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Katherine Parr: Why the Queen is implicated with Seymour and His misconduct with the Lady Elizabeth

From Rebecca Larson’s article at TudorDynasty: Why Queen Elizabeth I Never Married

“Elizabeth also experienced an improper male relationship while she was living with her step-mother Katherine Parr and her new husband Thomas Seymour. Thomas would flirt with Elizabeth in an improper fashion – and to thwart him from continuing these escapades Katherine would participate (to keep a watchful eye) by holding down young Elizabeth while Thomas tickled her. Inevitably, Katherine found them alone in an embrace and she immediately put a stop to this behavior. She was after all Elizabeth’s guardian. Katherine was also pregnant with Thomas’ child at the time. She sent young Elizabeth away to her own household.”

Insert MY frustration and anger here…

These articles never research the info on Katherine Parr! They always throw Katherine Parr under the bus without even questioning where the info came from and from whom. 

First off, “young Elizabeth?” Elizabeth during her stay with Seymour and Parr was of age. If her father had cared for her and his country–Elizabeth would have been wed earlier. As the daughter of a King, Elizabeth was seen as a commodity and a political pawn in these times. Her paternal great-grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was pregnant by twelve and gave birth at thirteen. It wasn’t uncommon for women to be wed by the age of twelve. So to call Elizabeth “young” is a modern day concept based on how we live today. 

Stewart Granger as Thomas Seymour and Jean Simmons as Lady Elizabeth in “Young Bess” (1953)

“There are many witnesses, who under pressure, have testified to this shameless love affair. A love affair of which even Queen Katherine accused you on her death bed.” — Edward, Duke of Somerset

“You’re lying! She knew me, she loved me, she was my friend.” — Lady Elizabeth

“But you were not hers.” — Edward, Duke of Somerset (“Young Bess” 1953)

The testimony and the statements accusing Parr of joining in Seymour’s antics came from Kat Ashley (Elizabeth’s governess) who was threatened to be tortured until she spoke up about Seymour and Parr. 

Katherine Parr had been dead for several months by the time Ashley was arrested and put in the Tower. Ashley knew that women were no longer spared from torture (i.e Anne Askew). The interrogators of Ashley were trying to implicate and charge Seymour after he had tried to marry Elizabeth again and kidnap Edward. Everyone had tired of his lunatic moves to take some power. 

When Elizabeth was staying with the couple, they were seated at Chelsea Manor–in what is now known as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Manor was situated on the Thames and was close to several important establishments used by the Lord Protector and his council. At the time Ashley claims Parr was involved in Seymour’s damaging antics. Parr had a HUGE household with a lot of staff on watch. If Parr had participated in these acts, why did no one else contribute, with the SAME story? Ashley was the only one to speak of Parr is such a demeanour. 

We also have evidence that Ashley encouraged Elizabeth to play along with Seymour. Ashley told Elizabeth that she would be lucky to have such a man. This was ALL done while Seymour was still married to Parr. Evidence also states that Ashley was jealous and had a crush on Seymour — so the weight of her testimony … Is basically worth a grain of salt. Parr never had any inappropriate relations with her stepchildren recorded as described by Ashley. Parr had stepchildren from 1534 until her death in September of 1548. If she was not trustworthy, her second husband never would have left his daughter in Parr’s care. Also, King Henry never would have left Parr in control of everything while he was in France if he believed her to be a bad influence and what not. Her Regency during this time in her reign, could have become a permanent status if Henry had died in France–The behaviour fits Seymour, but not Parr.  

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About tudorqueen6 (136 Articles)
I have been studying the genealogy and the history of the Parr family since 2007. I studied Women's Studies with an emphasis on English Women's History at the University of Maryland. My goal is to educate those who love Tudor History and to push aside the never ending myth that Queen Katherine Parr was nothing more than a nursemaid to King Henry VIII. I am planning on writing a book specifically on the family genealogy and relations which made Queen Katherine an important woman in her own right -- even before her own birth.

