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The Odd Behavior of Catherine Parr
October 22, 2014
7:04 pm
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LadyPrincess
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When Elizabeth was 14 she lived under the guardianship of Catherine Parr and her husband Thomas Seymour. It was there that Thomas Seymour began to take an avid interest in Elizabeth (and she with him). He would, quite inappropriately, visit her room and play games with her (despite Elizabeth’s own protests). But it wasn’t until Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashley, intervened and told Catherine Parr what was happening when Catherine herself started to do the same things as her husband! There’s even an incident where she helped Seymour tear Elizabeth’s gown! Eventually, Catherine dismissed Elizabeth when she caught Elizabeth and Thomas in a warm embrace.

I wanted to know what does everyone think of Catherine Parr’s behavior and her motives for aiding her husband when he was “playing” with Elizabeth? Catherine must have known how wrong this was because people were already gossiping about it, she wasn’t an unintelligent woman (quite the opposite), she was also very level headed too, and she was able to control emotions because she agreed to marry a tyrant like Henry all the while really loving Thomas.

So why did she feel the need to condone and join in on Thomas’ behavior?

“How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?"- Elizabeth I

October 22, 2014
8:17 pm
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Boleyn
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I must confess that K.P behaviour was very bizarre. But I do feel that she thought the “play” between Elizabeth and husband was innocent up until the point Kat Ashley starting to complain.
She perhaps felt sorry for Elizabeth who hadn’t had much of a childhood as such so she thought that Thomas’s merry romps with Elizabeth were all about having the fun and mischeif that all children have.
I think she joined in more from the point to be part of the scene. When K.P caught Thomas trying to fondle and caress Elizabeth she realised that Thomas had more than just a father/daughter situation on his mind and although angry with both of them once she had sat and reasoned things out she realised that Thomas was to blame not Elizabeth. She also realised that as long as Elizabeth stayed in her household Thomas would find a way of dishonouring the girl, and sent her away to protect her from Thomas’s lustful attentions.
I do feel that Thomas had tried to do something sexually to Elizabeth however and Kat Ashley perhaps alerted by Elizabeth’s protests managed to stop him and put a rocket up his backside, before telling K.P of her concerns for Elizabeth’s maidenly virtue. K.P I think at first perhaps dismissed Kat Ashley’s concerns as just over protectiveness. But realised after she had watched Thomas with Elizabeth a few times that Kat Ashley’s concerns were very real, and to be honest I think it broke her heart. For she had risked disgrace and dishonour for marrying Thomas only 4 months after his royal fathead’s death, all because she believed that Thomas loved her as she did him.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

October 24, 2014
5:12 am
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Olga
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I’ve not read that Katherine Parr actually caught them in an embrace, and dismissed is a bit of a strong word. There are three noted incidents in Starkey, two of which both Kat and Thomas visited Elizabeth in bed and tickled her, and the dress-cutting incident. We might consider that she joined in on those occasions to try and reassure herself that Thomas was displaying step-fatherly behaviour and merely having a bit of fun. Or that she was gauging how far Elizabeth’s affections went for Thomas. She was also pregnant with her first child at a rather advanced age, she would have had many things on her mind at the time. When she thought it had gone too far, she took action.

October 24, 2014
9:10 am
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LadyPrincess
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(Hi Olga! And hi Boleyn! Thank you both for responding to my topic! As always, I enjoy reading your postsSmile)

According to Carolly Ericksons’ biography “The First Elizabeth”, Erickson states that Catherine Parr did catch Elizabeth and Thomas embracing and that CP was “jealous” over her husband and step daughter’s close relationship. Erickson also says, quote,: “The sight of her [Catherine Parr] husband embracing her stepdaughter so unnerved Catherine that she was beside herself.” Erickson goes on to say that Catherine “shouted at Seymour and Elizabeth” when she came upon them.

“How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?"- Elizabeth I

October 24, 2014
12:55 pm
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Olga
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HI Lady Princess :) Has she got a source? I’ve got two bios of Kat Parr here, I’ll have a look. Starkey didn’t mention the ’embrace’ part.

