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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Anne O’Brien - THE FORBIDDEN QUEEN



 reviewed live on show by Corinna Christopher 16th May 2013

A wonderful way to absorb history since I did not know too much about this lady.  The time is 1415 and Katherine de Valois , a French princess is about to become a dynastic pawn in relations between England and France.  Brought up by a cold and unloving Mother and a father who is loosing his mind she has until her mid teens led a miserable life. 

Blessed with good looks and innocence she is married off to Henry   He however, is not a loving husband and is more interested in fighting France on foreign shores. In the first year Katherine manages to produce a son but is soon widowed when Henry dies in France victim of a soldier’s disease.

There follows much political intrigue since the Mother of the future king is an important figure.  Desperate for love and affection she embarks on a passionate affair with Edmund Beaufort.  With the royal dukes circling her person this liaison is doomed to fail. 

Later on she is drawn to Master Owen Tudor the Master of the household who is always present

supervising domestic matters.  A handsome dark Welshman who worships the young Queen.  Against all the odds they fall in love and in spite of much opposition marry.  The young king meanwhile is being brought up away from his Mother.

Katherine and Owen produced  several children and their eldest son Edmund married Margaret Beaufort whose son Henry Tudor  was the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty

Katherine was a sad figure and little was written about her other than the facts of her brief life.  She died at the age of 35 at Bermondsey Abbey where she lived in her last years. In her own words she suffered from “ a grievous malady in which I have been long…..troubled and vexed”  It was thought the same illness of her father.  She was buried in Westminster Abbey.

The author has breathed life into this tragic figure with meticulous research .  The reader is taken into the past and lives with Katherine in her authentic daily life surrounded by servants and noblemen, always striving to find herself in a foreign land.  There are excellent helpful family trees at the beginning of the book and
lots of interesting notes at the back.   A very enjoyable history lesson with lots of passion and drama.

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