It took me until the season finale to get to writing about the relations in the series. I won’t deny, I was thinking of not even watching. After The White Queen, I was repulsed. Ok, so there are NO other shows that feature this time period–with such depth. Surprisingly, I fell in love with this series. Why? Actors were better and the clothing of Queen Elizabeth was gorgeous! Big thank you to the costume designers and hair dressers! BRAVO!
So, why am I doing an article on Katherine Parr in relation to those historical figures featured in The White Princess? Because the Parr family was there at court. They were ALWAYS there. Why are they not featured? I honestly have no idea. It’s a pity that these shows don’t weave in connections to the future Queens of England. We know that the Boleyn, Seymour, and Howards were present. The Howards are the easiest to track. The Boleyn family starts to come around with the Howards eventually. And the Seymours? They are also around, somewhere.
The Parr family, however, were courtiers to the Crown since the 1300s.
In the reign of Henry Tudor, the Parrs’ were quite close to the crown on both the side of Henry AND Elizabeth. Sir William Parr had died shortly after the coronation of King Richard III and Queen Anne. His widow, Lady Elizabeth (born FitzHugh), had been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne as Duchess and Queen. She was part of the coronation and witnessed her niece and cousin being crowned. After the death of her first husband, Lord Parr, Elizabeth would marry again to a very close ally of the Lancastrians/King Henry. His name was Sir Nicholas Vaux. He was the son of Lancastrian sympathizers. His mother was a lady to Queen Margaret of Anjou and was with her in exile. Lady Margaret Beaufort was close to Parr’s step-father, Sir Nicholas Vaux, who had been educated in her household. Parr is also believed to have spent some time in her household and may have been educated there as well. That wouldn’t be completely absurd seeing how close Margaret was to the Vaux family.
Katherine’s father, Sir Thomas Parr, was a close friend of King Henry VIII. Sir Thomas was present at court and was in the circle of Henry VIII which included Sir Thomas Boleyn. Both were knighted in 1509 at Henry’s coronation; Parr was also made a Knight of the Garter and appointed Sheriff of Northamptonshire on that occasion. Parr became Master of the Wards and Comptroller of the household of Henry VIII. Parr’s brother, William [later Baron Parr of Horton], was also a part of the King’s circle. They kept company with the Staffords and their cousins, the Nevilles. They were also friend’s with the Carews and Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne Boleyn. In 1515, Parr was entrusted with escorting Queen Margaret of Scotland [the king’s elder sister] from Newcastle back to London.
As for Elizabeth of York’s connection to Katherine Parr, we have it on both sides. One comes from her father’s royal blood and the other comes from a Woodville connection that connects her mother to one of Elizabeth Woodville’s relatives. Lady Parr’s grandmother, Lady Alice Fogge (Haute) was a lady to Queen Elizabeth Woodville. When Elizabeth became queen to Edward IV, she brought her favorite female relatives to court to serve her. Lady Fogge, was one of five ladies-in-waiting to her cousin, Queen Elizabeth, in the 1460s.
Since the beginning of Philippa Gregory’s obsession with the Woodville family and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, she has claimed that Jacquetta was descended from the Dukes of Burgundy. For the past few weeks I have been trying to find a link to what she might be talking about. Jacquetta’s tree doesn’t show any connection or descent from the Dukes of Burgundy since before .. well .. I’m still looking back past the 1100s.
OK… I think I found what they are talking about; two explanations and a HUGE stretch.
Theory One — Bedford’s Wives
Remember “The Tudors” brilliant idea of lumping King Henry VIII’s sisters in to one character? Perhaps Philippa Gregory and the writer Emma Frost are doing the same; two historical characters compiled in to one. Here’s how it works: Jacquetta was married to the Lancastrian Duke of Bedford. Bedford’s FIRST wife, Anne of Burgundy, was from Burgundy; the daughter of John II, Duke of Burgundy. Anne’s brother was Philip “the Good”, Duke of Burgundy and father of Charles, the Bold, who was featured in the second episode of “The White Queen” as “cousin” to Jacquetta. A year after the death of Anne of Burgundy, Bedford remarried to Jacquetta, but faced opposition for various political reasons in this decision from Anne’s brother the Duke of Burgundy. From this time on, relations between the two became cool, culminating in the 1435 peace negotiations between Burgundy and Charles VII, the exiled king of France. Later that year, a letter was dispatched to Henry VI, formally breaking their alliance.
The series doesn’t mention the fact that Jacquetta was married to the Duke of Bedford – she is *just* a powerful noblewoman related to the Dukes of Burgundy which is not really the case as I will explain. The series chose to omit that the Duke of Bedford existed and married Jacquetta, and Jacquetta in my opinion is seen as a mix of two historical women – Anne of Burgundy, Bedford’s first wife, and Jacquetta of Luxembourg.
