Tag Archives: Catherine of Braganza

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Review of Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen

Thanks to Sarah-Beth Watkins’ Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen, we finally get a solid biography of the Portuguese princess turned queen of England.

As the title suggests, this biography mainly concentrates on Catherine’s years as queen consort to Charles II. However, Watkins does nicely provide a rare glimpse of Catherine’s life before her marriage and after the death of Charles II.

Catherine book

Whether it was the beginning, middle, or ending of Catherine’s story, a reoccurring theme is the difficulties of being a princess and a queen. Through good storytelling, this biography gives information about what real life is like for royal women. They constantly get judged publicly, have obligations to follow, and have to pick and choose their battles carefully. Watkins gives the valuable insight: “A princess, and often a queen, must do as she was told.”

A common hardship being married to a king is often his affairs. Catherine goes down in English history as a tragic queen who had to deal with a husband who womanized a lot. Far too often, though, I read books and blogs that describe Catherine being “desperately in love” with her unfaithful husband. Watkins doesn’t jump to that conclusion. Instead, she gives us stories in which show the tension and tenderness between Catherine and Charles. We also get more details of what Catherine did away from the royal court and Charles.

Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen is a valuable read. The more you get to know this queen, the more you agree with the observation of Minette, Charles II’s sister, about Catherine: “It is impossible not to love her.”

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Link:
Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen

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The Eerie Comparison Between Queen Catherine and Princess Diana

Both married a Charles. Both were used as a poster child to boost the Royal Family’s image. And of course, both had to be a patron of the arts because that’s what a typical royal woman does.

But there’s something much deeper about their similarities. Last November, I drafted a biography of Catherine of Braganza. As I was scratching down obvious comparisons between  Catherine and Diana (a step-descendant of Catherine’s), an eerie feeling came over me.

I felt like saying, “You two remind me of each other.”

tudio of Jacob Huysmans,painting,(circa 1670)

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I thought about why I would say that to them. Here are some of those thoughts.

I never interviewed them. The closest I ever got was reading what others had to say about them–and literal pictures. How they were used by the public to make money, and in turn, Catherine and Diana manipulated the media. They were able to display their disadvantages which caused people to pity them. They were pretty good at creating propaganda

In private, they could be something else. The Portuguese Infanta and Charles II’s direct descendant could get moody, bossy, and say things that I cannot write in this blog. They gave their servants and husbands headaches.  Diana and Catherine searched for good causes. They were fun. Both disguised themselves in public for laughs. After their marriages ended (one through death and one through divorce), they managed to gain further wealth.

If Catherine and Charles II had a daughter, she might have been a lot like Diana. Heck, their daughter could have also even resembled Diana physically.  Diana was tall like Charles. Catherine’s father had been a fair blonde–could Catherine have passed down that coloring to her kids if she had them?

If Catherine and Diana had been contemporaries, I think they would have liked each other. It’s difficult to say, however,  if they would have continued to be friends. Both women had rocky relationships with good friends.

Historians may challenge me on these thoughts. To me, their similarities are overwhelming. I acknowledge, though, that there are significant differences.

One big thing I’ve been asking is: why did one survive and why one didn’t? I’ve began research and am starting to answer that question…

 

Images:
Catherine of Braganza as St. Catherine by Jacob Huysman
Time magazine’s issue of Diana and Charles’ Divorce

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She Lives With Angels: Others’ Views of Michal and Catherine

 

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Okay, since November 25 was Catherine of Braganza’ birthday, I decided to add another post about her…

If you look around my blog, you might discover that I’m writing a biography of Michal,King  David’s first wife, and the similarities she shares with other princesses. Now,  I don’t imagine Michal looking like any of those princesses.

The last princess I’d ever compare Michal to in physical appearance is Catherine of Braganza. As I was doing some online Michal research, I came across a website about biblical woman and was taken aback that the author, Elizabeth Fletcher, inserted Catherine’s portrait into a her Michal post.  Ironic, isn’t it?

rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

Catherine_of_Braganza, by (after) Dirk Stoop

I emailed her about my project and asked why she used Catherine’s picture. She responded:

“I used her face because the emotions on the Princess’s face seemed to sum up what Michal must have felt…I see sadness, real grief and the beginning of wisdom/understanding in the Princess’ face, even though she is so young. It is a subtly tragic face, and no other image I’ve seen fitted Michal so well.”

