newspaper ABC wrote that it "invents and humiliates [Catherine's] history."[33] The newspaper 20minutos and the TV guide by eldiario.es both call it "one of the worst shows about Spanish history."[34][35]

Ratings[edit]

Viewership and ratings per episode of The Spanish Princess
No. Title Air date Rating
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "The New World" May 5, 2019 0.05 0.393[1]
2 "Fever Dream" May 12, 2019 0.05 0.398[2] 0.464 0.862[36]
3 "An Audacious Plan" May 19, 2019 0.07 0.456[3] 0.503 0.959[37]
4 "The Battle for Harry" May 26, 2019 0.07 0.500[4] 0.556 1.056[38]
5 "Heart Versus Duty" June 2, 2019 0.06 0.546[5] 0.512 1.058[39]
6 "A Polite Kidnapping" June 9, 2019 0.06 0.493[6]
7 "All is Lost" June 16, 2019 0.06 0.509[7] 0.560 1.069[40]
8 "Destiny" June 23, 2019 0.05 0.528[8] 0.481 1.010[41]
9 "Camelot" October 11, 2020 0.04 0.252[9]
10 "Flodden" October 18, 2020 0.02 0.173[10]
11 "Grief" October 25, 2020 0.03 0.180[11]
12 "The Other Woman" November 1, 2020 0.02 0.233[12]
13 "Plague" November 8, 2020 0.03 0.221[13]
14 "Field of Cloth of Gold" November 15, 2020 0.03 0.234[14]
15 "Faith" November 22, 2020 0.04 0.290[15]
16 "Peace" November 29, 2020 0.02 0.315[16]

Home media release[edit]

Volume(s) DVD release date Blu-ray release date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 Region A Region B
Part 1 13 August 2019[42] 12 August 2019[43] 13 August 2019[44]
Part 2 20 July 2021[45] 19 July 2021[46]

References[edit]

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  46. ^ "The Spanish Princess Season 2". Amazon.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 October 2021. Retrieved 4 October 2021.

External links[edit]