Catherine Parr: Snappin’ Necks, Cashin’ Checks (just go with it).

To say it is an honor to be closing out the legally-legitimate-wives portion of Henry VIII’s Vagtastic Voyage is an understatement. I know LHB and MRG love these bitches like their own belly-fruit, and to be granted the opportunity is on a par emotionally with the time I received a participation certificate for having completed five years of ballet: part gratitude, part pride, part sorrow, part uncontrollable and inexplicable rage.

I may be a little biased because ermine scoop sleeves are TO DIE FOR, but she was a classy bitch.

To tell the truth, Catherine Parr is a real admirable bitch. Ever since I read the Royal Dairies: Elizabeth I  at age 10, and she was described as having a real good relationship with young Cate Blanchett,  I was sold on the lady. She not only had a great relationship with all of Henry’s children, she had Henry restore Elizabeth and Mary back into succession in 1543, and also took a deep interest in educating Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey after Henry died. She was level-headed and politically savvy, successfully navigating accusations about her Protestant sympathies in later life, as well was ruling the country as regent while Henry was in France, and tactfully dealing with his erratic temperament brought on by tremendous pain in his last years. But, as is always the case with the chillest honies, she had some real tragic fucking times, a lot of haterz, and 4 husbands who ranked in various places on the dirtbag scale. Bear with me, cause there’s a lot of scandals wrapped into one quadruple-married woman’s life.

Born in 1512, her parents were exceptionally forward thinking, and despite the fact their child had a vagina, decided to educate her extensively. She was most likely the bestest learned of Henry’s wives, even surpassing dearest Anne Boleyn for smarts (also, she never got her head cut off- BOOM, CatherineParrRoasted.) Her dad died when she was but a wee bairn, and was close with her ma, but subsequently had to marry at the age of 17 to the (I’m guessing here) real hot, possibly gay, grandson of a real old dude who Mother Parr couldn’t actually pay a dowry too. Now if I know dem English Renaissances, Sir Edward Burgh the Elder wasn’t gonna take some dowryless little country bumpkin from the north of England (funny accent alert) into the family, even if she was fluent in several languages, widely read and able to play multiple instruments, ’cause talking in some deadass tongue like Latin isn’t going to turn your pansyboy grandson Sir Edward the Younger into a real man (IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT). Oh yeah, and it’s also possible that Edward 2 had a violent mental illness, which ran in his family and whose afflicted members were all hid up in the attic Jane Eyre style. Great!!

But anyway, in her will, Maud Parr, Catherine’s mom, said she was “indebted” to Sir Thomas, E2’s dad, and E1’s son. To me, that spells bangin’. Certainly conjecture, but how else was Maud going to continue her daughter on the path her ancestors set in motion by marrying successfully and not pissing anyone off at court? THROUGH A GREAT EFFING MARRIAGE, NO MATTER WHAT, THAT’S HOW.

Her first marriage was not happy, successful or long (I know, I know, but I set it up to be so great, right?). Edward was weak and sickly, and his dad was a patriarchal control freak who made his own son live in constant fear of him, and perhaps caused Catherine to not be able to conceive a child due to stress. Catherine wrote to her mom like er’y day, but by 1533, after 3ish years of marriage, all her problems went away when Edward died from being a little bitch. She got a sweetass deal out it though, when her dad-in-law felt mad guilty/wanted her to get out of his life, and gave her the income of three of his estates as a dower. BOOM, CatherineParrRoasted (I’ll stop).

Husband numero 2 was Catherine’s somethingth cousin somethingtimes removed, John Neville. They met because after the Burgh family kicked her out since she was no longer riding their son, Catherine went to live with her cousin’s widow, Catherine Neville. She kicked around the Nevillle estate for like a year, then got hitched with John, who was twice her age (rawrrr), and you know that silver fox made her a lottt happier than poor Edward and his brow-beaten, boy-lovin’, mentally-unstable limp dick. She became Lady Latimer (well la-dee-da), and continued to climb the social ladder (if Edward had stayed alive long enough he would have become Baron, and Baroness outranks Lady, but still, woman is doing good by her own self at this point). A small problem arose however, because despite her second hubby’s good standing in the Pantheon of Assholes that is the English social hierarchy, he sort of kind of was a Catholic. Woops! Probs not the best ring to throw your that into in 16th century Britain there bud. In 1536, two years into that marriage, a mob came to their house and dragged John away. It gets real politically complex at this point, and people’s feelings get hurt. The dilemma arose from the fact that John’s 14 brothers and sisters (shutthefrontdoor) were being real assfucks about money, so John basically relied on the grace of Henry VIII to not get kicked off his estate, and if he was convicted of treason, Catherine and his two children from his first marriage would be up shit creek without a paddle.