That makes sense.  Neither princess foresaw the struggles they’d face. Dirk Stoop’s painting of Catherine before her marriage to Charles screams naïve.

It would be a mistake, however, to judge the two women solely on that portrait. As I mentioned in my earlier post about Catherine , you can see her story unfold with her further portraits.  She transformed from a neglected princess bride into a calculating queen. I cannot rule out, though, both princesses might have carried a certain sadness described by Ms. Fletcher.

Did Catherine ever view herself as Michal?  Neither produced an heir, and both saw their husband as father to many. Even if she didn’t, others made a connection during her lifetime.

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I was surprised to discover John Dryden and Nahum Tate’s 1681/82 allegory poem, “Absalom and Achitophel” in which they based Michal off of Catherine. Michal/Catherine gets one of the more favorable edits:

Such was the charge on pious Michal brought
Michal, that ne’er was cruel e’en in thought.
The best of queens, the most obedient wife,
Impeached of cursed designs on David’s life,
‘Tis scares so much his guardian angel’s care.
Not summer morns such mildness can disclose
The Hermon lily and the Sharon rose,
Neglecting each vain pop of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high;
She lives with angels, and as angels do,
Quits heaven sometimes to bless the world below,
Where, cherished by her bounty’s plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile and orphans sing

Whether the two women can be considered angels, the stanza lets the reader know the risks they took to help others.

It’s a relief I’m not the only one to remember and liken Michal to figures thousands of years after her death.

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Happy Birthday, Queen Catherine!

For this November’s Nano Wrimo novel, I decided to write a nonfiction account about Catherine of Braganza. (Click here for my 2014 post about Catherine.) The Queen’s overall story is not about being the wife of a faithless husband. It’s more about doing what’s best for her country. And it is a love story, but not the way people think. I read secondary sources about Catherine falling helplessly in love with her husband. I don’t think that was the case. There were other people she cared about and loved more.

I’ve enjoyed reading about her relationship with  her family members.   One of my favorite discoveries was found in The Memoirs of Ann, Lady Fanshawe. Lady Ann’s husband served as an ambassador to Portugal. The Fanshawe family visited Portugal shortly after  the royal wedding and meeting Catherine in England.  I found it touching when Lady Ann talked about interacting with Queen Luisa, Catherine’s mother,

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Queen Luisa in 1632

 

Luisa asked about Catherine’s health and passed on a gift that Lady Ann needed to give to Catherine.

A few months later, Lady Ann did what Queen Luisa asked. Catherine received it “with great expressions of kindness.” Lady Ann recorded she stayed with Catherine for an hour and half, “which time Her Majesty (Catherine) spent in asking questions of her mother, brothers, and country.”

 

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Queen Catherine in 1665

 

The passage wasn’t sappy but a matter of fact. I find Lady Ann’s account sentimental because this situation has occurred in my life a few times. Just a couple months ago, a family friend passed through town and passed on a gift from my folks. We talked about home town news but more about little family things like dogs and upcoming weddings. Some serious, some silly things.  It’s nice when home comes to you.

 

 

Images:
Portrait of Luisa Francisca de Guzman by Alanzo Cano

Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England by Peter Lely

 

 

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Michal: Reacting to Wives, Concubines, and Children

Before Michal returned to David, she probably had some sort of knowledge that David took on more wives. Perhaps Abner filled her in on more details on their way to Hebron. Accepting or not, nothing could have fully prepared her to be in the presense of his other families.

David’s wives are  obviously one of the hurtful aspects of her return. They had children which gave their positions a boost. It would have been humiliating if she was asked to acknowledge the wives and recognize their children as David’s heirs.

Reactions of Royal Women

Traditionally, royal women have been expected to turn a blind eye to their husbands’ other lovers. Some were forced into associating with them. And it’s typical for the strong ones to take a stand. Here are some examples.

Catherine of Aragon

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Catherine of Aragon usually turned a blind eye to her husband’s affairs, but there were times she felt it necessary to stand up to him which shocked him. Even before Anne Boleyn, she showed disapproval when Henry recognized a illegitimate son at court. That mistress was dismissed. When the Anne Boleyn burden did arise, Catherine would always consider herself to be the king’s true wife and called herself “Queen” till her death.

Anne Boleyn

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Anne Boleyn lashed out more than Catherine  about Henry’s affairs. With the assistance of her family, she made sure one of his mysterious mistresses didn’t return to court. I’m not a fan of her, but I think she was showed the dignity of a queen when she went to the executioner’s block.

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Queen Esther and Queen Catherine of Braganza both had similar, selfless agendas

Before Catherine of Braganza married Charles II, she was informed of his affairs. She was also advised not let his head mistress into her presence.  But when that did happen, she got a bloody nose and fainted.   She improved restraining herself from making scenes in public. Once in a while, the mistresses made good allies, which put her more in favor with her husband. She even was on good terms with the mistresses’ children but never acknowledged them as his heirs.  She stayed queen consort and her husband asked for her forgiveness on his deathbed.

Problems With Approved Polygamy

I have not forgotten about how David’s marriages were approved by God at this time. That would have presented unique challenges and made it more difficult. Even the most righteous women in the Bible struggled with their husbands having other wives and concubines which bore them children.

Rachel and Leah

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Childen made a woman more valuable in ancient Israel. Leah thought Jacob would love her when she bore him sons. Then there’s younger sister Rachel, who’s barren but still Jacob’s true love. Rachel desired children so badly. When Rachel asked Leah for mandrakes (considered a fertility drug), Leah said, “Is it enough you have stolen my husband?” (Genesis 30:15)

Who did Michal relate to most in this case? Did she feel like the other wives stole David? Could she also have wanted children more than anything? Leah and Rachel’s stories both have a somewhat satisfying ending. Rachel bore Jacob his favorite sons, and Jacob requested to be buried with Leah. It seems non-royal families have a better chance at happy endings than royal ones.

Hannah and Peninnah

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The prophet Samuel was the product of a woman with great faith who had been barren for years. Hannah felt low as her husband’s other wife , Peninnah, produced many children, yet her husband, Elkanah “loved Hannah” (1 Samuel 5) and tried to comfort her “Why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8) Through Hannah’s faith she eventually conceived a great prophet and other children followed. Maybe David attempted to reassure her with love but there’s the question if David even wanted to have children with Michal due to a desire to prevent Saul’s descendants from inheriting the throne. With all his other wives, it was easy to avoid her. There wasn’t that much communication.  Also, the rulers that married off their daughters to David might be suspicious if he gave the daughter of a rival king (even if he was dead) more attention.

Sarah and Hagar

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According to Sarah, Hagar disrespected her: “She had conceived, I was despised in her eyes.” (Genesis 16: 5)Abraham let Sarah “do to her [Hagar] as it pleaseth thee.” Sarah might have been too harsh as Hagar ran away. Hagar she was still promised posterity, But it was Sarah who eventually bore Abraham’s son of the covenant. She was concerned that people would think Hagar’s son, Ishmael, was Abraham’s heir and not her son, Isaac. Sarah advised Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even Isaac.” (Genesis 21:10) Abraham took his what his wife said to heart and asked the Lord what he should do. The Lord agreed with Sarah, and the next morning, he sent Hagar and Ishmael off with sufficient supplies. (Genesis 21:11-14).

Sarah’s request was granted but royal women don’t always have the opportunities. Sometimes  king’s mistresses do fall out of favor much to his queen’s delight. Since many of David’s wives were prominent women, the chances of sending them away were slim. Michal was the first wife but had little power to pull off something like Sarah. If David sent away another wife who was the daughter of a king, alliances would be broken which would present problems such as the threat of war. The most powerful members in Michal’s family were dead. Yet, some of his wives were low born. Michal might have considered them bondwomen like Sarah saw Hagar.

