Announcing Elizabeth’s Birth

Elizabeth’s Birth Announcement:

In the summer of 1533, as the birth of the child of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn drew nearer, a courtier, John Russell, wrote in a letter to Lord Lisle, Captain of Calais, that he “never saw the King merrier” (Nichols 443). The royal couple were at Windsor until 21 August when they traveled to Whitehall.  From there on 26 August, they moved to Greenwich where Anne was to take to her chamber. This required a formal ceremony to be performed.  Anne went in procession to the Chapel Royal to hear mass, then to her Great Chamber.  She and her guests dined and then ate ceremoniously from a “goodly spice plate…of spice and comfettes.” The Lord Mayor of London provided “a cuppe of assaie of gold, and after that she had dronke, she gave the Maior the cuppe.” Once the refreshments were partaken of, Anne “under her Canapie, departed to her Chamber” and at the entry of her chamber, she gave her Canopy of State to the barons “accordyng to their clayme” (Hall 805). Anne’s Lord Chamberlain called for all to pray for the safe delivery of her child and then Anne and her women entered her chamber” (Hall 805).    Henry 8      anneboleyn
            King Henry VIII                           Queen Anne Boleyn

Anne’s chambers would have been altered tremendously to create the lying-in chamber to provide enough storage for multiple weeks of supplies and baby items.  Included would have been furniture: beds for the birth, recovery and ceremonies, and the baby cot; plus blankets, pillows and bedding.  An altar for religious services would have been included along with candlesticks, crucifixes and religious images.  Tapestries would have covered the walls, ceiling and all windows except for one.  Alison Weir stated that the tapestries showed St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins (Weir Six Wives 257).  David Starkey, on the other hand, informed that the tapestries would not have depicted animals or humans as that could trigger fantasies in the mother-to-be and lead to a deformed child (Starkey Elizabeth 2). Regardless of the decoration themes, one can envision the chamber as being a “cross between a chapel and a luxuriously padded cell” (Starkey Elizabeth 2).

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 Greenwich 1533

William Blount, 4th Baron Mountjoy, Chamberlain to Catherine of Aragon sent to his counterpart in Anne’s household, George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham, advice on the correct method for the confinement and ensuing ceremonies.  A general procedure had been followed for generations, and it was unlikely that Henry VIII would jeopardize the successful birth of his male heir by altering the steps in any way.  That is why the speculation that Henry kept Anne from her confinement in order to dupe the general population about the date of conception does not make sense.
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George Brooke, 9th Baron of Cobham and Queen Anne’s Lord Chamberlain

Once a woman entered her lying-in chamber, it was a signal that she did not expect to have her child for about a month. Anne gave birth within two weeks. How and why could there be such a miscalculation? Retha Warnicke speculates that Henry took advantage of Anne’s good health in the summer of 1533 and delayed her entry to her chamber.  He wanted to confuse people over the delivery date to convince them that the child had been conceived during the time of their marriage (Warnicke 164).  Would Henry do that?  Would he risk the health of his male child in such a way?  I do not think so.  Would he encourage people to assume the date of their wedding was earlier than it was?  Probably.

Chronicler Edward Hall insisted that Henry and Anne married on 14 November 1532 on “sainct Erkenwalds daie” and managed it to be “kept so secrete, that very fewe knewe it, til Builyne she was greate with child, at Easter after” (Hall 794).  Other sources state the wedding was on 25 January 1533.  Eric Ives speculates that the earlier date was used much afterwards to protect Elizabeth’s reputation against being born out of wedlock.  If a compromise theory is believed, a commitment ceremony could have been held in November that would “stand up in canon law– espousals de praesenti before witnesses which, if sealed by intercourse, would have been canonically valid …” (Ives 170).  Henry would have then held another ceremony, before a priest, in January once it was obvious Anne was pregnant: or could the mid-wives and physicians have underestimated the delivery date?  We will never know.  What we do know is that on “vii day of September being Sondaie, between thre and foure of the Clocke after noone, the Quene was delivred of a faire lady” (Hall 805).

The fact that the child was a girl was a shock to her parents so sure they were that they would have a son.  Tradition tells us that Henry responded appropriately to Anne by saying that all was well since they were both young “by God’s grace, boys will follow” (Weir, pg. 258).  Immediately following the birth, a Te Deum was sung and “great preparacion was made for the christening” with the Mayor of London, Stephen Peacock, and chief citizens “commaunded to bee at the Christenyng, the Wednesdaie folowyng” in all of their finery went by barge to Greenwich.  “All the walles betwene the Kynges place and the Friers, were hanged with Arras, and all the waie strawcd with grene” the Observant Friars Church was also hung in tapestries.  The font was “of siluer, and stoode in the midles of the Churche, three steppes high, whiche was couered with a line clothe … oner it hong a square Canape of crimosin Satten, fringed with golde” and in an area close by was a brazier with a fire in it to keep the child warm.  When “al these thynges wer ordered, the child was brought to the hall,” followed by members of Court with “the Erie of Essex, bearyng the couered Basins gilte, after hym the Marques of Excester with taper of virgin waxe, next hym the Marques Dorset, bearyng the salt, behynd-hym the lady Mary of Norffolk, bearyng the cesom whiche was very riche of perle & stone, the old Duches of Norffolk bare the childe” (Hall 805).   The child wore, in addition to a christening robe heavy and stiff with gold embroidery…a royal mantle of purple velvet and miniver, with a train so long that it was borne up by a lady and two gentlemen (Tytler 2).

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Portrait identified as Frances Brandon Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, Duchess of Suffolk

An enthusiastic Hall continues to describe the scene as the Duke of Norfolk walked to the right of the baby, the Duke of Suffolk to the left and the Countess of Kent bore the train along with other noble ladies.  The baby’s uncle, Lord Rochford and three others carried a canopy over her.  When “the child was come to the churche dore, the bishop of London met it with diverse bishoppes and Abbottes mitred, and began the observances of the Sacrament” (Hall 806).

One godmother was the baby’s cousin, Frances Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset; the other, who carried the child, was her great-grandmother, Agnes, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, the godfather was Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer.  The Bishop of London John Stokesley, assisted by other clergy performed the ceremony (Tytler 2). The “childe was named Elizabeth: and after that al thyng was done, at the churche dore the child was brought to the Fount, and christened” (Hall 806).

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Agnes, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk

We are told that the Garter Chief King of Arms then proclaimed “God of His infinite goodness, send a prosperous life and long, to the high and mighty princess of England Elizabeth” (Strickland 4). Next Elizabeth was confirmed as part of the extended ceremony. Afterwards servants brought in “wafers, comfits and hypocras in such plenty that every man had as much as he would desire” (Somerset 4). “Then they set forwardes, the trumpettes goyng before in thesame ordre, towarde the kynges place, as they did when they came thether warde, … and in this ordre thei brought the princes, to the Quenes chamber (Hall 806).  With Henry VIII in attendance, Queen Anne received her child back while Londoners rejoiced with Court supplied wine and bonfires in the streets but no jousts or fireworks—this was a princess not a prince.  Publically Henry continued to reassure that the princess was not a disappointment.  Privately, as reported by a gleeful Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador, the birth was a “great regret both of him and the lady, and to the great reproach of the physicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and sorceresses, who affirmed that it would be a male child. But the people are doubly glad that it is a daughter rather than a son, and delight to mock those who put faith in such divinations, and to see them so full of shame” (Gairdner VI 1112).

How could the predictions go so wrong? 

Besides soliciting physicians’ opinions on the sex of the child, astrologers and soothsayers were also consulted.  Only one did not predict a son.  William Glover wrote to Queen Anne of a vision he had in which she gave birth to a “woman child” and he instructed she “should be delivered of your burden at Greenwich” (Gardiner VI 1599).

Physicians “studied astronomy, astrology, geometry, mathematics, music and philosophy” in the 16th century.  “The Tudors believed strongly in the divine plan ….  Fate, fortune and goodwill might cure” (Hurren). Included in the studies of sciences, astrology was certainly compatible with religion at this time.  Astrology was considered a way to understand God’s plan.  Henry VIII received predictions that the child Anne was carrying was a boy—there was no reason to doubt that.  God had punished Henry for co-habitating with his brother’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, against the teachings of Leviticus, by not granting living male children to that union.  Surely, he could not have misinterpreted the signs of the divine will to divorce Catherine.  Sons would come from his union with Anne.

