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.