9 August 1548: Princess Mary to Dowager Queen Katherine

A portrait of Queen Mary I hangs in the Queen’s chambers at Sudeley Castle where Queen Katherine gave birth to her daughter, the Lady Mary Seymour ©www.facebook.com/Queen.Catherine.Parr

Madam,

Although I have troubled your Highness lately with sundry letters, yet that not-withstanding, seeing my lord Marquess (who hath taken the pains to come to me at this present) intends to see your grace shortly, I could not be satisfied without writing to the same, and especially because I purpose tomorrow (with the help of God) to begin my journey towards Norfolk, where I shall be further from your grace. Which journey I have intended since Whitsuntide, but the lack of health hath stayed me all the while. Which, although it be as yet unstable, nevertheless I am enforced to remove for a time, hoping with God’s grace to return again about Michaelmas. At which time, or shortly after, I trust to hear good success of your grace’s great belly;[see below for explanation of such a phrase] and, in the meantime, shall desire much to hear of your health, which I pray almighty God continue and increase to His pleasure, as much as your own heart can desire. And thus with my most humble commendations to your highness, I take my leave of the same, desiring your grace to take the pain to make my commendations to my Lord Admiral. From Beaulieu the ninth of August.

Your highness’s humble and assured loving daughter,

Mary

Mary_Tudor

 

 

 

* “your great belly“: a variation of the typical close of a letter written by Mary to her father, assuring him that she prayed for his health and that, for example, God would shortly send his queen (whether her own mother or a successor) “a prince” or “issue,” “which shall be gladder tidings to me that I can express in writing.” (Bodleian, Smith MS 47, fols. 2a, 5a, 6a, 8a, 22, 28, 30, transcribed by Hearne, Sylloge Epistolarum, 124-5, 128, 129, 130, 142, 148, 149.)

Source:

  • Katherine Parr. Complete Works and Correspondence, editor Janel Mueller, University of Chicago Press, Jun 30, 2011. pg 174-5.

Original source:

  • Thomas Hearne, Sylloge Epistolarum, a variis Angliae principilus scriptarum (A Collection of Letters Written by Various Royal Persons of England), appended to his Titi Livii Foro-Juliensis Vita Henrici Quinti, regis Angliae (Oxford, 1716), 151-2, referencing “small volume 47, fol. 33” in the collection of Thomas Smith of Magdalen College, Oxford. John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials of the Reign of Edward VI (London, 1721), bk 1, chap. 5 also prints the letter with an erroneous source reference: “Cotton MS Otho, C.X”; this BI, manuscript  compendium does not contain Mary’s letter. Janel Mueller transcribed from Hearne and note Strype’s two minor variants.
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16 February 1547: The Funeral of King Henry VIII

Queen Katherine Parr painted most likely as a young widow, posthumously.

After the news of King Henry’s death became public, the now Dowager Queen Katherine for the third time in her life donned widow’s weeds and mourning jewels. She wore buttons of gold enamelled black. She wore a gold ring with a death’s head. The death’s head of Christian lamentation on her finger, the queen secluded herself while she mourned and prepared for the funeral of the now dead king. Vast amounts of black cloth had been ordered for mourning clothes for the Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth as well as the queen’s ladies and Henry’s household.
 For ten days the king’s embalmed body lay in the privy chamber in a huge chest lit by tapers. On 8 February, an official announcement was made that the King had indeed died. The bells through out the kingdom rang and prayers and Requiem masses were said for the king’s soul.

Funeral procession of Henry V; just an image to show how Henry VIII’s probably went, only grander of course!

On 14 February 1547, a great procession of 1,000 horsemen and hundreds of followers formed around a larger then life hearse made for the king. It was seven stories high, adorned with carefully crafted effigy of the monarch. The procession moved from Westminster down to Windsor stopping at night at the new “Lord Protector’s” home in Syon for the night. The road itself had to be repaved and trees had to be cut out of the way in order to bear the weight and size of the King’s hearse.
The funeral cortege arrived at Windsor in the afternoon of the 15th of February. The main Requiem and service would be held the next day.

An edited drawing of Queen Katherine.

Dressed in blue velvet lined with purple with a ring of gold with a death head, the queen watched the proceedings from her private Chapel above the choir, the Queen’s Closet, in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. It was the final act of a drama that had begun for Katherine over four years ago. Katherine watched as Henry was interred with his “most beloved” wife, the mother of the new king, Edward VI, Queen Jane Seymour. Ironically, it was Bishop Gardiner who officiated at the Requiem Mass. After all that Henry had done to break from Rome and the fact that he died holding Archbishop Cranmer’s hand; Henry wanted to have the familiar Latin Mass of the old religion to ensure the good of his soul. Katherine surely must have been upset with the situation seeing how much she disliked Gardiner and the form of ceremony. No doubt, with a disbelief of Purgatory notwithstanding, she said at least one prayer for her husband’s soul. The fact that she had been excluded from the Regency council was probably playing in her mind along with other thoughts which were not accounted for. One of them might have been towards her long lost love, Sir Thomas Seymour, who Katherine would now be free to marry.

The King left Katherine a generous lifestyle. He doted her as his “entirely beloved wife” and left her quite comfortably.

