ARCHBISHOP THOMAS CRANMER’S LICENSE FOR THE MARRIAGE OF KING HENRY VIII AND KATHERINE PARR LATIMER, INCLUDING DISPENSATION OF THE REQUIRED PROCLAMATION OF BANNS, JULY, 10, 1543
To the most excellent and most invincible prince on a throne, and our supreme lord Henry VIII, by the Grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and on earth Supreme Head, under Christ, of the Churches of England and Ireland: Thomas, by divine compassion Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Metropolitan, dully and lawfully invested therein by the subscribed authority of the Parliament of England:
Health and perpetual happiness, with honor.
Since by your most excellent royal majesty it has been considered worthy to lead into matrimony the noble and distinguished woman Lady Katherine Latimer, lately the wife of the distinguished and powerful man, Lord Latimer, during his natural life, now deceased, she being favored by the most good and most great God and by your initiatives:
Therefore, that marriage between your most excellent kingly majesty and the said noblewoman, Lady Katherine, in whatever Church, chapel, or oratory or wherever else your kingly majesty may wish to choose, without any proclamation of banns, may be solemnized by any bishop or priest whatsoever; and that you may exempt from actual constraints,
We and our soul, moved in this regard duly and legitimately by the honor of your estate and concerned for the benefit of the whole realm of England, with the authority established by these presents, do dispense with constitutions and ordinances propounded to the contrary, nothing whatsoever standing in the way.
Given at our manor of Lambeth, under our seal for enactments, the tenth day of the month of July, the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred forty-three; and of your majesty’s most happy and most illustrious reign, the thirty-fifth; and of our consecration, the eleventh year.
Nicholas Wotton, Comissioner
Richard Lyell, Clerk for enactments by the said very Reverend [Lord Archbishop]
Source: Kew, Surrey: The National Archives, E 30/1472(6). A formulaic Latin writ in the engrossing hand of Richard Lyell, Cranmer’s clerk for enactments, sealed with the archbishop’s outsized seal.
From Katherine Parr: Complete Works & Correspondences, edited by Janel Mueller.
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.
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.
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)
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.
‘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.
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.’
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.
In the year of 1533, Katherine is thought to have spent her widowhood with her cousins, the Strickland family at Sizergh Castle in Westmorland (now Cumbria). In the summer of 1534 she married John Neville, 3rd Baron Latymer, of Snape, North Yorkshire. At age 40, Lord Latimer was twice Katherine’s age. Latimer was her father’s second cousin, a twice-widowed descendant of George Neville, 1st Baron Latimer; Warwick, the ‘Kingmaker’s’, ‘idiot uncle’ and a 2nd great-grand uncle to Katherine [The Kingmaker’s sister, Lady Alice, was Katherine’s paternal great-grandmother]. From his first marriage to Dorothy de Vere, sister of John de Vere, 14th Earl of Oxford [m. by 1520], he had two children, his son and heir John and Margaret. After the death of his first wife on 7 February 1527, Neville remarried to Elizabeth Musgrave, daughter of Sir Edward Musgrave, c. 20 June 1528. They had no children and Neville was widowed again in 1530. Neville was one of fifteen children born to Richard Neville, 2nd Lord Latimer and Anne Stafford, daughter of Sir Humphrey Stafford. Latimer’s branch of the Neville family was in line for the title of Earl of Warwick [via his great-grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Beauchamp, daughter of the 13th Earl of Warwick] and because of this, Lord Latimer, dealt with quite a bit of sibling rivalry. Legal actions were taken by his younger brothers and Latimer, at the time of his marriage to Katherine, was having financial difficulties. But as Lady Latimer, Katherine now had a home of her own, a husband with a position and influence in the north, a ready-made family, and a title. Katherine would become the only female Parr, apart from her great-aunt, Mabel, to marry into the peerage. Katherine’s brother-in-law, William Herbert, would later become Earl of Pembroke during the reign of Edward VI promoting her sister from Lady Herbert to Countess of Pembroke from which the current Earls and other branches descend from. From the beginning of the marriage, Katherine tried to be a good wife. Her affection for her husband would grow deep enough to cherish a remembrance of him, his New Testament with his name inscribed inside, which she kept until her death. Katherine would also prove to be a good step-mother to her step-children; a trait which she would again show after her marriage to the King. Her “teenage” step-son, John, proved to be difficult. There is some indication that Margaret, his sister, was their father’s favorite. Never the less, Katherine would continue a relationship with the two after her marriage to King Henry, bringing Margaret to court as her maid-in-waiting and securing a position for John’s wife, Lucy, the new Lady Latimer in her household.