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Henry VIII’s astrolabe made for him by Bastien le Seney, royal clockmaker

References to prophecies and predictions were accepted at the time as were the “astrological superstitions of the generation” (Tytler 2). In one of his love letters to Anne, Henry showed a “personal interest in astrology: in attempting to dispel her fears about their forced separation” (Warnicke 165).

“I and my heart put ourselves in your hands. Let not absence lessen your affection; for it causes us more pain than I should ever have thought, reminding us of a point of astronomy that the longer the days are, the further off is the sun, and yet the heat is all the greater. So it is with our love, which keeps its fervour in absence, at least on our side. Prolonged absence would be intolerable, but for my firm hope in your indissoluble affection. As I cannot be with you in person, I send you my picture set in bracelets” (Brewer).

As Lutheran theologian Philipp Melancthon later said in his dedication to the text, Theological Commonplaces, “Henry is ‘the most learned of kings not only in theology, but also in other philosophy, and especially in the study of the movement of the heavens’. Since the king and his contemporaries held ‘a complex view of conception in which both the physical and spiritual’ were intertwined, he may have been persuaded of the validity of the prophecies about the child’s sex because he had personally done all that was necessary for him to earn and to merit a divine blessing in the form of a son” (Warnicke 165).

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Theologian, Philipp Melancthon
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Theological Commonplace, 1535 which had the dedication to Henry VIII.

“Anne’s skeptical attitude toward the most superstitious of them must have been well-known” as John Foxe later discussed it (Warnicke 165).  Foxe recounted a story that implied Anne’s “true faith …for when king Henry was with her at Woodstock, and there, being afraid of an old blind prophecy, for which neither he nor other kings before him durst hunt in the said park of Woodstock, nor enter into the town of Oxford, at last, through the Christian and faithful counsel of that queen, he was so armed against all infidelity, that both he hunted in the aforesaid park, and also entered into the town of Oxford, and had no harm”  (Foxe 136). Popular belief maintained that Henry did abide by the use of prophecies.
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John Foxe

Certain the child would be a boy, Henry and Anne had selected the names of Edward and Henry and had asked Francis I, King of France to be godfather.  In a dispatch to Francis, his Ambassador, Jean de Dinteville, The Bailly of Troyes*, explains how he had been asked to “hold at the font the child of which the Queen is pregnant, if it is a boy” (Gairdner VI 1070).

As an aside, de Dinteville (also as known as d’Intevile Polizy) “chevalier Sieur de Polizy, near Bar-sur-Seyne, Bailly of Troyes who was Ambassador in England for King Francis I in the years 1532-1533” was identified in the late 19th century as one of the sitters in the Ambassadors painting by Hans Holbein (Hervey 12).  Without going into extreme detail, the clues in the painting confirmed what Hervey discovered on a fragment of manuscript.  An example would be the seigneurie, an area of manorial influence that de Dinteville held, was Polizy in Burgundy shown on the globe in the painting  (Hervey 8).
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Jean de Dinteville, French Ambassador 
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The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein, 1533
Jean de Dinteiville and Georges de Selve

There is no record of whether or not Francis I felt any sympathy for Henry’s disappointment but it was clear he would not be asked as godfather for a princess’s baptism. While de Dinteville showed his “complete allegiance to the Crown of France” (Hervey 41), being ready to fill whatever office would be required even for a princess, his Spanish counterpart, Eustace Chapuys, was interpreting the birth of a daughter to Henry as the divine will that “Misfortune manages well; and God has forgotten him entirely, hardening him in his obstinacy to punish and ruin him” (Gairdner VI 1112).

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King Francis I of France   

After the ceremony de Dinteville exclaimed “the whole occasion was so perfect that nothing was lacking” (Hibbert 14).  Chapuys concluded “the christening has been like her mother’s coronation, very cold and disagreeable both to the Court and to the city, and there has been no thought of having the bonfires and rejoicings usual in such cases. After the child was baptised, a herald in front of the church-door proclaimed her princess of England (Gairdner VI 1125).
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Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador

Prior to the christening, Chapuys claimed that the child would “be called Mary, like the Princess; which title, I hear in many quarters, will be taken from the true princess and given to her” (Gairdner 1112).  He had to retract saying “the daughter of the lady has been named Elizabeth, and not Mary” (Gairdner 1125).  Obviously, the child was named for her two grandmothers, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Howard.

So sure were the parents that the child would be a boy, official announcements, which were to be sent throughout the realm and to the Courts of Europe from the Queen listed the child as a prince.  One such letter is preserved written to Lord Cobham, Anne’s Chancellor informing him of the birth at Greenwich on 7 September during the 25th year of the reign of Henry (Gairdner VI 1089).   An ‘s’ was added to the word prince (see the facsimile below—the first is in the third line, center also shown in an enlargement—and secondly in the final sentence) which would have altered it enough in the 16th century to signify the word princess.
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Letter of Lord Cobham– the area with the ‘s’ insertion is enlarged below.  A transcription is also included.
elizabethbirthannouncement

By the Quene
Right trustie and welbiloved, we grete you well. And where as it hath pleased the goodnes of Almightie God, of his infynite marcie and grace, to sende unto us, at this tyme, good spede, in the delyveraunce and bringing furthe of a Princes, to the great joye, rejoyce, and inward comforte of my Lorde, us, and all his good and loving subjectes of this his realme; for the whiche his inestymable benevolence, soo shewed unto us, we have noo litle cause to give high thankes, laude, and praising unto oure said Maker, like as we doo mooste lowly, humbly, and with all the inwarde desire of our harte. And inasmuche as we undoubtidly truste, that this oure good spede is to your great pleasure, comforte, and consolation, We, therefore, by thies our letters, advertise you thereof, desiring and hartely praying you to give, with us, unto Almightie God, high thankes, glorie, laude, and praising; and to praye for the good helth, prosperitie, and contynuall preservation of the said Princes accordingly. Yeven under our Signet, at my Lordis Manour of Grenewiche, the 7 day of September, in the 25th yere of my said Lordis reigne.
To oure right trustie and welbiloved, the Lorde Cobham.

During a lecture at the Newberry Library in Chicago on November 22, 2003, David Starkey stated that the most important document in Elizabeth’s life was the letter announcing her birth.  The Tudor Court needed a male heir.  Society held the  attitude that a woman would not be able to hold public office and have influence.

Anne Boleyn had disappointed Henry and the kingdom.  Everyone was yet to see the significance of the life of this child that began with such an unpleasant shock yet would produce a ruler with “the body of a weak and feeble woman …but the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too” (Marcus 326).

*The bailly was a French “Crown officer in whose name justice was administered throughout a certain district” (Hervey 38),

References

Brewer, J.S. (editor).  “Henry VIII: July 1527, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524-1530 (1875): 1465-1477. British History Online. Web. 02 June 2013.

Denny, Joanna. Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England’s Tragic Queen. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2006. Google Books. Web. 7 June 2013.

Doran, Susan.  Henry VIII:  Man & Monarch. London:  British Library, 2009. Print.

Eakins, Laura. “Elizabeth Birth Announcement.” TudorHistory. Google+Page, n.d. Web. 2 June 2013.

Elton, G. R. England Under the Tudors. Third ed. London:  Routledge, 1991.

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Foxe, John. The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe: A New and Complete Edition. Ed. Stephen Reed Cattley, M. A., Rev. Vol. V. London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837. Google Books. Web. 4 June 2013.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James (editor). “Henry VIII: Miscellaneous, 1533.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6: 1533 (1882): 449-466; 653-680. British History Online. Web. 02 June 2013.

Hall, Edward, Henry Ellis, and Richard Grafton. Hall’s Chronicle; Containing the History of England, during the Reign of Henry the Fourth, and the Succeeding Monarchs, to the End of the Reign of Henry the Eighth, in Which Are Particularly Described the Manners and Customs of Those Periods. London: Printed for J. Johnson and J. Rivington; T. Payne; WIlkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Cadell and Davies; and J. Mawman, 1809. Internet Archive.org. Web. 2 Jan. 2013.

Hervey, Mary F. S., and Hans D. J. Holbein. Holbein’s ‘Ambassadors’, the Picture and the Men. London: G. Bell & Sons, 1900. Google Books. Web. 13 June 2013.