October 24, 2014
1:23 pm
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Olga
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I’ve found it. Apparently this is part of Kat Ashley’s testimony

“and that the Queen was jealous of her and him, in so much that one time the Queen. suspecting the often access of the Admiral to the Lady Elizabeth Grace, came suddenly upon them, where they were all alone, he having her in his arms.”

And Elizabeth was sent to live with another family soon after. Again I am not sure we can say that Katherine was condoning her husband’s behaviour. Elizabeth wrote a letter to Kat later where she was very contrite, there is nothing to say that Elizabeth didn’t actually enjoy the attention from Seymour, even if it was inappropriate. Elizabeth may have thought it was harmless flirting, as Katherine may have at first. That she accompanied her husband to some of his ‘visits’ to Elizabeth suggests she might have wanted to keep an eye on what he was doing. She may have been trying to assess the situation. It’s not that she was necessarily condoning it – and there is also that fact that we don’t know much about any of it other than Kat Ashley’s testimony. It is strange she was holding Elizabeth when Seymour cut her dress but was Kat Ashley exaggerating? Did they really cut the dress right off her? The testimony was also given under interrogation, another thing we should take into account. I am not saying Seymour didn’t act inappropriately but I think we need to be a little bit wary.

October 24, 2014
3:44 pm
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LadyPrincess
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Olga said HI Lady Princess :) Has she got a source? I’ve got two bios of Kat Parr here, I’ll have a look. Starkey didn’t mention the ’embrace’ part.

Hi Olga! So glad you responded! I enjoyed reading your post!

Erickson references twice to the Burghley Papers in regards to this event. The first is from a quote given by Thomas Parry (Elizabeth’s cofferer), quote: “As I remember, this was the cause why she was sent from the queen; or else that her grace parted from the queen. I do not perfectly remember whether of both she [Ashley] said she went herself or was sent away.

Erickson, herself, says “embrace”. However, I have found quite a few authors/historians that also use the word embrace in regards to Elizabeth and Thomas. One is from Terry Breverton’s book “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Tudors”, quote: “In Summer 1548, a pregnant Catherine Parr discovered Seymour embracing Lady Elizabeth Tudor, so [Catherine Parr] transferred Elizabeth from her household.” David Loades in his book, “The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family”, says, quote: “Catherine caught them [Elizabeth and Thomas] in a compromising embrace and she [Elizabeth] was sent away in disgrace to cool her adour at the Dennys…” Author Judith M Richards also says in her book “Elizabeth I “…the pregnant Katherine reportedly saw her husband embracing Elizabeth. “

I think its safe to say that Elizabeth was in Thomas’ arms, that Catherine caught them unawares, and that shortly after this incident occurred, Elizabeth left. I think the word embrace is used in a modern day analysis of what transpired between Elizabeth and Thomas. I didn’t see a contemporary reference to the word embrace, but I don’t think that means that they didn’t embrace.

Elizabeth in Thomas’ arms would, in my opinion, be considered as an embrace because he had been rather inappropriately flirting with Elizabeth for some time. (As well as being scandalized it seems that Elizabeth, quite understandably, was also a bit flattered by his attentions). He could have been hugging her, or even playing with her….again, etc.. Whatever embrace they were in it must have caused CP (even if she was not jealous) to be concerned (at least on behalf of her step daughters reputation).

In terms of Elizabeth’s dismissal, it seems, according to Erickson and Thomas Parry: it was either Elizabeth who had decided to leave or it was Catherine’s idea that Elizabeth should leave. In my opinion, I can easily see Catherine dismissing her because CP loved Thomas and she must have sensed (even subconsciously) what was going on in his mind. She could see that Elizabeth was young and one of the heirs to the throne; which therefore made her a potential bride in the eyes of ambitious men (including her husband). It would not have mattered that Elizabeth was only 14 because in Tudor times children and adolescents were more or less considered mini adults. I can also understand CP being concerned for her step daughters well being and arranging for her to live elsewhere. On the other hand I can see Elizabeth (given her keen sense) deciding to leave.

