Catherine Parr: Facts, Children & Death

Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

Find out who Catherine Parr was, and examine her history and personal life as well as her religious faith and accomplishments. Her marriage to King Henry VIII can also be looked at in some detail.

Background

Catherine Parr was Queen of England from 1543 until 1547. She was the sixth, and last, wife of King Henry VIII. She holds the title of most-married English queen, having had four husbands.

Catherine Parr

Childhood

Catherine was born in 1512. She was born into a well-respected family that produced a lot of knights and notable figures. She was a descendant of King Edward III. Her mother was a close friend of Catherine of Aragon, King Henry III's first wife, who was also her godmother.

Catherine was well educated and fluent in Italian, Latin, French, and Spanish.

Marriages

When Catherine was seventeen, she married her first husband, Sir Edward Borough. He served as a justice of the peace and died in the spring of 1533.

In the summer of 1534, Catherine married her second husband, John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer. Latimer was influential in politics and there were questions on whether he was a conspirator against the state. In winter, 1542, Latimer fell into poor health and Catherine took care of him until his death in 1543.

After Latimer's death, Catherine established a friendship with her godmother's daughter, Lady Mary, and in this way became known to the King. She had already begun a romantic relationship with Sir Thomas Seymour, who would later become her fourth husband, but she felt it was her duty to accept the king's proposal over Seymour's.

Catherine married her third husband, King Henry VIII, in July 1543. She became the first Queen of England also to be the Queen of Ireland.

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Six months after King Henry VIII died, she married her fourth husband Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. She became pregnant at the age of 35 - her first pregnancy of her four marriages. She gave birth to her only child, Mary Seymour, in August 1548. She died shortly after. In the modern era, it has been reflected that she probably died from complications of childbirth.

Accomplishments

Catherine was involved in the education of the King's children, and while the King was on a military mission in France from July to September 1544, she was appointed Regent, which was a temporary acting head of state in a monarchy.

She had a significant influence in the King's passing of the Third Succession Act, and in 1543 this restored the King's daughters Mary and Elizabeth to the succession line for the throne.

Catherine became the first English queen that was published under own name with her book Prayers or Meditations. After the King's death, she published her second book, The Lamentations of a Sinner.

Religious Faith

While Catherine was born Catholic, there were suspicious concerns about her faith throughout her tenure as Queen. It was thought that she was too sympathetic to the Protestants, and this view was widely regarded especially after publication of her books. In 1546, several individuals in the king's court tried to turn the king against her for heresy. A warrant was created for her arrest. She was able to deflect this by saying she had merely argued with the King about religion to distract him from his health issues. She reconciled with the King.

Art and Film

Catherine has been depicted in many different movies. She has also been the subject of at least four novels and television shows.

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