12 July 1543 – Henry VIII marries Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer

Catherine ParrOn 12th July 1543, Henry VIII married Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer, in the Queen’s Closet at Hampton Court Palace. This was Henry VIII’s sixth and final marriage and Catherine was also not new to marriage, having been married and widowed twice before, firstly to Edward Burgh (or Borough), son of Sir Thomas Burgh and grandson of Edward, 2nd Baron Burgh, and secondly to John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer of Snape in Yorkshire. Latimer had died in March 1543. The King was not Catherine’s final marriage, she went on to to marry Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley, in 1547.

The marriage ceremony was performed by Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and was attended by around twenty courtiers and friends. Catherine’s supporters at the ceremony included her sister, Anne Herbert; Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; Henry’s niece, Lady Margaret Douglas; Anne Stanhope, the Countess of Hertford; Catherine Willoughby, the Duchess of Suffolk; and Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle and wife of John Dudley. The men included Catherine’s brother-in-law, William Herbert; Anthony Denny; Sir Thomas Speke; Sir Edward Baynton; Sir Richard Long; Sir Thomas Darcy; Sir Henry Knyvet; Sir Thomas Heneage; Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford; John, Lord Russell, the Lord Privy Seal, and Sir Anthony Browne, Captain of the King’s Pensioners.

The marriage is recorded in several primary sources. Chronicler Edward Hall simply writes “In this yere, the Kyng maryed Ladye Katherin Par wydow, late wyfe to the Lorde Latymer, at Hampton Court”,1 and Charles Wriothesley, chronicler and Windsor Herald, writes “This yeare, the 12 of Julye, Lady Katharine, late wyfe of the Lord Latimer, lately departed, and sister of the Lord Parre, was proclaymed Quene and marryed to the Kinges Majestye at Hampton Courte.”2 The notarial attestation in Letters and Papers, by Richard Watkins, gives details of the ceremony:

“Notarial instrument witnessing that, on 12 July 1543, 35 Hen. VIII., in an upper oratory called “the Quynes Pryevey closet” within the honor of Hampton Court, Westm. dioc., in presence of the noble and gentle persons named at the foot of this instrument and of me, Ric. Watkins, the King’s prothonotary, the King and lady Katharine Latymer alias Parr being met there for the purpose of solemnising matrimony between them, Stephen bp. of Winchester proclaimed in English (speech given in Latin) that they were met to join in marriage the said King and Lady Katharine, and if anyone knew any impediment thereto he should declare it. The licence for the marriage without publication of banns, sealed by Thos. abp. of Canterbury and dated 10 July 1543, being then brought in, and none opposing but all applauding the marriage, the said bp. of Winchester put the questions (recited) to which the King, hilari vultu, replied “Yea” and the lady Katharine also replied that it was her wish; and then the King taking her right hand, repeated after the Bishop the words, “I, Henry, take thee, Katharine, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” Then, releasing and again clasping hands, the lady Katharine likewise said “I, Katharine, take thee Henry to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonayr and buxome in bed and at board, till death us depart, and thereto I plight unto thee my troth.” The putting on of the wedding ring and proffer of gold and silver (described) followed; and the Bishop, after prayer, pronounced a benediction. The King then commanded the prothonotary to make a public instrument of the premises.”3

The wedding was followed by a celebration breakfast and a proclamation that Catherine was now Queen.

You can read more about Catherine Parr in the following articles:

Also on this day in history…

  • 1537 – Execution of Robert Aske, lawyer and rebel. He was hanged in chains outside Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York Castle. Aske was one of the leaders of the rebels in the 1536 northern uprising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Notes and Sources

  1. Hall, Edward. Hall’s Chronicle, p. 858.
  2. Wriothesley, Charles. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559: Volume 1, p. 143.
  3. LP xviii. i. 873.

