"As long as His Majesty is sick, I will move my bed to his chambers, the better to look after him." - Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr is the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII, and appears in season 4. At this point in Henry's life his reputation has caught up with him in the international community. Multiple kings have declined to give Henry their blessing to marry their daughters or other women in their family out of fear that these girls will end up disgraced and disposed of (or have their heads cut off). Catherine shares similar concerns, and is reluctant to marry when Henry courts her. However, she relents, privately feeling God has told her to marry the king. She outlived Henry and remarried, giving birth to a child by her next husband Thomas Seymour. Strangely, she contracted puerperal fever after childbirth and died, the very same thing that killed Henry's third wife (and her sister-in-law) Jane Seymour. A kind, intelligent woman, Catherine nonetheless made powerful enemies at court due to her support of the Protestant Reformation (like her predecessor Anne Boleyn) but she escaped their wrath due to Henry's affection for her.
Catherine Parr was Henry's sixth Queen Consort, and the only one who served temporarily as Queen Regent. She does not appear prior to season 4, and her marriage to Henry is shown onscreen to be very short, as she was Henry's wife in his much later years- although, in fact, her reign as Queen was longer than any of Henry's wives except Catherine of Aragon. Catherine Parr's marriage to Henry was preceded by his marriages to Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. She was also one of two of Henry's wives who were not ill-fated and did not die during their marriages to the King. Catherine Parr is portrayed by English actress Joely Richardson, and appears in the last five episodes of Season 4.
Season 4 EditCatherine catches Henry's eye not long after his fifth Queen, Katherine Howard, is beheaded; she is a wealthy, respected noblewoman, previously widowed, whose second husband is now dying. However, Catherine has no initial desire to marry Henry, fearing him by reputation and the fate of his first, second, fourth and fifth Queens. She is also shown to have a clandestine relationship with someone else-Thomas Seymour, the deceased Jane Seymour's brother. Henry invites Catherine to spend time with him and his daughters when she comes to court, and finds her company very pleasant. After an implied proposal from Henry to become his Queen once her severely ill husband dies, Catherine hesitantly refuses but later believes God wishes for her to marry the King- Henry has deliberately sent Thomas Seymour away to assume a role in foreign diplomacy. Catherine is the only one of Henry's wives (besides Catherine of Aragon, very briefly) to have been married before she wed the King.
As soon as her husband, Lord Latymer, dies, Henry proposes again. Eventually Catherine agrees and she and the King are betrothed and shortly after, married at the start of episode 4.07. Surprisingly, Henry appoints her regent while he is commanding the Royal Army in France, much to the dismay of some of his more authoritarian, pro-Catholic advisors such as Bishop Gardiner and Thomas Wriothesley (though Charles Brandon has no objection to her).
Catherine, despite not having a true romantic relationship with the King, proves to be a loving stepmother to his children and helps care for him tirelessly, especially as he ages and is increasingly inflamed by his ulcered leg. Henry, while disapproving of her religious attitude, is genuinely grateful for her diligent efforts, and shows quiet but genuine affection towards her. Henry's confidence in her is what makes him appoint her Regent while he is at war in France, and what causes him to disband Bishop Gardiner's attempts to charge her with heresy. She pities Prince Edward, who unlike his older half-sisters has been brought up suffocated by his titles and future responsibilities, and unable to develop his own personality because Henry shuts him away from the world so often, paranoid about Edward's health.
Catherine, along with her sister Anne, secretly holds Lutheran Protestant beliefs (unlike her previous husband, who was a Northern Catholic briefly involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace) and was likely influenced by her uncle, Archbishop Cranmer. She hides her Protestant faith from Mary, because she knows that Mary is a fundamentalist Catholic. However, she nonetheless respects Mary for holding so truly to the faith her mother raised her in, and they initially have a good relationship.
