10 Fun Facts About Katherine Parr

Katherine Parr attributed to the painter Master John

Katherine Parr attributed to the painter Master John

Katherine Parr was Henry VIII’s sixth and last wife. She’s the one that “survived” as opposed to the five others who were divorced, beheaded, or died.  Her reputation in history is usually as the nursemaid to an ageing tyrant, but she was so much cooler than she gets props for.  Here are 10 fun facts you might not have known about the woman called Katherine Parr:

  1. Katherine was probably named after Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.  Ironically there were similarities in both queenship of the two women and their approach to their mutual husband.  They were also both appointed regent in Henry’s absence when he was fighting in France.  Katherine Parr’s mother was a lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon who kindly agreed to be Katherine’s godmother.
  2. Katherine had 4 husbands in total.  The first three she didn’t really have a say in, the last one was her choice.
  3. Katherine finally married the love of her life, Thomas Seymour, only 3 months after the death of her third husband Henry VIII, much to the scandal of the court of her stepson King Edward VI.
  4. Katherine was a published author.  She published her first book anonymously in 1544 titled Psalms or Prayers.  She became the first English queen to publish under her own name her second  book Prayers or Meditations.  Her third book was published after Henry VIII’s death and was titled Lamentations of a Sinner.
  5. Katherine had great relationships with her stepchildren Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward VI. She was disappointed not to be appointed a role in her stepson Edward VI’s government considering their closeness and Katherine’s ability which she demonstrated acting as regent in Henry’s absence.
  6. Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) may have modeled her queenship after Katherine’s style.  At the very least, Katherine was a good role model for Elizabeth as a strong female at the heart of the Tudor court.
  7. Following Henry VIII’s death, and Katherine’s secret marriage to Thomas Seymour, Katherine got into a dispute with her brother-in-law’s wife, the Duchess of Somerset.  The Duchess believed in the absence of any queen at court,  that as the most senior she should get the privilege of wearing the queen’s jewels and not the disgraced Dowager Queen.  Katherine felt that she should still be entitled to wear the jewels.  Katherine never got “her” jewels back.

    Joely Richardson and Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Katherine Parr and Henry VIII in The Tudors

    Joely Richardson and Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Katherine Parr and Henry VIII in The Tudors

  8. Katherine lived out the last 3 months of her life expecting the birth of her child at Sudeley Castle, in Gloucestershire.
  9. Katherine died six days after giving birth to her daughter Mary.  Lady Jane Grey was the principle mourner at Katherine’s funeral, an important role for the young and impressionable future nine day queen.
  10. Katherine’s husband Thomas was beheaded for treason a year after her death.  Their daughter Mary became an orphan and went into the care of Katherine’s friend the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk however Mary disappeared from public record (and presumably died) around two years old.
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