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.  New

York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.  Print.

Hurren, Elizabeth T., Dr., Senior Lecturer History of Medicine Oxford Brookes University.  “Henry VIII’s Medical World.” Henry VIII’s Medical World. Wellness Trust at Oxford Brookes University, n.d. Web. 7 June 2013.

Ives, Eric.  The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: The Most Happy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Print.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Marcus, Leah S. et al., eds. Elizabeth I: The Collected Works. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

Nichols, Francis Morgan. The Hall of Lawford Hall: Records of an Essex House and of Its Proprietors,. London: Printed for the Author, 1880-1890, and Sold by Ellis and Elvey, 1891. Google Books. Web. 4 June 2013.

Ridgway, Claire.  The Fall of Anne Boleyn:  A Countdown.  UK:  MadeGlobal Publishing, 2012. Print.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Starkey, David.  Elizabeth:  The Struggle for the Throne. New York:  HarperCollins Publishers. 2001. Print

Starkey, David, Dr. “Queen Elizabeth and Her Court.” Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend. Newberry Library, Chicago. 22 Nov. 2003. Lecture.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes. The Life of Queen Elizabeth, London: J.M. Dent &, 1906. Google Books. Web. 3 June 2013.

THECREATIONOFANNEBOLEYN. “Anne and Elizabeth: Consulting the Stars for Elizabeth’s Birth.” Web log post. Semper Eadem. WordPress.com, 28 Aug. 2011. Web. 2 June 2013.

Tytler, Sarah.  Tudor Queens and Princesses.  New York:  Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print.

Warnicke, Retha.  The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1989.  Print.

Weir, Alison.  The Lady in the Tower:  The Fall of Anne Boleyn.  London:  Jonathan Cape, 2009.  Print.

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

Whitelock, Anna.  Mary Tudor:  Princess, Bastard, Queen. New York:  Random House, 2009. Print.

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The Fourth Step-Mother of Elizabeth, Katherine Parr

The Fourth Step-Mother of Elizabeth, Katherine Parr
As discussed in an earlier blog entry, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII passed a law that required all future queens of England to have chaste pasts or be willing to confess any ‘indiscretions.’  Obviously, this eliminated many candidates.  Who would be free from scandal or brave enough to tell Henry if she was not?

Enter Katherine Parr, the daughter of Thomas and Maud Parr.  Maud, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon, was a highly intelligent and well-educated woman.  Queen Catherine placed her in charge of the education of many of the youngsters at Court. Her children, especially Katherine, benefited greatly from the Court tutors and developed a life-long love of learning.  Maud was widowed at the age of 25 and never remarried.  She concentrated her efforts on establishing good matches for her children and protecting her son’s inheritance.  In 1529 when Katherine was 16 or 17, she was married to Edward Borough.  Edward was in his early twenties when he died in 1533.  It is often confused that she married his grandfather, another Edward, perpetuating the myth of her marrying aged widowers. This blogger wonders if the confusion came because she would have resided in a multi-generational household perhaps with the grandfather-in-law as the head.

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The Borough family manor, Gainsborough Old Hall.

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Gainsborough Old Hall

Maud Parr died the year after Katherine was widowed and it left the young woman basically independent.  Katherine arranged her own next marriage to John Neville, Lord Latimer of Snape Castle in Yorkshire, a man in his early forties.  The exact date is unknown but they married in 1534.  Lord Latimer had two children both of whom became very close to their young stepmother, especially the daughter, Margaret.  From the time of her marriage, Katherine had the responsibilities of the household.  Her responsibilities expanded to include the entire estate when Lord Latimer took an active role, on the side of the rebels, in the Pilgrimage of Grace.  As examples of her abilities, Katherine withheld a siege, protected the occupants of the household and managed, with the help of her brother William, to gain a pardon for Latimer.  King Henry did not hold it against Latimer and both Katherine and her husband were welcomed back to Court.

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Snape Castle

It was while at Court, with Latimer ailing and soon dying, that Henry became aware of the thirty-year-old Lady Latimer.  Described as attractive but not pretty, Katherine always dressed impeccably, had the translucent skin that was so praised in Tudor times, auburn colored hair and a dignified bearing.

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Katherine Parr by an unknown artist.  Displayed at Montacute House.

Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor, wrote to the Duke of Norfolk that there was “a woman, in my judgement, for certain virtue, wisdom and gentleness, most meet for his Highness.  And sure I am that his Majesty had never a wife more agreeable to his heart than she is.  The Lord grant them long life and much joy together” (Weir 498).  Praise indeed considering he later tried to have her arrested and executed.

Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to Charles V that Katherine “is graceful and of cheerful countenance; and is praised for her virtue” (Hume 248).  He continued that she was not “so beautiful” and that there was “no hope of issue, seeing that she had none with her two former husbands” (Gairdner XVIII 954).  Charming and amiable, she was pleasant to nobles and servants alike.  Sensible and efficient, a good conversationalist, experienced with step-children, and having aided an ailing spouse, Katherine seemed ideal to become the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

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Miniature of Katherine by Lucas Horenbout, 1544

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Held in the possession of the National Portrait Gallery, this portrait had been mistakenly identified as Lady Jane Grey for many years.  Done in 1545 it is now credited to be Katherine Parr.

Interestingly, she was the only one of Henry’s wives who did not want to become his next bride. Historians believe this for a couple of reasons: she was intelligent enough to see the dangers involved; and she had developed an interest in Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral.  Once Henry proposed, Katherine accepted her fate and became determined to make the best of the situation.  Most commentators now believe she saw her chance to promote a more liberal religious agenda and the betterment of her family.  As was Henry’s custom, his bride’s family advanced along with her elevation.  Katherine’s brother, William Parr, was granted the Earldom of Essex in his own right.  Her sister Ann and brother-in-law Sir William Herbert gained positions at Court as did members of her extended family, the Throckmortons and her step-daughter Margaret Neville.

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William Parr in a sketch by Hans Holbein.

As Queen, Katherine used her influence to encourage the King to bring to Court his children from their respective households.  She felt they should be there, beyond the wedding celebrations, and see their father more.  Henry gave his approval and Katherine wrote them all to come.  Agnes Strickland assures that Katherine, who knew Princess Mary well, was also “acquainted with Elizabeth before she became queen, and greatly admired her wit and manners” (Strickland Volume 4 14).

A letter from 10-year-old Elizabeth survives in which she wrote, flowing with gratitude, to acknowledge what Katherine had done.

“Madame, The affection that you have testified in wishing that I should be suffered to be with you in the Court, and requesting this of the King my father, with so much earnestness, is a proof of your goodness.  
So great a mark of your tenderness for me obliges me to examine myself a little, to see if I can find anything in me that can merit it, but I can find nothing but a great zeal and devotion to the service of your Majesty.  But as that zeal has not been called into action so as to manifest itself, I see well tha tit is only the greatness of soul in your Majesty which makes you do me this honour, and this redoubles my zeal towards your Majesty.  I can assure you also that my conduct will be such that you shall never have cause to complain of hainv done me the honour of calling me to you; at least, I will make it my constant care that I do nothing but with a design to show always my obedience and respect.  I await with  much iimpatience the orders of the King my father for the accomplishment of the happiness for which I sigh, and I remain with much submission, your Majesty’s very dear Elizabeth” (Queen Elizabeth I 21-22).

There is an interesting interlude in the chronology of Elizabeth’s life between the summers of 1543 and 1544.  Most historians (Linda Porter is an exception) believe Elizabeth offended her father in some way and was banished to Ashridge near the Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire border—near Berkhamsted where the Queen held the lordship of the manor. Because Katherine kept in contact with Elizabeth and she sent her other step-daughter, Margaret Neville, to act “as liaison between her step-mother and step-sister” it appears as if the youngster had not offended her (James 172-173).  Elizabeth, obviously, had no ill-feelings as she wrote to Katherine that “Inimical Fourtune …has deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence….”  Elizabeth conveyed to Katherine her belief that she was “not only bound to serve but also to revere you with daughterly love …”(Marcus 5).

