Henry VIII and his Wives Part III

Henry VIII has now divorced Anne of Cleeves. A wife he did not pick but married for the state of England. Cromwell lost his head because of it and Henry’s eye was caught by his fifth wife—a maid of honor to Anne of Cleeves.

Catherine Howard

catherine-howard-portraitYoung Catherine’s age range from fifteen to seventeen years of age when she married the king. She was a niece to the Duke of Norfolk and cousin to Anne Boylen. You think Henry would have stayed away from her. Instead, he married the teenager in 1540. At this point, Henry was obese, with a festering leg that had to be drained. It couldn’t have been a married a young miss desired.

Historians claim that she wasn’t as smart as her cousin and had been raised by the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who was lax in her caring. While Catherine resided in the household, Catherine and the other girls entertained the household boys in their quarters and played games such as husband and wife, which was a nice way of saying having sex.

By all accounts, Catherine sounds much like other teenagers, loving dancing, animals and was playful as most are at that age.

In about 1541, she began an affair with Thomas Culpepper. She was loose with her words and actions by writing love letters to Culpepper and having Jane Boylen, widow of George Boylen, brother to Anne, deliver them. The treasonous affair was soon discovered.

Near the end of 1541, Catherine was stripped of her title as queen and imprisoned. She was found guilty and sentenced to death for treason. The night before she was executed she requested the chopping block and practice how to lay her head upon it.

The last words associated with her were “I die a queen but I rather have died the wife of Culpepper.” That is false. She said a speech and begged for mercy. Then she laid her head upon the block. And with a single strike, she ceased to exist.

 

Catherine Parr

KAtherine ParrThe last wife of Henry VIII was twice-widowed when she married the king in 1543. In my opinion, Henry married Parr for companionship. He was an old man and the shine of his youth had dulled very much indeed.

Catherine was raised a Catholic (she even was one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting) but she held to the Protestant faith and even published two books while Queen of England—Psalms and Prayers and Prayers or Meditations, which bore her name and made her the first book published by an English Queen.

Her Protestant leanings brought her enemies and she even had an arrest warrant drawn up against her. But she was a smart woman and was able to turn the king to her side when they came to arrest her. Henry died in 1547 and left Catherine a widow for the third time.

She wasn’t alone long. Catherine married her old love Thomas Seymour, uncle to the Edward VI and brother to Jane Seymour.  The marriage brought political trouble but she continued to write and published Lamentation of a Sinner. 

Soon after that Lady Elizabeth (future Queen of England) and Lady Jane Grey (Queen of England for 9 days) resided in her household and received an education. In 1548, at 35, Catherine Parr became pregnant. She had not conceived during her other marriages. And at her age in Tudor times, it must have seemed like a blessing. Sadly, Catherine died eight days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Seymour.  Just a year later, her husband was beheaded and Mary is sent to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk. Her child is gone from records by 1550.

In my opinion, Catherine Parr’s greatest influence can be seen not with Henry but her stepdaughter Elizabeth. Both educated women of Protestant faith with inner strength and depth that still intrigues us.

History has simplified these women to divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. But each of these women from a time where women lacked power and control in fact show what women can do. And each one is much more than what history remembers.

 

 

Henry VIII and his Wives Part III

Henry VIII has now divorced Anne of Cleeves. A wife he did not pick but married for the state of England. Cromwell lost his head because of it and Henry’s eye was caught by his fifth wife—a maid of honor to Anne of Cleeves.

Catherine Howard

catherine-howard-portraitYoung Catherine’s age range from fifteen to seventeen years of age when she married the king. She was a niece to the Duke of Norfolk and cousin to Anne Boylen. You think Henry would have stayed away from her. Instead, he married the teenager in 1540. At this point, Henry was obese, with a festering leg that had to be drained. It couldn’t have been a married a young miss desired.

Historians claim that she wasn’t as smart as her cousin and had been raised by the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who was lax in her caring. While Catherine resided in the household, Catherine and the other girls entertained the household boys in their quarters and played games such as husband and wife, which was a nice way of saying having sex.

By all accounts, Catherine sounds much like other teenagers, loving dancing, animals and was playful as most are at that age.

In about 1541, she began an affair with Thomas Culpepper. She was loose with her words and actions by writing love letters to Culpepper and having Jane Boylen, widow of George Boylen, brother to Anne, deliver them. The treasonous affair was soon discovered.

Near the end of 1541, Catherine was stripped of her title as queen and imprisoned. She was found guilty and sentenced to death for treason. The night before she was executed she requested the chopping block and practice how to lay her head upon it.

