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A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria Paperback – 15 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (15 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753828030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753828038
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 407,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Whitaker makes the story fresh ... she has a wealth of material in the couple's letters to each other and uses it to dramatic effect (SUNDAY TIMES)

A well-reserached and well-written account that brings history to vivid life. (DAILY EXPRESS)

Whitaker's engaging style and the fast-paced narrative make for a highly entertaining read. Drawing upon a wealth of contemporary sources, the author creates a vivid, finely drawn portrait of her two protagonists and their court. (Tracy Borman BBC HISTORY)

Book Description

From quarrels, passion, treason to execution, discover one of the great overlooked love stories of history.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Mar 2013
Format: Paperback
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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Milo di Thernan on 5 Sep 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gombrich memorably wrote that "dates are the hooks on which we hang the tapestry of history". Monarchs come a close second. European history gets horribly complicated in the 17th century, because you really have to get your head around the 150 years of relationship fluctuation between England, Scotland, Spain, Holland and France. (And that's just for starters.) Since it weaves together pretty much all five in a readable and enthusiastic history-verging-on-romance, this book is well worth the time spent. The author has made the right choices when emphasising people, places and conflicts, so that you finish the book with a strong sense of what to follow it with (in my case William and Mary, since I'm in a rush to reach the 1700s en route to the Seven Years War). So, apart from being accessible and occasionally touching, it is good, wholesome, historical fare.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 April 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a well researched and well written account of the marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. It concentrates on their relationship rather than the politics going on in the background. What is revealed is the enormous gap of the knowledge of the royals as to how the rest of the country thinks and how life is for ordinary people. As an infant their eldest son, Charles, had thirty staff devoted to his needs. As a job creation scheme this is laudable - but what on earth did they all do each day?

After a shaky start to their marriage the couple appear to have grown close and strong bonds of loyalty emerged. But this loyalty did not always lead to wise decisions. Religion and politics were in a state of flux - but Henrietta refused to deviate from her devout Catholicism. At a time when Parliament was very hostile to the king Henrietta told the Dutch ambassador that the whole population supported Charles. Later when Charles considered leaving the country she insisted that he stayed. Neither of them realised that however many concessions Charles made to Parliament it would never be enough to satisfy certain factions. At that time no European monarch had been tried and executed so perhaps they could be forgiven for not anticipating his ultimate fate.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The family tree at the beginning was most useful and helped to clarify various relationships. There are some excellent illustrations of family portraits (mostly, I notice, from the Royal Collection) and a very comprehensive bibliography. I did not like the title - A Royal Passion may well be an accurate description but makes the book sound as if it could be from Mills and Boon.

A very readable and interesting account.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Greenland on 28 Aug 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I approached this book completely ignorant of Stuart history, being very well read in Tudor history and reasonably well read in Yorkist history. Therefore, I was a little worried that I would not be aware of any possible issues that divide opinion amongst historians, authors and readers. Whitaker clearly makes the point that history has seen Henrietta Maria as dominating in her relationship with her husband Charles I and haughty in her relationships elsewhere. Whitaker somewhat destroys this view that has held fast since the seventeenth century but still leaves you with the distinct impression she had huge influence on Charles especially in his tolerance of Catholics until civil war broke out in the 1640s.

Whitaker tells an intensely romantic story of Charles' attempts to secure Henrietta Maria as his bride just prior and just after his accession, explains their initial quarrelling and then describes how their marriage blossomed into something quite unique in the 1530s.

Running alongside this relationship is the treatment of England's Catholics with a gradual but still obvious descent into civil war; Charles' tolerance and advancement of England's Catholics, his attacks on English Puritanism and Scottish Presbyterianism and Parliament's attempts to seize power in areas Charles argued were his prerogative as a result of it's belief that Catholicism would return through the back door.

It offers a simple introduction to the Civil War itself, something I hoped Whitaker would not touch upon in too much detail.

What impressed me the most, something that is rare in popular historical fiction is that Whitaker gets straight to the point and sticks to the point. The book doesn't start with irrelevant and pointless background or delve into the events of the Civil War that are irrelevant to the marriage of Charles and Henrietta Maria.

Great stuff!
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