Queen Katherine and Media: Review of “Lamentation” by CJ Sansom

The day I found out that a link had been added to a Guardian Book Review was last year on this day. The highlighted “Lamentations of a Sinner“, went directly to my web site, TUDORQUEEN6. I was astonished and flattered. So, lets look back on this review…
A series of novels have been written about Queen Catherine Parr. Recently, Catherine was a hot topic for historical fiction authors like Philippa Gregory and Elizabeth Freemantle. This book, “Lamentations”, is an older novel that deals with a reoccuring narrator named Matthew Shardlake.
In this novel, Shardlake and the queen go back a long way, to a time when she was merely the widowed Lady Latimer and Shardlake entertained vain hopes that she might overlook his hump if he offered his hand (in the manner of all great detectives, Shardlake’s vast intellect and emotional insecurity mean he doesn’t have much luck with women). But though Shardlake has repeatedly vowed to cease putting himself in danger, he can’t resist the commission to trace the whereabouts of a secret, potentially heretical manuscript that has been stolen from the queen’s bedchamber.
Catherine did write a book and published it during the King’s reign. The book, Prayers and Meditations, was a huge success and the Queen was encouraged to write more. A mere encounter with almost being arrested quieted the Queen, just enough to make her the only surviving wife of King Henry. After Henry’s death in January of 1547, the Dowager Queen was once again encouraged to put forth her writings by her brother, William, now Marquess of Northampton and the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, Katherine Willoughby. Lamentations of a Sinner was published. The book was more “heretical” than her earlier publication. If Catherine had tried to publish the book under Henry’s reign, she most definitely would have been arrested and tried for “heresy” by the Catholics at court. Whether or not she would have been put to death, we will never know, because Catherine was smart enough to plead her case to the King before the Catholic faction could even arrest her. Way to go Catherine!
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The Lamentation of a Sinner

Lamentations of a Sinner

by Catherine Parr, Queen of England and Ireland

A publication of the book c.1550 [after the death of Queen Katherine]
A publication of the book c.1550 [after the death of Queen Katherine]

“The Lamentacion of a synner, made by the most vertuous Lady quene Caterine, bewailyng the ignoraunce of her blind life; let foorth & put in print at the inflance befire of the right gracious lady Caterine, Duchesse of Suffolke, and the ernest request of the right honourable Lord William Parre, Marquesse of Northampton.”

Published in 1548 after the death of King Henry VIII, “The Lamentation of a Sinner” was Catherine’s second book which was more extreme than her first publication. She was encouraged by her good friend the Duchess of Suffolk and her brother, the Marquess, to publish.
[Vivat Rex Exhibition, Folger Shakespeare Library, STC 4828]