The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor (Guest Post)

The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor

Guest article by Elizabeth Norton

6 February 1559. In the great gallery at Whitehall Palace Elizabeth I, who had been queen for only three months, received a deputation from the House of Commons. Led by their speaker, Sir Thomas Gargrave, the politicians filed in. They had come, said Gargrave, to request that the queen marry, ‘as well for her own comfort and contentment, as for assurance to the realm by her royal issue’. Elizabeth, who was still only twenty-five years old, received their address courteously, thanking them ‘for the love and care which they did express, as well towards her person as the whole state of the realm’. She had, however, ‘made choice of a single life’ and was resolved to ‘preserve in a virgin’s state’. There was, however, a time that her virginity had been rather less surely guarded.

A little over a decade before – in June 1547 – the English court had been rocked by the news that the queen dowager, Catherine Parr, had secretly married. For her own fourth husband, the sixth wife of Henry VIII had chosen Thomas Seymour. Thomas was handsome and, as the uncle of the new king, Edward VI, highly eligible. He was also ambitious and, as one contemporary had it, ‘somewhat empty of matter’. He was already disaffected with an unequal share of power, which saw his elder brother become both Lord Protector and governor of the king. After first proposing matches with the two princesses, Mary and Elizabeth, he had settled on their stepmother, joining her household at Chelsea that month.

At Chelsea, Thomas found his wife’s thirteen year old stepdaughter, Princess Elizabeth. When Queen Catherine married Thomas, along with the promise in the conventional marriage vows that she would be ‘buxom’ in bed, she vowed to obey him. The fact of her marriage allowed him dominance over every aspect of her person for, as a married woman, she ceased to exist independently in law. Everything that married women owned, down to the clothes on their backs, passed to their husbands, to whom wives were utterly subject. As well as regularly helping himself to his wife’s generous widow’s pension, Seymour also arrived at Chelsea as the house’s new master.

The first sign of Thomas’s interest in Elizabeth was a dramatic one. One morning, he entered her bedchamber as she lay in bed, pulling back the bed-curtains. Leaning into the bed, he called ‘good morrow’, before seeming to pounce, as though he would climb in with her. Stunned and blushing, Elizabeth shrank deeper into the bed, ‘so that he could not come at her’. It was to be the first of many such visits with the girl, all of which are recorded in the testimony of her closest servants.

Sometimes, the princess who was (as she admitted) ‘no morning woman’, made an effort to rise early, not wanting to be caught by surprise. Yet, he still came, appearing in the doorway ‘barelegged and in his slippers’, before again bidding her ‘good morrow’ and asking ‘how she did’. Once, as Elizabeth turned to move away, Thomas reached out to smack her on the back and then ‘familiarly’ on her buttocks. For a girl who blushed even to brush hands with her stepmother’s husband when dancing, this was startling. She fled to her maidens, but Seymour followed, speaking playfully with the girl’s attendants as if nothing were amiss.

The danger to Elizabeth’s reputation was very real. Her lady mistress, Kate Ashley, who had once encouraged Seymour’s suit, recognised this. She had earlier moved the pallet bed from Elizabeth’s bedchamber at Chelsea so that the girl slept dangerously unchaperoned. This had probably been done so that Kate could share a bed with her husband, rather than constantly supervising the girl, but it looked suspicious. As Seymour’s visits increased, Kate confronted him in the gallery at Hanworth, where the household moved later in the summer. Berating Thomas, she stated that ‘these things were complained of, and that My Lady was evil spoken of’. Seymour was having none of it, swearing fiercely ‘God’s precious soul!’, before declaring that ‘he would tell My Lord Protector how it slandered him, and he would not leave it, for he meant no evil’. There was little else she could do.

Catherine Parr, too, failed to protect Elizabeth from Seymour’s growing interest. He was rumoured to be an ‘oppressor’ in his domestic arrangements, and Catherine, though she loved him, dared not vex him. She joined in some of the early morning romps herself, perhaps in an attempt to convince herself that all was as it should be. Nonetheless, she also admonished Kate to keep a closer eye on her charge while, in the autumn of 1547, she left Elizabeth behind at Hanworth when the household moved to London in time for the opening of parliament. She could not keep them apart indefinitely, however. On finding the pair locked in an embrace in June 1548, she finally sent the girl away.

