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.
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.
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.
Okay ladies and gents, it’s time to get our anniversary on. A sassy little lady by the name of Anne Boleyn was beheaded on May 19, 1536 on the orders of her caring husband, and as we’re coming up on the 475th deathday of one of history’s sexiest ladies, we thought we’d be remiss if we DIDN’T celebrate. Specifically by dedicating a week to the truly astounding sexual legacy of Anne’s husband and England’s undisputed fornication champion, Henry VIII. We’ll look at each of his six wives who were all scandalous in their own special way, and at the end of the week, we’ll examine his extramarital affairs (this will be a very long but exceptionally juicy post).
This theme week is perfect for several reasons, aside from its timeliness: JAF knows a shit ton about
everything the Renaissance in England, to say that LHB idolizes Anne Boleyn is the understatement of the millennium, and I’ve seen seasons 1-3 of The Tudors. Clearly we’re experts.
Look forward to posts dedicated to:
Wife 1 – Katherine of Aragon, who may or may not have boned Henry’s brother.
Wife 2 – Anne Boleyn, who literally lost her head over the guy.
Wife 3 – Jane Seymour, who wooed Henry with her seemingly pure feminine wiles.
Wife 4 – Anne of Cleves, who was quite unfortunate looking but lovely on the inside.
Wife 5 – Catherine Howard, who was an eighteen-year-old hoebag married to a 49-year-old rotting mound of flesh.
Wife 6 – Catherine Parr, who was married twice before Henry and once after.
The Mistresses – Bessie Blount, Mary Boleyn, Jane Popincourt, Anne Bassett, Elizabeth Carew, Margaret Shelton, Katherine Willoughby, and about a thousand more promiscuous Renaissance ladies.
Seriously, this is going to be a good week. I know LHB’s Anne Boleyn post will be her life’s opus. Enjoy!