The marriage of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour
"I would not have you think that this mine honest goodwill towards you to proceed of any sudden motion of passion; for, as truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent, the other time I was at liberty, to marry you before any man I know."by Author
Katherine had taken wardship of the Princess Elizabeth, her step-daughter, on Henry's death. With Elizabeth living in the same house as her now step-father his access to Elizabeth went unchecked and his advances only grew in frequency and audacity. His alarming behaviour toward his 17 year old ward was inappropriate and dangerous and yet Katherine seems to have allowed it to continue, even at some points joining in with tickling Elizabeth in bed or, in a very bizarre and disturbing incident, holding Elizabeth whilst Thomas cut up her dress!
Katherine fell pregnant with her first child in 1548. She was 36, incredibly old for a first pregnancy in Tudor England. Her tolerance to her husband's behaviour toward her young step-daughter finally broke and she arranged for Elizabeth to live with Sir Anthony Denny and his wife. Katherine and Thomas moved to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, to await the birth of their first child.
On 30th August 1548 Katherine gave birth to a daughter called Mary. Celebrations were short-lived. She contracted puerperal fever and died on 5th September. During her illness she chastised Thomas for not allowing her physician to visit her after the birth. The insinuation being that he had somehow brought about her illness, or at least not done enough to stop it. She was buried in the chapel at Sudeley Castle and where you can still visit her tomb today.
Thomas outlived his wife by only 6 months. He was beheaded on Tower Hill for treason after a failed attempt to remove his own brother Edward Seymour, Lord Protector of Edward VI's minority, and his government from power. He is buried in St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London. All traces of their daughter, Mary, disappear within two years of her birth and her tale is a mystery.
I can't help but see these final years of Katherine's life as a tragedy. She finally married the man she loved but he brought her nothing but pain and anguish with some even suspecting he had a hand in her death.Philippa
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Sources and Further Reading
Six Wives: The Queen's of Henry VIII by David Starkey. Published by Vintage. Also available as an audio book.
Elizabeth by David Starkey. Harper Audio.