Now, Catherine’s a smart bitch, and she’s not gonna sit by and watched her husband waste in prison while she quaked in boots and waited to be next on the chopping block. She got her brother and uncle, who were both close to the king, to fight against the rebellion and convince Henry to bring John back into favor. He survived, but there were several trying years where Catherine acted out Adrian Brody’s Academy Award winning role in 2002’s Holocaust masterpiece, The Pianist (And by that I mean she ran from safe house to safe house, barely surviving, and artfully playing the piano). John was blackmailed by Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s yesman, from 1537 to 1543, and it effectively killed him. She was once again a rich widow, and at the age of 31, she wasn’t exactly the hot new slice on the block, but she had the fatal trait that probably did the most to slay our boy Henry in his final, morbidly obese years: she wasn’t a dumb little shit. Catherine became part of Mary, Henry’s first daughter’s household, and not only caught the eye of Thomas Seymour, Jane Seymour’s scheming pile of horsepoop brother, but also Henry. Hmmmm, who’s she gonna pick???? (also, Henry shipped Seymour’s ass out to Brussels. He wasn’t taking chances with this one.)

I’ve already prior listed her accomplishments as queen, and if I haven’t lost y’all by this point, I’ll be amazed, but throughout this writing process, I’ve been distracted by the lifestyle porn that is It’s Complicated: horrible movie, but I was drawn to it after MRG’s recommendation since I look like Meryl Streep, and she said something way back in Bath about how it would be like looking in a mirror to my more successful, future life. ANYWAY, long story short, Catherine’s tenure was Henry’s last wife was plagued by the fact he was sort of going batshit over everything, including his health, the state of Europe as he had made it in his younger, more virile years (as also, speaking of, his new lack of virility, since he was too fat to even mount a horse without a special crane thing, let alone a lady), and his insane jealousy over whether Catherine was cheating on him (either with dudes, or with the Church, your pick). She managed to assuage his fears on both points though, and by all accounts they seemed to have had a lively and intellectual marriage. Probably since he couldn’t really continue in the ways of secular flesh, but hey, I’m betting she was cool with that.

Henry circa 1540. I mean, it could be a loooooot worse.

After he died in 1547 and less than four years of marriage, Catherine got a boatload of money (this seemed to have happened a lot), had a few altercations with some hobag, the Duchess of Somerset about jewels and titles and crap, but mostly seemed like she could have cared less, and promptly went on to marry Thomas Seymour. Now you may go ‘Awwww, that’s so GD sweet! They really did love each other, and he waited for her! AWWWWWWW!!!!’ Wrong, shut up, let me finish.

They married in secret because it was like 6 months after Henry croaked and that’s kind of considered insensitively soon for a dowager queen—like ‘big slutty-slut’ soon. Eventually everything got uncovered and people were all betrayed and shit, including the new King Edward, and his sis, Mary, who forbid Ebeth from talking to Catherine, even though they were toight like toigers. Also, Seymour wasn’t helping too much by making a big deal out of this and begging everyone he could think of for help. Tasteless, Tom, tasteless.

Catherine dusted off that shoulder though, and did what she always did , which was be a strong black woman and figure things out on her own. She promised Elizabeth and her cousin Jane Grey education, so they lived with her for a while and got in good BUT, then fucking Thomas has to get all ‘obsessed’ with Elizabeth and kind of sort of try to rape her a bunch, so Catherine sent her away. At this point she was pregnant with her first child, so she couldn’t really kick Thomas’ ass to the curb  (though I bet she would have). In August, 1548, she had her baby and named it Mary, after Mary Tudor (mayb’s a little desperate there, Cate…), and since she was 36, which was waaaaay past child bearing age at that point, she died six days later. Let’s all have a moment of silence for this great lady and her 4 unworthy husbands.

