Author(s): Katie Whitaker
The marriage of the Protestant Charles I and the French Catholic princess Henrietta Maria was, from the start, a dangerous experiment. They met for the first time a month after their arranged marriage, and they spent their first year together in bitter quarrels. Yet, against the odds, the reserved king and his naively vivacious young bride fell passionately in love, and for ten years England enjoyed an era of peace and prosperity. But when Charles became involved in war with Puritan Scotland, popular hatred of Henrietta's Catholicism roused Parliament to fury. Charles's fears for his wife's safety drove him into a civil war; Henrietta was declared a traitor by Parliament and forced to flee abroad, never to see her husband again. For five years the couple kept up a poignant correspondence that reveals the tremendous strains that war and separation placed on their marriage. Always they hoped that peace would return, and they would be reunited. But in 1649, after more than two years' imprisonment, the King was condemned as a traitor and publicly executed, leaving his 'dear heart', Henrietta, to face years of impoverished exile alone. Rejecting centuries of hostile historical tradition, prize-winning biographer Katie Whitaker draws on a host of unpublished sources to create an intimate and gripping portrait of a remarkable marriage. A ROYAL PASSION is a dramatic tale of extremes: of love and hate, happiness and despair.
'In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the personal was always political, and no more so than for England's kings and queens. In her lively portrait of the ill-fated marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria, Katie Whitaker has brought their tragedy and the English Civil War vividly to life' DAVID STARKEY "paints a memorable picture of a complex, all-too-human relationship in difficult times: a fine portrait of a marriage." SUNDAY TIMES - 15.08.10 "a solid, well-informed, atmospheric and sympathetic account." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH - 29.08.10
Katie Whitaker is the author of MAD MADGE, winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. She did a PhD in the history of science at Cambridge University, where she was awarded the THIRLWALL PRIZE AND MEDAL. She has also been a Century Fellow at the University of Chicago.