For propriety’s sake, Thomas accompanied Elizabeth part of the way to Cheshunt, where it had been hurriedly arranged that she would stay. While the pair never met again, this was far from the end of the story of his temptation of Elizabeth Tudor. On 5 September 1548, the thirty-six year old queen died in childbirth, leaving Thomas Seymour, once again, ‘the noblest man unmarried in this land’. He had no plans to remain that way for long, with his thoughts – and his ambitions – turning squarely towards Elizabeth.

In a little over six months, he would be dead, while Elizabeth found herself under interrogation. As the embarrassing details of her relationship with Thomas began to emerge, she remained composed, infuriating her interrogator will her failure to ‘cough out matters’. For the rest of her brother’s reign, Elizabeth kept away from affairs, dressed in sombre black. She would never again allow her heart to rule her head, commenting only when she heard of Thomas’s execution that ‘this day died a man of much wit and very little judgment’. Yet in all her long life, it was Thomas Seymour who came closest to being her husband.

Further Reading:

Norton, Elizabeth;The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor: Elizabeth I, Thomas Seymour, and the Making of a Virgin Queen (2017)

About the Author:

I have loved history and, particularly the Tudor dynasty and the queens of England since first picking up a book about the kings and queens as a child. I got into archaeology as a teenager and studied Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, focussing particularly on the medieval period.

During my degree I was awarded two scholarships by my college, New Hall, for my work and eventually attained a double first class degree. After leaving Cambridge, I completed a masters degree at Oxford University in European Archaeology. The focus was again on the medieval period, with my dissertation on the Anglo-Saxon sculpture of the South Saxon kingdom.

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Two Days Before the Death of Kateryn Parr



At the end of her life, dowager queen Kateryn Parr was married to Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral; She had just given birth to her only child, a daughter named Mary, on the 30th of August, 1548. Unfortunately, as happened often in Tudor England, Kateryn Parr got an infection after giving birth causing puerperal fever. The infection occurs when bacteria infect the uterus and surrounding areas after a women gives birth.

Elizabeth Tyrwhit was a lady-in-waiting and friend of dowager queen, Kateryn Parr. Here is an account of Kateryn’s state of mind and her behavior on 3 September 1549, two days before her death.

A two days afore the death of the Queen, at my coming to her in the morning, she asked me where I had been so long, and said unto me, she did fear such things in herself, that she was sure she could not live. Whereunto I answered, as I thought, that I saw no likelihood of death in her. She, then having my Lord Admiral by the hand, and divers other standing by, spake these words – partly, as I took it, idly: “My lady Tyrwhit, I am not well handled, for those that be about me careth not for me but standeth laughing at my grief. And the more good I will to them, the less good they will to me.”

Whereunto my Lord Admiral answered, “Why, sweetheart, I would you no hurt.”



And she said to him again, aloud, “No, my lord, I think so.” And immediately she said to him in his hear: “But, my lord, you have given me many shrewd taunts.” Those words I perceived she spake with good memory, and very sharply and honestly, for her mind was unquieted.

My Lord Admiral, perceiving that I heard it, called me aside and asked me what she said; and I declared it plainly to him. Then he consulted with me, that he would lie down on the bed by her, to look if he could pacify her unquietness with gently communication: whereunto I agreed.

And by the time he had spoken three or four words to her, she answered him very roundly and shortly, saying: “My lord, I would have given a thousand marks to have my full talk with Huick the first day I was delivered. But I durst not for displeasing you.”

And I, hearing that, perceived her trouble to be so great that my heart would serve me to hear no more. Such like communication she had with him the space of an hour, which they did hear that sat by her bedside.

 



Never before had Kateryn Parr been recorded as saying anything negative about her husband. It is quite possible that due to Postpartum Psychosis that Kateryn developed frank psychosis, cognitive impairment, and grossly disorganized behavior that represent a complete change from previous functioning. I am unaware if anyone else has looked into this any further but it makes perfect sense to me why Kateryn would have made the accusations she did about Thomas at the end of her life.

Often I hear people say that Thomas Seymour did not love Kateryn Parr, that he was only with her because she was the wealthy dowager queen and had great status. I find it hard to believe after reading this witness account that Thomas Seymour did not love Kateryn Parr. If Thomas did not care for Kateryn he would not have been at her side. I believe the man loved her so greatly that he was there with her until the end, laying with her in bed, holding her hand and whispering into her ear to calm her mind.

