Starz's The Spanish Princess season 1 ends with Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope) closer than ever to achieving her destiny to become the Queen of England. However, even though the titular Spanish princess won the love of Prince Harry (Ruairi O'Connor), who will soon be crowned King Henry VIII, her victory portends the trials and tribulations history tells us will visit Catherine when she is Queen.
The Spanish Princess is the sequel to The White Queen and The White Princess, which respectively told the story of the Wars of the Roses and the early reign of King Henry VII. In fact, The White Princess depicted the pact Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York made with Spain's Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to marry England's Arthur, Prince of Wales to Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand. The Spanish Princess picks up the story in 1501 when Catherine, also known as the Infanta, comes to England to wed Arthur and become Queen. But after Arthur unexpectedly died after only six months of marriage, Catherine's future is thrown into doubt - until the Spanish princess decided that she must marry Arthur's younger brother Harry, the Duke of York because Catherine believes wholeheartedly she will become Queen of England.
Catherine's ambition and self-preservation for herself and her Spanish household, which includes her loyal lady-in-waiting Lina de Cardonnes (Stephanie Levi-John), is opposed by Lady Margaret Beaufort (Harriet Walter). The mother of King Henry VII (Elliot Cowan), Lady Margaret is the conniving power behind the Tudor throne and, to her, the Spanish princess is a threat to her family's legacy. While she also deals with the attempt by Yorkish claimant Edward de la Pole to usurp the throne, Lady Margaret's enmity for Catherine drives her to try to prove that Catherine is lying that she and Arthur never consummated their brief marriage. Because, if Catherine actually isn't a virgin, she cannot marry Harry, the brother of her late husband. However, Catherine and Harry's love is mutual and they plan to marry, despite the machinations of his royal family.
The Spanish Princess season 1 spans the years 1501-1509, concluding with the deaths of King Henry VII and his mother Lady Margaret within weeks of each other. But, because The Spanish Princess is told from a young and empowered Catherine of Aragon's point of view, the series is a refreshing prelude to the familiar story that fans recall from The Tudors. Here's how The Spanish Princess season 1 finale, "Destiny", resolves Catherine's tumultuous early years in England and sets up the conclusion of her story in season 2.
The Spanish Princess Season 1 Ends With Harry As King And Pledged To Marry Catherine
When Henry VII dies in The Spanish Princess season 1 finale, both Catherine and Lady Margaret need to find Harry since he must now become King. Harry was pledged to marry Catherine's niece Eleanor to cement England's alliance with Spain but Harry never actually went to Spain. Harry's heart was set on marrying Catherine and luckily, the Spanish princess found the Duke of York first. Once he learns his father died, Harry understands he is now King and brings Catherine back to court as his bride-to-be.
Meanwhile, Lady Margaret realizes her power and influence died with her son Henry and she moves to stop Catherine from marrying Harry. Margaret has two ace-in-the-holes to prevent their marriage: the fact that the Pope needs to grant a special dispensation so that Harry and Catherine can be wed and Margaret's belief that Catherine is lying about being a virgin. All Lady Margaret needs is the word of someone close to Catherine to "prove" that the Infanta is not what she says she is. To that end, Margaret manipulates Lina to betray Catherine by having her lover Oviedo (Aaron Cobham), the captain of Catherine's Spanish guard, executed.
But despite Lina desperately agreeing to admit that Catherine is not a virgin (something she doesn't know for sure), Harry has taken control of the court and defends Catherine's honor by demanding Margaret's proof. As a united front, Harry and Catherine save Oviedo from being hanged and the Duke of York learns the extent of Margaret's lies and deceits, not just about Catherine but also about the affairs of the crown. Oviedo also revealed that the Pope sent the dispensation allowing Harry to marry Catherine but Margaret stole it and kept it secret. Because Lady Margaret has no more cards to play, she has lost the game and all of her influence over her grandson Harry. The future King Henry VIII chose to privately marry Catherine of Aragon and make her Queen of England.
But Harry Doubts That Catherine Is Still A Virgin At The End Of The Spanish Princess
However, come the end of The Spanish Princess season 1, Harry still has his doubts that Catherine is telling the truth about herself and Arthur never consummating their marriage. After her husband died of sweating sickness in 1502, it was still hoped Catherine was pregnant with a future king by Arthur. But she wasn't with child and, realizing she would have to return to Spain and would have a future of being "passed around" Europe ahead of her, Catherine set her sights on marrying Harry so she could still become Queen of England. The only way to achieve this was to claim that she and Arthur never actually consummated their marriage. Catherine insisted, to her own Spanish ladies as well as to the Tudors, that she tried to sexually interest Arthur but nothing ever happened between them.
