CATHERINE OF BRAGANZA was raised during a tumultuous time in Portugal. Although her father was called King Juan IV, the Pope (due to pressure from Spain) refused to recognize him as anything other than a duke. Looking for an advantageous political alliance, Catherine’s mother, Donna Luiza, sets her sights on the English throne. Even when Oliver Cromwell takes power in England, Donna Luiza does not lose hope in marrying Catherine to the young Prince Charles, and when Charles is restored to England’s throne, marriage negotiations begin immediately.
Catherine’s marriage, like so many royal marriages, is arranged out of strategy, yet Catherine and Charles begin their lives happily together. As a Catholic, she is not trusted by the people — they believe she will convert Charles, just as his brother James had been converted by their mother. Catherine spends her marriage as Queen in name, yet is sadly unable to keep her merry husband King in her bed. Her inability to produce an heir, despite the fact that all of Charles’s mistresses have healthy boys, sets the people of England and the court strongly against her. Charles, however, remains faithful to Catherine by never divorcing her, not even to legitimize at least one of his “bastard” sons.
Outliving her husband and witnessing the brief reign of James II before the co-regents, William and Mary, overthrow the Catholic king, Catherine returns to Portugal as her life comes full circle.