We are so fortunate to have accounts like these from Elizabeth Tyrwhit to help tell the story of these amazing people in world history but we must always remember, like today, that sometimes people say things to get others in trouble. It has been reported that Elizabeth Tyrwhit never liked Thomas Seymour. Enough said.


Source:

Katherine Parr: Complete Works & Correspondences -Edited by Janel Mueller; pages 177-78


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Singled Out: Potential Wives of Henry VIII

SINGLED OUT

It is well-known that Henry VIII loved women. Especially ones that could potentially give him a male heir. After the execution of wife number five, Katheryn Howard, Henry was once again on the hunt for a new wife.

As King of England he would surely have been a great catch to any woman. He was all-powerful as King of England, Ireland and France, as well as being the head of the Church of England. Becoming his wife would mean you nearly had the world at your disposal. The downside, of course, was the fact you had to be intimate with him. I was not present in Tudor England, but I can make assumptions from everything I’ve read over the years and believe that any woman would have been repulsed by the obese king with a rotting leg. But, with that being said, it was impossible to say no to the king…especially Henry VIII.



King_Henry_VIII_from_NPG_(4)

There were a few women who were singled out as potential candidates for Henry’s sixth wife. As we are aware, his ultimate choice was Katherine Parr, but who were the other contenders and what do we know about them?

The Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys is always a great source when it comes to court gossip — here are a couple of correspondances he had regarding Henry’s search for a sixth wife:

9 February 1542 - Ambassador Chapuys to the Holy Roman Emperor:

The lady for whom he showed the greater predilection on the occasion was no other than the sister of Monsieur Coban (Cobham) the same lady whom Master Huyet (Whyatt) did some time ago repudiate on a charge of adultery. She is a pretty young creature, and has sense enough to do as the others have done should she consider it worth her while. (fn. n2) It is also rumoured that the King has taken a fancy for the daughter of Madame Albart, the niece of the grand esquire Master Antoine Brown, and likewise for a daughter by the first marriage of the wife of Monsieur de Lyt (Lord Lisle), once debitis of Calais.

25 February 1542 – Ambassador Chapuys to the Holy Roman Emperor:

Indeed my impression is that unless Parliament entreats him to take another wife, he will not be in a hurry to marry; besides that there are few, if any, ladies at Court now-a-days likely to aspire to the honor of becoming one of the King’s wives, or to desire that the choice should fall on them; for a law has just passed in Parliament enjoining that should the King or his successors wish to marry a subject of theirs, the lady chosen will be bound to declare, under pain of death, if any charge of misconduct can be brought against her.

15 January 1543 – Ambassador Chapuys to the Holy Roman Emperor:

Many here think that in the midst of all this feasting and carousing the King may well take a fancy to some lady of the court and marry her, but I must say that at present I see no appearance of that.

Anne Bassett (step-daughter of Lord Lisle)

Capture2Anne Bassett, born circa 1520, was the daughter of Sir John Bassett and Honor Grenville. Sir John died when Anne was young and her mother married a second time to Arthur Plantagenet, illegitimate son of King Edward IV. They later became Lord and Lady Lisle and resided in Calais.



Lady Lisle had huge ambitions for herself and her children — marrying an illegitimate son of a late king wasn’t a bad choice for her, and it certainly brought some recognition. Arthur was a Plantagenet, but he was illegitimate so he wasn’t a huge threat to the Tudors.

When Anne’s mother moved to Calais to be near her husband, she sent her daughters Anne and Mary Bassett off to school in France to improve their French. Since Calais was an English territory the girls needed to travel further into the country to learn the native language. Anne was sent to live with madame and monsieur de Ryon at Pont de Remy, while Mary was sent to live with monsieur and madame de Bours at Abbeville. Surely both girls behaved very similar to Anne Boleyn with the French influence they had obtained during their time living there.

Anne eventually served Jane Seymour near the end of her reign after her mother convinced the queen.