Henry was abroad, Katherine was Regent and Elizabeth was persistent.  By petitioning her step-mother to speak to her father, who was on military campaign, Elizabeth was able to end “this my exile” (Marcus 5). Katherine successfully convinced the King to allow Elizabeth to join her at Hampton Court in late July of 1544 cementing her step-daughter’s affection.  Elizabeth seemed secure in Katherine’s affection although she never took it for granted as she wrote “I know that I have your love and that you have not forgotten me for if your grace had not a good opinion of me you would not have offered friendship to me that way” (James 136).

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Fragment of the letter to Katherine from 10-year-old Elizabeth.  Written in Italian.  On line five you can make out the reference to her exile [mio exilio].

The regard Elizabeth had for Katherine was also shown in the New Year’s Day gift that she presented to her in December of 1544.  Elizabeth translated, in italic script, Marguerite of Navarre’s Le Miroir de l’ame pecheresse [The Mirror of a Sinful Soul].  The gift itself was a tribute to her spiritual leanings, her education and her affection.  The dedication was “To our most noble and virtuous Queen Katherine, Elizabeth, her humble daughter, wisheth perpetual felicity and everlasting joy.” In the accompanying letter Elizabeth hoped that Katherine would “rub out, polish, and mend (or else cause to mend) the words (or rather the order of my writing), the which I know in many places to be rude and nothing done as it should be” (Marcus 6-7).  This shows the trust Elizabeth had for Katherine as a loving mentor and the respect she had for Katherine’s intellectual abilities.

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Elizabeth’s translation of The Mirror of the Sinful Soul with a cover of embroidery she worked herself.  Notice Katherine’s initials in the center.

The next year, Elizabeth translated Katherine’s book, Prayers or Meditations, into French, Italian and Latin for her father (James 137).  One would suspect that Elizabeth would not want to upset Henry nor jeopardize Katherine by presenting to him materials that would be contrary to his religious beliefs.
gift
Gift to Henry VIII from Elizabeth.  A translation of the work, Prayers or Meditations, by Katherine Parr in multiple languages and covered in embroidery by Elizabeth. 

When Henry had gone to France in July 1544, he appointed Katherine his Regent. This certainly was an expression of his respect and affection for her.  Lord Chancellor Wriothesley, Archbishop Cranmer, Lord Hertford, Dr. Thomas Thirlby and William Petre were her advisors.  Not a woman to be gainstayed, in September 1544, Katherine, dealing with her Regency Council, let it be known that exasperation had set in and she was “wearied with their continual clamor” (Gairdner XIX 231).

Thomas Wriothesley, despite his earlier praise for Katherine, grew to distrust her as he was concerned about the liberal religious views she held and strong personality.  Early in 1544 Katherine had written in the Tenth Psalm of her text Psalms or Prayers taken out of the Holy Scripture this thought-provoking sentence “I am so vexed that I am utterly weary; help me against them that lie in wait for me” (Parr 318).  This has been tagged as a response to the Catholic attempts to discredit her, led by Wriothesley and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, because of her evangelical leanings.

1stEarlOfSouthampton
Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, Lord Chancellor

The unease of these two men reached a peak in the summer of 1546 and led to their attempt to arrest Katherine.  They convinced Henry that she harbored radical leanings and fueled his irritation of the recent views Katherine had expressed. Wriothesley lined up the arrest warrant, gathered forty yeomen of the guard and descended upon Katherine while she was in the Whitehall gardens with Henry.

Little did Wriothesley know, Katherine had been warned and had hastened to Henry to apologize for seeming to overstep her boundaries.  She assured the King that she had debated him to distract him from the pain in his leg and to take instruction from him on the proper theological discourse, not to lecture him. Katherine supposedly said that she felt it “preposterous for a woman to instruct her lord” (Strickland III 246). Henry was certainly ready to believe her.  Upon the conclusion of Katherine’s assurances, Henry replied, “And is it so, sweetheart?  Then we are perfect friends” (Strickland III 246).

When Wriothesley came to arrest her, Henry gave him a dressing down and sent him off.  Obviously, this was a very close call for Katherine and she never again conveyed any views counter to the Establishment.

One area which Katherine thwarted convention was in her encouragement of Elizabeth’s education.  The resulting life-long influence cannot be undervalued.  For over four years, although they did not live together that entire time, a close bond was formed. This intelligent and capable woman encouraged and loved this exceptional child.  By taking charge of Elizabeth’s education, both book learning and practical application (Elizabeth witnessed Katherine’s Regency), Katherine influenced the reign of her step-daughter.

Elizabeth received an excellent education.  She was educated alongside her brother for many years until it was decided by Katherine to employ a tutor solely for the princess. This would have been an exception rather than the rule in 16th century England although there were many highly educated women of the previous generation:  Anne Boleyn, Mary More and, of course, Katherine Parr.  Katherine’s deep and genuine love of learning makes her so admirable as an interesting, remarkable woman.

Lamentations1
Copy of Katherine’s text, Lamentations of a Sinner, published in 1547 with her signature.
signature

As Maud Parr’s daughter, a woman who had set up a school at Court and bequeathed money in her will for education, Katherine’s taste for learning was formed young and continued throughout her life.  Margaret Neville, her step-daugher, said in the spring of 1545 “I am never able to render to her grace sufficient thanks for the goodly education and tender love and bountiful goodness which I have evermore found in her highness….”  Prince Edward pretty much said the same thing in 1546.  He thanked Katherine for her “tender and loving letters” and for the “encouragement to go forward in such things wherein your grace beareth me on hand that I am already entered” (James 141).  And Elizabeth praised Katherine for her “fervent zeal your Highness hath towards all godly learning” (Wood 178).

The educations of Edward and Elizabeth were certainly guided by Katherine Parr. Many of their tutors were committed Protestants and humanists.  The tutors’ willingness to educate the princess in the exacting disciplines was telling.  With Katherine also in charge of Jane Grey’s education, her patronage and direction helped formulate two of the sharpest minds of the era—both belonging to females.  Of note is a rare difference of opinion between Katherine and her step-daughter.  In early 1548, Elizabeth’s tutor, William Grindal died.  Katherine wanted to replace him with Francis Goldsmith but Elizabeth wanted Roger Ascham, a fellow from St. John’s College in Cambridge who was well-acquainted with Katherine (James 322).  Writing to Edward’s tutor, Sir John Cheke, Ascham expressed his “uneasy at being the cause of disagreement between the queen and her stepdaughter on such an important matter, actually counseled Elizabeth to accept Goldsmith” (Porter 306). It probably did not take much persuasion, as Ascham became the royal tutor.

roger asham                  dowmmnload

Roger Ascham                                            Sir John Cheke

Elizabeth is a product of Katherine Parr.  The future Queen Regina’s education, religious beliefs, and open-mindedness stem from the guidance of her step-mother. Her devotion was reflected in 1582, when Thomas Bentley’s work, The Monument of Matrons, depicted Katherine Parr as one of the virtuous Queens of history (Fraser 405). Elizabeth’s actions of not forgetting the woman who had permitted her to see the possibilities of rule and to establish England as a cultural center, was certainly a tribute.

The relationship of Elizabeth and Katherine cannot be revealed without the discussion of Thomas Seymour.  This blogger does not want to expend too much time on this topic for all its relevance because of its worthiness of an entire entry on its own.  Thomas Seymour, as brother-in-law to King Henry VIII and uncle to the future king, held prominent positions at Court.  He was there during the times that Katherine Parr was and they began a romance before Henry VIII turned his attention to her.  Upon Henry’s death in January of 1547, the sensible Katherine allowed Seymour to talk her into marriage well before the conventional time-frame of mourning was over.  Katherine had married him for love and as a last chance of happiness.

Seymour Thomas
Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral

Little did Katherine know that Seymour had had designs on Elizabeth as a possible wife.  He never quite seemed to relinquish the idea and for her own safety, Elizabeth was removed from her step-mother’s household at Chelsea in 1548 to the care of Anthony Denny and his wife at Cheshunt.  Katherine was pregnant and Seymour could not keep in check his, shall it be said, emotional immaturity and grandiose aspirations.

The story leads to Sudeley Castle where Katherine gave birth to a baby girl, Mary, and died days later of puerperal fever.  She is buried in the chapel in the Castle grounds.

sudeley
Sudeley Castle

burial
Katherine Parr was interred in St. Mary’s Chapel on the grounds of Sudeley under this tomb in the 1800s.

