Katherine Parr: Vellutello’s Edition of Petrarch Works

Katherine Parr’s copy of Vellutello’s edition of Petrarch’s works (1544).

Katherine Parr: Vellutello’s Edition of Petrarch Works © The British Library Board

Thanks to the British Library, in this photo we can see the BEAUTIFUL purple velvet and detail of Katherine’s personal copy of Vellutello’s Edition of Petrarch Words. Most photos on the net show the book as a bluish green back round.

This volume of Petrarch’s works, with an exposition by Alessandro Vellutello, was first published in Venice. The book is bound in purple velvet and embroidered with gold and silver thread and coloured silks. The coat of arms topped with the royal crown may have been embroidered by Katherine. The book appears to have been bound after the death of Henry VIII (in January 1547) and before Katherine’s marriage to Sir Thomas Seymour (in May of the same year). Had it been bound whilst Henry was still alive, it would be expected that the supporters (the creatures flanking the coat of arms) would be the lion and the greyhound. As there is no reference to Seymour, it seems it was made sometime in the short space of Katherine’s widowhood.

Vellutello's edition of Petrarch's works. Close up of arms.
Vellutello’s edition of Petrarch’s works. Close up of arms.
The British Library site states that the coat of arms are that of Katherine Parr, but my recent review of the coat of arms reveals perhaps that it is the arms of Katherine’s brother, Sir William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton and Earl of Essex. The coat of arms and quartertings are the same for the most part when compared to his stall plates from Windsor Chapel that were taken down and broken during the reign of Mary I and are now featured in the British Museum in London.
Garter stall plate of William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, 1552. The plate was in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, among other Garter plates, but upon the ascension of Queen Mary, Parr was stripped of his titles. His stall plate was taken down and broken apart.
Garter stall plate of William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, 1552. The plate was in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, among other Garter plates, but upon the ascension of Queen Mary, Parr was stripped of his titles. His stall plate was taken down and broken apart.

It was subsequently owned by the Fitzhugh family (whose emblem of the creature breathing flames and gorged with a coronet, is depicted on the left). The creature on the right – a wyvern argent also gorged with a coronet – belongs to the Parr family.

The book went on public display in 2009 for the Henry VIII: Man and Monarch exhibit at the British Library. The event was to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession.

Copy of Il Petrarcha con l’espositione d’A. Vellutello; con le figure a i triomphi et con piu cose utili in varii luoghi aggiunte (1544) owned by Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife. British Library, C.27.e.19.
Shelfmark: c27e19
Held By: BL [British Library]
Country: England
Period: 16c
Cover Material: Velvet
Decorative Technique: Embroidered
Style: Armorial
Edges: Gilt and gauffered
BookBinder Owner: Parr, Katharine, Queen Consort of Henry VIII (1512-1548)
Author: Petrarch
Title: aIl Petrarcha con l:espositione d:A. Vellutello
Place of Publication: Venice.
Date of Publication: 1544.
Notes: Rebacked by BM/BL bindery. Edges gilt, gauffered and painted in red. Arms of Queen Katherine Parr of England.



Author: tudorqueen6

Meg McGath is the author behind the articles on tudorqueen6; she has been studying the history and genealogy of the Parr family since 2007. Now, a decade later, she is still writing about her favorite Tudor queen, Kateryn Parr. Meg studied Women's Studies with an emphasis on English Women's History at the University of Maryland. One of her goals is to end the myth that Kateryn Parr was nothing more than a nursemaid to the aging King Henry VIII. "It simply isn't true, she did so much more for the Royal Family and her country," says Meg. And, of course, to educate Tudor enthusiasts on the prestigious lineage and connections of the Parr family. "Kateryn was related to everyone at court by blood or marriage. She was a descendant of the Beaufort line of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, and Katherine Swynford. She shared this line with two of her husbands, Lord Latimer and the King," Meg states. A book is always her end game with Parr, but Meg has yet to put all the information together and send it to a publisher. "I've been told by many, including Professors, that I am a good writer..." says Meg. "The book, would focus on the generations before the Queen and how the Parr family became courtiers and relatives of The Crown." Meg has also done extensive research on the massive jewels and tiara collection of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty's collection was built starting with Queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenberg, wife of King George III, and grandmother of Queen Victoria. Meg is now putting together a separate blog that coincides with her Tudor Wiki contributions which started in 2007.

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