Related Post

4 thoughts on “12 July 1543 – Henry VIII marries Catherine Parr, Lady Latimer”
  1. Katherine was an intelligent woman and was wonderful with Henry, it’s strange when you consider that all his wives were so very different, there was pious Katherine from Aragon, The sex goddess Anne Boleyn tho not particularly blessed with beauty but had a magnetism, then he went from one extreme to the other and chose Jane Seymour some one so quiet and meek then the disastrous marriage to Anne Of Cleve’s, but in all fairness he had only seen her portraits and was going on what people said of her, then the extreme again by marrying giddy Catherine Howard a girl who was young enough to be his daughter and then finally Catherine Parr, a much older woman who read and wrote books and was interested in the new religion, where as her successor hardly read at all and was just interested in frivolous pastimes, I must admit I find his last wife quite intriguing, what did she feel about being married to Henry ? Her portrait shows an attractive woman with a round face, short nose and I imagine when she smiled, (if she ever did after she was married to Henry) it transformed her whole face, yet in her portrait the artist has captured her inner turmoil, this is only guess work on my part but she appears rather sad and maybe anxious, I can imagine him asking her to smile more often yet she couldn’t quite manage that, her gown is very rich and the colouring suits her, she must have lived in dread for the few years she was married to him, it’s not like being married to an ordinary person, you weren’t with the King all the time and it’s the others who drip poison into his ear, his ministers and plots are made behind your back, without your knowledge, no wonder she’s not smiling his death must have been one of tremendous relief to her, then her final marriage to her true love Tom Seymour and that wedding day must have been the happiest day of her life, yet he deceived her with his overwhelming ambition, and tried to seduce Princess Elizabeth under her very nose, so her last marriage only bought short lived happiness and she died miserable like Katherine Of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, I remember watching the film Young Bess with Jean Simmons as Princess Elizabeth it was a lovely film yet they portrayed Tom Seymour as a valiant hero, typical of Hollywood when really I think he was a waste of space, Deborah Kerr was Queen Catherine and the film wasn’t particularly accurate but it was very enjoyable, I wonder if any one here remembers it? I have also visited Sudeley Castle and it was very charming, with lovely gardens and in a tranquil setting.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Yes I remember that film too. I first saw it as a child and that set off my interest in Tudor history. I also agree about Thomas Seymour – what a power hungry egotist. I feel sorry that Katherine found out his deceit with Elizabeth whilst she was pregnant. I always felt at my most vulnerable when in that state so how did she cope with the suspicion that he only married her because she was the widow of a king? What an extraordinary woman!
      I’ve visited Sudeley twice (many years ago) and would recommend it to anyone who loves history. The wood panelled room where they have the cradle (if it’s still arranged like that) is full of atmosphere and if ghosts exist, that’s where Katherine is. When I last went they had a large display case in the entrance that had many artefacts in. Unfortunately that included one of Katherine’s teeth. I hope that they’ve been respectful to this remarkable woman and taken it from display now. I believe that after her coffin was rediscovered many people took hair and bones as souvenirs so there can’t be much left buried in the chapel.

  2. Hi Elizabeth yes Stewart Granger was Thomas Seymour, your right about feeling vulnerable when your pregnant it’s a wonder the shock didn’t kill her when she found her step daughter with her erring husband, he seems very immature to me, why did he think Princess Elizabeth would be interested in him anyway? He was much older than her but then he was said to be charming and good looking so she could well have had a crush on him, but yes he obviously wasn’t thinking of his poor wife, he was too selfish for that, I think it’s a shame that people took some of her hair and bones from her coffin, it is disrespectful really but then people are morbidly curious and I suppose if a persons been dead for several hundred years they think it doesn’t matter that much, at her funeral her coffin had the arms of Henry V111 emblazoned on it so she was given the proper burial of a former Queen Consort, I think she was a remarkable woman she kept her head and Henry seemed to have respect for her, she did deserve to have a happier life really but sadly it wasn’t to be.

