The Hampton Court Pedigrees: The Six Wives of Henry VIII

All of King Henry’s wives had one thing in common, they all descended from Edward I; some by his first wife Eleanor of Castile or by his second, Marguerite of France; and in some cases both! In Hampton Court Palace in King Henry VIII’s apartment there are six stained glassed windows showing his wives pedigrees from King Edward I. As some were descended multiple times or by both wives the more prominent ancestry was featured.

henry_viii

From Atonia Fraser’s The Wives of Henry VIII, pg 363:

The following genealogy should be seen as a reflection of the narrowness of aristocratic society in a world of small population, rather than as some unconscious desire [that King Henry VIII might have] to commit forms of incest as has been suggested. The wives of Henry VIII were not “closely” related or to King Henry himself. The exception would be of the first cousins Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard; Henry’s 2nd and 5th wife whom shared the same grandfather, Sir Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk by his 1st wife Elizabeth Tilney (herself the daughter of Elizabeth Cheney by her first husband Sir Philip Tilney. Elizabeth married secondly Sir John Say. Her daughter Anne would become grandmother to Queen consort Jane Seymour, thus making Queen Anne, Queen Jane, and Queen Catherine Howard second cousins).

In actuality, King Henry was closely related to two of his wives; Katherine of Aragon and his last wife, Katherine Parr. All three shared common ancestry and the ancestor Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. Thus, Katherine of Aragon was a 3rd cousin, once removed and 4th cousin (by Lancaster’s first two wives). Katherine’s lineage made her more eligible to the throne of England than her father-in-law, Henry VII. The lineage from both Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon gave their daughter, Princess Mary, the stronghold that she would have needed to be Queen Regnant from birth. Her claim to the throne was undeniable, yet Henry VIII threw away her chances–when he declared Mary illegitimate and moved on to wife no. 2, Anne Boleyn.

Parr, however, had multiple links via her father and mother. Queen Katherine Parr and Henry VIII’s closest relations: 3rd cousins via Lady Maud Parr (through Sir Richard Wydeville and Joan Bedlisgate; grandparents of Queen consort Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV); and by Lord Parr — 3rd cousins, once removed (through Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland and Lady Joan Beaufort; parents to Lady Cecily, Duchess of York, mother to Edward IV and Richard III); 4th cousins by John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Katherine Swynford (grandparents to John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset); 4th cousins, once removed and 5th cousins through Sir Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Lady Alice FitzAlan (parents of Lady Margaret, Countess of Somerset and Lady Alianore, Countess of March).

The Hampton Court Pedigrees 

The SIX pedigrees of Henry VIII’s Wives, Henry’s Apartments;
linking them all back to King Edward I of England

Katherine Of AragonQueen Katharine of Aragon 

(1509-1533)

Not for my Crown” (As Princess of Wales)

&

Humble and Loyal” (As queen consort)

Katharine of Arragon 1st wife of King Henry ye Eighth, her pedigree from King Edward ye First and his 1st wife Eleanor of Castile

Pedigree window of Katherine of Aragon
Pedigree window of Queen Katherine of Aragon

Katharine of Aragon was the daughter of

Ferdinand King of Spain
Ferdinand, King of Spain married Isabel of Leon
John, King of Leon married Isabel of Portugal
John, Prince of Portugal married Isabel of Braganza
John, Grand Master of Avis [de jure King of Portugal] married Philippa of Lancaster
John, Duke of Lancaster married Blanch Plantagenet
King Edward ye Third [of England] married Philippa of Hainault
King Edward ye Second [of England] married Isabel of France
King Edward ye First [of England] married 1st Eleanor of Castile
Queen Katherine's royal emblem, the Pomegranate, a symbol her mother Queen Isabel of Castile used in her own coat of arms.
Queen Katherine’s royal emblem, the Pomegranate, a symbol her mother Queen Isabel I of Castile (1474-1504) used in her own coat of arms as queen regnant from 1492.

anne_boleynQueen Anne Bullen 

(1533-1536)

The Most Happy

Anne Bullen the 2nd wife of King Henry ye Eighth, her pedigree from King Edward ye First and his second wife Margaret of France

Pedigree window of Queen Anne Boleyn.
Pedigree window of Queen Anne Boleyn.

Anne Bullen, daughter of

Thomas, Earl of Wiltshire
Thomas, Earl of Wiltshire married Elizabeth Howard
Thomas, Duke of Norfolk married Elizabeth Tylney
John, Duke of Norfolk married Katharine Molyns
Syr Robert Howard married Margaret Mowbray
Thomas, Duke of Norfolk married Elizabeth Fitzalan
John, Lord Mowbray married Elizabeth Segrave
John, Lord Segrave married Margaret of Brotherton
Thomas, Earl of Norfolk married Alice Halys
King Edward ye first [of England] married 2nd Margaret of France
Royal emblem of Anne Boleyn as queen, the falcon.
Royal emblem of Anne Boleyn as queen, the falcon.

jane_seymourQueen Jane Seymour 

(1536-1537)

Bound to Serve and Obey

Jane Seymour 3rd wife of King Henry ye Eighth, her pedigree from King Edward ye First and his 1st wife Eleanor of Castile

Pedigree window of Queen Jane Seymour
Pedigree window of Queen Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was the daughter of

Syr John Seymour
Syr John Seymour married Margaret Wentworth
Syr Henry Wentworth married Anne Say
Syr Philip Wentworth married Mary Clifford
John, Lord Clifford married Elizabeth Percy
Henry, Lord Percy married Elizabeth Mortimer
Edmond, Earl of March married Philippa of Clarence
Lionel, Duke of Clarence married Elizabeth Burgh
King Edward ye Third [of England] married Philippa of Hainault
King Edward ye Second [of England] married Isabel of France
King Edward ye First [of England] married 1st Eleanor of Castile
Royal emblem of Queen Jane Seymour, the Phoenix.
Royal emblem of Queen Jane Seymour, the Phoenix.