Latimer was a supporter of the old religion and bitterly opposed the king’s divorce and remarriage and it’s religious ramifications. In 1536, within two weeks of the riot in Louth, a mob appeared before the Latimer’s home threatening violence if Lord Latimer did not join their cause. Katherine watched as her husband was dragged away by the rebels. As prisoner of the rebels, conflicting stories of which side Latimer was truly on began to reach Cromwell and the King in London. The rebellion in Yorkshire put him in a terrible dilemma. If he was found guilty of any kind of treason his estates would be forfeited leaving Katherine and her step-children penniless. The King himself, wrote to the Duke of Norfolk pressing him to make sure Latimer would ‘condemn that villain Aske and submit [himself] to our clemency’. Latimer was more than happy to comply. Both Katherine’s brother, William Parr and uncle, William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Horton fought with the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Suffolk against the rebellion. It is to most likely to Katherine’s credit that Lord Latimer survived; both her brother and uncle probably intervened at one point and saved Lord Latimer’s life.
From the months of October 1536 and April 1537 Lady Latimer lived alone in fear with her step-children, struggling to survive. It is probable that in these uncertain times that Katherine’s strong reaction against the rebellion strengthened her adherence to the reformed church. In January 1537, Katherine and her step-children were held hostage at Snape Castle during the uprising of the North. The rebels ransacked the house and sent word to Lord Latimer, who was returning from London, that if he did not return immediately they would kill his family. When Lord Latimer returned to the castle he somehow talked the rebels into releasing his family and leaving, but the aftermath to follow with Lord Latimer would prove to be taxing on the whole family.
The family would later move south after the executions of the rebels which pleased Cromwell and the King. Although now charges were found, Latimer’s reputation which reflected upon Katherine, was tarnished for the rest of his life. He spent the last seven years of his life blackmailed by Cromwell. Katherine would spend much of her time in the south during the years of 1537-42. Her husband was called away frequently to do the biding of Cromwell and the King and be present during Parliament. With Cromwell’s fall in 1540, the Latimer’s reclaimed some dignity and as Lord Latimer attended Parliament in 1542 he and Katherine spent time in London that winter. Her brother, William and sister, Anne had been present at court. Anne entered court service in 1531 as maid-in-waiting to Henry’s queens. It was here that she made acquaintances and met her future fourth husband Sir Thomas Seymour. The atmosphere of the court was much different from the rural and parochial estates. It was at court that Katherine could find the latest trends, not only in religious matters, but in frivolous matters such as fashion and jewellery which she loved.
By the winter of 1542, Lord Latimer’s health had broken down after a grueling life of what some would call ‘political madness’. Katherine spent the winter of 1542-1543 nursing her husband. John Neville, Lord Latimer, died in 1543. In Lord Latimer’s will, Katherine was named guardian of his daughter, Margaret, and was put in charge of Lord Latimer’s affairs which were to be given over to his daughter at the age of her majority. Latimer left Katherine Stowe Manor and other properties. He also bequeathed money for supporting his daughter and in the case that his daughter did not marry within five years, Katherine, was to take £30 per annum out of the income to support her step-daughter. Katherine was left a rich widow faced with the possibility of having to return north after Lord Latimer’s death.
Using her late mother’s relationship with Henry’s first queen Katherine of Aragon, Katherine took the opportunity to renew her friendship with Lady Mary. By 16 February 1543, Katherine had established herself with Mary and was now part of her household although this has been disputed.
Susan E. James. Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love. The History Press, 2009 US Edition. pg 61-73.
Letters and Papers, Foreign & Domestic of the Reign of Henry VIII, II, no. 1174.