The Ticking Time Bomb

Michal survived Hebron. But when the royal family changed their residence to Jerusalem, things became shakier.2 Samuel 5:13 practically yells Michal had a problem with the move and David’s further actions:

“And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron”

So David had more children, wives, and concubines. This was bound to create more conflict and competition among the other wives too (2 Samuel 5:13-16). Who knows if she and the other wives conspired with or against each other Maybe Michal felt she had more power over the concubines, but was getting the impression she held little value to David. This was the perfect setup for he next chapter–their public spat after a controversial celebration. David taking on more wives, concubines, and having children was traumatic and contributed to that fight. There might have been individual incidences that left Michal shaken. I wouldn’t have been in the mood to celebrate.

 

Sources:

Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen by Giles Tremlett
The Anne Boleyn Collection II by Claire Riidgeway
Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox
“Keeping Up Appearances: Catherine of Braganza, Charles II’s Underestimated Wife” by Sarah Patten

Genesis 16, 21, 20
1 Samuel 1
2 Samuel 5

Images:
Catherine of Aragon  by Michael Sittow
Anne Boleyn portrait
Catherine of Braganza  Jacob Huysmans
Dante’s Vision of Rachel and Leah by Gabriel Charles
Hannah Giving Her son Samuel to the Priest by Jan Victors
Sarai Sends Hagar Away by James Tissot

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Biblicial Heroines Vashti and Esther: Court Life Has Always Been Controversial and Cruel

Royals. Love them or hate them-they’re an enigma. Tons of debate about their behavior, clothes, and marital problems have been present in the tabloids for years. The Bible also includes royal gossip–and its damages. Here are some of my thoughts about the decisions of the biblical queens Vashti and Esther.

Vashti

Vashti Refuses the King's Summons, painting by Edwin Long

Vashti set a good example by not appearing to the king and his fellow drinking buddies

 

As a girl, I would have to squint my eyes a lot.
I still do.

I found myself squinting when hearing people tell the story of Esther:
“It starts out with a wicked queen.”

Okay…so I looked it up. The Bible doesn’t refer to Queen Vashti as wicked. This is what happened…

There’s a party, and Queen Vashti doesn’t come before her husband when he orders her. His male guests have been drunk for “many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.”  Plus some scholars think that the king just wanted her to come with nothing but her crown on.

So Vashti doesn’t come. A dangerous thing to do, but think about it. What perverted thing was likely to happen if she had come—appearing undressed—to a party full of drunk men?

Enter villains: The king (a quasi-villain and weak character) with his advisers—the( not-so) “wise men.”

According to them:

“Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all princes and to all the people that are in the provinces of the King Ahasuerus.

For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes…likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath.”

Faced with an unfair request, Vashti had to chose between losing her dignity or losing her life.

Faced with an unfair request, Vashti had to chose between losing her dignity or losing her life.

The men felt threatened by women. They felt that Vashti set an example for women—women could stand up to their husbands. Vashti was deposed as queen; Rabbi David Eldensohn believes she was killed.

It didn’t matter what Vashti did. I don’t mean for the following comment to be irreverent but whatever decision Vashti made, she was—in one way or another—going to get screwed.

Showing up (possibly with no clothes) in front of men who were drunk for  months—something was bound to happen. No parent would want their child to go to a party like that.

( Please watch Pastor Mark Driscoll’s heartwarming take on Vashti’s decision.  :) )

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Esther

Queen Esther by Edwin Long

Esther mustered up the courage to do things she was inclined, yet scared to do.

The advisers told the king to gather virgins throughout the land and add them to his harem. The king was “pleased” with this idea. (Perverted.)

So Esther now is chosen as Queen. When I first started noticing Vashti’s situation, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with Esther. In the Old Testament, time and time again, they stress the importance of Israelites marrying in the Covenant. Esther did not. She married a man who didn’t even share her same standards.

