Prayers of Queen Katherine Parr by the Princess Elizabeth, 1545

For Christmas, 1545, Princess Elizabeth was determined to give her stepmother and father something that would please them both. Elizabeth decided to take the published book by the new Queen, Prayers and Meditations, and transcribe it into Latin, French, and Italian. Elizabeth presented the gift at Christmas only to find her father irritated and annoyed. At the time, Elizabeth was barely twelve. For any person to perform such a feat at such a young age and embroider her own book cover–mind blowing. However, her father thought it was some sort of joke and seemed to be somewhat jealous of his wife. Why? One can only imagine what Henry was thinking. Knowing his temper, Henry was probably upset that Elizabeth had not translated one of his works into some lavish Latin based language — note: Henry never had a book published. Instead, Henry had yet another wife who aspired to be a great woman. Like Katherine of Aragon, Parr was highly educated. Her mother, the widowed Lady Maud Parr, who was close to Queen Katherine (of Aragon), was a mother of her time. As Princess Mary was being educated and taught to someday perhaps succeed her father, Lady Maud took note and used the same system Thomas More used, to educate his daughters. Queen Katherine Parr was given an enviable education which was only afforded to royals and top nobility. One of the top Tudor biographers, Dr. Starkey, has gone as far as saying that Parr was the most educated of all six wives. In the end, Parr would publish two books and her poems/prayers would be added to Prayer books later on.

Prayer Book of Princess Elizabeth (1545)
Embroidered back cover of the trilingual translation by Elizabeth I. Parr’s monogram is in the centre. (Wikipedia)

Another manuscript beautifully written by the Princess Elizabeth about a year later is now at the British Museum. It is on vellum, and contains prayers or meditations, composed originally by Queen Katherine Parr in English, and translated by the Princess into Latin, French, and Italian. The title as given in the book reads, ‘Precationes … ex piis scriptoribus per nobiliss. et pientiss. D. Catharinam Anglie, Francie, Hibernieq. reginam collecte, et per D. Elizabetam ex anglico converse.’ It is, moreover, dedicated to Henry viii., the wording being, ‘Illustrissimo Henrico octavo, Anglie, Francie, Hibernieq. regi,’ etc., and dated Hertford, 20th December 1545.

It is bound in canvas, and measures 5¾ by 4 inches, the groundwork being broadly worked in tapestry-stitch, or some stitch analogous to it, in red silk, resembling in method the work on the ground of The Miroir of the Synneful Soul already described. On this, in the centre of each side, is a large monogram worked in blue silk, interwoven with silver thread, containing the letters K, probably standing for Katherine, A, F, H, and R, possibly meaning ‘Anglie, Francie, Hibernieque, Reginæ,’ but like most monograms this one can doubtless be otherwise interpreted. Above and below the monogram are smaller H’s, worked in red silk, interwoven with gold thread. In each corner is a heartsease of yellow and purple silk, interwoven with gold thread, and having small green leaves between each of the petals. The work which was once on the back is now so worn that it cannot be traced sufficiently to tell what it originally was. The designs of these two volumes, credited to the Princess Elizabeth, resemble each other to some extent; they both have a monogram in the centre, they both have heartsease in the corners and groundwork of a like character. They are, as far as workmanship goes, still more alike, similar thick silk is used for the ground, and threads and braids of a thick nature, with metal interwoven, are used on both for the ornamental work. Speaking of this British Museum book, the Countess of Wilton says, ‘there is little doubt that Elizabeth’s own needle wrought the ornaments thereon.’

Source: English Embroidered Bookbindings by Cyril James Humphries Davenport. Alfred Pollard Release, January 23, 2006 [EBook #17585]. pg 34-35.

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Queen Katherine Parr: The First Woman and Queen of England to be Published

First published in 1545,
First published in 1545, “Prayers or Meditations” by Queen Katherine Parr became so popular that 19 new editions were published by 1595 (reign of Elizabeth I). This edition was published in 1546 and bound by a cover made by the Nuns of Little Gedding. Located at Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe.

Queen Katherine Parr published two books in her lifetime. The first, ‘Prayers and Meditations’, was published while King Henry VIII was still alive [1545]. Some sources state 24 April 1544 as being the day that the book was available.

