Katherine Parr

Katherine Parr CROPPED

Katherine Parr,

6th wife of King Henry VIII

1512-1548

Born:

August 1512, the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green

Crowned:

not crowned

Died:

5 September 1548 at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire

Buried:

Sudeley Castle chapel

Married:

  1. 1529, Edward Borough of Gainsborough; he died, probably in 1533
  2. summer of 1534, John Neville, Lord Latimer; he died in March 1543
  3. 12 July 1543, Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace; he died 28 January 1547
  4. end of May 1547, Sir Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley

enry’s final marital choice was beautiful, elegant Katherine Parr. Her first husband, young Edward Borough of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, died after only four years of marriage. She then married John Neville 3rd Baron Latimer, a widower with two children and a castle in Yorkshire. The family, unwillingly caught up in the northern rebellion of 1546, afterwards moved south. There Katherine joined the household of Princess Mary.

After Latimer’s death, she hoped to marry dashing courtier, Thomas Seymour. Henry intervened. Katherine dutifully married her elderly, ailing king and made a home for his children.

Katherine remained her own woman, incorporating the initials “KP” into her signature as queen. Fluent in French, Italian and Latin, Katherine had a demonstrated knowledge of Scripture and an interest in medicine. Her book, Prayers or Meditations, issued in 1545, was the first work ever published by an English queen. When Henry campaigned in France, he appointed Katherine his regent.

Known to have strong Protestant sympathies, she sidestepped political snares until a cabal of religious conservatives, alarmed by her influence with the ailing king, attempted to contrive her downfall. The plot to turn the increasingly irascible Henry against her failed, but narrowly. To her disappointment, and possibly as a result of this incident, Henry did not name her to young Edward’s council in his will.

Less than four months after Henry’s death, Katherine finally married Thomas Seymour, alienating her stepchildren and provoking gossip. She was, however, still able to gain guardianship of Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth. Indiscreet behavior by Thomas Seymour towards teenage Elizabeth led to unhappiness and scandal.

Katherine was, by now, pregnant with her first child. In June 1548, she moved her household (sans Elizabeth) to Seymour’s castle of Sudeley. She died there from complications of childbirth. Her daughter Mary simply disappears from the historical records.

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