Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Hmmm, I thought I would never be one of those people who called history, herstory. But I just read a wonderful novel about Katherine of Aragon (or Catalina, Infanta of Spain). It is called the Constant Princess by Phillippa Gregory. It is a fictionalized account of history but based on an amazing amount of research. Katherine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry VIII and had been the wife of his older brother, Arthur who died after 5 months of marriage. I have studied quite a bit of British history, both at University and through my own research. I am facinated by the land of my heritage.

It is true, our history is told from the male perspective. Katherine of Aragon was hardly a footnote in my studies of British history. Yet she was the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella who were incredibly powerful European monarchs. Her mother was a warrior and Catalina was born while her parents were 'on campaign' in a tent. She was raised to know what it was to be a warrior. She actually led the English to a decisive victory against the Scots when Henry and his best generals had left for France - a campaign that would fail. She rode in armour and led the troops and decided the strategy. Henry was not raised to be a king - his brother got all the training. Henry was indulged and spoiled. Katherine was the power of the throne and behind the changes that occured at that time - instituting a rule of law that was consistent throughout the kindom, etc. She was a very powerful monarch in her own right. Yet what do we learn of her in history? I learned almost nothing. Truly we learn of history from the perspective of men. Not that the perspective of women is better - but it is missing.

So here is my Herstory lesson for today and I challenge you all to think about that. What would be different if history was told from the perspective of women? What would be the voice that is missing?

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