p02h9h78Queen Anne of Cleve 

(1540)

God Send Me Well to Keep

Anne of Cleve, 4th wife of King Henry ye Eighth, her pedigree from King Edward ye First and his 1st wife Eleanor of Castile

Pedigree window of Queen Anne of Cleves
Pedigree window of Queen Anne of Cleves

Anne of Cleve was the daughter of

 John, Duke of Cleve
John Duke of Cleve married Mary of Jüliers
John, Duke of Cleve married Maud of Hesse
John, Duke of Cleve married Elizabeth of Nevers
Adolphus of Cleves married Mary of Burgundy
John, Duke of Burgundy married Margaret of Bavaria
Philip, Duke of Burgundy married Margaret of Flanders
Lewis, Count of Flanders married Margaret of Brabant
John, Duke of Brabant married Margaret of France
John, Duke of Brabant married Margaret Plantagenet
King Edward ye first married 1st Eleanor of Castile
Anne of Cleves window emblem
Anne of Cleves Royal window emblem

otd-february-13-catherine-howard-jpgQueen Katharine Howard

(1540-1541)

No Other Will But His

Katharine Howard, 5th wife of King Henry ye Eighth, her pedigree from King Edward ye First and his 2nd wife Margaret of France

Pedigree window of Queen Katherine Howard
Pedigree window of Queen Katherine Howard

Katharine, daughter of

 Lord Edmond Howard

Lord Edmond Howard married Joyce Culpeper
Thomas, Duke of Norfolk married Elizabeth Tylney
John, Duke of Norfolk married Katharine Molyns
Syr Robert Howard married Margaret Mowbray
Thomas, Duke of Norfolk married Elizabeth Fitzalan
John, Lord Mowbray married Elizabeth Segrave
John, Lord Segrave married Margaret of Brotherton
Thomas, Earl of Norfolk married Alice Halys
King Edward ye first [of England] married 2nd Margaret of France
Katherine Howard window emblem
Katherine Howard’s Royal emblem was a Tudor Rose; there was no feature but this Fleur-de-Lis window emblem in her Pedigree

images-of-henry-viii-children-i19Queen Katherine Parr 

(1543-1547)

To be Useful in All That I Do

Katharine Parr, 6th wife of King Henry ye Eighth, her pedigree from King Edward ye First and his 1st wife Eleanor of Castile

Pedigree window of Queen Katherine Parr
Pedigree window of Queen Katherine Parr

Katharine daughter of

Syr Thomas Parr
Syr Thomas married Maud Green
Syr William Parr married Elizabeth FitzHugh
Henry, Lord FitzHugh married Alice Nevil
Richard, Earl of Salisbury married Alice Montacute
Ralph, Earl of Westmorland married Joanne Beaufort
John, Duke of Lancaster married Katharine de Roet
King Edward ye Third [of England] married Philippa of Hainault
King Edward ye Second [of England] married Isabel of France
King Edward ye First [of England] married 1st to Eleanor of Castile
Royal emblem of Queen Katherine Parr, maidenhead of the Lord Parrs of Kendal
Royal emblem of Queen Katherine Parr, maidenhead of the Lord Parrs of Kendal (taken from the de Ros Family)
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Which Queen Katherine: The Lambeth Portrait

It has been identified as Queen Katherine Parr for centuries. Thanks to modern technology used to examine the portrait by the NPG in London, it has been concluded that the portrait is indeed that of wife no.1, Queen Katherine of Aragon.

Disputed Lambeth Palace portrait; Katherine Parr or Katherine of Aragon
Lambeth Palace portrait; now identified as Queen Katherine of Aragon, wife no. 1

The young woman in the picture is blessed with good features, an oval-shaped face with a firm jawline and a clear complexion. But it is the overall impression of intelligence and intensity that is so compelling. There is an inner strength in the face that commands attention. The woman looks confident. This is a woman full of grace and maturity. The portrait is carefully composed. She is very much the aristocratic lady, expensively dressed and already demonstrating a love of jewels and fashion that would develop over the years. Her clothing is red and gold, with the hood perfectly matching the gown. At the period of time the portrait was painted the Telegraph quotes,

Academics working on the ‘Making Art in Tudor Britain’ project had noticed the facial features and costume worn by the woman were far more similar to works depicting the first Catherine, and dated from the 1520s or 30s. (Furness)

The 1520s — Katherine’s mother was still negotiating for a marriage. In 1529, she was married to Sir Edward Borough, son of Sir Thomas, 3rd Baron Borough of Gainsborough (Lord Chamberlain to Queen Anne Boleyn). The status wouldn’t have made her that important enough to paint. However, the 3rd Barons wife, Agnes Tyrwhitt had her portrait done by Holbein. Sir Thomas, however, had to pull his connections just to get his wife, Lady Borough, painted by Holbein. (Porter pg 55) By 1533, Katherine was a widow. Her next marriage to Lord Latimer took place in 1534 and it lasted until 1543. The hood was most likely outdated by the 1530s, but Katherine had not been living at court so perhaps she did not know the current fashions. Her home from 1529-1534 was spent in the Northern part of England; Lincolnshire. After her marriage to Sir John Neville, 3rd Lord Latimer her home was Snape Castle, in North Yorkshire. Her mother and sister would have been at court. Her mother served Katherine of Aragon until her household was dissolved. Her sister, Anne, would continue to serve under Queen Anne Boleyn. The two sisters were close so perhaps Anne wrote about the current fashions at court; Katherine was to become a fashionable queen so her interest must have developed early on. Therefore it is contradictory as to what Katherine actually wore.

Lambeth Portrait of Katherine of Aragon.
Lambeth Portrait of Katherine of Aragon.

