When we talk about the wives of Henry the VIII, there is a very famous rhyme.” Divorced, Beheaded, Died: Divorced Beheaded Survived”.
All the queens that Henry VIII married before sooner or later they had faced their destiny. But there was one queen who had survived the danger of either being divorced or getting killed.
She played a greater role in convincing Henry VIII in introducing the Third Succession Act, in which Mary and Elizabeth both got the right to succession. She was the first British woman to publish a book in her name.
Catherine Parr’s Past.
In 1512 a daughter was born to Sir Thomas Parr and his wife Maud. Thomas Parr was lord of the manor in Kendal in Westmorland and Catherine’s mother was a lady in waiting of the Queen of England Catherine of Aragon.
Parr’s were the descendants of King Edward III. When Catherine was only 5 her father died. Thomas Parr left behind his wife and three children. Her mother did not remarry instead she devoted her life to raising their children and took care of the estate of her husband.
Catherine grew up in the household of her uncle William Parr. She was well versed in Latin and French.
At the age of 16, she was married a young man Edward Burgh. After his death, she remarried Lord Neville 3rd baron of Latimer who was twice her age. After his death, Catherine was once again widowed.
She had a love affair with Thomas Seymour, brother of King Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour. After King had executed Catherine Howard on the charge of adultery, he demanded the hand of Catherine Parr. Even though she loved Thomas Seymour she opted to marry the ailing King Henry VIII. She believed if she was destined to become Queen Of England. It means there must have some purpose attached to it. Ironically she was right.
Catherine Parr as Queen
When Parr married Henry he was old, his mood grew darker as days had passed by. To be his wife either meant two things a) You will be executed b) You will be divorced or your head will cut off.
Despite the risk, she graciously accepted the proposal. She was very kind and accepted stepchildren as her children. They were too fond of her.
Henry VIII had three children Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. Each from the first three wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.
To cut long story short King was looking for a male heir so he was disappointed with his first two wives who failed to give him a son. He got his son from his third wife Jane Seymour and the boy was declared as future King of England.
While the first marriage being annulled and the second Queen being executed both princesses were declared bastard which would stop them from accessing the throne.
Catherine Parr had convinced King to officially accept Mary and Elizabeth as their children and heir. She was the mind behind the crafting of the Third Succession Act where Mary and Elizabeth both got the right to accession to the throne.
Catherine was highly educated she was well versed in many languages like French, Latin etc. She was the first Queen to publish the work of prose in her name.
Her first book was Prayers or Meditation and her second book was Lamentation.
When King went to France she was given the role of regent if King dies in the expedition she will rule England until Edward reaches the age of maturity. However, King never named Catherine as regent in his will so she never had any position in the government.
After King’s death, Catherine became the guardian of Elizabeth. She married the man of her dreams whom she had loved the most Thomas Seymour. But driven by the ambition he was flirting and manipulating the teenage Elizabeth. This behaviour of Thomas had made her sad. She died a week after a girl child was born to Thomas Seymour. Lastly, he was also devastated by the sudden death of Catherine Parr.
Though she lived her life for others. But when it was her turn to get the happiness she was ridiculed by fate. The first three husbands died and she never had conceived from them. The person whom she loved the most had betrayed her for the ambition to get a position in the royal court.