I had a change of heart, however, when driving home one night. My mind wandered about the queens and princesses blog posts. I thought of how long I procrastinated bringing up Vashti and Esther. I thought of Catherine of Braganza and a comment by her biographer, Lillias Campbell Davidson, who said Catherine “lived in her husband’s court as Lot lived in Sodom.”  I to thought myself, “No, Catherine lived in here husband’s court as Esther lived in her husband’s court.”

Queen Esther and Queen Catherine of Braganza both had similar, selfless agendas

Like Queen Esther,  Queen Catherine of Braganza also had an  agenda to save lives

Two religious queens living in an immoral court for the sake of protecting their nations. It’s not totally right, but in a way it is noble.

The Jews were relying on Esther to stay queen so they could survive. But she had to find ways to survive if she was going to save their lives.

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What would you do if your nation was in danger? If marriage was an option over bloodshed, would you marry even a fool?

Fortunately for Esther, she wasn’t ordered to appear in front of people indecent, and remembered her faith

The other woman in the story, Vashti, was asked to do something where her actions would most likely lead to death or sexual assault.

Examining their specific circumstances, we see both women were put in unfair situations. Their behavior was examined during their lifetimes and continues thousands of years later. Read the Book of Esther and see if you don’t agree with me. Keep in mind the queens’ specific situations and outcomes. Both queens were faced with decisions that no one should ever have to make. If you were in either of their place, what would you have done?

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Sources:
The Book of Esther

Persian Queen Vashti is Killed 2500 years ago – The first feminism? (video)

Vashti made a noble, courageous, brave, moral decision (video)

http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/2381/

Images:
Queen Vashti Deposed by Ernest Normand
Vashti refuses the King’s Summons by Edwin Long
Queen Esther by Edwin Long
Catherine of Braganza by Jacob Huysman

 

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Twenty-nine. Such an Awkward Number.

The eve of my birthday, I received a comforting e-card from an eleven-year-old friend who said,

I heard that you are turning twenty-nine. That seems like such an awkward number, doesn’t it? But I’m sure you’ll pull it off beautifully.”

It was even more reassuring than the other insightful articles about people who also freaked out when they turned twenty-nine. Some articles were silly, serious, and a combo.  I came across memorable quotes. Actress Helen Mirren wrote some gems:

“The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”

I see where’s she coming from.

I haven’t completed the duties one has do before they reach thirty. Like travel. Do something incredibly crazy. Have a successful career Get married. Have a family.

This year might be the most frightening of all. And it’s not just about the pressures to fulfill all twenties expectations. It’s to see if I can survive. The type of attitude winning survivors put on. Some of these survivors are found on this very website.   Some who didn’t live up to their culture’s ideals while they lived their terrifying twenties. Yet, they would shine later on…

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bride-groom-new-testament_1154694_inl by Lyle Beddes

The pressure to produce posterity was perhaps greater for Jewish women in biblical times.

Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist, had been expected to have children by her twenties. Did others think she did something wrong? But the Bible assures us she and her husband “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” I’d imagine that she had to make the decision if she was going to be faithful young. She had made the choice to keep all the commandments and people looked up to her. She was a sort of mentor when the young Mary stayed with her for three months.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Elisabeth’s life became more eventful as she and her son were on the run during the Massacres of the Innocents. (Luke 1:6-7, 56;Luke 11:51; Matthew 2:16)

 

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rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

At 23, the little Portuguese princess didn’t know the humiliations and scandals that awaited her in England.

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She expressed a desire to go home from early on, Perhaps it was the realization of protecting Portugal that motivated her to stay in England and dodge lurking dangers.

While in her twenties, Catherine of Braganza became queen of England. Despite striving to do the right thing, she never did produce an heir. She became a forty-seven-year old widow but had learned to survive–and she eventually thrived. During the last twenty years of her life, she accumulated more money, returned to Portugal as a hero, ruled as regent, and was a mentor and maternal figure to her nephew who later became king of Portugal.

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Catherine gave herself a new life at 47. She died at 67 and every inch a queen.