Anne is said to have been more beautiful than her sister Mary and her wit was similar to Anne Boleyn. As we already know youth, wit and beauty were quick ways to be noticed by the King of England. However, in a letter that Anne Bassett wrote to her mother on the 15th of March 1538, she writes from England explaining why she has not written more often (this might say something about her actual education):

For surely, where your ladyship doth think that I can write English, in very deed I cannot, but that little that I can write is French…

Between 1538 and 1542, Anne was rumored as a mistress to Henry VIII and a potential fourth wife (in place of Anne of Cleves) in 1540 and then again as a sixth wife after the downfall of Katheryn  Howard in 1542. Anne was merely 18 years old in 1538…Henry, not long after considering Anne, married the very young Katheryn Howard.

Here is what happened to Anne after Jane Seymour passed away:

At the queen’s death, she was placed in the household of her cousin, Mary Arundell, countess of Sussex, to await the king’s next marriage. Later she resided with Peter Mewtas and his wife (Jane Asteley) and then with a distant cousin, Anthony Denny, and his wife (Joan Champernowne). The king took a particular interest in her, at one point giving her a gift of a horse and saddle. Upon his marriage to Anne of Cleves, Anne Bassett resumed her position as a maid of honor and she also held this post under Catherine Howard. After that queen’s disgrace, Anne was particularly provided for because at the time her stepfather, mother, and two sisters were being held in connection with a treasonous plot to turn Calais over to England’s enemies. This does not seem to have affected the king’s feelings for Anne. At a banquet held a short time later, she was one of three ladies to whom he paid particular attention and there was speculation that Anne Bassett might be wife number six. When King Henry chose Katherine Parr instead, Anne resumed her role as maid of honor.²

Here is another source that discusses Anne Bassett and Henry’s interest in her:

“By the end of January (1542), the King was said to have cheered up a little, although his health remained poor and his weight in consequence increased. But he did at least enjoy ‘a great supper’ with twenty-six ladies at his table and another thirty-five at a table nearby. Among those singled out by his attentions were Sir Anthony Browne’s niece, Lord Cobham’s sister and Mistress Anne Bassett. Of the Latter Marillac commented sourly that she was ‘a pretty young creature with wit enough to do as badly as the other if she were to try’.”
~ Antonia Fraser The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Elisabeth Brooke or Elizabeth Brooke

Capture1As referenced above, the sister to Lord Cobham was also singled out by Henry VIII. Elisabeth Brooke (b. 1526) was the eldest daughter of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham (of Kent) and his wife Anne.

Elisabeth was the niece of Sir Thomas Wyatt and his wife Elizabeth Brooke. Wyatt had been estranged from his wife for over fifteen years on accusations of adultery, on her part. However, we already know that Wyatt was indeed an adulterer because it was common knowledge that he had continually laid with Elizabeth Darrell. It seems that the Elizabeth was indeed an adulteress because her father completely ignored her in his will and favored Wyatt over her.



The younger Elisabeth was described as vivacious, kind and one of the most beautiful women at court.

It had been thought by Eustace Chapuys that Henry VIII considered Elizabeth Brooke (wife of Thomas Wyatt) as his 6th wife, however she had been accused of adultery and Henry just lost his fifth wife to that charge. Plus she was around 40 years old. Chapyuys must have confused her with her young niece, Elisabeth Brooke. During this time in history it was clearly frowned upon, if not forbidden to divorce your spouse — you could not marry again until one spouse died. Wyatt effectively disowned his wife and forbade to see her again. This is another reason why she was most likely the wrong woman discussed in the letter by Chapuys because she was still married.

Lady Lucy Somerset

Lucy was mentioned in a letter by Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys to his master Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor as having been one of the three ladies in whom the King was showing a marked interest and was considering for his sixth wife. The previous statement was on the wikipedia page for Lady Lucy Somerset, however, there is no source linking to the article. I was unable to find the letter.

12 July 1543 – The King’s Choice

The King’s Marriage. 

 