Interestingly, although the gown has fashionable slashed undersleeves and a gauzy partlet, covering the throat and chest, the coifed gable hood that the woman is wearing was a more conservative choice. Anne Boleyn supposedly made the French hood popular, but the hood had been introduced to England well before she returned from France in 1522. The French hood showed more hair, so therefore in some circles it was still considered unseemly. Jane Seymour favoured the gabled hood, though this may have been less a personal preference than a conscious decision to differentiate herself from her more flighty, disgraced predecessor. (Porter)

In Katherine Parr’s case, she had married a man whose overall outlook was conservative and it is possible that her head-wear reflected his taste. Her jewels, three ropes of pearls and a large, round gold, pearl and ruby brooch, are also a sign of wealth without ostentation. In this portrait, Katherine is very much the elegant nobleman’s wife. (Porter on the portrait being Katherine as Lady Latimer)

The two paintings will now be hung together for the first time in the National Portrait Gallery, nearly 500 years after they were painted Photo: National Portrait Gallery
The two paintings will now be hung together for the first time in the National Portrait Gallery, nearly 500 years after they were painted. Photo: National Portrait Gallery

Technical analysis of the paint and “rare” engraved frame by the NPG (National Portrait Gallery in London) are believed to show it was painted at the same time as a portrait of Henry VIII, with a similar style and scale. (Furness) (See above)

However, there is still more than a few portraits with Henry and his other wives that still use this depiction as Katherine Parr. For example, the only miniature in the Royal Collection (from Queen Victoria’s miniature collection) that depicts Queen Katherine Parr is this same depiction. Hopefully they will not change the description now as there is no other depiction of Parr and all six wives are represented.

Katherine Parr or Katherine of Aragon

‘Portrait of a lady called Katherine Parr’, by Henry Pierce Bone, 1844. Enamel; 4.8 x 3.9cm.The miniature was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1844, to add to her growing collection of portraits of sixteenth-century figures. It is still part of the Royal Collection.
The Earliest Portrait of Katherine Parr or Katherine of Aragon?

On the back of the portrait is the following inscription:

‘Katharine Parr / London Febr 1844 / Painted by Henry Pier. / Bone Enamel Painter / to Her Majesty & H.R.H. / Prince Albert &c. From / the Original in / Lambeth Palace.’

Detail of the Miniature.
Detail of the Miniature.

In early 2011, after inquiring about the portrait, I was told (by email from the Lambeth Palace Library) that this had been re-identified as Katherine of Aragon. Lambeth Palace’s site had this image as Katherine Parr; the image was uploaded in 2008. The re-identification took place in 2009, but was not officially announced or re-identified until recently.

The portrait you are inquiring about used to be referred to as the “Unknown Woman” thought to be Katherine Parr.  However, in 2009 we had the National Portrait Gallery here to look at another painting in our possession.  As we walked by the portrait a period costume expert, who so happened to be among them, took great notice in it and declared that the clothes were far too early to be Katherine Parr.  The National Portrait Gallery took it away with them to research further.  The conclusion was that it was in fact a rare survival of a Tudor portrait of Catherine of Aragon, not Katherine Parr as originally thought.  You can imagine it was rather exciting for all concerned.

Obviously they had not made the announcement official until now — due to years of research at the NPG. But as of 24 January 2013, this is now identified as Queen Katherine of Aragon. For details on the examination process and the conservation of the portrait — see links.

Links

References

English Ancestry of The Six Wives: Descent from Edward I

The Six Wives of King Henry VIII

Yes, all six wives of King Henry VIII had English ancestry; some more than others.

Henry VIII after Hans Holbein c. 1535-44
Miniature of Henry VIII [1540-1570] after Hans Holbein the Younger. Watercolour and bodycolour on vellum, diameter 3.6 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.

FACT: King Henry VIII descends from Edward I of England only six times!

  • By his paternal grandmother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, Henry descended from Edward I by Margaret’s paternal grandparents; John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset and his wife Lady Margaret of Kent [born Holland], later Duchess of Clarence.
    • Lord Somerset was a grandson of Edward III [grandson of Edward I and his first wife, Eleanor of Castile] by his father Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster.
    • Lady Margaret of Kent was a granddaughter of Princess Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales [wife of Edward, Princes of Wales, heir to Edward III, and mother to Richard II]; granddaughter of Edward I and his second wife, Marguerite of France, by their second son, Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent.
  • By his maternal grandfather, Edward IV, Henry descended from Edward I by Edward’s parents; Lord Richard, Duke of York and Lady Cecily [born Neville], Duchess of York:
    • The Duke of York’s parents, Lord Richard, 3rd Earl of Cambridge and his wife Lady Anne [born Mortimer], Countess of Cambridge both descended from Edward I.
      • Cambridge was a grandson of Edward III by his father, Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, 4th surviving son of Edward III.
      • Lady Anne Mortimer was a granddaughter of Edward III by her paternal grandmother, Lady Philippa of Clarence, 5th Countess of Ulster; granddaughter of Edward III by his second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. Lady Anne also had a second connection to Edward I, by her maternal grandfather, Sir Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent; son of Princess Joan, Princess of Wales. Princess Joan was, as mentioned before, a granddaughter of Edward I and his second wife Marguerite.
    • Lady Cecily, Duchess of York, was the youngest daughter of Sir Ralph, Earl of Westmorland and his second wife, Lady Joan Beaufort. Lady Joan was the only daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his third wife, Katherine [Roet]. John of Gaunt was of course the son of Edward III.

292px-Tudor_Rose_Royal_Badge_of_England.svgWould it surprise you to know that even Katherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves had Edward I in their pedigree?

In fact, Katherine of Aragon descended from two wives of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, Titular King of Castile [the son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault]; Blanche of Lancaster AND Constanza of Castile, heir to the throne of Castile.

