And so we come to the wife who famously survived, Catherine Parr, reincarnated in Wife After Wife as wise, intelligent Clare Barr
The ‘Melton Constable’ or ‘Hastings’ portrait of Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr’s marble tomb, at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, where
she died of ‘childbed fever’ in 1548
- Catherine was a sharp contrast to her flighty predecessor, the tragic Catherine Howard. Catherine (Parr – gosh, it must have been confusing, all those Catherines, Annes, Thomases …) was seriously intelligent. She was fluent in French, Latin and Italian, and was the first woman in England to have a book published under her own name in the English language. (Prayers and Meditations, 1545)
- Although Catherine famously survived, it was touch and go for a moment there. Her Protestant reformist views were quite radical for the time, and anti-Protestant officials tried to turn Henry against her. It went as far as an arrest warrant, but thankfully Henry and Catherine made it up.
Henry was Catherine’s third husband, and she had fourth (Thomas Seymour, brother of Henry’s third wife Jane) after his death. She is England’s most-married queen.
Catherine’s family was from Cumbria, my favourite part of the world. This gave me the perfect excuse to have Clare take Harry Rose up to the Lake District and to write all about fell-walking and Wordsworth.
While married to Henry, Catherine was close to his three children, and influenced Henry in his drawing up of the succession.
Catherine and Henry were married for four years. She outlived Henry by only a year, dying soon after having Thomas Seymour’s child.
So sensible, so intelligent, so wise. Two books published. So I was delighted to discover, when I was researching her, that Catherine had a thing for black satin lingerie.