“The Queen shall have’, he commanded,  ‘3,000 in plate, jewels and stuff, beside what she shall please to take of what she has already, and further receive in money 1,000 besides the enjoyment of her jointures.’ She was always to be served and waited on as befitted a queen, with a large household (well over one hundred people) and all her dower properties which included her manors at Hanworth and Chelsea. She was still to exercise patronage, continue writing, live a life of privilege and comfort. Katherine would remain till her death the Dowager Queen of England and was the first lady of the Realm followed by Lady Mary, Lady Elizabeth, and Lady Anne of Cleves.

That this rule was followed and upheld becomes a completely different blog and issue entirely after Katherine’s marriage to Sir Thomas Seymour, younger brother of the Lord Protector and uncle to King Edward VI.

 Sources:
  1. Susan James. Catherine Parr: The Last Love of Henry VIII, History Press, Gloucestershire, 2009. pg 259-
  2. Linda Porter. Katherine, the Queen, Macmillan, US Edition, December 2010. pg 275-76.

Katherine Parr’s Letter to Lord Seymour: February 1547

The actual letter from Katherine to Seymour as shown at Sudeley Castle, February 1547.

The actual letter from Katherine to Seymour as shown at Sudeley Castle, c. February 1547.

THE DOWAGER QUEEN TO THE LORD ADMIRAL
my lord j send yow my moost humble and harty comendations beyng desyrous to knowe how ye haue done syns j sawe yow. I pray yow be not offended with me in that j send soner to yow than I sayd I wold. for my promys was but such one ones in fourtened how be yt the tyme ys well abrevyated by what meanes I knowe not except the weakes be schorter at chelsey than in other places my lord, your brother hathe dyffered answer consernyng suche requestes as I made to hym tyll hys comyng hether wyche he sayth schalbe immediatly after the terme thys ys not hys fyrst promys I haue receyued of hys comyng and yett vnperfourmed I thynke my lady hath tawght hym that lesson for yt ys her coustome to promys many comynges to her frendes and to perfourme none I trust in greatter matters sche ys more cyrcumspect. And thus my lord I make an ende byddyng yow moost hartely farewell wyschyng yow the good I wold my self. from chelsey
[postscript] I wold not haue yow to thynke that thys myne onest God Wyll towarde yow to procede of any sodayne motyon or passyon for as truly as god ys god my mynd was fully bent the other tyme I was at lybertye to marye yow [which clearly shows she was at the time free to marry again] before any man I knewe howbeyt god withsode my wyll theryn moost vehemently for atyme and through hys grace and goodnes made that possible wyche semeth to me moost vnpossible that was made me to renownce utterly myne one wyll, and to folowe hys wyll most wyllyngly yt wer to long to wryte [all] the processe of thys mater yf I lyue I trust schall declare yt to yow my self I can [say] nothyng but as my lady of suffolke saith god ys amervelous man.
by her that ys yowrs to serue and obey duryng her lyf,
Kateryn the Quene KP
Actual letter written in the queen's hand at Sudeley Castle, c. February 1547.

by her that ys yowrs to serue and obey duryng her lyf,
Kateryn the Quene KP

*transcription from “Katherine Parr: Complete Works & Correspondences” compiled by Janel Mueller
My Lord I send you my most humble and hearty commendations, being desirous know how ye have done since I saw you. I pray you be not offended with me in that I send sooner to you than I said I would. For my promise was but such one once in a fortnight. Howbeit the time is well abbreviated: by what means I know not, except the weeks be shorter at Chelsea than in other places. My Lord your brother hath deferred answer concerning such requests as I made to him till his coming hither, which he saith shall immediately after the term. This is not his first promise I have received of his coming, and yet unperformed. I think my Lady hath taught him that lesson, for it is her custom to promise many comings to her friends, and to perform none. I trust in greater matters she is more circumspect. And thus, my Lord, I make an end, bidding you most heartily farewell, wishing you the good I would myself. From Chelsea.
[Addition to body of letter]
I would not have you to think that this mine honest goodwill towards you to proceed of any sudden motion or passion. For as truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent the other time I was at liberty to marry you before any man I knew. Howbeit, God withstood my will therein most vehemently for a time and, through His grace and goodness, made that possible which seemeth to me most unpossible–that was, made me to renounce utterly mine own will, and to follow His will most willingly. It were too long to write all the process of this matter. If I live, I shall declare it to you myself. I can say nothing but, as my Lady of Suffolk saith, “God is a marvelous man.”
By her that is yours to serve and obey during her life,
Kateryn, the quene, KP
Signature of Katherine Parr
This letter was written as Dowager Queen according to Janel Mueller’s compilation of Katherine Parr’s works. The letters started in mid-February of 1547, AFTER the death of King Henry VIII. This particular letter was written in mid-February 1547 and is featured at Sudeley Castle.A recent publication in a British newspaper put forth letters discovered between Queen Catherine and Lord Seymour. The paper was unsure as to when letters were exchanged between the two. The letters, which reveal a different side of the queen, are compiled and preserved in the 2011 compilation “Katherine Parr: Complete Works & Correspondences” by Janel Mueller. According to Mueller, the letters started mid-February, 1547, AFTER the death of King Henry. As Dowager Queen, Katherine was free to express her true feelings towards Seymour. Her feelings about herself as a woman were also revealed within her book “Lamentations of a Sinner” which was published after Henry’s death.

Source:

  • Katherine Parr (Author), Janel Mueller (Editor). Katherine Parr: Complete Works & Correspondences, University of Chicago Press, Jun 30, 2011. pg 129-31.
© Meg McGath
23 May 2012