Royal Emblem of Queen Katherine of Aragon

1. Katherine of Aragon – daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile [2 times]

  • By her mother — Isabella of Castile’s paternal grandmother, Katherine of Lancaster, daughter of Prince John of Gaunt [son of Edward III] and his second wife, Constanza of Castile, she descended from Edward I and Eleanor of Castile.
  • Isabella of Castile’s maternal great-grandmother, Philippa of Lancaster, was also a daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, but by his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Lady Philippa was brother to King Henry IV [Bolingbroke]. Queen Katherine’s Hampton Court Pedigree shows this line from Edward I’s son, Edward II, onwards.
Royal Emblem of Queen Anne Boleyn

2. Anne Boleyn – daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard [5 times]

  • By both paternal great-great-grandparents [through the Butler’s of Ormonde], Sir James, 4th Earl of Ormonde and Joan Beauchamp; she descended from Edward I and Eleanor’s daughter Princess Elizabeth of Rhuddlan. The Earl and Countess of Ormonde were parents to the 7th Earl of Ormonde.
  • By her paternal great-great-grandmother, Lady Anne Montacute, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Salisbury [also an ancestor of Queen Katherine Parr] she descends from Princess Elizabeth’s elder sister, Princess Joan of Acre. Lady Anne was the mother of Anne Hankford, Countess of Ormonde as wife to the 7th Earl.
  • By her maternal [Howard] line she descended from Edward I and Eleanor of Castile via her great-great-grandmother Lady Margaret Mowbray, wife of Sir Robert Howard; Lady Margaret descended from Elizabeth of Rhuddlan, by way of Lady Eleanor Fitzalan [wife of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk].
  • By Sir Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, she descended from Edward I and Marguerite of France through their son, Thomas of Brotherton Plantagenet, Duke of Norfolk [Hampton Court Pedigree shows this line from Edward I’s son, Thomas of Brotherton onwards]
Royal Emblem of Queen Jane Seymour

3. Jane Seymour – daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentworth [twice]

  • By her maternal great-grandmother, Hon. Margaret Clifford, whose father John Clifford, 7th Lord descended from Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. Lord Clifford’s great-great-grandmother was Lady Margaret de Clare, Countess of Gloucester [daughter of Princess Joan] who married Sir Hugh Audley, 1st and last Earl of Gloucester.
  • By Hon. Margaret Clifford’s mother, Lady Elizabeth Percy, whose grandmother was Lady Philippa of Clarence, 5th Countess of Ulster who was the daughter of Lionel of Antwerp, the second son of Edward III. [Hampton Court Pedigree shows this line from Edward I’s son, Edward II, onward]
Royal Emblem of Queen Anne of Cleves

4. Anne of Cleves – daughter of John III, Duke of Cleves and Marie von Julich [twice]

  • By both paternal great-grandparents, Johan I Duke of Cleves and Elizabeth of Nevers; who were great-grandchildren of Marguerite of Dampierre, suo jure Countess of Flanders. Marguerite was the great-granddaughter of Margaret of England, Duchess of Brabant; daughter of Edward I and Eleanor. [Hampton Court Pedigree shows the lineage of Johan I of Cleves from Edward’s daughter, Margaret of England who’s son became Johan III, Duke of Brabant]
Royal Emblem of Queen Katherine Howard

5. Katherine Howard – daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Jocasa Culpepper [3 times]

  • Like Anne Boleyn, by her paternal line [Howard] she descended from Edward I and Eleanor by Elizabeth of Rhuddlan by way of Lady Eleanor Fitzalan [wife of Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk].
  • By Sir Thomas Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, she descended from Edward I and Marguerite of France through their son, Thomas of Brotherton Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Norfolk [Katherine’s Hampton Court Pedigree shows this line from Edward I’s son, Thomas of Brotherton onwards]
  • By her maternal great-great-grandfather, Sir William Ferrers, 5th Baron Groby, she descends from Princess Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I and Eleanor, via her daughter Lady Elizabeth de Clare, wife of Sir Theobald, 2nd Lord Verdun.
Royal Emblem of Queen Katherine Parr

6. Katherine Parr – daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal and Maud Greene [6 times]

  • By her paternal grandmother the Hon. Elizabeth FitzHugh, daughter of Lady Alice Neville [sister of “Warwick, the Kingmaker”] she descended from Lady Joan Beaufort and her second husband Sir Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland; Lady Joan was the legitimized daughter of Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, third son of Edward III and thus she descended from Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. [Katherine’s Hampton Court Pedigree shows this line from Edward I’s son, Edward II onwards]
  • By her paternal great-great-grandmother, Lady Alice Montacute, suo jure Countess of Salisbury [wife of Sir Richard, 5th Earl of Salisbury, son of Lady Joan and Sir Ralph mentioned above]. Both parents of the Countess of Salisbury descended from Edward I; by her father the 4th Earl of Salisbury she descended from Princess Joan of Acre, daughter of Edward I and Eleanor by her son 2nd Lord Monthermer by her second husband Lord Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester. By her mother Lady Eleanor de Holland [daughter of Lady Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales and niece of King Richard II] she descended from Prince Edmund of Woodstock, son of Edward I and his second wife Marguerite of France.
  • By her maternal great-great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Greene, Sheriff of Northamptonshire, she descended from Princess Elizabeth of Rhuddlan, daughter of Edward I and Eleanor; Sir Thomas Greene descended from Princess Elizabeth’s daughter Lady Eleanor Bohun, Countess of Ormonde. His wife, Hon. Philippa de Ferrers descended from Elizabeth of Rhuddlan’s elder sister, Princess Joan of Acre, TWICE; by her daughters Lady Margaret de Clare, Countess of Gloucester and Lady Eleanor de Clare, Lady Despenser.

For more on their pedigrees, featuring the windows from Hampton Court Palace — see also —

The Hampton Court Pedigrees

Written and researched by Meg McGath, 2012.

