updated: 26/04/2006

C17th England: Catherine of Braganza

Catherine of Braganza, Catarina de Bragança in Portuguese, (1638–1705) was a Portuguese Infanta and the queen consort of king Charles II. Following the restoration of a Portuguese Royal House, and her father’s accession to the throne in 1640, she was shopped in search of a suitable marriage alliance. Louis XIV and Charles II. After France abandoned its Portuguese alliance after the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 negotiations were opened with Charles shortly after the Restoration and a marriage treaty was signed in June 1661. They was married by proxy in Lisbon on 23 April 1662; after her arrival in England the couple were married in two more ceremonies – a Catholic one conducted in secret and a public Anglican service. Her large dowry brought the port cities of Tangier and Bombay to British control. Her Catholicism prevented her from ever being crowned and made her an unpopular choice for Queen, but gradually her quiet decorum, loyalty and genuine affection for Charles changed the public’s perception of her. Besides the religious issues, she initially faced many hardships due to the language barrier, the king’s infidelities and the very different court culture. After Charles’s death Catherine remained in England through the reign of James II; she was initially on good terms with William and Mary but her position deteriorated because of the religious issue. She finally returned to Portugal in March 1692 and was the Regent of the Portuguese Crown from 1704 to 1705.

Charles II: The Power & The Passion (2003): Chronicles the life of Charles II from his exile from Oliver Cromwell’s England, through his triumphant return and his time on the throne. As the title suggests its focus is on his court, his squabbling family and his glamorous mistresses – the saucy bits. Catherine of Braganza (Shirley Henderson) appears to have a lot to put up; his first comment on seeing his new wife was: ‘My god, they’ve brought me a bat to marry.’ Karen Hartley was hair & makeup designer; Aaron Sherman (Sherman Makeup Effects) was prosthetic makeup artist.

England, My England (1995): Is either a ‘brilliantly conceived and executed film about one of England’s greatest composers’ or an over-long, hammy piece of dross with nice music – I incline to the latter position. Rebecca Tremain plays Catherine of Bragança in the play within a play. Kim Burns was makeup artist.