For just one woman,
Marrying the Bluff Harry
Delayed the bullet.
Ah, Catherine Parr. The last of Henry VIII’s wives. A bluestocking before bluestockings were a thing. First English queen who was a published author. Pity she got screwed over by her last husband and True Love (TM), Thomas Seymour.
Catherine was born in 1512, her father a pal of Henry VIII and her mother an attendant to the first wife, Catherine of Aragon. In fact, our subject for today was probably named after CofA, her godmother, which is pretty weird when you think of subsequent events. As a wee sprat, she enjoyed education, attained fluency in multiple languages, and was pretty indifferent to the more traditional feminine arts. She was married off at age 17 to Sir Edward Burgh (age 21). Whatever she felt about him didn’t much matter, because he died of something or another at age 25.
Catherine did not enjoy widowhood for long, for she married John Neville, 3rd Baron Latimer and 19 years her senior, the next year. Despite the age gap, it seemed that she really did like (won’t speculate on love) the old codger. Neville was a staunch Catholic and supporter of Catherine of Aragon and this did not keep him out of trouble with Catholics OR Protestants. The former did such shit as scream at Neville to help his cause and immediately drag him away, hold Catherine and his children hostage, and threaten to kill them. The latter suspected Neville of treasonous intent afterwards and blackmailed him.
Regardless, John and Catherine traipsed off to court in 1542, where Catherine blossomed – getting acquainted with trends both fashionable and intellectual and with her eventual fourth husband, Thomas Seymour. John, though, got old and promptly died of something or another. Catherine had already became friends again with H8 and CofA’s daughter Mary by that point. She also began fluttering her eyelashes at Seymour.
Aaaaaannnnnd guess whose eye she caught.
Henry VIII had gone a whole year without a wife since he chopped the head off the last one. Why not go for a sixth marriage, maybe try for an extra son? Catherine didn’t really feel like she could refuse, so wedding bells rang that summer.
And Queen Catherine did GOOD. For starters, she patched up relations between Henry and his assorted children. (If you consider what happened with the daughters’ mothers, this is god-level impressive). Then she had a competently executed stint as regent while Henry tried and failed to annoy the French. And then she managed to beat off her enemies (annoyed and alarmed by her pro-Protestant views) by successfully convincing Henry that she had only talked about religious matters to distract him from his bum leg. This, after an arrest warrant had been drawn up.
Then Henry died in 1547. Then Catherine lost no time at all in marrying Thomas Seymour (the new king’s maternal uncle) in secret, without permission. SCANDAL! The king and his sister Mary were righteously pissed at this. Their sister Elizabeth, on the other hand, was too impressed with Catherine’s second published book to be too bothered and traipsed off to live at her stepma’s house with her cousin, Lady Jane Grey. (They got taught a lot about Protestanism.) And Catherine got pregnant for the first time ever! Wow!
Yep, things were mostly going all right for Catherine!
Except her beloved husband was perving on her 14-year old stepdaughter, with the encouragement of the girl’s own governess. Elizabeth, naturally, was sent away. And when Catherine gave birth to her daughter Mary (whose own fate is something of a mystery) in 1548, she lasted only eight days before Tudor-era hygiene robbed her of life.
All because True Love blinded her to what a shit Thomas Seymour was.