HenryVIII2_1389961f

Notarial instrument witnessing that, on 12 July 1543, 35 Hen. VIII., in an upper oratory called “the Quynes Pryevey closet” within the honor of Hampton Court, Westm. dioc., in presence of the noble and gentle persons named at the foot of this instrument and of me, Ric. Watkins, the King’s prothonotary, the King and lady Katharine Latymer alias Parr being met there for the purpose of solemnising matrimony between them, Stephen bp. of Winchester proclaimed in English (speech given in Latin) that they were met to join in marriage the said King and Lady Katharine, and if anyone knew any impediment thereto he should declare it. The licence for the marriage without publication of banns, sealed by Thos. abp. of Canterbury and dated 10 July 1543, being then brought in, and none opposing but all applauding the marriage, the said bp. of Winchester put the questions (recited) to which the King, hilari vultu, replied “Yea” and the lady Katharine also replied that it was her wish; and then the King taking her right hand, repeated after the Bishop the words, “I, Henry, take thee, Katharine, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” Then, releasing and again clasping hands, the lady Katharine likewise said “I, Katharine, take thee Henry to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonayr and buxome in bed and at board, till death us depart, and thereto I plight unto thee my troth.” The putting on of the wedding ring and proffer of gold and silver (described) followed; and the Bishop, after prayer, pronounced a benediction. The King then commanded the prothonotary to make a public instrument of the premises. Present : John lord Russell, K.G., keeper of the Privy Seal, Sir Ant. Browne, K.G., captain of the King’s pensioners, and Thos. Henage, Edw. Seymer, Hen. Knyvet, Ric. Long, Thos. Darcy, Edw. Beynton, and Thos. Speke, knights, and Ant. Denny and Wm. Herbert, esquires, also the ladies Mary and Elizabeth the King’s children, Margaret Douglas his niece, Katharine duchess of Suffolk, Anne countess of Hertford, and Joan lady Dudley, and Anne Herbert.
Notarial attestation by Ric. Watkins, Ll. B., King’s prothonotary.
Large parchment

References:

¹ Letters of royal and illustrious ladies of Great Britain: Anne Bassett to Lady Lisle (page 22)

² A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, compiled by Kathy Lynn Emerson

³ Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest, by Susan Brigden

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The Relationships of Lady Mary Tudor: Henry VIII and His Consort Katherine Parr (Part 1)

Guest Article by Meg McGath
Repost from TudorQueen6 – The Life and Family of Queen Katherine Parr (10 August 2012)

A modern interpretation of Lady Mary’s stepmother’s was shown in the historical fiction series “The Tudors.”

Throughout the reign of Henry VIII, as many know, he had six different wives. The first of these wives was the daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, Infanta Catalina; or as most have come to know her in England – Katherine of Aragon. Katherine came to England to marry the older brother of Henry who was then heir to the throne of England; Arthur, Prince of Wales. Shortly after their marriage Arthur died and Katherine was left a widow at an early age. To avoid returning her large dowry to her father Katherine was married to Arthur’s younger brother, then Henry, Duke of York. The marriage between Katherine and Henry produced only one child who would live to adulthood, a girl, the future Queen Mary I of England. In Tudor times, not having a male heir was particularly troublesome as the country had just been through a civil war in which Henry’s father seized the crown. Henry VIII was only the second Tudor monarch, a son of both the houses of Lancaster and York. Henry felt that a male heir was essential; after all, the last woman to reign as queen regent was the tumultuous reign of Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I.



Born Princess Mary of England, Mary was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon. Her mother, after two decades of marriage to the King, had given birth to six children. Out of the six, only one would survive infancy, their daughter Mary. Katherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as heiress presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. At this time is when Henry began to take interest in one of Katherine’s ladies, Anne Boleyn. In Anne, Henry saw the possibility of having a male heir; to continue his father’s legacy. After going through a great bit of trouble – which included a break from Rome – Henry “divorced” Katherine and “married” Anne under his Church of England. This break and marriage would come to change England and inevitably changed Henry for the rest of his life. Henry would go on to have again, one daughter, with Anne. During this marriage, Princess Mary, now within her teens, went from being a legitimate Princess and daughter of Henry VIII to an illegitimate “bastard” under Henry’s new succession act. Mary was forced to live below the standards of what she had become accustomed to and was forced to accept that her mother was no longer queen of England. After only a few years of marriage to Anne, Henry became convinced that his second wife could not produce a male heir and literally disposed her for yet another lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour. During her short reign, Jane tried to reconcile Henry with his daughter Mary. It was through this “precious” lady that Henry finally got what he wanted; a male heir, named Edward. To Henry’s misfortune, only twelve days after giving birth to Edward, Jane died. Henry would go on to marry three more times after Jane. Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and a woman named Katherine Parr. It was the last of Henry’s wives who would come to reconcile Mary, along with her half-siblings, with Henry.
Katherine Parr was born in 1512. By both parents, Princess Mary was related to Katherine Parr. By her paternal grandparents, Mary was related by Katherine’s descent from the Beaufort’s, children of John of Gaunt, a son of Edward III making Mary by her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth of York, a 4th cousin. By the Woodville connection, they were 4th cousins. By her paternal grandfather, Henry VII (by Beaufort and Holland), Mary was a double 5th cousin, once removed. By her maternal grandmother, Isabel of Castile (by John of Gaunt), she was a fifth cousin and a fifth cousin, once removed. Jane Seymour is the next closest after Parr sharing Edward III (6th cousins, once removed).
Katherine was a few years older than Mary who was born in 1516. Katherine’s mother, Maud, had become a lady-in-waiting to Princess Mary’s mother shortly after her marriage to Sir Thomas Parr. Katherine was named after the queen and it is thought that the queen was her godmother.
Maud’s relationship with the Queen was unlike that of most queens and their ladies. It was a relationship that went much deeper than “giddy pleasure”. Both knew what it was like to lose a child in stillbirths and in infancy. It was Katherine Parr’s mother, Maud, who shared in the horrible miscarriages and deaths in which Queen Katherine would endure from 1511 to 1518. The two bonded over the issue, as Maud had experienced the death of her eldest, an infant boy, and later a miscarriage or early infant mortality after the birth of three healthy children. Because of these shared experiences, the queen and Maud became close.



