Sunday, 12 July 2015
12 July 1543: Henry VIII Marries Katherine Parr
On 12 July 1543 at Hampton Court Palace, King Henry VIII of England married for the sixth and final time. His bride was thirty-one year old Katherine Parr, the eldest daughter of Thomas and Maud Parr. Unlike Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour or Katherine Howard, Katherine Parr had not spent time in royal service, although both her siblings had operated in court circles for a number of years. Known as the most married queen of England, Katherine was marrying for the third time.
Although she was not rated for her beauty, Katherine's intelligence, charisma, and deep-rooted passion for the Protestant religion were to become well known at court. She reigned until January 1547, when her mercurial husband died aged fifty-five. Katherine was not the dull, dowdy figure of Victorian historiography. She was not only a devout Protestant but an author, a literary patron, a lover of fashion and a patron of the arts. She enjoyed warm relationships with her three stepchildren and was particularly influential on her stepdaughter Elizabeth.
I recently wrote an article exploring whether Katherine Parr could be said to have espoused feminist ideas in her written works. Of course, it is anachronistic to interpret these opinions as feminist, but Katherine certainly believed with some conviction that women, as well as men, could play indispensable roles in advancing the Protestant faith. You can read the article here.