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"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 appeared in only the last five episodes of Season 4. However, she still distinguished herself as a particularly prominent character, for not only was the duration of her reign as Queen second only to Catherine of Aragon, but she was also one of the only two of Henry's wives who outlived him instead of suffering tragic fates.

She was portrayed by the English actress, Joely Richardson.

Season 4 Edit

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Catherine Parr's relationship with Thomas Seymour

Catherine was first introduced in the series as a wealthy, respected noblewoman whose second husband was dying. She caught Henry's eye not long after his fifth Queen, Katherine Howard, was beheaded, and he invited her to spend time with him and his daughters when she came to court, during which he found her company to be truly pleasant.

However, at this point in Henry's life, his reputation had caught up with him in the international community. Hence, numerous Kings had declined to give him their blessings to marry their daughters or female relations out of fear that they would end up either disgraced or executed. Catherine not only harboured similar concerns, but was also shown to be in a clandestine relationship with Thomas Seymour.

Catherine therefore refused Henry's implied proposal to become his Queen once her severely-ill husband dies, but later came to believe that God wished for her to marry the King - Henry had deliberately sent Thomas Seymour away to assume a role in foreign diplomacy.

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Catherine Parr at her second husband's funeral

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Catherine's wedding to Henry

As soon as her husband died, Henry proposed again, and she agreed this time - they were married at the start of Episode 4.07. This makes her the only one of Henry's wives (besides Catherine of Aragon) to have been married before she wed the King.  

Despite the obvious fact that their marriage was not one of true romance, Catherine's relationship with Henry was still one of mutual respect and affection - she proved to be a loving stepmother to his three children, and even persuaded him to allow her to invite Elizabeth and Edward to court more often. She also helped to care for Henry tirelessly, especially as he aged and his health increasingly deteriorated due to his leg ulcer. Henry, on his part, returned her diligent efforts with genuine gratitude and her tenderness with silent yet genuine affection. In fact, his confidence in her was what made him appoint her Regent while he was at war with France, much to the dismay of some of his more authoritarian, pro-Catholic advisors, such as Bishop Gardiner and Thomas Wriothesley.  

Catherine's relationships with her three stepchildren was also a particularly notable feature: she pitied Edward, who, unlike his older half-sisters, had been brought up suffocated by his titles and future responsibilities, and was unable to develop his own personality because his father shut him away from the world so often. Hence, though she was prohibited from inviting him to court whenever she pleased, Catherine made the most of the times where they were allowed to be together - treating him with an appropriate blend of respect and tenderness that, while doing justice to his royal status, still took into account the fact that he was a growing child in need of true parental affection. In fact, it was she who later decided the time where his curls were to be cut, and he should start wearing breeches.  
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Princess Mary (left) and Queen Catherine Parr (right)

Catherine also initially had an amiable relationship with Mary, whom she already knew long before she married Henry. However, there was a difference between her and her older stepdaughter that later created a chasm in their relationship - Catherine held secret Lutheran Protestant  

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Catherine discusses Protestantism with her sister Anne

beliefs, which she concealed from Mary, for she knew that Mary was a devout Catholic who held no compromises in terms of religion. When Mary herself increasingly picked up on Catherine's Protestant beliefs (which she firmly regarded as heresy and dangerous to her younger siblings), she withdrew her favour from her stepmother and privately supported Bishop Gardiner's attempts to charge with her with heresy. While Catherine showed Mary no hostility over her involvement in the investigation, and actually respected her for her devotion to the faith her mother raised her in, their relationship still became distant, though Mary still accepted Catherine's comforting her when Henry bid them all farewell.  

On the other hand, Catherine was shown to always share an intimate familial relationship with Elizabeth, whom she seemed closest to out of Henry's children. In fact, it was Catherine who persuaded Henry to let Elizabeth have permanent lodgings at court, and she later encouraged this stepdaughter to look towards Lutheranism, both because she herself is Lutheran, and because she felt an obligation to raise Elizabeth in the faith of her deceased mother, Anne Boleyn, just as Mary was by her mother. 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.  

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Queen Catherine Parr (right) and her reluctant ally Anna Stanhope (left)

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Catherine discusses Protestantism with her sister Anne

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.
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Catherine greets Henry on his return from the battlefield

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. 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. 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.

BackstoryEdit

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.

Personality Edit

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.

QuotesEdit

  • "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."

GalleryEdit

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