After her husband died in 1517, Maud continued her position at court as one of Katherine of Aragon’s household and stayed close to the Queen even when her relationship with Henry started to decline in the 1520s. In 1525, when Henry’s infatuation with one of Katherine’s ladies, Anne Boleyn, became apparent, inevitably the ladies began to take sides. In these times, Queen Katherine never lost the loyalty and affection of women like Maud Parr, Gertrude Courtenay, and Elizabeth Howard, who had been with the Queen since the first years of her reign. Maud stayed with Queen Katherine until the end of her own life in 1531.
It has been said that Katherine Parr and Princess Mary were educated together. While Katherine’s mother attended on the queen, Katherine was at Parr house in Blackfriars, London. Katherine was not brought to court with her mother and probably the only time, if any, that she was in contact with the royal family was at her christening. Katherine and other daughters of the court were taught separately while Princess Mary, who had her own household, was taught by private tutors.
King Henry and his fifth consort Katherine Howard

After the disastrous marriage of the King and Katherine Howard, the King was no longer looking for flighty relationships that stirred his passions. Henry had learned a tough lesson with Katherine Howard and was determined more than ever to find an intelligent, honest, loving, and devoted wife. He wanted someone he could hold an actual conversation with; a companion. Another quality Henry looked for in a wife was someone who could be a perfect companion to his eldest daughter, now styled The Lady Mary Tudor. After years of tension and multiple step-mothers whom Mary had mixed relations with, Henry must have felt he owed her that much.

After the death of Katherine Howard, Mary enjoyed far greater favor from her father and presided over court feasts as if she was queen herself. For New Year’s, Mary was showered with lavish gifts from her father. Within the presents were ‘two rubies of inestimable value.’ However, it was during this time that Mary suffered from chronic ill-health linked to anxiety, depression, and irregular menstruation. These health issues along with others would continue until Mary’s death. Thankfully by Christmas 1542, Mary had recovered and was summoned to court for the great Christmas festivities. Her quarters at Hampton court were worked on day and night to prepare for her arrival. The Imperial Ambassador, Chapuys, reported that the King ‘spoke to her in the most gracious and amiable words that a father could address to his daughter.’
Katherine Parr would marry twice before her marriage to King Henry in 1543. Her first marriage would be to her distant relative, Sir Edward Borough in 1529; which ended in about 1533 with his death. Her next marriage was to her father’s second cousin, Sir John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer of Snape in 1534. With this marriage, Katherine became Lady Latimer. She was the first of her family to marry into peerage since her great-aunt, Maud Parr, Lady Dacre. With this marriage also came two step-children from Latimer’s first marriage to Dorothy De Vere. For about a decade, Katherine would experience the joy of being a step-mother. It was during this time that she became extremely close to her step-daughter, Margaret, which was somewhat of a pre-cursor to Katherine’s future relationship with the Lady Elizabeth, Henry’s youngest daughter. By the time Lord Latimer had died, Katherine was left a rich widow and was asked by Latimer to look after his daughter until the age of her maturity. It has been said that Katherine became a lady in the household of Lady Mary during this time, but biographers Susan James and Linda Porter have different opinions. It was thought by James that because Mary remembered the kindness Katherine’s mother had shown her mother that she gladly took Katherine as one of her ladies. Porter disputes this saying it would have been below Katherine’s standing as the widow of a peer who had her own establishments and a large settlement from her husband’s death. Truth be told, many courtiers and wives of peers were ladies to royals in Tudor England. It was a wonderful opportunity, kept them busy, and at the center of court. Katherine’s sister, Anne, would serve all of Henry’s wives, including her. After the death of Lord Latimer, Katherine began a fling with the brother of former queen Jane Seymour, Sir Thomas Seymour. The two were most likely planning to be wed, but before the two could marry, Katherine would first catch the attention of King who quickly proposed.
Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth from the “Succession Portrait” which was commissioned while Katherine Parr was queen.