Good? Good.

Thomas Seymour. A real fucking catch.

So Thomas continued to be a douchenozzle and was beheaded for treason less than a year later, probably because Catherine wasn’t there to keep his ass in line. Catherine’s daughter was taken into custody by Catherine’s biffle, the Duchess of Suffolk, but then she drops off the map and probably died. WHY IS THIS SHIT SO SAD??

So that was long, sorry bros. I feel as though I do not need to feel as though I should have a conclusion. You guys are smart, you know how sicknasty this bitch was. No, she wasn’t Henry’s number one lay, but neither was he for her. Yeah, she wanted social advancement, but no she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her dignity and backstab her way to the top. She was savvy, streetsmart, and some other ‘s’ word. She is the way Henry Week: Wives Portion should be concluded: with the greatest.

JAF


Jane Seymour: (shrug) enh.

When first discussing Henry’s Bonetastic Adventure Week with MRG and LHB, I made the mistake of saying Jane Seymour was ‘sort of a pussy.’ This had been bred from many years believing that since Jane had a blipster marriage, and pooped out one weakass manbaby only to die shortly after, she was, well, you know, a pussy. A shitstorm ensued in which both of them said something to the tune of, “Woah woah WOAH, slow down bitch, Jane Seymour was awesome. Plus there’s that actress with her name.” Ok, I can take that, I can look into this more, I can try and do this kingbearing wench some justice.

Jane Seymour: The 'Wild West look' was very in vogue for the Tudor court, except they called it 'New World Futurism for Those of Lesser Economic Standing with a Penchant for Cattle.'

A quick flip through the internets and my Starkey (which everyone should own, ’cause the man writes like academic salaciousness is going out of style… since it was never actually in style) told me that one Jane Seymour was actually quite scandalous in her own right. And now I will educate all you plebs; you with whom I used to keep company, but will now forever deny having connection. Be grateful.

Born most likely in 1508, Jane Seymour was distantly royal, but, more importantly, gifted with a family more misguidedly ambitious than Stalin’s Five Year Plan. She herself was mostly likely not too involved in climbing the ol’ social ladder, but she was certainly along for the ride. Educated in France at the same time, and in the same court as Anne Boleyn, it seems like a bit of a suckerpunch on Jane’s part since she was a lot of the reason Anne had her head chopped off, but hey, business is business. Jane’s sister had married Henry’s backstabbing secretary, Thomas Cromwell, and since pimping his own wife would be a little cheap, why not sneak that sister in instead! Jane was first made a lady-of-honor to Katherine, and then a lady-in-waiting to Anne, and her brothers coached in her in how to attract the king’s attention. Little things like good conversation (“Oh Henry, you’re so smart/funny/well-hung.”), being in the right place at the right time (as in around Henry 24/7), and how to effectively heave a bosom (that one’s self explanatory).

Jane's brohan Edward Seymour. Yeah, he looks legit.

Say you’re Henry: you’ve got yourself a hotass wife, but she’s also crazy jealous as balls, and you sort of pushed your county to the brink of civil war for her, and now she’s not even doing her wifely duty and turning your magic juice into a viable heir! The nerve. So, when you see this nice little honey-dip with child-bearing hips by the name of Jane Seymour, the gears start to turn. Basically right after she was introduced at court in 1532, Henry started trying to seduce her. He supposedly gave her a necklace with his portrait inside, which Anne, as a good den mother to her ladies, took interest in and asked to see. Jane got all shy and shit, and Anne made her hand it over, like a teacher confiscating a dirty magazine disguised in a copy of The Scarlet Letter.

Now Jane was a little mousefuck of a person, and though she was attractive, she wasn’t sex on a stick like her predecessor; a better descriptor is maybe, ‘safe.’ I equate hers and Henry’s relationship to when you break up with a real crazy, but real hot bitch (Anne), and you just want somebody to take home to the parents who doesn’t give you a handy in the car before you go in, so you’re at half-mast when your mom opens the front door (Jane).