The last words associated with her were “I die a queen but I rather have died the wife of Culpepper.” That is false. She said a speech and begged for mercy. Then she laid her head upon the block. And with a single strike, she ceased to exist.

 

Catherine Parr

KAtherine ParrThe last wife of Henry VIII was twice-widowed when she married the king in 1543. In my opinion, Henry married Parr for companionship. He was an old man and the shine of his youth had dulled very much indeed.

Catherine was raised a Catholic (she even was one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting) but she held to the Protestant faith and even published two books while Queen of England—Psalms and Prayers and Prayers or Meditations, which bore her name and made her the first book published by an English Queen.

Her Protestant leanings brought her enemies and she even had an arrest warrant drawn up against her. But she was a smart woman and was able to turn the king to her side when they came to arrest her. Henry died in 1547 and left Catherine a widow for the third time.

She wasn’t alone long. Catherine married her old love Thomas Seymour, uncle to the Edward VI and brother to Jane Seymour.  The marriage brought political trouble but she continued to write and published Lamentation of a Sinner. 

Soon after that Lady Elizabeth (future Queen of England) and Lady Jane Grey (Queen of England for 9 days) resided in her household and received an education. In 1548, at 35, Catherine Parr became pregnant. She had not conceived during her other marriages. And at her age in Tudor times, it must have seemed like a blessing. Sadly, Catherine died eight days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Seymour.  Just a year later, her husband was beheaded and Mary is sent to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk. Her child is gone from records by 1550.

In my opinion, Catherine Parr’s greatest influence can be seen not with Henry but her stepdaughter Elizabeth. Both educated women of Protestant faith with inner strength and depth that still intrigues us.

History has simplified these women to divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. But each of these women from a time where women lacked power and control in fact show what women can do. And each one is much more than what history remembers.

 

 

Henry VIII and His Wives Part 2

Henry VIII and his wives. Do you remember the saying? Divorce, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

Well,  we are at the Died and Divorced.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Jane_Seymour,_Queen_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project        Jane Seymour

Henry VIII’s third wife who he married days after Anne lost hers. Most Tudor experts and historians say that Jane was Henry’s most beloved wife. He is buried with her and Henry, himself, supposedly said so in his life.

However, Henry only loved Jane (in my opinion) because she birthed him a son, Edward. That was all Henry desired and had been denied him. If Jane had survived, Henry would have remained married to her until her death. Can’t risk Edward being a bastard but I certainly do not believe that he loved her as he professed.

Jane though is one of the wives that intrigues me. So much about her is lost. What is thought to be know, to me, is a shallow description. Much like Anne, Jane knew how to play Henry and with son, she could have had great influence over Henry and England. Jane took much with her to her grave.

Anne of Cleeves

Anne of Cleeves

A political marriage that ended in divorce and Cromwell losing his head. Henry certainly did not like Anne. She gave him the divorce he wanted and she came out the winner.

She was an independent woman, with lands who was welcome at court and called the king’s sister. She lived a long life. I think Henry treated Anne the best.

Henry VIII and His Wives Part 2

Henry VIII and his wives. Do you remember the saying? Divorce, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

Well,  we are at the Died and Divorced.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Jane_Seymour,_Queen_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project        Jane Seymour

Henry VIII’s third wife who he married days after Anne lost hers. Most Tudor experts and historians say that Jane was Henry’s most beloved wife. He is buried with her and Henry, himself, supposedly said so in his life.

However, Henry only loved Jane (in my opinion) because she birthed him a son, Edward. That was all Henry desired and had been denied him. If Jane had survived, Henry would have remained married to her until her death. Can’t risk Edward being a bastard but I certainly do not believe that he loved her as he professed.

Jane though is one of the wives that intrigues me. So much about her is lost. What is thought to be know, to me, is a shallow description. Much like Anne, Jane knew how to play Henry and with son, she could have had great influence over Henry and England. Jane took much with her to her grave.

Anne of Cleeves

Anne of Cleeves

A political marriage that ended in divorce and Cromwell losing his head. Henry certainly did not like Anne. She gave him the divorce he wanted and she came out the winner.

She was an independent woman, with lands who was welcome at court and called the king’s sister. She lived a long life. I think Henry treated Anne the best.

Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and the B.

young henry 8

Most people know Henry VIII was married six times. Quite a feat for his time period.  As the saying goes Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. You might be wondering why am I writing about Henry and his first wife. After all they are not exactly a romantic couple from history. But I believe otherwise (at least for a while) so please read on.

Katherine of aragon

Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Henry VII needed a powerful alliance since his claim to the throne was from a bastard, servant line. He got Spain’s agree to wed Catherine to Prince Arthur, heir to the English throne.