When Elizabeth left Chelsea for her own residence of Cheston, Katherine, according to Gregorio Leti, told her “God has given you great qualities.  Cultivate them always, and labour to improve them, for I believe you are destined by Heaven to be Queen of England” (Strickland 26).

References

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James, ed. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII. Vol. 19. London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1888. Google Books. Web. 4 May 2013..

Haselkorn, Anne M., and Betty Travitsky. The Renaissance Englishwoman in Print: Counterbalancing the Canon. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1990. Google Books. Web. 27 May 2013.

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.  New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.  Print.

Hume, Martin A. Sharp. Chronicle of King Henry the Eighth of England: Being a Contemporary Record of Some of the Principal Events of the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, Written in Spanish by an Unknown Hand ; Translated, with Notes and Introduction, by Martin A. Sharp Hume. London: George Belland Sons, 1889. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

James, Susan. Catherine Parr:  Henry VIII’s Last Love. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing. 2008. Print.

James, Susan.  Kateryn Parr:  The Making of a Queen. Brookfield, USA: Ashgate, 1999. Print.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Loades, David. The Chronicles of the Tudor Queens.  Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2002. Print.

Marcus, Leah S. et al., eds. Elizabeth I: The Collected Works. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

McCaffrey  MacCaffrey, Wallace. Elizabeth I. London: E. Arnold. 1993. Print.

Neale, Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Parr, Katherine, and Janel Mueller. Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence. Chicago, IL [etc.: University of Chicago, 2011. Google Books. Web. 23 May 2013.

Porter, Linda.  Katherine the Queen:  The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr.  London:  McMillian, 2010. Print.

Pryor, Felix.  Elizabeth I, Her Life in Letters.  Berkeley, California: University of           California Press, 2003.  Print.

Queen Elizabeth I, Frank Mumby, and R. S. Rait. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909. Google Books. Web. 9 May 2013.

Ridley Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Somerset Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest. Vol. III. London: Colburn & Co. Publishers, 1851. Google Books. Web. 7 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest. Vol. IV. London: Longmans, Green, 1857. Google Books. Web. 2 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest; with Anecdotes of Their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. Vol. VI. London: Henry Colburn, 1844. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Tytler, Sarah.  Tudor Queens and Princesses.  New York:  Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print.

Weir, Alison. The Children of Henry VII.  New York:  Ballantine Books, 1996. Print

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

Wood, Mary Anne Everett. Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain: From the Commencement of the Twelfth Century to the Close of the Reign of Queen Mary : Edited, Chiefly from the Originals in the State Paper Office, the Tower of London, the British Museum and Other State Archives. Vol. II. London: Henry. Colburn, 1846. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

The Third Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Catherine Howard

The Third Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Catherine Howard

Henry was infatuated with Catherine Howard.  At Oatlands the two were married on July 28 a couple of weeks after Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was dissolved. The King kept it a secret for many days because he wanted to enjoy his bride before Court etiquette interfered.

He showered his young bride with gifts, gowns, jewels, anything she wanted and did any act which would show his affection.  Henry granted Catherine all the lands that had been Queen Jane’s and even had a gold half-crown coin minted to commemorate his marriage to this perfection of womanhood with Henricus VIII, Rutilans rosa sine spina; “Henry VIII, the shining rose without a thorn” (Dye 771).  Henry also granted her political protection by passing through parliament the Queen Consort Act of 1540.  This legislation allowed the Queen to “act as a woman sole, without the consent of the King’s Highness” (Weir 436).  Perhaps Henry felt safe in her devotion as Catherine adopted as her device, Non aultre volontè que le sinne; “No other will than his.”

coinrosaspina2
Gold Crown Coin with Henricus VIII, Rutilans rosa sine spina —the reverse the crown shield of the royal coat of arms.  

Many observers did not think he showed such generosity or affection to his other wives.  The French Ambassador, Charles de Marillac reported in early September that the “King is so amourous of her that he cannot treat her well enough and caresses her more than he did the others”  (Gairdner XVI 5).

The new queen was still a teenager.  Most historians calculate that she was about 15 when 49-year-old Henry married her.  Physically, Charles de Marillac described Catherine as “rather graceful than beautiful, of short stature, etc.” (Gairdner XVI 5).

Catherine howared02        catherine howard3
Miniature by Hans Holbein                 After Hans Holbein

Was Catherine, personality-wise, a “frivolous, empty-headed young girl who cared for little else but dancing and pretty clothes” (Weir 434)?  Was she simply captivating, pleasant and kind-hearted enough to want everyone to be happy?  Perhaps she did let things go to her head and recklessness took center-stage but one could not call her scheming, “lewd, sly, pitiable” (Sitwell 53).  It does appear as if Catherine was charming, sensual and obedient–a great combination for Henry.

Catherine Howard / Elizabeth Seymour
Also attributed to Hans Holbein

Not only was Henry delighted with his new bride, Elizabeth, Catherine’s seven-year-old stepdaughter, was too.  When Catherine was publicly acknowledged by Henry as his queen, “she directed that the princess Elizabeth should be placed opposite to her at table, because she was of her own blood and lineage.”  At all the public engagements which continued to celebrate the marriage, Catherine “gave the lady Elizabeth the place of honour nearest to her own person” because, according to Gregorio Leti, “that she [Elizabeth] was her cousin” (Strickland Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest 15-16).  Elizabeth Boleyn, Anne’s mother, was a sister to Edmund Howard, Catherine’s father (and to Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk), so they were first cousins.  Elizabeth Regina would technically have been Catherine’s first cousin once removed.

thomas howard norfolk
Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk

Catherine did not only favor Elizabeth when they were residing in the same palaces, she made a point for the two of them to meet.  Based on account records from the Master of the Barge, it has been shown that on 5 May 1541 Catherine arranged that Elizabeth would be taken from Suffolk Place to Chelsea where she, Catherine joined her on 6 May (Gairdner XVI 391). 

Besides the attention Catherine showed her youngest step-daughter she also gave her presents of jewelry as shown in November of 1541.  Records show that she gave a jewel “to lady Elizabeth, the King’s daughter, being …of little thing worth.”  Regardless of the value, it was a kind gesture as when Catherine had “23 pairs of beads minutely described, with crosses, pillars, and tassels attached. One is marked as given by the Queen to lady Elizabeth, the King’s daughter” (Gairdner XVI 686).

Catherine Howard’s fall came after John Lascelles revealed to Archbishop Cranmer the Queen’s sexual activity during her years at the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk’s estate. The Dowager was Catherine’s step-grandmother.  Like all children of aristocratic families, Catherine and her eleven siblings, were sent to other households at young ages.  Included in the Norfolk household was Lascelles’ sister, Mary Hall, who knew of the goings on in the maid’s dormitory.  Many of the young women ‘entertained’ men after hours and Catherine was one of them.  She was about 13 at the time and had a physical relationship with Francis Dereham–after earlier being involved with her music teacher, Henry Manox.

Cranmer took the information very seriously.  Political, religious and social motivations were all involved here as Catherine was a conservative and Lascelles and Cranmer were Protestants.  Cranmer began a full investigation which led to allegations of Catherine’s being intimate with Thomas Culpeper, a member of the king’s privy chamber, after her marriage to Henry.

Thomas_Cranmer
Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer

Under interrogation (read that as some type of torture most likely), Culpeper admitted to being in love with Catherine, that she had rebuffed him at first then grew to love him.  Culpeper “persisted in denying his guilt and said it was the Queen who, through lady Rocheford, solicited him to meet her in private in Lincolnshire, when she herself told him that she was dying for his love” (Gairdner XVI 651-652).  The prisoner said that although they spent time alone and in private, they never committed adultery.  This did not matter.  The Council felt there was enough evidence:  Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, Catherine’s Lady-in-Waiting, professed to have helped them arrange their meetings and implied she guessed there was a physical relationship between them (Her cooperation did not save her. Rochford was executed as an accomplice.) and, most importantly, a letter from Catherine found in Culpeper’s belongings.  The letter is reproduced below.

jane parkerboylen
Jane Parker Boleyn, Lady Rochford

Master Coulpeper, I hertely recomend me unto youe praying you to 
sende me worde how that you doo. Yt was showed me that you was
sike, the wyche thynge trobled me very muche tell suche tyme that I
here from you praying you to send me worde how that you do.
For I never longed so muche for [a] thynge as I do to se you and
to speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now, the
wyche dothe comforthe me verie much whan I thynk of ett and
wan I thynke agan that you shall departe from me agayne
ytt makes my harte to dye to thynke what fortune I have
that I cannot be always yn your company. Y[e]t my trust ys
allway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed me
and in that hope I truste upon styll, prayng you than that
you wyll com whan my lade Rochforthe ys here, for then
I shalbe beste at leaysoure to be at your commarendmant.
Thaynkyng you for that you have promysed me to be so
good unto that pore felowe my man, whyche is on of the
grefes that I do felle to departe from hym for than I do
know noone that I dare truste to sende to you and therfor
I pray you take hym to be wyth you that I may sumtym
here from you one thynge. I pray you to gyve me a horse
for my man for I hyd muche a do to gat one and
thefer I pray sende me one by hym and yn so doying I
am as I sade afor, and thus I take my leve of you
trusting to se you s[h]orttele agane and I wode you was
wythe me now that yoo maitte se what pane I take
yn wryte[n]g to you.

Yours as long as
lyffe endures
Katheryn

One thyng I had forgotten and that hys to instruct my man to tare here wyt[h] me still, for he sas wat so mever you bed hym he wel do et and […]

When the King was notified of the accusations by a document left for him in his church pew, his anger knew no bounds.  He supposedly called for a sword to slay her himself as she would never have “such delight in her inconstancy as she would have torture in her death” (Hibbert 23).

Catherine was arrested at Hampton Court and moved shortly afterwards to Syon House.  She was there until February 11, 1542, when she was taken by barge to the Tower of London.  On Sunday the 12th she was told to prepare herself for death.  In a dispatch to his king, Chapuys conveyed that “she asked to have the block brought in to her, that she might know how to place herself; which was done, and she made trial of it.”  On February 1542, Marillac reported, she was beheaded on Tower Green by axe “after the manner of the country. The Queen was so weak that she could hardly speak, but confessed in few words that she had merited a hundred deaths for so offending the King who had so graciously treated her” (Gairdner XVI 44).  Chapuys let Charles V know that Catherine was executed “in the same spot where Anne Boleyn had been executed. Her body was then covered [with a black cloak] and her ladies took it away” (Gairdner XVII 51).

syon remnant gothic
Gothic ornamentation remnant from  Syon

No records survive of Elizabeth’s reactions to the sudden loss of any of her step-mothers.  Elizabeth was too young to be greatly affected by the death of Jane Seymour and her only living step-mother, Anne of Cleves, she still had contact with.  What impact would it have had on Elizabeth?  Could we go as far as Anne Somerset working from the text of Larissa J. Taylor-Smither’s article, “Elizabeth I: A Psychological Profile” to say that the “shock of Catherine Howard’s execution (when Elizabeth was at the impressionable age of eight) would have been more immediate, for even if Elizabeth had not been especially close to her young stepmother, Catherine’s sudden extinction must at the very least have had a powerful effect on her subconscious” (Somerset 96).  With no recorded evidence of Elizabeth’s reaction, nor any evidence of altered personality traits or behavior, this blogger thinks it is best to refrain from any such speculation.  

Henry’s reaction to Catherine’s death was made clear. Shortly after her execution, Chapuys wrote that the King has been in better spirits and during the last three days before Lent there has been much feasting (Gairdner XVII 51).  Henry found himself in an unusual position—that of widower.  Anne Boleyn’s death occurred after he had dissolved their marriage so this was the first time he was widowed.

Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador, reported to his Imperial colleague, Nicolas Granvelle, that Henry “felt the case of the Queen, his wife, and has certainly shown greater sorrow at her loss than at the faults, loss, or divorce of his preceding wives.”  He cites a parable of the widow who cries most bitterly at the death of her tenth husband because she had always been sure of the next.  Chapuys speculates this is the same with Henry as “it does not seem that he has formed any new plan”(Gairdner XVI 653).

nicolas-granvelle
Nicholas Granvelle

Henry, most diplomats and contemporaries assumed, would soon enough be taken up with his matrimonial status.  Charles de Marillac did not mince words to Francis I when he observed “It is not yet said who will be Queen; but the common voice is that this King will not be long without a wife, for the great desire he has to have further issue” (Gairdner XVI 44).  While Eustace Chapuys explained to Charles V that “Parliament prays him to take another wife, he will not, I think, be in a hurry to marry; besides, few, if any, ladies now at Court would aspire to such an honour, for a law has just been passed that should any King henceforth wish to marry a subject, the lady will be bound, on pain of death, to declare if any charges of misconduct can be brought against her, and all who know or suspect anything of the kind against her are bound to reveal it within 20 days, on pain of confiscation of goods and imprisonment for life” (Gairdner XVII 50).

The King was ensuring that his next bride would not put him in a position of uncertainty which would give cause for him to receive any other letters such as the sympathetic, comforting one from his fellow sovereign, Francis I of France.  Francis proclaimed to Henry, concerning Catherine’s behavior, that he “feels the grief of the King, his brother, as his own. Still his good brother should consider that the lightness of women cannot bind the honor of men and that the shame is confined to those who commit the crime” (Gairdner XVI 649).

francisi
King Francis I of France

Even though his matrimonial record was not smooth, King Henry VIII  was not deterred from acquiring another bride. In a relatively short amount of time, he had provided his children with a new step-mother.

References

Denny, Joanna.  Katherine Howard:  A Tudor Conspiracy.  London: Portrait, 2005. Print.

Dye, John S. Dye’s Coin Encyclopædia: A Complete Illustrated History of the Coins of the World. Philadelphia: Bradley & Co., 1883. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: December 1541, 11-20.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16: 1540-1541 (1898): 671-681. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: January 1542, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542 (1900): 1-9. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Hibbert, Christopher.  The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age.  New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1991.  Print.

Hume, Martin. The Wives of Henry the Eighth and the Parts They Played in History. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1905. Google Books, n.d. Web. 06 May 2013.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes. Life of Elizabeth, Queen of England, with Anecdotes of Her Court, from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. New York: Miller, [18-. Internet Archive. Web. 6 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, and Elisabeth Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest; with Anecdotes of Their Courts, Now First Published from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. Vol. 6. London: Henry Colburn, 1844. Google Books. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

The Second Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Anne of Cleves

The Second Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Anne of Cleves

After the death of Jane Seymour, Henry began negotiations with European Royal houses.  Henry was still Catholic in the sense that he did not agree to reforms in the services of worship. In 1539 he had the Act of Six Articles drawn up which kept the traditional church teachings, especially the doctrine of transubstantiation. His advisors such as Cromwell and Cranmer did not relish a Catholic bride and steered Henry toward the Protestant countries and dukedoms.  The Duke of Cleves was a mild Protestant and had two unmarried sisters.  Anne was the ‘lucky’ bride. She was married to Henry in January 1540 and divorced six months later in July.

Cleves henry viii enthronedjpg
Henry VIII illustrated on his Marriage Proclamation to Anne of Cleves, January 5, 1540.

Tradition has passed down that Anne was so disgusting to Henry that he declared after first meeting her that “I like her not”.  Anne gets an unjustified description as ‘The Flanders mare’.  She was not as unattractive (we will not delve into the issue of painting by Hans Hoblein) as Henry’s supporters and biographers make out (for evidence consult the individual biographies referenced below). Their first meeting did not go well and Henry could not overlook her response.  He projected his shortcomings onto her. What had happened was, Henry full of romantic ideas of surprising his bride, entered her presence shortly after her arrival on the shores of England, disguised as a messenger.  Anne spoke few words of English, her ladies in waiting were complete foreigners, and no one advised her about Henry’s preference for masquerades which included coming upon ‘unsuspecting’ Courtiers in disguise. Startled by this muddied, elderly messenger acting very familiarly to her, Anne responded coldly and not with the delighted surprise Henry expected.

cleves holbien
The (in)famous Hans Holbein Painting, 1539

cleves miniture
Miniature attributed to Hans Holbein, 1539

Anne of Cleves
Attributed to Barthel Bruyn, 1540s

Not her features but perhaps the whole package was deemed lacking by Henry—a man captivated by the accomplishments Anne Boleyn learned at the Court of France.  Anne of Cleves, on the other hand, was reared to be a practical companion to a man with position and power, her talents of intelligence and common sense lent themselves to being a successful housewife.  Dancing, playing musical instruments, and speaking in foreign languages would not have been part of her upbringing.  Was she unattractive?  That debate we will leave behind.  This blogger believes Anne was probably attractive but “had no accomplishments whatever” that Henry found so necessary (Strickland 410).