Tudor Conflict and Disease: the Reformation and Plague

The uniting of the House of York [technically Elizabeth of York was, after the death of her brothers, heiress to the throne of England, but she was a female] and the House of Lancaster [Henry Tudor who became King Henry VII of England].
The Tudor period was a time of change. The War of the Roses between the two Royal houses of Lancaster and York had just ended [1485]. The newly crowned King was Henry Tudor [VII], a direct descendant of John of Gaunt Plantagenet (3rd surviving son of Edward III; father to the Lancastrian Kings) and his mistress (later wife) Katherine Roet through his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort. Although there were plenty of nobility who could claim the throne based on a more legitimate line; Henry Tudor was crowned King of England in 1485 on the battle field directly after the Battle of Bosworth [in which he defeated Richard III of the House of York]. Henry VII, who had fought his way to the throne of England, was crowned on 20 October 1485. In an attempt to keep the Nation from going to War again, he married Princess Elizabeth of York [Plantagenet of the House of York]; daughter of King Edward IV and his queen consort Elizabeth Woodville. Through this union Henry’s hope was to unify the two houses. Henry’s children, when born, would have a stronger claim to the throne because the blood of both the houses of York and Lancaster would be inherited. Having married Elizabeth, who some saw as the sole heiress of Edward IV, the children of the two would leave no question as to who should rule England. 

Although Henry VII’s intentions were good, over the next two generations the House of Tudor would go through some very unsettling times. Due to the fact that England had become bankrupt during the reign of his predecessor, there would be economic difficulties that Henry VII would have to resolve. His oldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales, would die young leaving his only other living son, Henry, the throne.[1] Henry VIII had a long and grueling reign. His reign saw the demise of the Catholic Church due to his “great matter” which will be discussed further in this paper. The plague of “sweating sickness” began around 1485, when Henry VIII’s father came to power and lasted until 1551. With Henry VIII’s rule and the ascension of his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, a whole new lifestyle was created. There was a constant fight over religion and disease played a huge part in everyday life.

In this paper there will be two main topics discussed; conflict and disease. The conflict for this paper deals with Henry VIII’s conflict with the Catholic Church over his “great matter” and how he transformed England into a Protestant nation even though he died as a Catholic in the end. I then chose to write about the history of the plague of “Sweating Sickness” which hit London during the reign of the Tudor dynasty. Both issues had an impact on England. The change to Protestantism over the King’s “great matter” sent the whole country into an uproar. There were major disputes between the clergy and King Henry. Even the people had issues with the change. Then in between all of this came the plague to make things worse. It swept through London killing anyone it came into contact with. 

The original Tudor heir, Prince Arthur, was Henry’s older sibling.
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York gave birth to a son in September of 1486. They named him Arthur, Prince of Wales. As the oldest son Arthur was to be the heir to the English throne. Arthur grew up being taught the ways of the Kingdom. He was sure to be King of England one day. Arthur was betrothed to a Spanish princess named Katherine of Aragon at an early age. The match was one of allegiance for Katherine was the daughter of the two great Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. The two were to be married as soon as they turned of age. They married in 1501. The couple was not together long before the two of them became sick. Katherine eventually recovered, but only to find herself a widow. At the age of 15, Arthur died after suffering from a mysterious sickness at Ludlow Castle. Sweating sickness was thought to be one of the causes.[2]
The sweating sickness was an epidemic that started originally in the late 1400s. It was an epidemic that would have sudden outbreaks. The worst outbreak recorded in the book “The Epidemics of the Middle Ages” by Justus Friedrich Carl Hecker was recorded during 1517. In July of that year many people were infected and within the span of two or three hours they were dead. The epidemic was extremely contagious and if you came into contact with it your chances of living were slim to none. The poor were affected the most, but even the rich who thought they were beyond getting the epidemic got caught by surprise. Christmas celebrations of that year were cancelled in the Palaces. King Henry VIII retreated from London to the countryside to stay away from the epidemic. He would constantly move around in fear and would shut himself up alone in castles until the epidemic passed through. The sickness began to spread though into other parts of England like Oxford and Cambridge. Soon it had reached the English occupied part of France, Calais. [3]
The causes of the epidemic are unknown, but one can certainly imagine personal hygiene had something to do with it. Also, English people were not known for eating healthy. There would be excess overeating of salted meats, over indulging in wine, etc. The living habits were not very healthy basically. People did not know how to take care of themselves. People did not take baths, there was no soap, and the poor were not taken care of. They were left to rot on the streets.
The towns people and nobility try to flee from London.
If you were to escape the sickness you would have to leave the city. There were also mystic pills and herbs that people took, but only the rich could afford them. Basically, unless you were of high status and had a lot of money you would have to stay in town and try to wait it out, but as stated before, your chances of surviving were slim to none.[4]
King Henry VIII shortly after his coronation in 1509.
Henry, who had been titled Duke of York, became the next heir apparent after Arthur died and took on the title of Prince of Wales. Henry had grown up in a carefree environment. He was educated, but not as Arthur had been. After the death of his brother Arthur, Henry VII was left with Infanta Katherine who had become the dowager Princess of Wales. Since Katherine had been married once already she was seen as less of an attractive match. She did not return to Spain. As a solution to accommodate Katherine of Aragon [more likely to better suit Henry VII and to be able to keep her dowry], Henry VII discussed the possible proposal of marriage to Katherine himself with her parents Ferdinand and Isabella. Henry VII’s son Henry VIII was only eleven and his chances of surviving to adulthood were at stake. Henry VII thought that if he married Katherine of Aragon himself, he would be able to have another son as a safeguard. Of course the match was not approved. Henry VII was about 30 years older than Katherine and he had more experience and knowledge in politics. Eventually the idea of marrying Katherine to Henry VII’s son, Henry, Prince of Wales, was put forth.

Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII were betrothed and later married on 11 June 1509. Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII’s marriage was a good match. At the time, it provided an alliance with Spain through Katherine’s nephew The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.[5] Katherine’s English ancestry was also a plus. Katherine descended from Edward III of England, twice, by his son Prince John of Gaunt. 1st Duke of Lancaster [father of Henry IV]. Katherine descended from John’s first two wives, Lady Blanche of Lancaster, the heiress to the Lancaster inheritance and Infanta Caterina of Castile who was Titular Queen of Castile in her own right. Technically, Katherine had a stronger claim to the throne of England than Henry if Henry was to use his paternal ancestry as the basis of his rise to the throne. So any future children by Prince Henry and Katherine would have a stronger claim to the throne.
King Henry with his first wife, Katherine of Aragon.
Shortly after being married, Katherine gave birth to a son. Henry and Katherine named him Prince Henry. He was given the title Duke of Cornwall. Henry was ecstatic. There were lavish gatherings and jousting matches held in the new baby’s honor. But only a few months later the baby Henry would die. Katherine became pregnant again soon after the death of her child. This time around she lost the baby which was in fact a boy. Katherine would have many more of these unfortunate events happen before she gave birth to a healthy baby girl on 18 February 1516. The couple named her Mary. Shortly after her birth Katherine became pregnant again, but lost the child. Princess Mary would be the only surviving child between the union of Henry and Katherine; which became a problem.
Princess Mary was for a time the heiress to the English throne.
At this point in time King Henry was starting to question Katherine’s ability to conceive a male heir. Katherine was getting old and her chances of having a healthy boy were diminishing. It was during these times that Henry started to stray from his marriage and as a result, his mistress Elizabeth Blount, had a son by Henry named Henry Fitzroy. Of course the child was not legitimate, so the baby could not become his heir. This didn’t stop Henry from celebrating his birth and bestowing the title of Duke of Richmond and Somerset upon him. Henry was in fact quite proud of his new born son.[6]

When King Henry saw that it was possible for him to conceive a son with another woman he then saw the issue of producing a male heir as Katherine of Aragon’s fault. King Henry continued to dispute whether his marriage to Katherine was valid. In the Bible he had read a passage from Leviticus 18:16: “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness” and Leviticus 20:21: “If a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing…they shall be childless.” Therefore Henry convinced himself that God was punishing him for marrying his brother’s widow.[7][8]
Henry Fitzroy was the only illegitimate child the King acknowledged; he was created Duke of Richmond and Somerset which infuriated the Queen.
At the death of Arthur, there was a question of whether or not the marriage had been consummated. This proof would be needed if Katherine was to marry Henry VIII for Arthur and Henry were brothers. Papal Dispensation was needed before the two could even marry. Katherine of Aragon had to vow that her marriage to Arthur Tudor had never been consummated. So twenty-four years later King Henry tried to use this plea as a way of getting a divorce so he could marry his new love, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine, named Anne Boleyn.[9]

When Henry met Anne, he became infatuated with her. He suddenly declared that he wanted a divorce and was willing to do anything to get it. Henry eventually got his way, but not without turning the whole country upside down. Cardinal Wolsey, Henry’s confident, was to get this divorce by partitioning the Pope in Rome starting in 1526.
Anne Boleyn came from a family that was known to support the “new” religion. At the time, the people of Europe were being swept over by the Catholic Church or so they were led to believe. The money that the congregation spent was to be for the poor and the needy, but instead it was used for personal gain. The people were also led to believe that if you paid a handsome sum, you could save your loved ones soul from purgatory and God would grant them forgiveness. The Catholic Churches were not all like this. The few that were gave the whole religion a bad name. So when a man named Martin Luther started to talk about the misfortunes of the Catholic Church and how they should be overturned, people started to listen. They were tired of the old faith and wanted a religion that did not corrupt and steal money. They also wanted personal access to a Bible that was written in English. For the only way the people could learn about scripture in the Catholic Church was through listening to a Priest read from the Bible in Latin. Many people were not educated enough to understand Latin and therefore were led to believe what they heard was the word of God.
Anne Boleyn, a lady-in-waiting to the queen, caused quite a stir at court. The Queen’s ladies would start to take sides over the queen or the new mistress; or “the whore” which Anne was known as by the Catholics and those in favour of the queen.
In the middle of all this a war broke out between France, Spain, and the Catholic Church. The French King, Francois I, was captured and taken to Rome, but later released on the authority of King Henry. This war would interrupt and delay the Pope’s decision on Henry’s matter. On 17 May 1527, the King called a meeting. In this meeting he brought up the matter declaring that his marriage was not legal, but the Cardinals begged to differ. At this point in time, Katherine who had been kept in the dark about the whole matter for over two years was now just being informed of the whole situation. Katherine immediately knew that she needed the support of her nephew the Emperor Charles V if she was to stay married to the King. Katherine claimed that the marriage to Arthur had never been consummated and she had come to King Henry a virgin. In an altercation that would follow, the King was quoted as saying that they had been living in immortal sin and that Katherine was not his legal wife.
Wolsey, who was Catholic, was not popular at Court. Katherine of Aragon did not like him because he was pleading for Henry’s divorce and the Boleyn’s did not like him because they were opposed to the Catholic faith. The Boleyn’s were Protestant, true believers of the movement Martin Luther had started. Anne, her family, and a rising courtier named Cromwell, were in favor of this “new” religion. Not only did they believe it would end the “corruption” of the Catholic Church, but thought it might be the way for Henry to finally get an annulment from Katherine.
The King was granted the title “Supreme Head of the Church of England.” Even with this title, he could not declare his marriage as null and void. He still needed a decision from the Pope. The Pope did not see the marriage as being null so he declared that Katherine was the rightful wife of Henry VIII and they were still legally married. After receiving this final letter, Henry decided that he would deny the Pope’s authority. Henry then decided to sever himself from Rome. Cromwell was appointed Chancellor after Thomas More retired due to conflicting views with his faith. More did not see Henry as the Head of the Church, he was Catholic, therefore he agreed with Rome when it came to their decision. He did agree to the decree that made Anne Boleyn Henry’s legal wife, but that was not enough for Henry. Therefore, Thomas was executed at the Tower.
The King was granted the title “Supreme Head of the Church of England.” Even with this title, he could not declare his marriage as null and void. He still needed a decision from the Pope. The Pope did not see the marriage as being null so he declared that Katherine was the rightful wife of Henry VIII and they were still legally married. After receiving this final letter, Henry decided that he would deny the Pope’s authority. Henry then decided to sever himself from Rome. Cromwell was appointed Chancellor after Thomas More retired due to conflicting views with his faith. More did not see Henry as the Head of the Church, he was Catholic, therefore he agreed with Rome when it came to their decision. He did agree to the decree that made Anne Boleyn Henry’s legal wife, but that was not enough for Henry. Therefore, Thomas was executed at the Tower.
The English Bible approved by King Henry VIII; The Bible in Englyshe, London: Richard Grafton and Edward Whitechurch, 1540. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress.
The Reformation of England was a political issue, not a doctrinal. The first action to be taken was to put an end to the tyrannical power that the clergy had over the people. Then the superstition that you should not question your faith, that it was a sin to, had to be broken. The King began to hand out the English Bible to his servants.[10]  Although Henry was adamant about giving his people a Bible which could be read in English, through out his reign he became concerned about the consequences of letting the lower classes reading the bible for themselves. Restrictions and certain versions were restricted.
Queen Katherine by unknown artist, NPG
Henry’s last wife, Katherine Parr, a supporter of the Reformation and a believer in allowing the people to read the Gospels and the Bible in English, would come to know the restrictions and would almost be condemned herself for her genuine attempt to spread the word of God. Katherine Parr would go on to publish the first book by an English woman and queen in her own name called “Prayers or Meditations“. After the death of Henry and during the reign of the Protestant king, Edward VI, son of Henry and his third wife Jane Seymour, Katherine would go on to write and publish another book called “Lamentations of a Sinner” which became a huge success among the English people.

