Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On September 22, 1515, Anna von J├╝lich-Kleve-Berg was born in Germany. She is better known as Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England and Queen of England from 6 January 1540 to 9 July 1540.

The marriage was never consummated, and she was never crowned queen consort. Following the annulment of their marriage, Anne was given a generous settlement by the king, and thereafter referred to as the "King's Beloved Sister."

Henry was convinced to make the match with Anne by his chancellor, Thomas Cromwell. It would prove to be Cromwell's undoing.

Anne's divorce settlement included Richmond Palace and Hever Castle -- home of Henry's former in-laws, the Boleyns. Her name and initials can still be seen throughout the house, such as on a fire screen in a sitting room.

Anne was invited to court often and had a close relationship with Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. In 1553, Anne was present at Mary I's coronation at Westminster. As the new Queen was a strict Catholic, Anne converted her religion for the second time, now becoming a Roman Catholic.

Anne's health began to fail in 1557, so Mary allowed her to live at Chelsea Old Manor, where Henry's widow Catherine Parr, lived after her remarriage. Here, in the middle of July 1557, Anne dictated her last will. In it, she mentions her brother, sister and sister-in-law, as well as the future Queen Elizabeth, the Duchess of Norfolk and the Countess of Arundel. She left money to her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to employ them in their households.

Anne died at Chelsea Old Manor on 16 July 1557, a few weeks before her forty-second birthday. The cause of her death was most likely cancer. She is buried in Westminster Abbey, on the opposite side of Edward the Confessor's shrine and slightly above eye level for a person of average height.

She is the only wife of Henry VIII to be buried in the Abbey and also has the distinction of being the last of Henry VIII's wives to die. She outlived Catherine Parr by 9 years.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On September 5, 1548, queen Catherine (Kateryn) Parr died of puerperal fever at the age of 35.

Following the death of King Henry VIII on 28 January 1547, Catherine was given an allowance of ₤7,000 per year, befitting her station. Henry had further ordered, after his death, though a queen dowager, she be given the respect of a Queen of England, as if he was still alive.

Catherine was able to marry her old love, Lord Seymour of Sudeley (Sir Thomas Seymour). As they married within six months of the old king's death, they had to obtain King Edward VI's permission for the match. When their union became public knowledge, it caused a small scandal. Catherine became pregnant by Seymour at age thirty-five. This pregnancy was a surprise as Catherine had not conceived a child during her first three marriages (however, two of her husbands had been much older than she).

Catherine gave birth to her only child — a daughter, Mary Seymour, named after her stepdaughter, Queen Mary I of England — on 30 August 1548, and died only six days later, on 5 September 1548, at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, from what is thought to be puerperal fever or puerperal sepsis, also called childbed fever. Coincidentally, this was also the illness that killed Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour. It was not uncommon, due to the lack of hygiene around childbirth.

Catherine's widower, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, was beheaded for treason less than a year later, and the infant Mary was taken to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, a close friend of Catherine. After a year and a half, Mary's property was restored to her by an Act of Parliament, easing the burden of the infant's household on the duchess. The last recorded mention of Mary Seymour is on her second birthday, and although stories circulated that she eventually married and had children, most historians believe she died as a child.

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