14.236
Ceremonial bedhead created for the marriage of Henry and Anne

According to Gregorio Leti, an Italian historian writing in the late 1600s with access to documents that have since disappeared, Elizabeth wrote to her father about this time asking for permission to meet her new step-mother, Anne of Cleves.

I would like to caution us to accept Leti’s work with a touch of reserve. Mary Anne Everett Wood, a later historian, reminds us “the originals have perished, or are no longer accessible” (Wood 14).  Leti would have translated his sources into his native Italian and the only text available of his work is itself a French translation published in Amsterdam in 1694 titled, La Vie d’Elizabeth, reine d’Angleterre. This work was supposedly suppressed in England by royal authority.  The letter, which has no date or signature, written when Elizabeth would have been a little over six years old is below.

Madame,—I am struggling between two contending wishes—one is my impatient desire to see your Majesty, the other that of rendering the obedience, I owe to the commands of the King my father, which prevent me from leaving my house till he has given me full permission to do so.  But I hope that I shall be able shortly to gratify both these desires.  In the meantime, I entreat your Majesty to permit me to show, by this billet, the zeal with which I devote my respect to you as my queen, and my entire obedience to you as to my mother.  I am too young and feeble to have power to do more than to felicitate you with all my heart in this commencement of your marriage.  I hope that your Majesty will have as much good will for me as I have zeal for your service. (Queen Elizabeth I 21)

Anne showed the letter to the king and he would not let Elizabeth come to court.  Henry “took the letter and gave it to Cromwell” ordering him to write a reply.  “Tell her,” he said brutally, “that she had a mother so different from this woman that she ought not to wish to see her” (Weir 408). Whether or not the story is true, Henry did not withhold permission for long as Elizabeth was eventually brought to Court from Hertford Castle to meet Anne.

Leti reports that “Anne of Cleves, when she saw Elizabeth, was charmed by her beauty, wit and …that she conceived the most tender affection for her. Anne claimed that to have had Elizabeth “for her daughter would have been greater happiness to her than being queen” (Strickland Life of Queen Elizabeth I 15). This sentiment should not be diluted by the fact that Anne was queen for only six months.

When Henry could not evade the wedding, he became determined to divorce Anne as soon as he could. According to Martin Hume, when confronted about a previous marriage (a pre-contract to the Duke of Lorraine has been mentioned in many biographies but no marriage so I take this with a grain of salt) Anne replied, “Please your Majesty, it is true I was espoused to him, but when the Duke spoke to me about marrying your Majesty, he told me my husband was dead, and I know nothing more about it” (Hume 93). Hume continues that Henry, angry at the Duke of Cleves for giving him a married woman, called together his Council for advice on what to do.  The Council recommended a divorce and agreed he should make an allowance for Anne to live on after their marriage was dissolved.  “The lady took it pleasantly enough” (Hume 95).

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Rare document with the signature “Anna the Queen”

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Most signatures are “Anna the Daughter of Cleves”

When the “conditions of her divorce were arranged, she (Anne) requested, as a great favour, that she might be permitted to see her (Elizabeth) sometimes” (Strickland Life of Queen Elizabeth I 15).  Henry agreed as long as Elizabeth addressed her as Lady Anne instead of Queen Anne (Lindsey 156).  Anne’s relationships and status were established by that new title.
Upon her divorce Anne retained a position in the family and Court with the status as the King’s Sister. She gained a sizable income “secured on the Cornish tin mines,” (Hume 95) plus lands and properties granted to her “to the value of £3,000* a year” (Strickland 419). Anne was given Richmond Palace, Hever Castle, Penshurst, Dartford Castle, a London residence, plus other estates such as the land-hold in Lewes.

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Gate at Richmond Palace   

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Hever Castle

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Anne of Cleves House in Lewes, now a museum

Anne experienced considerable freedom and it appears as if she bore the loss of her husband quite cheerfully. She enjoyed her life in England learning to dance and play music, hunting, dressing in fine clothes and having a pleasant relationship with Henry.

Her amiableness is shown in her dedication to Henry in the Book of Hours, Salisbury 1533 “I beseche your grace huble when ye loke on this rember me. Yor graces assured anne the dowther off cleves” (Anne of Cleves).  In the modern translation: “I beseech your grace humbly when you look on this remember me.  Your grace’s assured Anne the daughter of Cleves.”

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Dedication in the Book of Hours in Anne’s handwriting.  She gave this to Henry as a gift.  

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A decorated and illuminated page in the Book of Hours, Salisbury

This daughter of Cleves did have quite a unique status not only in England but in the scene of international politics.  Many could not define if she was free to marry and her brother put out feelers once in a while to consider her return to Cleves or create clarity in her position.  What I found interesting was the diplomatic dispatch, reprinted below, which the French Ambassador, Charles de Marillac, to the English Court sent to his king concerning the inquiry made by the Duke of Cleves after the arrest of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII.

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William, Duke of Cleves

December 16, 1541 Marillac to Francis I 
Told by the ambassador of Cleves that, upon letters of credence from his master, he sought to speak with this King about lady Anne, but as the King’s grief did not permit it he yesterday went before the Council and, after declaring his master’s thanks for the King’s liberality to his sister, prayed them [to find] means to reconcile the marriage and restore her to the estate of queen. They answered, on the King’s behalf, that the lady should be graciously entertained and her estate rather increased than diminished, but the separation had been made for such just cause that he prayed the Duke never to make such a request. The ambassador asking to have this repeated, Winchester, with every appearance of anger, said that the King would never take back the said lady and that what was done was founded upon great reason, whatever the world might allege. The ambassador dared not reply, for fear that they might take occasion to treat her worse; but came to tell Marillac, because his master wrote that they would beg Francis to intercede. Thinks there are two courses open, either to intercede so dexterously as not to show that it is done with authority, and thus frighten the English into a league with the Emperor, or else to say nothing about it.  London, 16 Dec. 1541. (Gairdner XVI 678)

After Henry’s death, the financial situation of Anne of Cleves did change and there was talk of her returning to Cleves.  This, of course, came to nothing as she was at Court for Edward and Mary’s rule.

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St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury.  Anne and Elizabeth spent a great deal of time here. 

Throughout Mary’s reign, Anne and Elizabeth were often seen together. Starting on 30 September 1553 when they rode in a carriage during Queen Mary’s coronation procession.   They were together at the state banquet later too. “The two of them sat together at the end of the table, Elizabeth now heiress-presumptive to the throne, and Anna of Cleves’ precedence moved up to that of the third lady in the land”  (Fraser 409).

Although “Madam of Cleves always paid great honour to Madam Mary” (Hume 92), Anne did create controversy when she joined Elizabeth in not attending the Catholic Mass during the early part of Mary’s reign.  The Queen had words with Anne and she afterwards did attend services (Ridley 47).  Being so close to the same age, one could imagine how Anne and Mary could get along, but it was with Elizabeth that Anne shared the most affection until the day she died, 16 July 1557 at Chelsea Manor.

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Tomb of Anne of Cleves at Westminster Abbey

Anne’s last will and testament was not as bountiful as commentators would have expected.  She did leave some items to her step-daughters.  To Elizabeth she left some jewels with the hope that one of her ladies-in-waiting, Dorothy Curson, could join the younger woman’s household.

Anne’s influence may have extended further than imagined to the unmarried state of Elizabeth.  Somerset implies that witnessing her father’s distaste and rejection of Anne of Cleves and her brother-in-law Philip’s lack of respect and attraction for Mary, Elizabeth did not want to experience the same thing herself.  So as queen Elizabeth supposedly told Count Feria, the Spanish Ambassador, that she had “taken a vow to marry no man whom she has not seen, and will not trust portrait painters” (Somerset 92).

*The equivalent of £3,000 in 1540 would be worth £1,508,000 in 2010 currency of the retail price index. This was calculated using the website, Measuring Worth.com.

