The Queen Dowager, Part 2

Posted by by Janet Dooley on 4 January 2012 in category in Edward VI - 0 0 Comments

Catherine Parr, who was loved by the late king, had been well provided for in Henry’s will. She received an annual stipend, her own property, and even access to the crown jewels until the time King Edward should marry. After Henry’s death, she set up residence at Chester House where she became guardian for girls of noble birth, including her stepdaughter the Princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane Gray. At Chester House, the girls found a refuge of kindness and encouragement where they were able to pursue their formal educations, practice their Reformist religion and prepare for life at court.

A portrait of Sir Thomas Seymour by aritst Nicholas Denizot. Seymour was sent away from court on a diplomatic post during Henry VIII's reign. This was mostly so the old king could pursue Catherine Parr, Seymour's love interest. Parr would become Henry's sixth and final wife. Still, Henry provided for Seymour in his will, raising him to the peerage. Seymour was given the title Lord High Admiral, but was left off the ruling council for his nephew, King Edward VI.


Catherine was a woman who had achieved wealth and independence…something rare in Tudor England. She could have lived out her life as a beloved Queen Dowager, published author, and patron of education for women. She could have been an influential and steadying voice for the young king in chaotic times. 

But it didn't work out that way.

Catherine's old flame, Sir Thomas Seymour, was back in town. 

Seymour, brother to Jane Seymour and uncle to King Edward, had a reputation as a dashing, charismatic man. He had courted Catherine once, only to be sent away by the king, who wanted her for himself. With the old king out of the way, Seymour was back. Catherine had been a rich widow once, but now she was a very rich widow. A rich woman with enviable connections. For all his charms, Seymour's fatal flaw was his ambition. He was opportunistic, and he saw Catherine as an opportunity.

For Catherine's part, she had loved him once and it was easy for her to fall in love again. She was now a 35 year-old woman, thrice widowed and childless. Seeing this as her last chance for children, Catherine married the Admiral just months after Henry’s death.

The wedding was secret, and of course, scandalous. But the real scandal was that Catherine had thrown away everything for a man who would in the end prove unworthy.

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