12 July 1543 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine Parr

Katherine ParrOn this day in history, 12th July 1543, King Henry VIII married his sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr, in the Queen’s Closet at Hampton Court Palace. Catherine Parr, or Lady Latimer as she was known, 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.

The marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine Parr was a private ceremony attended by around twenty courtiers and friends of the couple. Catherine’s supporters at the ceremony included her sister, Anne Herbert; Henry VIII’s daughter’s, Mary and Elizabeth; his 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 Pensioners1.

Although Thomas Cranmer had issued the licence for the marriage on the 10th July, it was the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, who performed the ceremony. The notarial attestation in Letters and Papers, by Richard Watkins, gives details of the ceremony:-

“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.”2

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

You can find out more about Queen Catherine Parr in the following articles:-

Notes and Sources

  1. LP xviii part 1 873 and Catherine Parr: Henry VIII’s Last Love, Susan James, p94
  2. LP xviii part 1 873

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15 thoughts on “12 July 1543 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine Parr”
  1. I never knew that there were around twenty courtiers and friends of the couple present at their wedding. Compared to his marriage to Anne this one seems to be a “large” wedding for Henry. Am I wrong or were Henry’s weddings usually much smaller than this?

    1. Hi Julie,
      His one to Anne Boleyn was secret as he had not yet got his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled, his wedding to Jane was private and low key as it was only 11 days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, his marriage to Anne of Cleves was bigger as it was a diplomatic affair and his one to Catherine Howard was private and low key as he’d only just got his marriage to Anne of Cleves annulled.

  2. The Queenship can be proclaimed? Don’t they have to be annointed and so on? Did Katherine ever have any of that? I don’t recall reading about that part of it. It’s interesting what historians focus on with each wife. Thanks for another wonderful article.

    I particularly enjoy reading the eyewitness accounts of what occurred.

    1. Hi Kim,
      Only Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn were crowned and anointed, Catherine Parr was simply proclaimed Queen straight after the wedding. I don’t think Henry wanted to spend any more money on coronations after Anne Boleyn’s lavish one!

  3. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Hampton Court on the 500th anniversary of Henry’s coronation. At the time they were re-enacting the marriage of Henry and Catherine Parr, with plenty of courtiers, in costume talking with the crowd. You could watch the future Queen being dressed from the ‘Royal Wardrobe’, then later the King, with his new bride, appeared in the court yard, where ‘Henry’ made a speech introducing and proclaiming Catherine Queen. It was wonderfully done making it seem so real. You didn’t get to see a re-enactment of the service itself, but that didn’t seem to matter with all the other things going on.
    While Catherine was being dressed, she was offered a purse of some sort to carry, but she declined because it had embroided on it a ‘falcon’ and ‘that would not do’ a little reference to our dear Anne. Obviously didn’t want to start marriage on the wrong foot with the King ( Iwonder why!!!)
    Does it not make you wonder how many of saved outfits, because they were all separate pieces to mix and match as you wanted, that Catherine used of all the previous wives, K of A, Anne, Jane, maybe not A of C as she lived, and little C.Howard, all dead, gives you the shivvers really, although it was the done thing then. It would seem as though there was a portent of doom hovering down the aisle with you, because you may have Annes sleeves, Janes kitle or C.Howards head-dress, not that I am suggesting she had, but who knows, the description of the dress, or under garments, parts of it may belonged to those ill-fated previous Queens…………

    The intrepidation that Catherine Parr must have felt, having decided to marry (or should I say when he decided she would wed him) the King, when her heart was else where and he didn’t really have a good track record when it came to married life, she had already been married to 2 older men, and she had quite radical views on religion. She was a very brave lady………..It is a crying shame that when she was free of Henry following her heart was her end, so sad.

  4. I’ve always admired Catherine Parr and agree, she ended sadly. And her poor little daughter, too. I guess she didn’t think she had much choice in marrying Henry–not at that point as he had become the tyrant, rather than the suiter. At least she finally got her man, though not for long.

  5. Dawn – the more I look at the miniature that David Starkey identified as Catherine Howard the more I think her under sleeves (as well as some of her jewels) were previously owned by Jane Seymour…

    1. Anne fan, I don’t have my own copy of that book, so I am not sure which miniature you are talking about, but I would be interested to look, is the picture on this site at all,which portrait of Jane are you comparing it to. It wouldn’t suprize me at all if this was the case, as the royal wardrobe would have been extensive I would have thought, if you think of the expensive cloth and furs they were made of, not to mention the precious jewels that adorned them. As I wrote above it was the done thing then, but when you think of how superstitious people were in those times, it must of crossed the minds of each sucessive queen how the previous ones faired,whether wearing their clothes would bring the same ‘bad luck’ to them….Chilling thoughts!!

      1. Here’s a link to a portrait of Jane Seymour: http://knol.google.com/k/lauren-leonard/the-wives-of-henry-viii-jane-seymour/q0fw28k7057c/18# – you can see the sleeves quite clearly.

        Now here’s the one of an unknown lady which Starkey identified as Catherine Howard based on the jewels which shows her sleeves: http://www.goodreads.com/characters/700-catherine-howard

        The light is completely different in the portraits – but it struck me that the colour of the sleeves is the same.

        1. Thanks Anne fan I’ve had a look but its hard to tell, but now I know which portraits they are, I know I have pictures of them in a box of stuff I haven’t unpacked yet, so I will dig them out and have a closer look. With you doing that comparison, its made me curious about all the pictures of the Queens that I have and will be taking a close look at those too, to see if there are any more bits of clothing/jewels that might have been ‘shared’. 🙂

    1. Catherine Parr had a rosary which had been given by Catherine of Aragon to her mother Maud Parr. I think that would have won Mary over. Elizabeth seems to have made a habit of being nice to her step mothers. According to Chapuys after Henry and Catherine’s wedding Mary continued to stay with the court whereas Elizabeth was sent back to join her brother. From that it seems that Edward wasn’t a guest. That seems a bit odd but Henry’s hypochondria did extend to fears for his son. But they were all together at Christmas as the ambassador’s reports from the Netherlands indicate the regent was asking whether the king, queen and three children were still all in the same house.

        1. No, dont think so, he was a normal healthy boy, although we are led to believe he was a sickly child. It was more Henry’s paranoia about Edward becoming ill that he wasn’t there I would think, especially it being July and the ever present threat of the plague in summer time.

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