References

“Anne of Cleves’s Book of Hours.” -Folger Shakespeare Library. Folger Shakespeare Library, n.d. Web. 8 May 2013.

Elton, G. R. England Under the Tudors. Third ed. London:  Routledge, 1991. Print

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: December 1541, 11-20.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 16: 1540-1541 (1898): 671-681. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Gairdner, James and R. H. Brodie (editors). “Henry VIII: January 1542, 1-10.” Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 17: 1542 (1900): 1-9. British History Online. Web. 12 May 2013.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Norton, Elizabeth.  Anne of Cleves:  Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride.  Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing, 2010. Print.

Queen Elizabeth I, Frank Mumby, and R. S. Rait. The Girlhood of Queen Elizabeth: A Narrative in Contemporary Letters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909. Google Books. Web. 9 May 2013.

Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Saaler, Mary.  Anne of Cleves:  Fourth Wife of Henry VIII.  London:  The Rubicon Press, 1995. Print.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes. Life of Elizabeth, Queen of England, with Anecdotes of Her Court, from Official Records and Other Authentic Documents, Private as Well as Public. New York: Miller, 1903 Internet Archive. Web. 6 May 2013.

Strickland, Agnes, Elisabeth Strickland, and Rosalie Kaufman. The Queens of England, Abridged and Adapted from Strickland’s “Queens of England” Chicago: Werner, 1895. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.

Warnicke, Retha. The Marrying of Anne of Cleves:  Royal Protocol in Tudor England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

Wood, Mary Anne Everett. Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain: From the Commencement of the Twelfth Century to the Close of the Reign of Queen Mary : Edited, Chiefly from the Originals in the State Paper Office, the Tower of London, the British Museum and Other State Archives. Vol. II. London: Henry. Colburn, 1846. Google Books. Web. 12 May 2013.

The First Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Jane Seymour

The First Step-Mother to Elizabeth, Jane Seymour

Bound to obey and serve.  That was the motto selected by Jane when she became queen.  Was it true or did she know that would be what Henry VIII would want?

Jane had been a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn and her persona does not come to us very clearly via contemporary sources.  History has given her to be modest, virtuous, obedient, and accepting. She is seen as solid, pleasant, dignified and calm.  She is most often judged neither good nor bad.  Sadly, perhaps her character is viewed so positively because of the fact that she produced the longed-for heir and died before Henry became tired of her.

It is not the place here to go into details about Jane Seymour, her courtship with Henry and her death.  Nor enter the debate of whether she was spotted by Henry or was selected (fascinating discussion but one not necessary to this blog entry)

Physically we have paintings by Hans Holbein, in her lifetime, and several artists’ work, posthumously, plus the verbal description by the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys who determined that “She is of no great beauty, so fair that one would call her pale.  The said Seymoure is not a woman of great wit, but she may have good understanding” (Lindsey 119).  Historians have given weight to Chapuys’ account since he was not a champion of Anne Boleyn and would have welcomed her fall.

jane holbien to use                   jane unkown

Famous Hans Holbein portrait       Unknown painter

That lack of wit but understanding does lead to the supposition that Jane could figure out how to deal with Henry.  But how could she not be worried about marring a man who had discarded one wife and killed another?  Her understanding had to extend to realizing the possible risk she was taking.

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Jane attributed to The English School

Agnes Strickland does not perpetuate the image of the meek and docile bride as “we have so little that is favorable to relate of this queen” (Strickland 408).  Although Strickland will give Jane credit for being a discrete, beautiful young woman she does wonder if she was as heartless as her bridegroom.  Jane had to know what was happening in the Tower of London to Anne Boleyn while she was planning her marriage to Henry.  “The giddiness of youth cannot be pleaded as apology for Jane Seymour’s indecency, for she was no child when she permitted herself to be courted by the royal Bluebeard, and must have been entirely conscious of the enormity of her actions” (Strickland 403).  Jane’s actions led to her engagement to Henry the day after Anne’s execution and their marriage 10 days later.

We do know that as a step-mother, Jane treated Mary well and granted her special privileges while Elizabeth “was placed out of sight” (Erickson 31). Her motivation for championing Mary could have been kindness or as some believe social snobbery.

She wanted to have someone of her status at Court.  “Now that it hath pleased Your Grace to make me your wife, there are none but my inferiors to make merry withal, Your Grace excepted—unless it would please you that we might enjoy the company of the Lady Mary at court.  I could make merry with her” (Lindsey 132, Hume The Wives of Henry VIII 303).  Although this does not mesh with Polydore Vergil’s view that Jane was “a woman of the utmost charm both in appearance and character,” it is understood that Mary’s situation improved under Jane (Fraser 235). What of Elizabeth?

Martin Hume reported that, after Queen Jane had brought about the reconciliation between Henry and Mary, she fell to her knees and said, “Your Majesty knows how bad Queen Anne was, and it is not fit that her daughter should be Princess.  So the King ordered it to be proclaimed that in future none should dare to call her Princess, but madam Elizabeth” (Hume 72 -73).  This was only done after Henry implied that all the harm that had come to Mary, the humiliations and banishments had been from Anne Boleyn.  “My daughter, she who did you so much harm, and prevented me from seeing you for so long, has paid the penalty” (Hume 72). Therefore, several days after the wedding, The Lord Chancellor made a speech in Parliament about extolling the King’s virtues but ended “with the information that Anne Boleyn’s daughter was not heir to the throne of England” (Strickland 407).  This story appears to come from a Spanish merchant, Antonio de Guaras writing to King Philip II.  Many speculate that this was just wishful thinking on the part of the loyal Spaniard.

Elizabeth was not completely banished from Court. She was brought to Court along with Mary when Henry, faced with rebellion, felt it necessary to show a united front.   This public relations move was reported by Le Cardinal du Bellay Ambassador to the French Court.  He observed that rather than “soften the temper of the people” the peoples’ opinions were so fixed “they think of nothing but liberty. Madam Marie is now the first after the Queen, and sits at table opposite her, a little lower down, after having first given the napkin for washing to the King and Queen.  Madame Isabeau (Elizabeth) is not at that table, though the King is very affectionate to her.  It is said he loves her much” (Gairdner 346).

When Elizabeth was four, Jane gave birth to Edward.  At his baptism at Hampton Court, Mary was a godmother and Elizabeth held the chrisom cloth although she, in turn, was carried by Edward Seymour.  As known, Jane died shortly after the birth due to puerperal fever.  Mary was chief mourner at Jane’s funeral.  Elizabeth did not take part but that was probably due to her age.

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Posthumous rendering of Jane with Edward and Henry

References

Elton, G. R. England Under the Tudors. Third ed. London:  Routledge, 1991. Print

Erickson, Carolly. The First Elizabeth. New York: Summit Books. 1983. Print.

Fraser, Antonia.  The Wives of Henry VIII.  New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. Print.

Gairdner, James, ed. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII. Vol. 11. London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1888. Google Books. Web. 4 May 2013.

Hume, Martin A. Sharp. Chronicle of King Henry the Eighth of England: Being a Contemporary Record of Some of the Principal Events of the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, Written in Spanish by an Unknown Hand ; Translated, with Notes and Introduction, by Martin A. Sharp Hume. London: George Belland Sons, 1889. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

Hume, Martin. The Wives of Henry the Eighth and the Parts They Played in History. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1905. Google Books, n.d. Web. 06 May 2013.

Lindsey, Karen.  Divorced, Beheaded, Survived:  A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.  Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-WESLEY Publishing Company, 1995. Print.

Ridley, Jasper. Elizabeth I: The Shrewdness of Virtue.  New York: Fromm International Publishing Corporation, 1989.  Print.

Perry, Maria.  The Word of a Prince: A Life of Elizabeth from Contemporary Documents.  Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1990.  Print.

Ridgeway, Claire.  The Fall of Anne Boleyn.  UK:  MadeGlobal Publishing, 2012.  Print.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Starkey, David.  Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII.  London:  Chatto & Windus, 2003.  Print.

Strickland, Agnes, Elisabeth Strickland, and Rosalie Kaufman. The Queens of England, Abridged and Adapted from Strickland’s “Queens of England” Chicago: Werner, 1895. Internet Archive. Web. 4 May 2013.

Warnicke, Retha.  The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press. 1998.  Print.

Weir, Alison.  The Six Wives of Henry VIII.  New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print.