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Old June 9 2013, 04:08 AM   #20
Dorian Thompson
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Re: What stories from history would you like to see made into movies?

Ahhhhh, yes. The Harrying of the North. That's what I remember reading about. I find the entire history of the English monarchy after 1066 fascinating in the extreme. And before.

I'd love a movie/mini series that seriously treated the whole farce of Henry VIII divorcing Catherine of Aragon on the pretext that it was a sin she'd supposedly slept with her first husband, Henry's deceased older brother, Arthur. The examination of gender roles in the monarchy (a serious examination, not some romantic pseudo history slop like "The Other Boleyn Girl") would be riveting: Henry's desire for a male heir at all costs, Henry's all consuming desire for Anne Boleyn and, most significant of all, the historical falsity that Catherine, while a very good woman who loved Henry dearly, was too pious and pure to have told a lie about never having slept with Arthur. It's been genuinely accepted in academic/historical circles that Catherine never slept with Arthur.

The only problem with that is that more modern historians have finally been granted access to archived letters from Spanish sources from the time period written by female relatives and acquaintances of Catherine.....and every correspondence, though they don't say it outright, makes it obvious that Catherine did lie. They all reference a necessary falsehood. There is zero physical evidence that Arthur was too frail to have done the deed. It's a historical fiction invented by Catherine's duenna/governess after Arthur unexpectedly died four months after the marriage. She wanted to protect Catherine's place in the English monarchy and all the political advantages of a Spanish/English alliance. The bitch of it for poor Catherine was that, in the beginning, her in-laws didn't care if she'd slept with Arthur. Henry only started caring when he didn't have a male heir 20 years later. Catherine didn't want her daughter to lose her place and be declared a bastard. It was unthinkable. How could she admit after all those years she lied? It would have been humiliating and given Henry justification. It's hard not to feel for the poor woman.

To the modern mind, it's unjust and unfair, but it would have been the disgrace of Catherine and her daughter had she told the truth. All she did was sleep with her first husband. It's a sordid, fascinating, tragic tale that resulted in England splitting from the pope, all for Henry's desire to divorce. It changed history. It should get a serious treatment for once. No more of the theatrical treatment of Catherine, while a good person, as incapable of telling a lie. Also, it would be nice to see a physically correct depiction. She wasn't a swarthy, statuesque woman. Catherine of Aragon stood four feet ten inches tall, had fair skin, blue green eyes and strawberry blond hair so long she could sit on it if it wasn't pinned up. Every portrait of her depicts a petite, fair skinned, light haired woman.

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