Katharine of Aragon was a central figure in one of the most dramatic and formative events of Tudor history - England's breach with Rome after a thousand years of fidelity. She lived through traumatic and revolutionary times and her personal drama was played out against dramas of European significance. The heroic and dignified first wife of Henry VIII, Katharine was cast aside for reasons of dynastic ambition but resolutely and unbendingly stuck to her principles and her dignity at enormous cost to herself.
Katharine's story tells so much about the exercise of power, and about being married to a lover who became slowly but perceptibly a tyrant in public life and a monster in his private affairs.
Professor Patrick Williams has been immersed in Spanish history for over forty years and his monumental new biography is the first to make full use of the Spanish royal archives; he presents a very new portrait of Katharine, most notably in establishing that her marriage to Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII, was never consummated. This biography thus forces a radical reappraisal of Henry VIII, his marriages and his reign - and of the origins of the Reformation in England.
Patrick Williams is Emeritus Professor of Spanish History at the University of Portsmouth and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has written extensively on Spanish history, notably in his studies of Philip II and the Duke of Lerma, first minister and favourite of Philip III. He is completing two volumes on Spanish government in the Early Modern period. He lives in Southsea.