Henry imposed Royal Supremacy. This meant that Henry would have supremacy over the laws of the Church in England. The Act of Supremacy passed by Parliament and Henry stated that the King was “the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England’ and that the English crown shall enjoy “all honours, dignities, preeminence’s, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity.”[11]

Queen Katherine’s “Lamentations” on display at the Vivat Rex Exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library © Meg McGath
The Reformation of the Church in England changed religion in the Nation forever. Instead of answering to Rome, England answered to only the Sovereign in power. King Henry saw himself as the Supreme Head of the Church in England. He felt that he should have say over the laws of religion and he passed an act that would only allow him to be answerable to God himself. In the end, I think the whole break from Rome was a mix of wanting to break away from the religious dogma of the Catholic Church and Henry’s desire for an annulment so he could marry Anne Boleyn and have a son. Henry VIII was obsessed with having an heir. After his father, Henry VII had won the War of a Hundred years you can understand why he wanted the Tudor dynasty to continue on. Henry VIII’s father worked tirelessly to build up England again. As for the topic of sweating sickness, it was a lot like today’s Swine Flu disease only worse.  It spread faster and killed 99% of its victims. There was no hygiene in London. Most of London’s population at the time was poor. They were packed into small houses. Their diet was not good and they had no medicines or vaccines to prevent the spread of the epidemic. No one knew what to do. This was during the time when doctors thought bleeding a patient would get rid of the sickness. Today we know better. The Tudor period was a harsh period. Not just because of the disease, but the fact that each day you woke up you had no idea whether or not you would live or die.[12]
Bibliography
Alexander, Michael Van Cleave. “The First of the Tudors: Study of Henry VII and His Reign.” Croom Helm. February 1981.
Bucholz, Robert and Key, Newton. “Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History.” Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. January 2008.
Carlton, Charles. “Royal Childhoods.” Routledge & Kegan Paul Books Ltd. January 1986.
Carroll, Robert. “Bible: King James Version (KJV).” Oxford University Press, USA. August 1998.
Fraser, Antonia. “The Wives of Henry VIII.” Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. November 1993.
Froude, James Anthony. “The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon: The Story as Told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII. In Usum Laicorum.”
Adamant Media Corporation. 30 Nov 2005
Hecker, J.F.C. “The epidemics of the middle ages.” Translated by B. G. Babington.
G. Woodfall and Son for The Sydenham Society. London. 1844.
Ross, David. “Henry VIII ‘s Act of Supremacy (1534) – Original Text.” Britain Express.
< “http://www.britainexpress.com/History/tudor/supremacy-henry-text.htm”>
Thurston, Herbert. “Henry VIII.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 16 Jul 2009. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07222a.htm&gt;.

[1] Robert Bucholz and Newton Key’s Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History, Wiley, Johnson and Sons, 2008.
[2] Robert Bucholz, Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History, Wiley, John and Sons, Incorporated, 2008.
[3] J. F. C. Hecker, The epidemics of the middle ages. Translated by B. G. Babington, G. Woodfall and Son for The Sydenham Society, London, 1844.
[4] J. F. C. Hecker, The epidemics of the middle ages. Translated by B. G. Babington, G. Woodfall and Son for The Sydenham Society, London, 1844.
[5] Robert Bucholz, Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History, Wiley, John and Sons Incorporated, 2008.
[6] James Anthony Froude, The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon: The Story as Told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII. In Usum Laicorum, Adamant Media Corporation, 30 Nov 2005.
[7] Antonia Fraser, The Wives of Henry VIII, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, November 1993.
[8] Carroll, Robert. “Bible: King James Version (KJV).” Oxford University Press, USA. August 1998.
[9] Antonia Fraser, The Wives of Henry VIII, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, November 1993.
[10] Robert Bucholz, Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History, Wiley, John and Sons Incorporated, 2008.
[11] Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy (1534) – original text, English History. David Ross and Britain Express
[12] J. F. C. Hecker, The epidemics of the middle ages. Translated by B. G. Babington, G. Woodfall and Son for The Sydenham Society, London, 1844.
© Meg McGath 16 July 2009, London, UK

Childbearing: Queen Katherine of Aragon and Lady Maud Parr

Childbearing; the Tale of Katherine of Aragon and Maud Parr

Queen Katherine of Aragon; first wife of Henry VIII and mother to Queen Mary I

As most Tudor enthusiasts know, Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry, had many troubles when it came to childbearing. This wasn’t an unusual thing for women in Tudor times. The infant mortality rate was also an issue as many newborns did not live past birth or even their first birthday.