On the other hand, Catherine encourages Elizabeth (whom she seems closest to of Henry's children) to look towards Lutheranism, both because she herself is Lutheran and because she feels an obligation to raise Elizabeth in the faith of her deceased mother, Anne Boleyn, just as Mary was by her mother Catherine of Aragon. Interestingly, this was not the case with Edward VI, who contributed greatly to the Protestant Reformation during his short reign, although his mother Jane Seymour had been Catholic. Catherine's brief attempts to push Henry towards further Reformation however, make him dangerously hostile, and Catherine immediately falls into line and instructs her ladies not to openly discuss matters of Protestantism any further, outwardly conforming to the Church of England.
Near the end of Season 4, Catherine is briefly attacked by Catholic fundamentalists of the Church of England for supposed heresy (which, in their eyes, is true, since she is secretly a true Lutheran like Anne Boleyn and Cromwell) although Henry, despite saying he will allow an investigation, claims he is fully resolved to spare her life. Mary privately supports this investigation; despite her previous friendship with Catherine, she increasingly picks up on the Queen's Protestant beliefs, which she firmly regards as heresy and dangerous to her younger siblings. When Bishop Gardiner sends the King's Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley, with a warrant for Catherine's arrest, she is horrified. However, Henry simply allowed the arrest warrant to be delivered so he would have an excuse to remove Gardiner, whose fanaticism he finds disruptive and irritating. Henry furiously insults and berates the startled Wriothesley in front of the equally-confused Catherine, then has Gardiner permanently banished from court. While Catherine shows Mary no hostility over her involvement in the investigation, their relationship becomes very distant near the end of Season 4. When Henry bids his family a loving farewell in the series finale- as he intends to separate from them before his death- Catherine holds Mary and Elizabeth's hands and weeps with Mary, having grown to care for Henry, if not to love him romantically. Henry's final promise to Catherine is that she may remarry to whomever she chooses after he dies, and shall receive a yearly pension of 7,000 pounds.
After Henry's death, Catherine's continuing story is not shown onscreen, however it is known that she remarried to Thomas Seymour after an appropriate period of grieving for Henry. She continued to have Princess Elizabeth live in her household as her ward, but later sent her to a different house because she caught Thomas flirting with Elizabeth repeatedly. Although loved by her former stepson King Edward VI (who was now also her nephew by marriage), Catherine became at odds with her brother-in-law and the Lord Protector Edward Seymour and his wife, Anna Stanhope. Catherine later gave birth to a daughter by Thomas, but died weeks later of puerperal fever, the same thing that caused the death of Henry's third wife Jane Seymour. After her death, Thomas- ever ambitious- attempted to court Elizabeth and manipulate the King to usurp his brother. He was eventually found breaking into the King's appartments, found guilty of treason and executed. It is not known exactly what happened toThomas and Catherine's daughter, Mary Seymour, but she is thought to have died at a young age.
Catherine Parr ruled as queen regent from July to September 1544. She was queen consort from 12 July 1543 to 28 January 1547, a three-and-a-half year marriage to Henry. Her reign as Queen was the second longest after Catherine of Aragon (though only a few months longer than Anne Boleyn's) although, as with Anne of Cleves, she did not have a real relationship with Henry before they were married.
Physical Appearance Edit
In The Tudors, Catherine Parr is portrayed as an attractive woman with long blonde hair and blue eyes, and though she was not truly youthful, she carried herself with unpretentious dignity and genuine grace. She wore the standard crowns, jewellery, and gowns of the English Queens.
However, Catherine's true appearance still remains a mystery, but it seems to be a confirmed fact that only women of either remarkable conventional beauty or strikingly exotic charm would have caught Henry's eye. The true Catherine Parr was thought to stand about 5"10, and portraits depict her as having hair that is auburn or deep brown in colour, contradicting the blonde Catherine shown in the series.
Catherine was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green. In 1517, during her mother's pregnancy, Catherine's father Thomas died. Maud, who was then 22, was left alone to raise her children. She was a good friend to Queen Catherine of Aragon, Henry's first wife. In 1529, Catherine Parr, 17, married Sir Edward Borough. After Edward's death, Catherine wed again in 1534 to John Neville, her blood relative. Neville was forty-two at the time of his and Catherine's marriage. After Neville's death, which had been shortly before the spring of 1543, King Henry asked for Catherine's hand in marriage. Declining, Catherine answered: "It were better to be your mistress than your wife. Eventually, Catherine was convinced God wished the marriage, and put aside her feelings for Jane Seymour's brother Thomas Seymour. The marriage took place on July 12, a public ceremony. From then on, Catherine and Henry's marriage began.