5 Comments on Katherine Parr: Why the Queen is implicated with Seymour and His misconduct with the Lady Elizabeth

  1. Well put. It frustrates me how people quickly go into conspiracy mode and I was guilty of that myself before I became informed about this topic. I read fiction and short history books and thought I knew everything there was to know until I got to middle high and I realized that a lot of the accusations leveled against them (because let’s face it, as you stated here, Catherine Parr gets thrown into the mix) are just ludicrous. I still think that Thomas Seymour was a man who wanted to rise too high, too fast and his impatience and poor planning contributed to his downfall. That being said, Kat Ashley was also looking to rekindle his previous interest for Elizabeth.

    As far as Elizabeth goes, can we really fault her for saying such things about Thomas, or rather writing them down in her prayer book when she was looking to protect her reputation? A woman’s reputation was everything back then, even now in some countries where there is still a theocracy. If she admitted to possibly having entertained a crush on the late Baron of Sudeley, what would have happened to the poor kid? They would have blamed her for and accused her of being a seductress just as they had once accused her mother. This whole experience made Elizabeth more cautious. In the future, she used her words like a shield and was cautious with whom she was with, or with whom she trusted (if she ever trusted someone).

    I wouldn’t agree that Kat had a crush on Seymour but like Thomas Seymour, she was probably and ambitious hag (there, I’ve said it!) who thought she could do something good for her mistress’ position, if Kathryn Parr were to die in childbirth, and given his ambition and Edward Seymour’s unpopularity, the two could make a stronger alliance with others to bring him down. The fact that Kat Ashley’s husband chastised her BIG time after she was interrogated, says a lot!

    • Thomas Seymour lived his life as the younger brother of Edward. Edward ALWAYS had the upper hand, the higher title, the wife who gave him sons, the trust of the King, etc. Seymour was a special guy because of that very situation he was born in to. I pity the fool sometimes. Thomas was not unlike any other Tudor man, we just don’t have that part of history explained or thrown in our face like we do these “sensational stories”. Any man who dared to rise high in Henry’s court was struck down and usually executed! The only survivors really were the Duke of Suffolk, Brandon, who had issue by Henry’s favorite sister, Mary and the Seymour brothers because they were uncle to Prince Edward. I think Henry overlooked a lot of misbehavior of the Seymour brothers simply because of that fact.

      Elizabeth’s situation was not typical. In any other Kingdom, she would have been married by age twelve–probably to a foreigner to keep an alliance thriving. Because of the reputation of her mother, Elizabeth was shunned and kept away from court. She never received a formal court upbringing like her elder half-sister, Lady Mary (daughter of wife no 1, Katherine of Aragon). At the age of two, Elizabeth was basically disowned. Her father wanted nothing to do with her for years! When she was FINALLY brought back to court on a full time basis, it was under Queen Katherine Parr. She missed everything her other siblings had attained by having a court upbringing. Elizabeth also missed out on relationships and how to behave as a Lady at court. Her sheltered life made her more susceptible to the dangers at court and the ways of Tudor men. Lady Mary even tried to talk to Elizabeth about these things and as usual, Elizabeth refused to listen. Mary even tried to get Elizabeth to come live with her instead of with the Queen and Seymour. Mary knew Seymour and knew what he was capable of. He even tried to wed Mary as well. Elizabeth was a product of her environment–and if anyone is to blame–it would be that of her father who basically ignored her well being and that of finding a suitable marriage for her (as well as her sister Mary).

      Kat Ashley was definitely a fan of Seymour’s proposal to Elizabeth. Why? I have no idea. The thought of Elizabeth and Seymour marrying only put Seymour in line to someday maybe reign over England. For Elizabeth, she gained nothing–unless she was looking for love. And by looking at the rest of her life…Elizabeth sacrificed her chance of ever finding love to protect her kingdom from any man who might try to rule over her. Her life was one of misfortune. And in this case, I do blame the parents. Nature vs Nurture? It’s obvious now.

  2. The end of Henry’s life was sheltered from his wife and children. They were not allowed to see him. There are several theories that Katherine was left Regent but that Somerset seized power and influence over the men in the Regency council. I never said Henry was a sane or good source. I didn’t put my sources down–which I probably should have. I’ve just known the facts for so long. The main source used for Kat (Elizabeth’s governess) was Letters and Papers of Edward VI I believe. I believe Elizabeth’s testimony is recorded as well. Thanks for your opinions.

  3. Reblogged this on tudors & other histories and commented:
    Great and insightful article that dispels common myths about the whole Seymour/Bess/Parr fiasco.

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