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Let’s recall the Barrett sisters, Elizabeth and Henrietta. By the time they were in their twenties, they lost siblings and their mother. How were they supposed to look at the world? They might have  struggled to answer. Elizabeth became a successful poet early on but still faced serious illnesses. Henrietta had loved once, but experienced heartbreak. Such losses and experiences, however, would lead to a more accomplished life.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but they wouldn't be Barretts forever!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but she and Henrietta wouldn’t be  Moulton-Barretts forever!

We wouldn’t have gotten Elizabeth’s most famous poem “How Do I Love Thee” without the hardships of the Barrett family. She wrote that sonnet among other classics in her late thirties during her courtship to Robert Browning. By age forty, she eloped with him to Italy. She became active in politics and had a child at forty-three.

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Elizabeth with her son Pen whom she gave birth to when she was 43. Henrietta had her last child at 47.

Henrietta, didn’t give up on love either. She married at age forty-one. Between ages forty-two and forty-seven, she gave birth to three children.

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These numbers and accomplishments I’m spurting out motivate me!  I’m less afraid of what I haven’t done and more excited for the future. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I admit I’m still  frightened. My sister pointed out:

“ We are constantly evolving and ever changing. I don’t think a decade defines us. We can always become something new. The gospel is one of progression, so that means we are always working toward something-not limited to our past.”

Dramatic or not, I’m thrilled to adapt plans I’m working on. I’ve decided not only to accept what I haven’t done, but also to celebrate it! Go forward with faith. Not all the best things in life have to be compacted in the twenties package.

I’ll get through twenty-nine.

And I’ll do it beautifully.

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Pictures
Painting of Bride and Groom by Lyle Beddes from lds.org New Testament Student Manuel

La Visitatio by Niolas Labbe 

Catherine of Braganza paintings:
Dirk Stoop
Peter Lely
Benedettp Gennari

Images of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are also public domain.

 

Catherine_of_Braganza_-_Lely_1663-65 September (3)

Keeping Up Appearances: Catherine of Braganza, Charles II’s Underestimated Wife

Game Face

I love it when the “just there” players in reality TV shows make it to the end—and win. Their opponents hadn’t realized they were making moves the whole way. One “just there” historical player is Catherine of Braganza. She played one of the best games in the history of queens vs. mistresses.

It’s easy to overlook the Portuguese princess who married Charles II in 1662. Oh that shameless Charles II. He restored the English monarchy but any wisdom he possessed was overshadowed by his foolishness. The Merry Monarch openly had mistresses and acknowledged his illegitimate children. They even received more attention and had greater political influence than his wife.

“Poor Catherine” and “pity” are the phrases included in articles about the Queen of England. I had similar reactions at first. Catherine was a tender wife. I believe she would not want to be remembered as the pitiful queen who, at best, brought the tradition of tea drinking to England. I think we’ve been deceived. She played the game well and walked away with the money and ultimately didn’t need a man to fight her battles.

We can only feel a little bit of her great pain, but we need to focus on her practical side. What was her agenda?  Why did she stay in a marriage where she was rejected? How did she do it? She had her reasons for staying. After Charles’ death, she wrote to her brother that she married the king for the sake of Portugal. Portugal relied on the marriage alliance for protection.  Catherine had a lot riding on her shoulders.

Escaping Death and Divorce

Catherine got sick from pressures expected of her. She suffered three miscarriages and caught an illness that temporarily left her deaf loss and unable to walk. Good thing she recovered. She loved dancing and continued to enhance the quality of Italian music in the catholic friary she built. Technically British monarchs were not supposed to be practicing Catholics go there but she practiced her religion anyway. She was definitely in danger of treason, though, when she was accused of planning to poison the king along with other conspiracies. King Charles didn’t believe the accusations against his wife and ignored suggestions to divorce her. He said, “She could never do anything wicked, and it would be a horrible thing to abandon her.”

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

She might have had trouble learning English, but she found ways to communicate and change people’s perceptions. Catherine literally painted herself out to be a saint. After she was painted as St. Catherine, other women at court followed suit. Some of the mistresses attempted at being depicted as heavenly but it wouldn’t do. They had influence in government but Catherine was bold enough to remind them she was the only one who held the title of queen.