In spring before the wedding, Katherine would appear at court with both Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth. The fact that the two had not been together earlier that spring and were now with Katherine and her sister at court was seen as significant. Katherine believed that a good relationship with the two was fundamental to her strategy. Once married, and confident as queen, she could develop the relationships further.

Katherine would go on to marry the King in July of that year. Within those who were present were the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth. With the marriage came three new step-children for Katherine to take care of. Instead of seeing it as her “duty”, she saw it as an opportunity as she had still not produced any children of her own.

Continue story here….Part 2!

Sources:

  • Susan James. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love, The History Press, 2009.
  • Linda Porter. Katherine the queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII, MacMillan, 2010.
  • Linda Porter. The Myth of “Bloody Mary”: A Biography of Queen Mary I of England, St. Martin Griffins, 2010.
  • Anna Whitelock. Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2009.

About the Author

13265994_10102686853441145_8751588914307835639_nMeg McGath is the author of the website tudorqueen6.com and started the Facebook page “Queen Catherine Parr” years ago. Her minor in college was women in British History; specifically Medieval and Tudor England. She is a fact checker and works very hard to preserve historical accuracy. A musician and music teacher by trade, Meg got caught up in the history of women during the Tudor period after finding genealogical connections in 2007. Surprising to some Tudor enthusiasts, her main focus is Queen Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. Yes, that would be the “nobody from nowhere” and the ever famous nickname, “nursemaid”. Meg has found new information on Parr through research on her own and by staying up to date with Parr’s primary biographers. Her passion for the Tudors made her seek to study three summers of British History and Shakespeare in London at Richmond University (surprisingly named after Henry VII). In 2012, her main focus was to make it to the 500th anniversary of Kateryn Parr birth celebrations at Sudeley Castle. It was at Sudeley that Meg found all kinds of trinkets that actually passed through Parr’s hands. She got to walk the halls where Parr roamed and see Parr’s magnificent tomb which stands on the grounds of Sudeley. Meg now focuses on the extended family of Parr which includes the Nevilles of Raby and a connection to the “royal” Beaufort children of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.



Anne Parr: Witness to History

Lady Anne Parr was sister to Kateryn Parr — sixth wife of Henry VIII. Anne Parr is unique because she was either a Maid-of-Honor, or Lady-in-Waiting to all the wives of Henry VIII, all six.

A Maid-of-Honor was generally a young girl in her teens, just starting out at court. In order to hold the position one had to be part of a noble family. Physical beauty was also requirement, so we must assume Anne was considered attractive. A Maid-of-Honor also had to impress courtiers – knowing a foreign language, and being a good dancer were only a couple of the necessities of holding the position.

A Lady-in-Waiting was a married lady who served the Queen. Some of these ladies had served prior to becoming married as Maids-of-Honour. A woman could also became a Lady-in-Waiting when she married a prominent member of the King’s Privy Chamber or Privy Council. These ladies helped dress the Queen, they provided companionship to her and served her during her meals. A Lady-in-Waiting spent considerable time with the Queen. They kept busy with activities like needlework, sewing and embroidery.



There is not conclusive evidence to show when she went from Maid to Lady, but we can assume it was after she married.

Anne Boleyn was a Maid-of-Honour to Katherine of Aragon beginning in 1522, when she returned from France. Anne Parr joined the same household in 1528 when her mother, Maud Green secured her a position with the Queen. Anne Parr would have been witness to the events between Boleyn and King Henry. She was actually very fond of Anne Boleyn and stayed in the new queen’s household when she was crowned in 1533.

