Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, would probably not have been his last wife had he been in better health. He had, after all, had two of his other wives beheaded, and Kateryn had gotten on his bad side. She dared to read. She dared to think. She dared to speak. But she was the King’s wife and the only opinion she was to ever have was to be the same as his. The fascinating story of Parr, and her relationship with the king, is the subject of Philippa Gregory’s newest historical novel, “The Taming of the Queen.”
By the time King Henry met Kateryn Parr he was obese, suffered from gout, and had a foul smelling leg wound that oozed pus. She was 31, had been married and widowed twice, and was passionately in love with Thomas Seymour.
King Henry commands her to marry him and she strived to make him a good wife. She reunited him with his three children, and he even named her Regent when he went to war in France.
At the same time Kateryn created a study group in the Queen’s court. She was supporting Protestant Reformation, rewriting the scriptures in English and even had her own work published anonymously while trying to never overtly disagree with the King.
Then she was accused of heresy by those who were attempting to steer King Henry back to the Catholic Church. King Henry had to remind her that she should only do what he approved of, and referred to her as being “tamed.” Her punishment would have been death by fire…but the King’s death allowed her survival.
Of all Philippa Gregory’s Tudor novels this was my favorite. Kateryn’s intelligence, independence, and courage made her a woman to admire and emulate.