Catherine was a compassionate, kind-hearted, and gentle-natured woman who loved all three of her stepchildren as if they had been her own, and did everything in her power to make their lives better. In fact, it was because of her efforts that her stepchildren were able to - for a time - lead the life of a true united family (living together at court), and become more intimate with their father. Hence, she was the one stepmother that was truly beloved by all three of Henry's children, though her relationship with Mary became somewhat strained later on due to their differences in opinions over religion.
Because of her good nature, her intelligence, her gracious manner, and of course her genuinely affectionate care for her stepchildren and husband, Catherine proved to be a relatively popular Queen. However, some of Henry's courtiers - especially conservative clergymen like Bishop Gardiner - were suspicious and resentful of her.
Catherine was also an extremely religious woman: despite her fears stemming from the knowledge of what had happened to Henry's previous wives as well as her true passionate love for Thomas Seymour, she ultimately sacrificed her private feelings to do God's supposed will and marry the King. However, Catherine's religious passion had a negative aspect: it caused her to occasionally loathe herself, and in turn led her to list her sins in a journal.
Another notable trait of Catherine would be her realism. Though she was a highly intelligent Reformist, she was clever and realistic enough to refuse to challenge Henry on his policies or display her faith (similar to Jane Seymour), because she recognized that it was dangerous, especially when she recalled the fates of more outspoken Lutherans like Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, Anne Askew and Mr. Fish.
Though she did not love Henry as she did Thomas Seymour, and it was evident how she genuinely cared more for her stepchildren than she ever did for him, Catherine still loved Henry in her own way - whenever he was ill, she always insisted on nursing him personally, and did so gently, faithfully, and without any complaints. When Henry bid her and his children farewell, and revealed as to how he had already made provisions that assured her of a rich and comfortable life even after he had died, the usually dignified and gracious Catherine openly broke down - a testament of sorts that she did have a true affection of sorts for him in her way, though it was not romantic love. Hence, it could be said that Catherine was a woman of noble character and remarkable inner beauty, especially given how she always tried to be guided by her conscience and make the very best she could out of whatever situation she was in.
- "You would not like to be Queen of England?"- Thomas Seymour. "NO! For heaven's sake, you know what happens to his queens, everyone knows what happens! Oh, Thomas, I...I'm afraid."- Catherine Parr.
- "Do you suppose that it is a bad thing that everyone in England should be able to read the Bible for themselves?" Season 4, episode 7.
- "Should I play the coward?"
- Catherine Parr:"Come here, young lady, and let me hug you.(to Princess Elizabeth) I expect great things of you, and I know I shall not be dissapointed." Elizabeth Tudor: "I hope not." Catherine Parr: "Now, off to bed, sweet girl."
- (to her sister, Anne Parr) "Anne, you know I never wanted to be the Queen- but, since I am, I may as well use what influence I have to further the cause I believe in... the cause of the Reformation."
- Catherine Parr: "Lady Ashley, a moment... I believe that I can trust you; I think that your family are reformers?" Lady Ashley, Elizabeth's governess: "Yes, madam." Catherine Parr: "Lady Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, was also a Lutheran and a reformer... I suppose it is my duty, therefore, to bring the daughter up in the mother's faith. Would you have any objection to that, Mistress Ashley?" Lady Ashley: "None, your Majesty. I should be proud to help the Princess thus honor the memory of her mother, whose life and whose faith too many so easily disparrage." Catherine Parr: "Good. Then, I will appoint as her tutor Roger Asham; he is also one of us. You may go... Oh, and Mistress Ashley- this conversation never happened (Lady Ashley nods). Good night." Lady Ashley: "Good night, your Majesty."