Though I admire and like Elizabeth, I sympathize with CP only in one regard, in that I can understand her not wanting to share the same household with someone that was her husband’s (possible) love interest. (However I don’t agree with anything else that she did.)

In regards to if Seymour acted inappropriately or not, I guess we can only wonder. But there had at least been gossip during that time that he had taken a particular liking to Elizabeth. Even if we all don’t believe this, it’s clear that something inappropriate had transpired in Elizabeth’s stay with CP and Thomas. And given Thomas Seymour’s overly ambitious nature, foolhardy reputation, and good looks (according to Starkey he was “tall, well-built and with a dashing beard and auburn hair, he was irresistible to women”) it’s not hard to see why he was accused of behaving inappropriately.

“How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?"- Elizabeth I

October 25, 2014
9:21 am
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Boleyn
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I think Elizabeth summed up what Thomas was when she was told of his execution.
“Today died a man of much wit and very little judgement”
He was very ambitious, but he lacked the skill (loosely worded) to actually acheive his ambitions, he wanted the fast track quick fix solutions. His Royal Fathead certainly gave him many titles and yes I agree he did work hard in the posts he was given, but it would never ever be enough for him. He married K.P so that he could be near the King. People I think tend to misjudge Edward a little on the account of his youth, but I rather think he could see through Tom’s bonne homme, hail fellow well met routine. Tom had his uses I.e Pocket Money, but I don’t think he would ever really get the big power he was aiming for even if Edward had lived to rule as an adult.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

October 25, 2014
2:50 pm
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Olga
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You’re welcome Lady Princess, thanks for the interesting discussion.

‘Having her in his arms’ is what Kat Ashley actually said, according to Cecil’s papers on her testimony.From what I can see the original source is from “A Collection of State Papers: relating to Affairs In the Reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth : From the year 1542 to 1570” which can be read online.

Embrace is indeed a modern term for it and has slightly different connotations. I am always very wary when I read historian’s interpretations of things because they are exactly that, an interpretation or opinion. Coupled with the fact that much opinion is based on centuries of the same thing being said over and over, until a sentence someone uttered 500 years ago takes on a life of its own.

Linda Porter’s book on Kat Parr brings up the fact that Kat Ashley’s testimony was given under interrogation, after Katherine Parr’s death. Kat Ashley had been arrested and taken to the Tower. Her testimony appears to be the single source for the actual incidents. We can get an idea of what may have transpired, apparently there was gossip about Seymour’s behaviour, but the fact is Kat Ashley may have been exaggerating to protect Elizabeth and present her as the victim. It would have been extremely dangerous for Elizabeth’s reputation for it to be known she had enjoyed Seymour’s flirting.

October 25, 2014
7:16 pm
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Boleyn
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That’s a possibility Olga. I seem to recall somewhere that Elizabeth said that Kat Ashley was known to be a bit of a gossipmonger, and over did the old chinese whispers part, from time to time. So it would seem perfectly feasible for her to exaggerate what may have been just an innocent childish infactuation into something a little more juicy. I I.e that K.P has discovered Elizabeth and Tom in a passionate embrace, the only person who could eithr prove or disprove Kat Ashley’s words was dead. Therefore saying that Tom had taken advantage of a child. I also feel however that it’s highly possible that perhaps a little more evidence (for want of a better word) was added to Kat and Master Parry’s statements..The initial statement they had made and signed, could have easily had a few pages added afterwards.
Elizabeth may well have even suspected that was the case. As her letter to Mary when she was stalling for time ends half way down the second page she then as a primitive form of protection, scores lines down the rest of the paper leaving just enough room to sign her name.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

October 25, 2014
11:12 pm
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Olga
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I am going to have to keep reading. The statement that “and that the Queen was jealous of her and him, in so much that one time the Queen. suspecting the often access of the Admiral to the Lady Elizabeth Grace, came suddenly upon them, where they were all alone, he having her in his arms” is actually part of Thomas Parry’s testimony, not Kat Ashley’s.

