According to King Charles I of England, Henrietta Maria of France was everything one would want in an English Queen and they had a passionate and fruitful marriage. She had nine children, though only six of them lived. The main reason for their troubles was the fact that she was a Catholic and throughout her life adherence to her faith cost her and her husband dear. This book gives up most of what is known of their relationship which appears to have been good. Almost certainly she was a faithful queen to her husband and he loved her in return, as much as these things can be guessed at hundreds of years later. But the fact remains that if they were compatible as lovers, the reign of Charles and Henrietta was exceedingly stormy, and ended in a civil war and the beheading of the King. Their story does not stray very far into the events of the war, or much beyond their reign. Henrietta was vociferous on her husband's behalf, but the Kingdom was a Protestant one. Time and again her enemies were able to smear her with the taint of Catholicism. It was claimed that she had too much influence over him again and again, and at various times they might have taken a different path, but the queen would not stray from her faith and she was determined never to consider it, even as a ploy to rebuff the anger of the House of Commons. Some of their arguments were petty, such as the fact of whether it was raining or not, and the most extraordinary disagreement grew up about it with neither of them being prepared to compromise.
Later, when the King languished in the north of England, having escaped from his virtual imprisonment and with Henrietta back in France, they sent each other letters. From her they were accusatory as Charles could never take the bold steps to eradicate his problems that she urged. Finally the Civil War brought things to a head, and the King fled to Scotland. It is hard not to draw the conclusion that he had a poor instinct for self-preservation. After all, he was the King, and that should be enough for anyone. The Scottish ploy was another failure.
This book reveals his problems with Parliament, his lack of ability in strategy and planning. Much of this book is quite frustrating and it must have been frustrating for Henrietta Maria, whose instincts were more finely honed than her husband's. However, she could not escape the undercurrents always active against her because of her Catholic heritage. It's a sad story and it's hard not to draw the conclusion that much of the sadness was due to the failings of both of them. He did not seem to possess much sophistication in his thinking and he made bad mistakes often when he might have been wilier and stronger, particularly with Parliament. She meanwhile spent money like water, when she had it, and insisted on a French retinue instead of being clever enough to make friends and allies within her new country.