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Catherine Parr

Born: 1512 at Kendal Castle, Westmorland
Lady Latimer
Queen of England
Died: 5th September 1548 at Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Catherine Parr, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII, was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green. Her father was Controller of the Household of King Henry at the beginning of his reign. Catherine and her brother, William, afterwards Marquis of Northampton, received an excellent education and she became one of the most learned ladies of the age. She was twice married before her Royal wedding: the first time to Sir Edward Borough, who died in 1529, and the second time to John Neville, Lord Latimer, who died in 1543. Being sought in a third marriage by Sir Thomas Seymour, the brother of the late Queen Jane, she was about to accept his hand when Henry intervened and married her himself in July 1543.

Catherine was an excellent woman, already inclined towards the reformed doctrines and successfully interceded for many so-called 'heretics,' who would otherwise have suffered death. She also induced Henry to restore, to Royal rank, the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth whose legitimacy his remarkable matrimonial arrangements had left in doubt. Henry named Catherine as Regent when he designed an expedition to France in 1544. Her main functions, in the last two years of her husbandís reign, were those of his nurse as he suffered agonies of pain from an ulcer in his leg. There is a famous story told in Foxe's Book of Martyrs to the effect that the Catholic party had planned her ruin and were actually about to arrest her as a heretic when Henry intervened and saved her life.

After Henry's death, Catherine took, as her fourth husband, her old lover, Thomas Seymour, now Lord Seymour of Sudeley: a scoundrel of the worst type who ill-treated and perhaps poisoned her, for he had designs to marry the Princess Elizabeth. She died in child-birth at Sudeley Castle, in Gloucestershire, in 1548.

Edited from Emery Walker's "Historical Portraits" (1909).

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