Kat Ashley’s statement says that (this is my translating so there may be an error or three) “the Queen told this Examinate (Kat Ashley) that the Lord Admiral looked in the gallery window, and she my Lady Elizabeth cast her arms around a man’s neck.” Kat Ashley then asked Elizabeth about it, who denied it, weeping. “and she knew it could not be so, for there came no man but Gryndall, the lady Elizabeth’s schoolmaster” Kat then “did suspect that the queen was jealous, and did but feign this, (with the intent???) that the Examinate(Kat) should take more heed.” Kat went on to say her husband had also warned her to take heed for he feared Elizabeth bore affection for Seymour.

snippet from Google books, Kat’s testimony is page 99. I hope the link works. Now I’ll have a look at Parry’s.

http://books.google.com.au/boo…..38;f=false

October 25, 2014
11:20 pm
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Olga
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“and that the Queen was jealous of her and him, in so much that one time the Queen. suspecting the often access of the Admiral to the Lady Elizabeth Grace, came suddenly upon them, where they were all alone, (he having her in his arms) wherefore the Queen fell out, both with the Lord Admiral, and with her Grace also.”

Odd that”‘having her in his arms” is in brackets. This often indicates something the editor (this one is edited by Samuel Haynes) has added in themselves.

October 26, 2014
12:06 am
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Hi everyone.

As for using the word embrace I think its more a matter of opinion and how one interprets the situation rather than its being untrue or true. Starkey doesn’t say embrace but Loades does. Parry doesn’t say embrace but may have omitted it in order to make the situation not seem as bad.

As for whether Thomas actually messed with Elizabeth and that Kat and Parry were only coaxed to say so, there is an outside contemporary source/quote allegedly given by a midwife who claimed “she had delivered a babe to a very fair maiden” who was thought to be Elizabeth’s baby. I don’t believe that Elizabeth actually had a child by Seymour it’s a bit too fantastic. But I do feel like this piece of gossip does prove that there were other people other than Kat Ashley and Parry who were discussing Elizabeth and Thomas’ relationship. I also believe that something did happen between Elizabeth and Thomas (whatever it was) because there wouldn’t have been talk about it in the first place.

I do try not to take everything an author or historian says literally but I do try, like we all do, to piece together what seems like the most logical conclusion. Smile

“How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?"- Elizabeth I

October 26, 2014
9:57 am
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LadyPrincess said She could see that Elizabeth was young and one of the heirs to the throne; which therefore made her a potential bride in the eyes of ambitious men (including her husband). It would not have mattered that Elizabeth was only 14 because in Tudor times children and adolescents were more or less considered mini adults.

The crux of the matter is that, while Elizabeth certainly was the biggest catch to an ambitious man, Thomas Seymour was already married to Catherine Parr. So what was his aim in pursuing Elizabeth? Was he so mean to plan that if Katherine died (of child birth or “accident”), he would be free to marry Elizabeth? Or that by ruining Elizabeth’s reputation she could not marry anybody else? Or was simply acting without thinking like he in many situations did?

October 27, 2014
2:29 pm
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Sharon
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The accusations against KP were made under duress by Kat Ashley and Thomas Parry while being repeatedly interrogated. I wonder how much of it is true? Sounds like it always does when slander comes out of the Tower. Katherine was not a stupid or silly woman. Cutting the dress and all the rest sounds so out of character for Katherine. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but I do not trust the words of someone who is being questioned in the Tower. As proven before, words can be twisted to suit the purposes of the interrogators.
Whatever Katherine saw she did the right thing and moved Elizabeth to a safer environment. They were not estranged. They wrote to each other. I cannot guess what was going through Thomas’ head. Hannele may be right. As usual, Thomas wasn’t thinking that far ahead. He probably wanted a mistress because his wife was pregnant. Bad choice, but he made bad choices quite often.
There were many people who didn’t care for any of these people and enjoyed gossiping about them. Many had no love for Elizabeth. She was fodder for the gossip mill.

