Friday, February 19, 2010


Catherine of Braganza and Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine
" Revenge, he had said, was enjoyed by the failures of this world. Those who achieved success spared little time for something which had become so trivial. He was now back in the heart of his country and the hearts of his people. He forgave those men who had been against his family, as he trusted God would forgive him his many sins".

I can say this portion of the book was not exactly my favorite. Why not high on my list? Just look who is the main protagonist in this is...Barbara Countess of Castlemaine. She has not always been a favorite of mine and for good reason. She was a witch...not in the literal sense but personality wise. This did answer for me how she had manages to sink her claws into Charles in the beginning.

Barbara came from a noble family with rank but that did not make her a lady. She was beyond lusty and had a devious mind. She was the type of woman that would beat her servants and not think twice about it. Her servants and many other people learned the hard way to steer clear of her. From the beginning of her early years she was the boss and she knew what she wanted. She wanted a week husband so she could have as many affairs as she possible wanted. She picked a week man for this position in her life and her plans worked. The first time she had a rendezvous with Charles it was when he was still in exile. Barbara had gone with her wussy husband to Holland to handle some business with the king. Barbara and the king’s affair started there and who would have guessed that the first woman he asked to sup with him on his return to the throne would be the witch Barbra.

What was it about her he was smitten with? Not only was she beyond drop dead gorgeous but also she was smart and she was had a wicked ambition. Their relationship lasted over fifteen years. How I am not sure but I believe it all comes back to Charles habit to pacify behavior and Barbra's tyrant attitude just was too much. At one point in the read it was plotted to push Barbara out of the head mistress position and it was stated that Charles was like a card holder with his women, playing different hands at any given time. Most amusing was that "he never discards yet he just adds to his hand". Barbra would be her own downfall and I was just surprised she ruled for so long.

Catherine of Braganza, sweet, innocent and fully sheltered her whole life had no idea what life she had stepped into when she married Charles II. In her early years there was much issue in Portugal as far as the ruling rights were concerned. It was lightly touched on in the book and honestly I have no prior knowledge of Catherine. Pious and sweet natured she went to England with high hopes of love and was bitterly disappointed when her Charles wanted his mistress the notorious Barbara in her list of maids of honor. I do have to say that even though Catherine typically is portrayed as a wuss, she was not when it came to this one issue. She stood firm on and the issue of Barbara and it cost her Charles love. Charles being that man that he was really did not enjoy confrontation or women upset and it just pushed him away from her even farther into Barbra's bed.

Sadly Catherine had numerous miscarriages while the other women in Charles life became pregnant repeatedly. One interesting point Plaidy hinted at was that the farthingale Portuguese women wore at the time could have left her deformed and maybe sterile. There was only one reference to this and it was before she was in England, in her native land of Portugal. Still Charles never left her or gave up in his support of her. He even nursed her back to health himself after the first miscarriage. To me that was really respectable because in a time when a wife could be easily dismissed for her lack of child bearing, he refused even a suggestion of this and adamantly refused to let anything befall her. I think the only real feeling he had for her was pity but he did care because that is the kind of man he was.

"It is the way with some women, Sire. You have but to look back and consider Henry VIII and what difficulties he had in getting an heir. It brought much incipience to him"

"And greater inconvience for his wives, I fear" added Charles.

5/5 Even though I said this was not my favorite portion it is still a wonderful read because it gave so much background on the kings very early years of his restoration. Life in England went from one extreme to the other, the backlash of the Puritan rule made everyone revolt from their moral backbones and just do what made them feel good. I do want to follow up on this read with more of the Stuart Saga and “The Merry Monarchs Wife”. A highly recommended read.

R-Rating for sexual reference. 
FTC-This novel is from my personal collection.



  1. How interesting! Love the quote between Buckingham and Charles. It makes me wonder what other Monarchs said about King Henry VIII and his many wives. Thanks for the great review :)

  2. I have always wondered that too which is why I found it fascinating. There is also a reference to Anne Boleyn and how she stated "mistress I will not be wife I can not be" too.

  3. One of the main reasons I love Charles is because he treated his wife so respectfully... not with the mistresses, of course, which he could not give up because of his nature, but the fact that in every other aspect of their relationship he was a perfect gentleman. I never liked Barbara either, but if you read Royal Harlot by Susan Holloway Scott, you see a slightly different version of her. She's still not entirely likable, but you understand her better and it's very funny... especially Buckingham, who dresses in costumes and tricks her and Nelly Gwyn, who taunts her as well.

  4. I so have Royal Harlot on my desk and was thinking about skipping it and going to the Kings Favorite. But then Christine Trent told me I have to read Royal Harlot.

    I fell in love with Charles and Nelly in The Perfect Royal Mistress by Diane Haeger. It was a top favorite of mine.

  5. Sounds like a good "history lesson." What better way to get a different perspective on that time period and those individuals.
    Another book on my growing list of must reads.

  6. I've heard great things about this author! I need to get started reading some of her books!

  7. It was a good history lesson, one that I will never forget.

    OMG inthehammockblog you NEED to read something by her anything. I have enjoyed each one I have read except The Reluctant Queen" I think becasue the libary book was missing the last page. My top all time favorite was The Queens Secret about Catherine Viaolis. She was the "grandmother of the Tudor dynasty".


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