Folger Shakespeare Library PDI Record: --- Call Number (PDI): STC 4824a Creator (PDI): Catharine Parr, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548. Title (PDI): [Prayers stirryng the mind unto heavenlye medytacions] Created or Published (PDI): [1550] Physical Description (PDI): title page Image Root File (PDI): 17990 Image Type (PDI): FSL collection Image Record ID (PDI): 18050 MARC Bib 001 (PDI): 165567 Marc Holdings 001 (PDI): 159718 Hamnet Record: --- Creator (Hamnet): Catharine Parr, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548. Uniform Title (Hamnet): Prayers stirryng the mind unto heavenlye medytacions Title (Hamnet): Praiers Title (Hamnet): Prayers or meditacions, wherein the minde is stirred, paciently to suffre all afflictions here, to set at nought the vayne prosperitee of this worlde, and alway to longe for the euerlastinge felicitee: collected out of holy workes by the most vertuous and gracious princesse Katherine Queene of England, Fraunce, and Ireland. Place of Creation or Publ. (Hamnet): [London : Creator or Publisher (Hamnet): W. Powell?, Date of Creation or Publ. (Hamnet): ca. 1550] Physical Description (Hamnet): [62] p. ; 8⁰. Folger Holdings Notes (Hamnet): HH48/23. Brown goatskin binding, signed by W. Pratt. Imperfect: leaves D2-3 and all after D5 lacking; D2-3 and D6-7 supplied in pen facsimile. Pencilled bibliographical note of Bernard Quaritch. Provenance: Stainforth bookplate; Francis J. Stainforth - Harmsworth copy Notes (Hamnet): An edition of: Prayers stirryng the mind unto heavenlye medytacions. Notes (Hamnet): D2r has an initial 'O' with a bird. Notes (Hamnet): Formerly STC 4821. Notes (Hamnet): Identified as STC 4821 on UMI microfilm, reel 678. Notes (Hamnet): Printer's name and publication date conjectured by STC. Notes (Hamnet): Running title reads: Praiers. Notes (Hamnet): Signatures: A-D⁸ (-D8). Notes (Hamnet): This edition has a prayer for King Edward towards the end. Citations (Hamnet): ESTC (RLIN) S114675 Citations (Hamnet): STC (2nd ed.), 4824a Subject (Hamnet): Prayers -- Early works to 1800. Associated Name (Hamnet): Harmsworth, R. Leicester Sir, (Robert Leicester), 1870-1937, former owner. Call Number (Hamnet): STC 4824a  STC 4824a, title page not for reproduction without written permission. Folger Shakespeare Library 201 East Capitol Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
Folger Shakespeare Library
PDI Record:

Call Number (PDI):
STC 4824a
Creator (PDI):
Catharine Parr, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548.
Title (PDI):
[Prayers stirryng the mind unto heavenlye medytacions]
Created or Published (PDI):
[1550]
Physical Description (PDI):
title page
Image Root File (PDI):
17990
Image Type (PDI):
FSL collection
Image Record ID (PDI):
18050
MARC Bib 001 (PDI):
165567
Marc Holdings 001 (PDI):
159718
Hamnet Record:

Creator (Hamnet):
Catharine Parr, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1512-1548.
Uniform Title (Hamnet):
Prayers stirryng the mind unto heavenlye medytacions
Title (Hamnet):
Praiers
Title (Hamnet):
Prayers or meditacions, wherein the minde is stirred, paciently to suffre all afflictions here, to set at nought the vayne prosperitee of this worlde, and alway to longe for the euerlastinge felicitee: collected out of holy workes by the most vertuous and gracious princesse Katherine Queene of England, Fraunce, and Ireland.
Place of Creation or Publ. (Hamnet):
[London :
Creator or Publisher (Hamnet):
W. Powell?,
Date of Creation or Publ. (Hamnet):
ca. 1550]
Physical Description (Hamnet):
[62] p. ; 8⁰.
Folger Holdings Notes (Hamnet):
HH48/23. Brown goatskin binding, signed by W. Pratt. Imperfect: leaves D2-3 and all after D5 lacking; D2-3 and D6-7 supplied in pen facsimile. Pencilled bibliographical note of Bernard Quaritch. Provenance: Stainforth bookplate; Francis J. Stainforth – Harmsworth copy
Notes (Hamnet):
An edition of: Prayers stirryng the mind unto heavenlye medytacions.
Notes (Hamnet):
D2r has an initial ‘O’ with a bird.
Notes (Hamnet):
Formerly STC 4821.
Notes (Hamnet):
Identified as STC 4821 on UMI microfilm, reel 678.
Notes (Hamnet):
Printer’s name and publication date conjectured by STC.
Notes (Hamnet):
Running title reads: Praiers.
Notes (Hamnet):
Signatures: A-D⁸ (-D8).
Notes (Hamnet):
This edition has a prayer for King Edward towards the end.
Citations (Hamnet):
ESTC (RLIN) S114675
Citations (Hamnet):
STC (2nd ed.), 4824a
Subject (Hamnet):
Prayers — Early works to 1800.
Associated Name (Hamnet):
Harmsworth, R. Leicester Sir, (Robert Leicester), 1870-1937, former owner.
Call Number (Hamnet):
STC 4824a
STC 4824a, title page not for reproduction without written permission.
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Henry was said to be proud and at the same time jealous of his wife’s success. ‘Lamentations of a Sinner’ was not published until after Henry died [in 1547]. In ‘Lamentations‘, Catherine’s Protestant voice was a bit stronger. If she had published ‘Lamentations’ in Henry’s lifetime, she most likely would have been executed as a heretic despite her status as queen consort. Henry did not like his wives outshining him [i.e. Anne Boleyn]…hence her compliance and submission to the King when she found that she was to be arrested by the Catholic faction at court. Her voice may have been dialed down a notch, but once her step-son, the Protestant boy King Edward took the throne — she had nothing to hold her back. Her best friend, the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, and brother Northampton encouraged Parr to publish.

A publication of the book c.1550 [after the death of Queen Katherine]
A publication of the book  The Lamentation of a Sinner c.1550 [after the death of Queen Katherine]

Published in 1547 [according to Sudeley Castle] 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. The transcription of the title page here is… “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.”

I was lucky enough to see a copy both a Sudeley Castle and at the Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Queen Katherine's
Queen Katherine’s “Lamentations” on display at the Vivat Rex Exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.