October 27, 2014
4:08 pm
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Hi Sharon.

I wish this whole Thomas, Elizabeth and Catherine Parr affair wasn’t true as I don’t like to think that CP was capable of inappropriate behavior towards her own stepdaughter and that Elizabeth was actually flattered by Thomas’ advances.

For now history says this is more likely true than not. Maybe one day they’ll find some information to disprove this (like what Connor Byrne did by exposing that Henry VIII was actually the rose without a thorn) and it will be revealed that Ashely and Parry were coaxed into saying what they said and that most historians were wrong about this affair.

I agree though that it does seem out of character for CP to have torn Elizabeth’s gown. Indeed it is hard to imagine such a well educated, and seemingly level headed woman deciding to take part in such a ridiculous romp. But she may not have seen it as doing anything wrong, or she may have been persuaded by Thomas, or maybe her love for Thomas made her act in a way that was out of character.

It’s possible that CP eventually saw that she was wrong and that Thomas did indeed like Elizabeth and that she (CP) had behaved just as badly as he did and decided, because she was so fond of Elizabeth, that she would just send her elsewhere and they could continue to communicate.

Another theory for Thomas’ romps with Elizabeth being true are: if Ashely was such a known gossip maybe it would have been easier to extract the truth from her when she was being interrogated. Or perhaps she and Parry intended to hide the truth and it came out sounding even worse than it actually was.

My question is: in what style of manner were Ashely and Parry interrogated? Was it in a subtle way, or a mean and intimidating way? Maybe the tone of the interrogation of Parry and Ashely influenced what they said.

“How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?"- Elizabeth I

October 28, 2014
3:06 pm
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Hi LadyPrincess,
I went back and read the info on this story. Kat Ashley was eventually moved to a cold damp cell at the Tower with the hope that she would break. She did not. Verbal threats were made to both Kat and Thomas Parry. This could have been treason. I doubt if the questioning would have been gentle. I don’t think they were treated well. It was Parry who collapsed and told all. Kat later confirmed the stories. Kat never should have confided in him.
Even still, who knows if what they said, and how it has been interpreted by the interrogators and written down, is the truth. You are right. Someone like Conor has to take this on. I think Katherine has been damaged here, and that is very unfortunate.

October 28, 2014
3:33 pm
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LadyPrincess
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I agree Sharon.

I’m glad I brought this topic up! Maybe CP has been wrongly criticized! Or perhaps none of us realized how jealous CP was of Elizabeth and Thomas or just how immature she really was.

“How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?"- Elizabeth I

October 28, 2014
6:07 pm
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Hannele
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Olga said Linda Porter’s book on Kat Parr brings up the fact that Kat Ashley’s testimony was given under interrogation, after Katherine Parr’s death. Kat Ashley had been arrested and taken to the Tower. Her testimony appears to be the single source for the actual incidents. We can get an idea of what may have transpired, apparently there was gossip about Seymour’s behaviour, but the fact is Kat Ashley may have been exaggerating to protect Elizabeth and present her as the victim. It would have been extremely dangerous for Elizabeth’s reputation for it to be known she had enjoyed Seymour’s flirting.

You are probably right that Kat Ashley wanted loyally defend Elizabeth’s reputation, but that does not prove, that Elizabeth was not a victim, even if she enjoyed Seymour’s flirting and not pretended to be, helpless as she was at the home of her step-mother and her new husband.

Today a fourteen-year-girl is not held responsible but the adults who ought to know better.

October 29, 2014
3:39 pm
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Olga
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I did not imply that Elizabeth was at all responsible Hannele, nor do I think that.

Thanks Sharon. It has been a long time since I have read about this and I’ve not read about it in-depth either. But the entire affair strikes me as false.

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