The Spanish Princess also changed history by making Harry significantly older because, in real life, the Duke of York was only 10 when Catherine married Arthur. In the series, Harry is not only closer in age to Catherine but he was revealed to be the author of Arthur's love letters to Catherine, meaning that he and Catherine already loved each other hearts and minds before they met. This dramatically fuels the attraction between Catherine and Harry and they begin courting each other not long after Arthur's death. Catherine's audacious plan worked and Harry set his heart to marry her, even in defiance of his father the King. In fact, after the Queen, Elizabeth of York (Alexandra Moen), died in 1503, Henry VII intended to marry the Infanta himself (before Catherine talks him out of it).
At the end of "Destiny", Harry still intends to marry Catherine out of love but he openly questions whether she is indeed a virgin. The final shot of Catherine's face as she leaves Harry fuels his doubt as to whether the Spanish princess is lying so that she can become Queen - which he will use against her years later. But Catherine has also glimpsed the darker side of Harry and suspects he slept with her sister Joanna, which ominously foretells what is to come.
Margaret Beaufort Meets Her End Knowing The Future
In The Spanish Princess, Margeret Beaufort became the power behind the throne after Elizabeth of York's death and she instigated many cruel acts in the name of the King. Henry VII was stricken with grief for his beloved wife Lizzie, so his mother took the opportunity to preserve her family against the many threats against them - including Catherine of Aragon, who Lady Margaret saw as the biggest threat to the future of the Tudor dynasty. In both The White Princess and in The Spanish Princess, Elizabeth of York had "the sight" she inherited from her mother Elizabeth Woodville; on her deathbed, Lizzie prophecized that if Harry married Catherine it would mean the end of the Tudor dynasty because Catherine would not give birth to a boy, robbing the Tudors of an heir to the throne.
Lady Margaret took these fears to heart and it fueled her desire to rid England of Catherine. She hired Oviedo as her spy, only to frame him for stealing from her and sentencing him to death in order to force Lina to "admit" Catherine is lying about her virginity. Similarly, Lady Margaret named Margaret Pole (Laura Carmichael), the cousin of Elizabeth of York and friend to Catherine, a traitor for refusing to back Lady Beaufort's claim that Catherine is no virgin. Thankfully, Catherine made sure to free Margaret Pole and absolve her of her "crimes" against the crown. At the end of The Spanish Princess season 1, an increasingly insane Margaret Beaufort died full of regrets for the loved ones her machinations killed, but she also saw the same vision Elizabeth of York saw that Harry and Catherine would father no boys - which history proved to be true.
How The Spanish Princess' Ending Sets Up Season 2
The Spanish Princess season 1 concluded with (but didn't show) Catherine and Harry's wedding, but the aftermath (and consummation) will likely kick off season 2. Also, The Spanish Princess season 1 introduced some key figures who will play important roles in season 2 like Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Boleyn, the father of Anne Boleyn (who Catherine met when she was very young in season 1). Indeed, the adult Anne is bound to appear in The Spanish Princess season 2, which will conclude the story of Catherine of Aragon. This has to include the Infanta's failed attempts to sire a male heir and Harry's infidelities - including the one with Anne Boleyn that ends with King Henry VIII divorcing Catherine and making her his second wife and the new Queen of England.
Because The Spanish Princess season 1 ended with Margaret Beaufort's death, it sets the stage for Harry himself to become the villain of the story as King Henry VIII. The fact that Harry has doubts about Catherine's virginity when they married will come back into play in The Spanish Princess season 2 since Henry VIII will use that as the reason why his marriage to Catherine should be nullified so he can marry Anne (which also leads to the English Reformation where Henry VIII breaks his country from the Roman Catholic Church).
However, the story being told from Catherine of Aragon's point of view will continue to be the fresh spin that distinguishes The Spanish Princess from other interpretations, and it will be fascinating to see what lengths Catherine will go to in order to keep Harry's love and remain Queen of England - even though history tells us she is doomed to fail.