For about a YEAR AND A HALF before Anne passed on to the sweet bye-and-bye, Henry and Jane were basically doing it. PUBLICALLY. Bitch had balls, you gotta give her that. She wasn’t too good at ‘booklearnin,’ but she could sew and embroider, and was very well mannered, and could run a household with great aplomb, so that made her an outwardly good match after a woman who spent money faster than LHB at a unicorn store. Her court would be described as austere and formal, much like herself (Even though she was corrupt enough to bang his mistress’ husband, she still felt the need to impose Protestant strictness and moral superiority over e’ryone else). The wild coke parties and orgies were done; this was the dawning of an Age very unlike that of Aquarius.

After Anne had a second miscarriage in either late 1535 or early 1536, Henry moved Jane into a royally appointed shagpad, and shit started to get serious.

Not exactly a dimepeice, but at least a 7/10 if we're looking at it from the perspective of the proto-WASP. I mean, just look at those lips pursed in disapproval of Catholics/ethnics!

I’m 99% positive that while Henry was calling Anne a sorceress and incestuous and all sorts of nasty, nasty things, he lived a nice little domestic life with Jane, much like a 1950’s household. Their conversations would revolve around sales this week on canned corn, the linen rotation for the spring, and, oh yeah, Jane, I’ll make you my mothereffing queen if you be quiet and bear me a son. Yeah, that’s cool. Supposedly less than a day after Anne was executed, Henry married Jane, but didn’t announce it until nearly two weeks later. Well, he had to look like he cared.

Fun Fact: Jane was never actually crowned queen because of a plague at Westminster, and when it finally died down, she was already in the final days of her pregnancy and whoop! she died. BUT, she is also the only one of Henry’s wives to have been given a queen’s funeral (hmmm…), and is buried next to him. Too cute.

SUPER MEGA FOXY AWESOME FUN FACT: The Brits absolutely love reliving this relatively shameful period in their history with multiple cinematic versions of Henry’s poonicide. One of the best is the 1969 classic, Anne of the Thousand Days, in which Jane Seymour plays a relatively small role (BUT, in which Henry is played by Richard Burton, and Liz Taylor pops up for a brief cameo/conjugal on-set visit), but one in which she is portrayed as not particualrly all that great. This is kind of a big deal, since history has generally turned a very kind eye to Jane Seymour, even though she was a husband stealing shit-for-brains who weedled her way into the hearts of the British Isles by staring blankly and having that sexy, dead-fish palor.

Not that I’m trying to cast this woman as something less than smart, but Anne was a hard act to follow, cause it must be admitted, she was brilliant. Jane on the other hand… less so. I mean she was fine and everything, but she got the right side of the genetic cointoss when she had Edward VI, and before that she mostly had to just follow other people’s directions and put out. Who doesn’t want that life???

Thing was, after she got married in May, 1536, and became pregnant by early 1537, it had become clear that she was both sickly and weak, as well as kind of a drag, and nobody wants an unfun queen. She basically said and did nothing interesting to try and avoid Anne’s fate, and though she did get a baby in her belly pretty quick, it might not have been one of Henry’s favorite husbandly duties to do the nasty with a silent bangmaid.

Edward: Sickly as fuck.

Jane’s labor was difficult and lasted two days, and when Henry was asked if it got down to the wire, which one he wanted saved, he answered like the sly dog he was, “If you cannot save both, at least let the child live, for other wives are easily found.” After she did deliver Edward safe and sound, she was forced by Henry to take part in the lavish christening ceremony that lasted like five hours and only served to kill her faster. Within two weeks of Edward’s birth, Jane died from complications or infection or some science crap like that. It has been speculated that Henry sort of, you know, let Jane die. I’m not sure how he really could have helped her not die, considering that even with the might of the British empire behind him, the best medical advice that could be offered was to bleed her and keep her away from Jews, but still, he can’t have been all that sad when she offed it ’cause it was pretty clear she wasn’t going to push another watermelon-sized human out of her vajay any time soon.

All in all, Jane Seymour could either be regarded as a social-climbing numbskull who was pushed along by her male family members into the open and lustful arms of a rapidly expanding ginger, OR, as a victim of circumstances whose husband let her die when she proved that she could put a penis on the throne at least once. Either way, I’m still not her biggest fan, but she had enough gusto to shove Anne Boleyn off Henry’s lap, and that is certainly not something a pussy could do. …Well, no, actually, shit, whatever, you know that I meant.

JAF.