Theory Two — Taranto Relations
Second possible explanation Jacquetta’s grandfather, the Duke of Andria (Francesco del Balzo) married Marguerite of Taranto whose mother was Empress Catherine of Constantinople, daughter of Charles, Count of Valois (4th son of Philip III of France, brother to the 2nd queen consort of Edward I of England, Marguerite of France and uncle to queen consort Isabel of France of Edward II of England).
Francesco and Marguerite had two kids that produced NO surviving issue! Any who, Empress Catherine (of Valois) was a paternal sister to Philip VI of France (son of Charles of Valois and his first wife, Margaret, Countess of Anjou). Philip VI married Joan of Burgundy, daughter of Robert II, Duke of Burgundy. In 1361, Joan’s grandnephew, Philip I of Burgundy, died without legitimate issue, ending the male line of the Dukes of Burgundy. The rightful heir to Burgundy was unclear: King Charles II of Navarre, grandson of Joan’s elder sister Margaret, was the heir according to primogeniture, but John II of France (Joan’s son) claimed to be the heir according the proximity of blood. In the end, John won.
So Jacquetta wasn’t related to them at all by my calculations; only by marriage. Her half-uncle (James of Baux) died in 1383 and her half-aunt (Antonia, Queen of Sicily) died in 1373. They were the only blood connection to the Dukes of Burgundy as cousins. Jacquetta wasn’t born until 1416 — so there would be no close connection.
Other Possible Theory — Henry V of Luxembourg
However, there is a stretch here — Bonne of Bohemia [of Luxembourg] was the mother of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, himself the great-grandfather of Charles the Bold. Bonne of Bohemia was the great-great-granddaughter of Henry V, Count of Luxembourg. Jacquetta herself was a 5x great-granddaughter of Henry V. Funny thing being — anyone who descended from King Edward III of England [most to all of the nobility at court and royal houses of Europe by the reign of King Edward IV] descended from Henry V of Luxembourg via his great-granddaughter, Philippa of Hainault, queen consort to Edward III of England. Included in that long list are Queens Katherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Parr [wives 1,3,4, and 6 of King Henry VIII of England].
So using that connection, Jacquetta and Charles would have been at the closest 6th cousins, once removed. Where as the King’s mother, Cecily [Neville], was a 1st cousin, once removed of the Duke. Cecily’s mother, Lady Joan Beaufort [daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster], was a grandaunt of Charles of Burgundy. So who are we kidding when it comes to the show — we saw the King’s mother treated rather poorly [imo extremely] while Jacquetta was positioned as a high born noblewoman with close connections to Burgundy and what not. Wiki [not a good source] even tried to pull that Jacquetta was cousin to Sigismund of Luxembourg, the Holy Roman Emperor (1368–1437); that her first marriage to the Duke of Bedford [John of Lancaster, a younger son of the first Lancastrian King, Henry IV] was
“to strengthen ties between England and the Holy Roman Empire and to increase English influence in the affairs of Continental Europe.”
In actuality, Jacquetta was a fourth cousin, twice removed of Sigismund. Not a bad match for a younger son of King Henry IV, but how is marrying a fourth cousin, twice removed going “to strengthen ties between England and the Holy Roman Empire“?
To add to the distance between Jacquetta and the Holy Roman Emperors — the second Luxembourg Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund, had only one child; a daughter. Elisabeth of Luxembourg was the only child of the Emperor and his second wife and consort, Barbara of Cilli. When Sigismund died in 1437, Elisabeth was expected to ascend to her father’s thrones, but her rights were ignored and the titles of King of Germany, Hungary, and Bohemia was passed to Elisabeth’s husband Albert V, Duke of Austria. The title of Holy Roman Emperor was passed to the House of Habsburg [Philip the Bold would marry Juana I of Castile, sister of Queen Katherine of Aragon] where it would stay for three centuries [1440-1740]. Frederick V, Duke of Austria would become Frederick III of the Holy Roman Empire. After only two Emperors from the House of Luxembourg, the title was passed to the Habsburg dynasty where it would remain until 1740 upon the death of Charles IV. Charles, like Sigismund, had only one surviving daughter. Maria Theresa, was obviously denied her rights to succeed as Holy Roman Empress because she was a woman. Her father, Charles IV, was succeeded by Charles VII of the House of Wittlesbach. Charles VII ruled until his death in 1745. It was then that Maria Theresa’s husband was elected as Holy Roman Emperor and she became his consort. The House was now called Habsburg-Lorraine.
In the show, the marriage of Edward’s sister, Margaret of York, is hinted to be due to Jacquetta’s relations. Margaret of York would marry Charles as his third wife on 27 June 1468. They had no issue, but Margaret was a wonderful stepmother to her husband’s children.
Chipps Smith, Jeffrey (1984). “The Tomb of Anne of Burgundy, Duchess of Bedford, in the Musée du Louvre“. Gesta23 (01): 39–50.
Weir, Alison (1996). “The Wars of the Roses: Lancaster and York“. London: Ballantine Books.