Katherine the Queen

Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr
by Linda Porter
London:  MacMillian, 2010
383 pages

Thought this book was very good with one huge criticism (more later). Have read other materials by Linda Porter (in the History Today magazine) and have respected her as a writer so was eager to read this biography of Katherine Parr.

Although there was not a lot of new material presented, I did admire a couple of interpretations that Porter provided. One interesting idea is that Katherine’s seemingly indecent, hasty marriage to Thomas Seymour was more political than we imagined. Porter asserts that Katherine was concerned for her political role after being excluded from Henry VIII’s will as a Regent for Edward. Usually books take the vein that she was so in love with Seymour, this self-possessed, strong woman acted recklessly and married him on the spur of the moment.

My only criticism of the book, which does cause me to view it less favorably, is the final paragraph (not in the Epilogue). Porter describes the scene of Katherine’s coffin being re-opened to reveal that a “crown of ivy had wound itself around Katherine’s skull” to remind us that she was “the last queen of Henry VIII.” What? This silly comment, ending an otherwise excellent book, has left a negative view threatening my respect for Porter. This sensationalistic piece of writing is out of place in an otherwise excellent book which portrays this intelligent, ambitious and influential woman.

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