  3. I was at Hampton Court in 2009 when they did a re-enactment of the marriage of Katherine Parr and Henry VIII on the 12th July which was interesting as it followed all the preparation, the morning with the queen to be, sorting out her gowns and so on, with the groom in the wine cellar, gambling, not drinking, the queen being presented to the King in the great watching chamber, escorted and curseyed three times and then the wedding in the queens closset, closed to the public, but we have an account of who was at the real wedding and about fourteen persons in all came to this one. The wedding at the private Chaple in the Queens chambers was well recorded, but the Tudors had to have a grand ceremony in public of course. It seems Henry had a thing for small private weddings, as apart from Anne of Cleves, I don’t think any of them were grand public affairs. They were all attended by witnesses of course; save we have no idea who was at the marriage of Anne Boleyn and Henry save her parents, that was so secret; we don;t even know were it was. We believe it was somewhere at Whitehall. All of the weddings were followed by public appearances and ceremonies and presenting the queen as Queen, with dancing, barges down the Thames and other parties and banquets and festivals, two queens had a coronation; one 12 days later, the other five months later. Anne was not received as queen for four months, her marriage not being lawful until Cranmers court made it so; but her coronation was one of the most spectacular there has been and went on for several days. Katherine of Aragon was the only queen to be crowned at the side of Henry, being his first and true wife, and Jane did receive all of the trapping, bar a coronation. Anne of Cleves received all of the honours due a foreign bride, the processions, the marriage and the public festivities, despite Henry being a reluctant bride groom, and even Katherine Howard, although her marriage was also in secret had the public parties and so on. Katherine Parr and Henry went out on the normal honeymoon and this was the start of all the normal ceremonies, even if they werre a bit lower key as Henry was not up to all night parties any more. The re-enactment brought you into their world; it was very enjoyable joking with the groom and doing the preparations with the queen.

    Katherine was a great catch for Henry in more ways than one and it is a pity that she was not free years earlier when he was looking for a bride as she would have been perfect for him. The only problem was Katherine did not have any children, but given that her too previous husbands were not in great health and one was much older than her that is not a surprise. She did have a child with Thomas Seymour, sadly dying soon afterwards, but who knows she may have been fertile with a different husband. In every other way she was perfect for Henry, intelligent, educated, a good mother, a companion to his children, a good wife, a companion to talk to, she shared many of his own interests and she was one of the most interesting of his wives as she was also published in her own right. However, Katherine was also a radical. She was the wrong religion as far as Stephen Gardiner and others believed and this made her dangerous as she did not keep her views to herself. It was said that the talk in her chambers was more like a seminar than a queens chamber; she debated and she read and she even preached to the King. Henry and Katherine debated religion in the evening, but sometimes Katherine went too far and talked about reform in a more forceful way and how Henry should change things in the church. One night she went too far and got on his nerves. This allowed her enemies to get in and persuade the King to arrest the queen for heresy. Her ladies chambers and hers were searched for books that were forbidden and some of her ladies questioned. Katherine was in turmoil. She was afraid and heard that heresy charges were being made against her and she acted to prevent herself from being arrested. Somehow Katherine gained sight of the arrest warrant and made a plan. The night before she was to be arrested she made her way to the Kings presence and she explained that she did not intend to upset him, that her talk had been just women’s stuff, that Henry was her husband and her head and that it was from him that she had intended to learn. She was very humble and she said that her only intention was to talk to the King because she thought that he enjoyed their debates and it gave him comfort, she meant only to learn from him. She was but a woman and her opinion was that of a woman, so of no real account. It worked; Henry was won over and the two reconciled. The next day when the guards came Henry shouted at them and called them knaves. He later ordered Guardiner to leave the court. Although Henry did not put his trust in Katherine so much after this; yet, he did not do as was rumoured either and move on to wife number seven.

    Katherine was a good mother to Prince Edward who wrote her notes and she took a personal interest in his education and his well being, she also became close to Elizabeth, who of course came to live with her after her marriage to Seymour. Katherine was left as regent when Henry went to France in 1544 and she had some imput into books being translated into English. She was a collector of scholarly books, promoter and a translater and she was also a published author, although her more radical book: Lamentations of a Sinner was published after Henry’s death as it outlined her views and experiences on the Catholic Church and her promotion of the Protestant new learning. As the widow of two older husbands, both of whom had needed nursing care, she was also able to care for Henry when his leg was bad and she was able to move into his room without batting an eyelid. Unlike Katherine Howard, this Kate was a mature woman with a Christian heart and experience as a wife and mother and nurse; she was just what Henry needed in his latter years; this time he had finally chosen right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *