The Tudor Throne Series: #7

Isabella's Daughter

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Stranded in England, Katharine of Aragon prays for a miracle…

It looks like God has answered her pleas when her sister washes up on the coast, on her way to claim the throne of Castile after their mother’s death. Katharine believes her salvation has come, for her sister can rescue her from her enforced poverty at Henry’s court. Little does she know that her brother-in-law, Philip, has other ideas…

Their arrival coincides with a horrific discovery that implies the king’s fearsome enemy, the Duke of Suffolk, intends to make his move at last. He has long coveted the Tudor throne, and sends a new threat to England that will change history forever. It’s up to the royal enforcer, Sir Thomas Lovell, to unravel a new plot and make England safe, but it may cost him everything he holds dear. Can he outsmart Suffolk one last time?

Treason and treachery lead the way in this final installment in The Tudor Throne series…  

Author's Notes:

Many years ago, a younger version of myself wrote a book called Isabella’s Daughter, an ambitious tome that covered several decades of Katharine of Aragon’s life in novel form. In the twenty years since, I have grown as a novelist… so this is a far different, much more exciting version of a particular time in Katharine’s life. I’m very proud of it, because it not only represents how much my storytelling abilities have matured in the intervening years, but also because it closes a seven year chapter of my life.


I will never fall out of love with Katharine of Aragon, or Sir Thomas Lovell, or any of the other characters that appear in this book… but it’s time for me to leave them and make new friends. I cried when I wrote the last page, not out of sadness (as a spoiler, it has a happy ending!), but because this has represented almost a decade of my life of living with, researching about, and writing these fantastic characters. Saying farewell to them is almost the same as parting from an old friend.


It’s my hope and prayer that you love this final installment in this series as much as I do, and as my early test readers did. Happy reading!




Relentless waves batter the ship so hard, Archduke Philip of Burgundy cannot remain upright in his cabin. The lantern in the rafters careens back and forth, threatening to extinguish its light, while the wind howls over the sea’s roar. His wife Juana clings to the bedstead with one hand and clutches a rosary in the other. Her constant prayers get lost among the terrified squeals of her ladies.
The sound of the mast splintering strikes fear into his heart. Philip jerks open the door and stumbles into the hall. His advisor, Don Pedro Manuel, follows on his heels, pleading for him to stop. Halfway up the stairs, the ship lists so far, Philip loses his balance and must grab onto the wall to stop him from falling. Icy water pours down the stairs to drench him, while the terrified cries of the sailors on deck turn his blood cold. He staggers into the night and grabs the nearest man’s arm. “What’s happening?”

Rain batters their faces, but cannot hide the man’s distress. “The mast cracked! The mainsail is dragging us under, Your Grace!”

They set out from Flanders in ideal weather, but midway up the English Channel, dark clouds materialized. Everyone warned him not to sail in winter but they waited a year after his mother-in-law Isabella’s death, collecting money and support for this voyage. He could no longer afford to delay if he wants to take her throne.

Their ship tilts and water consumes its lower decks. Philip yells, “Cut the damn thing loose!” Lightning provides enough light to see it, half-snapped off from the mast, the thickness of the sail and ropes dragging them into the sea. The sailors trying to cut it lose their footing on the slick deck, besieged by foaming waves. There’s one rope no one has noticed, strained from the tension.

Philip yanks the blade from his belt and charges at the mast. Salt water gets into his eyes, dampening his blond hair and leaving a bitter taste in his mouth. Fighting to stay upright, he grabs the rail and gropes for the rope. It vibrates under his grip with the tension of the waterlogged mainsail.

Philip finds sawing through it difficult with waves buffeting him, but feels each thread snap from pressure until it breaks. The ship lurches away from it and another wave throws them upright as their balance readjusts. The sail floats on the surface of the sea. Any concern it might slam into them ebbs as the waves toss it away.

The men cheer, slap him on the back, and shout his name in the gale. Exhausted by the stress and effort, he makes his way to the stairs. Don Pedro looks at him in admiration. “What a story you will have to tell in Spain,” he says. “How you saved our lives while your wife dissolved into hysterics in her cabin.”

Philip smirks at his suggestion. Few can detect a lie based on the truth. Anything to help them convince everyone he, not his wife, must rule Castile. All immediate danger has passed, but the ship may not last the night.
He clatters down the stairwell to push into their cabin. Juana has not moved. She kneels beside the bed in prayer, calm despite the tempest, but her Dutch ladies rush at him, wide-eyed to hear what happened. Pleased, he tells them and waves aside their gratitude.

“Leave us,” he says. “I wish to rest awhile.”

They withdraw into the next chamber and shut the door. Don Pedro will tell them the story they must share of Juana’s hysterics, and because Philip pays their wages, they will repeat it. Rain pounds the windows, but each lightning flash gives them a spectacular view of the sea. He can no longer glimpse the lights on their armada. They left with twelve ships to claim Juana’s throne in Castile. Philip intends to arrive at the head of an army, so there’s no chance her father, King Ferdinand, can prevent his success. His mood darkens at thoughts of his father-in-law. Philip loathes him, and their last visit to Spain ended in tension. “Thanks to my efforts, Juana, we will all survive the night. Are you not going to thank me?” he asks.

Her raven head lifts from the coverlet, and her hand relaxes on the rosary. She turns a pair of intense blue eyes upon him, full of deep scorn. Juana never looked at him thus early in their union, but he has seen it often of late. “God sent us this storm to punish your arrogance,” she says. “It is not His will that we reach Castile.”

Annoyed by her piety, Philip strips out of his soaked garments. The lantern light flickers across his bare chest and the muscled arms strengthened by jousts. “God willed me to free the topsail so we would not drown,” he says. “So we can continue to Spain.”

She tenses her perfect lips. Juana is the most desirable woman he has ever seen, but he loathes her attitude toward him. “We shall see! This storm may blow us to England and my sister, where you will fail in your attempts to slander me and steal my throne.”

It is true. Katharine of Aragon would see through the rumors he’s spread of Juana’s insanity. She could write to Spain of Juana being sane, and then he would have trouble with the Castilian lords. He glares at his wife and prepares for bed. The turbulence and cries of the sailors make for an uncomfortable night, but the sea calms just before dawn. Juana is asleep when he slips out of their cabin and raps at the captain’s door. A disheveled man greets him, his boots caked in dried salt and his hair tousled. He is obviously exhausted. “Good morning, Archduke.”

“Any sign of the rest of the armada yet?” Philip asks.

He shakes his head. “Nor can we tell where the storm blew us.”

They study the nautical maps. The storm started in the north but shifted during the gale. It might have carried them to France, the English coast, or beyond it into the open sea. The answer comes at dawn. A deckhand clambers up what remains of their splintered mast, stares into the haze, and shouts, “Land ahoy!”

Philip prays it is France, the home of his ally King Louis, but has not studied the coastlines enough to tell the difference. Green hills are visible as their ship limps into the harbor. A lone vessel appears in the distance and sails toward them, but he cannot see the rest of his armada. Philip prays the sea did not claim them.

A local nobleman and his men gather to greet them. Philip waits at the rail, his heart in his throat, and chews his lip. France will welcome him, comfort him, and rebuild his fleet out of friendship, but England will not. Months ago, he vowed to deliver the king’s enemy, the Duke of Suffolk, to them. He lied. Philip took the money and let Suffolk escape from Flanders. If this is England, King Henry will take him prisoner in retaliation.

The captain sends men ashore to inquire about their whereabouts. They return to say, “We are several hundred miles along England’s west coast. The resident lord invites you to come ashore and accept their hospitality. He has notified the king of your arrival.”


Philip groans. The king of England will send an army of nobles, diplomats, and his enforcer to “welcome” them for an “extended stay at court.” Henry will not have forgotten his lies and betrayal, or the excessive amounts he paid for extradition treaties that gave him nothing. The storm has delivered him into Henry’s hands. And in a few days, unless he thinks fast, Katharine will know everything.

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