Katherine Parr, Queen of England
by Susan Abernethy
After the disastrous marriage to Catherine Howard, Henry probably just wanted a wife who could nurse him through his various ailments and not cause him any trouble. Henry did not actively seek a wife at this time but he was soon to find the perfect match in Katherine Parr.
Katherine Parr was born in 1512 to a northern nobleman and his wife Thomas and Maud Parr. Her parents were close to Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Katherine Parr may have been named after Queen Catherine. Her father died when she was young so she was very close to her mother. Her mother was a well educated woman and she saw that her children were educated. Katherine had a passion for learning and spoke French, Latin and Italian. She also was an advocate of the New Faith (Church of England). But she never did like embroidery.
In 1529, Katherine married Sir Edward Borough. They were both about the same age but her husband was in poor health. He died in 1533, leaving Katherine a widow at age twenty-one. She went to live with her Neville relatives in Cumbria and this is where she probably met her second husband, John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer whom she married in the summer of 1534. Latimer was forty years old and had two children from a previous marriage so Katherine now had a husband, a home, two step-children and a title. It is said she had affection for her husband.
Latimer was a supporter of the old religion (Catholicism) and during some rebellions in the north of England, Katherine was held hostage in her family home and had to struggle to survive while her husband was off fighting. Her husband was in and out of trouble with Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell until Cromwell’s fall in 1540. Latimer was then elected to Parliament and he and Katherine lived in London where she was in contact with the court and the latest fashions, as well as the new religion.
By 1542, Latimer was ill. Katherine nursed him until his death in 1543. Through her earlier family connections with Catherine of Aragon, Katherine renewed her friendship with the Lady Mary, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter. While in Mary’s household, Katherine began a relationship with Thomas Seymour, the brother of Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour. But by now, Katherine had caught the eye of the King and she felt it was her duty to serve the King and become his wife.
Katherine and Henry were married at Hampton Court on July 12, 1543. Katherine immediately began to reconcile Henry with his….<click here for the rest of the article>