At last, the saga comes to an end, and we finally get our answer to the question, “Will Henry VIII ever stop marrying new women?” The answer, of course, is “Only when he’s dead.”
For the concluding chapter, let’s chat with Henry’s final wife, Catherine Parr:
Catherine Parr – pleasure to meet your acquaintance. I was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal, making me a direct descendant of King Edward III of England. My mother had been a close friend and attendant of Queen Catherine of Aragon, who was my godmother and my namesake! Growing up, I had a passion for learning – I became fluent in French, Latin, Italian, and later, Spanish. C’est vrai! Suus verum! E ‘vero! Es cierto!
My first husband, Sir Edward Borough, passed away in the spring of 1533, leaving me a young widow, and it wouldn’t be the only time… My next husband was John Neville, the 3rd Baron Latimer, who was twice my age when we married in 1534. He had two children – Margaret and John – whom I considered my own. When I became King Henry’s wife, I brought Margaret to court as my lady-in-waiting and secured a position for John’s wife in my household. In 1542, my husband’s health declined, and I was widowed again, though this time left with considerable wealth and guardianship of my stepdaughter.
Royal Gold Chemise:
I became restless managing my late husband’s affairs and decided to use my mother’s friendship with Catherine of Aragon to initiate a friendship with her daughter, Lady Mary. Soon, Mary brought me into her household, which is how I first caught notice from the King. At the time, I was attached to another man, Sir Thomas Seymour, and expected to marry him. However, when the King proposed, I felt it my duty to accept and step into the role of Queen consort.
The Majestic Beauty Gown:
After Henry and I married in July 1543, I set about reconciling him with his daughters, seeking to establish the royal household as strong and united. Eventually, Henry passed the Third Succession Act, bringing Mary and Elizabeth back into the line of succession for the throne. How pleased I was! During my time as Queen, Henry even trusted me to act as Regent while he led the war in France. When Henry died, I became Elizabeth’s guardian and continued to oversee her education.
Not long after losing my third husband, Thomas Seymour returned to court and pursued my hand. We knew our union would be frowned upon, but still, we secretly wed. When the public found out, it caused a scandal, and sadly, an estrangement between myself and Henry’s children. I became pregnant for the first time at age 35 with my daughter, Mary. Only six days later, I died of puerperal fever, an affliction common after childbirth in those days. More than anything, I am proud to say I remained loyal to my roles as a citizen, mother, and Queen until my dying day.
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