For example, look closely at this portrait.

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An accident? It’s almost as if she’s pointing at the crown. Time went on, and most of her portraits included the crown and sovereign orb.

Catherine worked hard on her public image of being a pious woman (but she also loved to party), and conveyed the message that she was still the queen.

The person she needed to convince most was the king. Though he had many mistresses, he viewed the queen as infallible.

The King’s Apology

Part luck, part strategy, and all miracle, Catherine outlived her husband by twenty years. She must have been envied—and admired—by past queens when her husband actually asked for her forgiveness on his deathbed. She sent a message: “to beg his pardon if she offended him all his life.” He said “Alas poor woman! She asks for my pardon? I beg hers with all my heart, take her back that answer.”

Sweet and Sassy

Catherine had been Charles’ angel, but others saw her as someone difficult to work with. Before Catherine returned to Portugal, she stayed in England to pursue a lawsuit. She was determined to get money back from a former chamberlain who neglected her finances. She proved she hadn’t come all the way to a foreign country over two decades before just to be cheated on. She became very wealthy.

Catherine’s current chamberlain worked closely with the now dowager-queen. He took the blame for Catherine’s actions when Mary II found out that Catherine forbade the chapels at Somerset House to say prayers for King William. William once tried to get Catherine out of Somerset House, but Catherine reminded him she was protected with certain rights. It took Queen Mary to talk through things with Catherine.  Finally it was agreed upon that it would be best if she returned to Portugal.

She Rules!

Catherine was greeted like a hero when she returned to Portugal, She assisted her brother ruling as regent. Her rule included victories over invading threats. One of her greatest victories though, was acting as a mother figure to her motherless nephew. She lifted his spirits when his mother died. When Catherine died, he became depressed again. This shows what a positive influence she could have over people.

So, here’s a queen of two countries, who didn’t produce an heir, and surprisingly, didn’t get a divorce. She was accused of treason, but stayed alive well after her husband’s death and left with the wealth she deserved. Catherine, the queen of England and Portugal, proved to be a capable leader and mother figure. The odds were against her, but she came up on top.

The Catherine Club

Catherine of Braganza shared more than just her namesake with some of the Catherines that graced England’s royal scene. .

 

425px-CatherineAragon Catherine of Aragon. Aragon was 23 when she married Henry VIII. Braganza was also 23 when she married Charles. Both marriages lasted about 23 years. Aragon lost her husband through annulment and Braganza lost her husband through the king’s death.

 

Catherine_Parr_from_NPG_croppedCatherine Parr. Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife who’s also known as the one who survived. She and Braganza experienced rumors of divorce and accusations of treason. Despite threats, they both ended up finding favor and outlived their kings.

 

182px-Catherine,_Duchess_of_CambridgeKate Middleton.   Perhaps the Catherine that Braganza identifies with most. The now Duchess of Cambridge will be the first British queen to be named Catherine since Braganza. She is also married to the first direct descent of Charles II expected to inherit the throne.

 

CatherineofBraganza In Black (2)Though Charles II had many illegitimate children, they weren't entitled to the throne. It would be over three centuries before a direct descendant would be eligible to be king.

William_and_Kate_wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credits:
Queen Catherine of Braganza (featured image) by Peter Lely
Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England (pointing to crown) by Jean Baptiste Gaspars
Catherine of Aragon by Michel Sittow
Catherine Parr by William Scrots
Catherine,  Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine of Braganza (in black) by Peter Lely
Charles II in the robes of the Order of the Garter, by John Michael Wright
The Royal Family on the Balcony 

Further Credits:
Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Queen by Hebe Elsna

 Catherine of Braganca: Infanta of Portugal and Queen-Consort of England By Lillias Campbell Davidson

Lives of the Queens of England from the Norman Conquest By Agnes Strickland, Elizabeth Strickland

Catherine of Braganza by Thomas Fredrick Tout

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/queen_of_reg/catherine.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_of_Braganza