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Catherine Parr (1512)

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Catherine Parr ; 1512 – 5 September 1548) was Queen consort of England and Ireland and the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. She married Henry VIII on 12 July 1543. She was the fourth commoner Henry had taken as his consort, and outlived him. She was also the most-married English queen, as she had a total of four husbands.

Catherine enjoyed a close relationship with Henry's three children and was personally involved in the education of Elizabeth and Edward, both of whom became English monarchs. She was influential in Henry's passing of the Third Succession Act in 1543 that restored both Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth to the line of succession to the throne.

Catherine was appointed Regent from July to September 1544 while Henry was on a military campaign in France and in case he lost his life, she was to rule as Regent until Edward came of age. However he did not give her any function in government in his will. On account of Catherine's Protestant sympathies, she provoked the enmity of powerful Catholic officials who sought to turn the King against her; a warrant for her arrest was drawn up in 1546; however, she and the King were soon reconciled. Her book Prayers or Meditations became the first book published by an English queen under her own name. She assumed the role of Elizabeth's guardian following the King's death; and another book, The Lamentations of a Sinner, was published.

Six months after Henry's death, she married her fourth and final husband, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. The marriage proved to be short-lived as she died in September 1548, probably of complications resulting from childbirth.

  Biography  

 early life
Catherine was the oldest surviving child of Sir Thomas Parr, Lord of the Manor of Kendal in Westmorland , descendant of King Edward III, and the former Maud Green (1492 –1531), daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Green, Lord of Greens Norton, Northamptonshire. The Parrs were a substantial northern knightly family. She had a younger brother, William, later 1st Marquess of Northampton, and a sister, Anne, later Countess of Pembroke. Sir Thomas was Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Master of the Wards, and Comptroller to King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas Parr was also a close companion of King Henry VIII. Her mother, Lady Parr, was a close friend and attendant of Queen Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was presumably named after Queen Catherine, who was also her godmother.

Like the family of King Henry's second wife, the Boleyns, the Parr family had gone up in the world as a result of royal favor and successful marriages. Her father's ancestry was more distinguished than that of Thomas Boleyn and John Seymour and Catherine's lineage, unlike that of Henry's wife, Anne Boleyn, was better and more established at Court. Though not of the aristocracy at the time, the Parrs were in the service of the royal family, in the household of Catherine's ancestor, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. Their marriage alliance with the Ros family enhanced their standing. Catherine's grandfather, William, was part of King Edward IV's court. William held the office of comptroller of the household from 1471 to 1475 and again in 1481 till Edward's death in 1483. William was held in high favour with the King and was one of only two courtiers to become Knight of the Garter in the second reign of Edward IV. Sir William Parr could claim royal descent through King John of England, King William "the Lion" of Scotland, the Brus family from which came Robert de Brus, King of the Scots, and more. Sir William's wife, Lady Elizabeth, was the daughter of Henry, 5th Lord FitzHugh and Lady Alice Neville. Alice was sister to "Warwick, the Kingmaker". Lady Alice's family, the Neville's, were already established at court being descendants of John of Gaunt's illegitimate daughter Lady Joan Beaufort and her second husband, Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland. Catherine Parr was the only wife of Henry VIII to descend from the Beaufort family. This connection made Catherine a fourth cousin through Henry's father and a second cousin once removed through his mother. Through Catherine's mother, Maud, she was also related to Henry by her ancestress Joan Wydville , sister of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, father of King Edward IV consort, Elizabeth Woodville. When the Duke of Gloucester became King in 1483, as Richard III, both Elizabeth and her mother Alice were appointed ladies-in-waiting to Alice's niece, queen consort Lady Anne Neville. The profession would span five generations down to Catherine's sister, Anne, who would serve all six of King Henry VIII's wives.

It was first thought that Catherine Parr was born at Kendal Castle in Westmorland, England. However, at the time of her birth, Kendal Castle was already in bad condition, and by 1572 it would be derelict. At the time of Maud Parr's pregnancy, she was at court attending the Queen, and by necessity the Parr family was living in their home at Blackfriars, London. Historians consider it unlikely that Catherine's father, Sir Thomas, would take his pregnant wife on an arduous two week journey north over execrable roads to give birth in a crumbling castle in which neither of them seemed to spend much time. Her father died when she was young and she was close to her mother as she grew up.

Catherine's initial education was similar to other well-born women, but she developed a passion for learning which would continue throughout her life. She was fluent in French, Latin, and Italian and began learning Spanish when she was Queen. According to David Starkey, Catherine was most likely better educated overall than Anne Boleyn. As a child, Catherine could not tolerate sewing and often ironically said to her mother "my hands are ordained to touch crowns and scepters, not spindles and needles".

Until recently, many sources stated that Catherine married the elderly Edward Burgh, 2nd Baron Burgh in 1529, at the age of seventeen. However since the release of Antonia Fraser The Wives of Henry VIII in 1994, and David Starkey's 2004 book on the six wives, Catherine's first husband has been identified as Sir Edward Borough. Some blame for this mistake could be attributed to 19th century historian Agnes Strickland's book on the wives of King Henry VIII. Research of documents (including Maud Parr's Will) conducted by Susan James and Linda Porter for their biographies on Catherine confirm that she married the 2nd Baron's grandson, also called Edward. Sir Edward Borough was the eldest son of the 2nd Baron's eldest son, Sir Thomas Borough, who would become the 1st Baron Burgh in December 1529 after his father was declared insane. In her will, dated May 1529, Maud Parr says she is 'indebted to Sir Thomas Borough, knight, for the marriage of my daughter'. At the time of his son's marriage, Thomas was thirty-five which would have made Edward around Catherine's age. Edward was in his twenties and may have been in poor health. He served as a feoffee for Thomas Kiddell and as a justice of the peace. His father, Sir Thomas, Anne Boleyn's chamberlain, also secured a joint patent in survivorship with his son for the office of steward of the manor of the soke of Kirton in Lindsey. The younger Sir Edward Borough died in the spring of 1533, never fulfilling the title of Lord Borough.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Парр, Екатерина", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.