When Henry VIII had his second wife beheaded and married Jane Seymour, Anne Parr was there. She was also one of the few people present at the baptism of Prince Edward, and was part of the funeral procession of Queen Jane – she was with the fourth chariot.

William Herbert
William Herbert

In February 1538, Anne Parr married Sir William Herbert, Esquire of the King’s Body. It is very likely that she met William at court.

When Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves, Anne Parr returned to court as a Lady-in-Waiting for the new Queen. The marriage was short-lived and Henry soon annulled his marriage from Anne of Cleves and wed the very young and flirtatious Katherine Howard. Anne Parr continued as a Lady-in-Waiting to Katherine Howard and was also the “Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels.”  Anne left court briefly to give birth to her son Henry. She returned to court some time after and her timing coincided with the fall of Katherine Howard. Anne attended to Katherine when she was imprisoned at Syon House and then in the Tower of London.



Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr
Holbein foll Henry VIII em l
Henry VIII

In 1543, Anne witnessed the wedding ceremony at Hampton Court Palace between her sister, Kateryn Parr and King Henry VIII. Anne was Queen Kateryn’s Chief Lady-in-Waiting. The sisters were indeed close and Anne was well experienced at court and in the Queen’s household.

Anne Parr experienced a lot during her time at court – especially when it came to the wives of Henry VIII:

  • She saw the poor treatment of Katherine of Aragon
  • The rise and fall of Anne Boleyn
  • The rise of another fellow lady Jane Seymour and her untimely death after providing the King with a son
  • The quick reign of Anne of Cleves
  • The experience of the downfall of Katherine Howard
  • The reign of her sister, Kateryn Parr

It’s easy to say Anne Parr probably had a lot of good advice for her sister, Queen Kateryn Parr, after all that she had witnessed. If we are to believe Philippa Gregory’s book, The Taming of the Queen (Historical Fiction) to be true, then we would believe that Anne Parr actually taught her sister how not to become pregnant — because being pregnant and losing the child, or having a deformed child made the king look bad…and we all know how insecure Henry VIII was. But, Gregory writes historical fiction and we should take that statement with a grain of salt. Kateryn had been married before so she surely knew how to not become pregnant, if that’s what she chose.

As the keeper of the jewels she would have seen each of Henry’s queens exchange some of the same jewels – some were made into a new piece, while others stayed the same.

On 20 February 1552, Anne died. At the time of her death, she was one of the ladies of the Lady Mary, the future Queen Mary I.

Anne Parr was one of very few women who served all six Tudor queens. Imagine if she had a diary that survived, or had written a book about everything she saw or heard. That would be priceless.

 

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Katherine Parr: Ghost At Sudeley Castle

The story of Katherine Parr is quite tragic indeed — she married an old and ailing King Henry VIII when she would have preferred to marry her love, Thomas Seymour. When Henry died in 1547, she secretly married Thomas. By the end of 1547 the couple were already with child. Imagine their surprise when it was believed she would not have children. Katherine gave birth to their daughter Mary and shortly thereafter and died of puerperal fever. It seems as though Katherine Parr would not be able to find life long happiness.

Sudeley Castle (from previous blog post)

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0
Photo Credit: Wdejager / CC BY-SA 4.0

The 15th century Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire was rebuilt in the late 1540s by Lord Thomas Seymour. Thomas was the brother of the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector to Edward Vl; their sister, Jane, had been Henry Vlll’s third wife, who had died giving birth to Edward in 1537, making the brothers the young king’s uncles.” -The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain by Charles Phillips (p.363)

After the king’s death, Thomas Seymour married Henry’s widow Katherine Parr. Thomas and Katherine moved into Sudeley Castle where she gave birth to their daughter, Mary on 30 August 1548. Katherine died there from puerperal fever a week later and was buried in St. Mary’s Church near the castle.

Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr attributed to William Scrots – National Portrait Gallery: NPG 4618
Katherine Parr
Catherine Parr in the Melton Constable Portrait. Formerly mistaken as Jane Grey
Katherine Parr
Katherine Parr by Master John – This portrait originally and now identified as Catherine Parr was wrongly identified as Lady Jane Grey for decades
Thomas Seymour
Thomas Seymour by Nicholas Denizot