During the first year of Katherine’s marriage to King Henry, Katherine had a miscarriage within the initial six months of pregnancy in January 1510. This mishap began a pattern which resulted in many miscarriages and stillbirths.

On New Year’s day in 1511, a son was finally born. He was christened Henry, Duke of Cornwall. The whole court was ecstatic and a great tournament was thrown in honour of the birth of Henry’s son. But to Katherine and Henry’s dismay, he died fifty-two days later on 23 February 1511. Contemporary reports state that both parents were distraught at the loss of their second child and expected future king. The deeply religious Catherine spent many hours kneeling on cold stone floors praying, to the worry of courtiers. Henry distracted himself from his grief by unsuccessfully waging war against Louis XII of France with his father-in-law, Ferdinand II of Aragon.

By 1513, Katherine was with child again. It was at this time that Katherine was appointed Regent as Henry took on a military mission in France. In was within her regency that she rode north, heavily pregnant, after the Battle at Flodden Field to address soldiers. The journey no doubt was painful as a woman in that stage of pregnancy should have begun her lying in already. When Henry returned from France, instead of embracing a new baby boy, the two were saddened by another death.

Historians have speculated as to the course English history might have taken, had either of the two Henrys, Duke of Cornwall, or any other legitimate son survived. Given that Henry’s search for a male heir, after Catherine’s failure to give birth to any more live sons, was the cited reason which led him to have their marriage annulled, a living male child might have at least forestalled, or even prevented, the marriage to Anne Boleyn and placed England in a different relationship with Roman Catholicism during the Protestant Reformation.

This theme has also been explored in some alternate history science fiction, such as Kingsley Amis’ The Alteration (1976), in which another alternate history English Reformation is depicted, even without the succession crisis caused by the absence of a male heir until the birth of Edward VI to Henry and Jane Seymour. However, Amis’ book within a book does not specify whether this alternate history Henry IX is any specific son of Henry VIII.

Portrait miniature of Princess Mary at the time of her engagement to Charles V.

After finally giving birth to a healthy baby girl in 1516, christened Mary (the future Queen Mary), Katherine became pregnant yet again in 1518 gave birth to another girl. This baby died within a week of her birth date. It became apparent in 1526 that Katherine’s health was deteriorating which made it highly unlikely that she would have any more children.

Katherine Parr’s mother, Maud, became lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine of Aragon after she married Sir Thomas Parr. Maud stayed with Queen Katherine until the end of her life; she stayed with her even through the tumultuous times of the 1520s when Henry started his infatuation with one of Katherine’s ladies, Anne Boleyn.

Maud’s relationship with the Queen was a relationship that went much deeper than “giddy pleasure”. Both knew what it was like to lose a child in stillbirths and in infancy. It was Katherine Parr’s mother, Maud, who shared in the horrible miscarriages and deaths in which Queen Katherine would endure from 1511 to 1518. The two bonded over the issue and became close because of it. When Maud Green became Lady Parr she became pregnant shortly after her marriage to Sir Thomas Parr. Most people think that Katherine Parr, the future queen and last wife of Henry, was the first to be born to the Parrs; not so. In or about 1509, a boy was born to Maud and Thomas. The happiness of delivering an heir to the Parr family was short lived as the baby died shortly after — no name was ever recorded. It would be another four years before Maud became pregnant again. In 1512, Maud finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl. She was christened Katherine, after the queen, and speculations are that Queen Katherine was her godmother. In about 1513, Maud would finally give birth to a healthy baby boy who was named William. Then again in 1515, Maud would give birth to another daughter named Anne, possibly after Maud’s sister. This pregnancy and childbirth is usually seen as the last for Maud; that she did not have anymore. Again, not so.

In or about 1517, Maud became pregnant again. It was in autumn of that year that her husband, Sir Thomas, died. It is believed that the stress from his death and leaving Maud with three children to raise alone caused the baby to be lost or die shortly after birth. No further record of the child is recorded. In a way Maud might have been relieved as she already had three young children to provide for.

Maud continued her position at court as one of Katherine of Aragon’s household and stayed close to the Queen even when her relationship with Henry started to decline. Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn, one of the Queen’s ladies, became apparent and inevitably the ladies began to take sides. In these times, Queen Katherine never lost the loyalty and affection of women like Maud Parr, Gertrude Courtenay, and Elizabeth Howard, who had been with the Queen since the first years of her reign.

The theories of if Henry, Duke of Cornwall lived have been written about — but that of if Katherine Parr’s older brother had lived — perhaps the story would have been different and Kat would have never become the last wife of Henry — never have restored the royal family which made way for Lady Mary and Elizabeth to become part of the succession again. Perhaps the cause of the Reformation, which started to entice King Henry in his great matter, would have never been furthered. Kat went on to try continuing what Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, had started yet she wanted to help Henry make peace with his children. She took on the role of step-mother for Lady Elizabeth and Prince Edward, but remained good friend’s with the Lady Mary as Mary was only a few years younger than Kat. Some have called her the perfect combination of all of Henry’s wives; I would like to think they are referring to Henry’s first three wives; Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour. To this day some believe that Kat shaped the little girl who would become the last reigning Tudor; Elizabeth. Certainly many of the characteristics which Kat had were emulated by Elizabeth and she continued the beliefs her own mother and step-mother had in religion. Of the many things that Kat Parr did; many that are not listed here — I would like to think that her best influence and legacy lived on through Elizabeth, as she was basically the daughter she never had the opportunity to raise. Kat Parr would go on to give birth to a baby girl in her 4th and final marriage to Prince Edward’s uncle, Sir Thomas Seymour — but the joy was short lived as Katherine died shortly after.  Her three previous marriage were obviously childless. There has never been recorded evidence that she ever became pregnant or gave birth to any children before Lady Mary Seymour. The Parr legacy would continue within her sister’s family — the Herbert’s — as the Earls of Pembroke, whom today, still hold that title among others.