In 1501, Catherine married Arthur but he died less than after their wedding day. But Henry VII wasn’t willing to send back Catherine so he kept her in England. She developed a bond with the new young heir to the throne—Henry.

In 1509, Prince Henry became the King of England and he married his Spanish bride.  From all accounts, he loved his wife though he was not a faithful husband. During their marriage, Catherine had been pregnant seven times. Most she miscarried but in 1511, she gave birth to a son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall. Guns were fired and the city bells rang. Fifty-two days later, the infant duke died.

Catherine had two more stillbirths until a young princess was born and survived—Mary. More stillbirths followed until she entered menopause. And Anne Boleyn saw her opportunity because the Tudor had a weak claim to the throne and Henry needed a son to rule England.

But if history had been different…if Henry, Duke of Cornwall had survived England and the world would be different.

In my opinion, Henry VIII would have never set aside both Catherine and the Roman Catholic church is his son had survived. He would have had his heir.  Also, I believe that Henry loved Catherine (at least as much as the man possessed the ability to love). He had since childhood. They were married for twenty-two years.

Besides, that Henry entrusted her to rule England while he was away, making her Regent while he battled in France. During that time, the Battle of Flodden was fought where the Scottish king James IV died. Catherine was saddened—according to the letter she sent Henry—that she wanted to send him his body so he had to make due with the Scottish king’s banner. Catherine was the one wife he had that was a true partner to him and if their son had lived…

Anne would have only been a mistress. There would have been no Elizabeth or the age that bears her name. Perhaps, Jane Seymour would have married Henry and Edward would have been born himself. And the rest…

Anne Boleyn

But Anne, she saw her chance and took it. I do not fault her that. She was a smart woman who knew how to play at court politics. I think Anne was lust, a sharp infatuation that had to be satiated. And when Anne couldn’t give him the son she promised and he desired, he rid himself of her.

In the next segment of Henry VIII and his wives, I deal with Jane, Anne and the rest.

 

How Do I Love Thee?

elizabeth-barrett-browningElizabeth Barrett Browning wrote those most famous words that are still whispered when our own words of love fail to be spoken.

I had read those words when I was a young girl who had never been in love and who was more of a tomboy than a young lady. But that one question had me wanting to feel a love like that and to one day have someone love me with such emotion that one simple question poured with that sentiment. Of course, I read the rest of the poem then I read it again. Then I had to learn more about the author named Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett and I shared only two things in life but her story and poems have always stayed with me. Elizabeth was the eldest of twelve children. She was a smart child who read at four and started writing poetry at six years old. At 15, she fell seriously ill and the laudanum prescribe had adverse effects on her health.

In 1838, Elizabeth published her first collection of poems. Her most prolific years were between 1841 and 1844. These poems would change her life.

Her 1844 volume of poems were read by another writer named Robert Browning. Her words stirred him so that he had to write to Elizabeth. Robert wrote, “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett.”

Robert Browning was six years younger than Elizabeth and a poet in his own right as well a playwright. Though he did not have the success Elizabeth had, he had some promise. robert-browning-9228980-1-402

For nearly two years, they communicated through letters, falling in love in the pages until they finally met in May 1845.  Elizabeth couldn’t believe that this strong, worldly man loved her— a woman of frail health and older than himself. Their courtship was carried out in secret since Elizabeth knew her father would disapprove. During the two years of their courtship, Elizabeth wrote the most famous question though they were not yet published.

However, in 1846, Robert and Elizabeth married in a private ceremony at St. Maryleborne. And in September 1846, Robert spirited his wife away to the warmer climate of Italy and many believe that benefitted his bride and prolonged her life.  Mr. Barrett disinherited her as he did all his children who married without his consent. However, Elizabeth kept the Barrett surname as was required of all the children.

Now in Italy, Elizabeth suffered numerous miscarriages but in 1849 she gave birth to a son named Robert Barrett Browning or Pen Browning as he was known. Besides, their child, Elizabeth published Sonnets from the Portuguese.  This book republished her earlier poems and also included the poetry from their courtship. Elizabeth thought them too personal but Robert convinced her to include them and she included Sonnet 43.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old’s griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breadth,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

In that same year, Elizabeth was a candidate for poet laureate after Wordsworth’s death and was a rival for the position with Tennyson, who would claim it in the end.

On June 29, 1861, the love story ended with Elizabeth’s death in Florence. Robert continued to write but most believe his best years of his writings were years he shared with his wife. Robert died on 12 December 1889.

*Once a month I will be telling the love story of a true historical couple.