12th July 1543 – Henry VIII Marries Catherine Parr

On the 12th July 1543, Henry married Catherine Parr in the Queen’s Privy Closet at Hampton Court. She was the only one of Henry’s wives who was not in the least infatuated with the idea of being Queen. It was perhaps because of what happened to the last five wives, but it was also because she was already in love. She had been twice widowed and was looking to marry for love next; the man that had caught her eye was Thomas Seymour. However, when the King had asked her hand in marriage in the late spring of 1543, she turned to God. She soon believed that God wanted her to be Queen and so submitted to Henry.

The wedding was a quiet, almost private affair. This was to be expected in the case of an already much-married, middle-aged couple. The celebrant was Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. And the congregation, which numbered about twenty, was made up of the Gentlemen of the King’s Privy Chamber, as well as close family members of the bride and groom. Both Henry’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were present, as well as Margaret Douglas, his niece by his elder sister Margaret’s second but divorced husband, Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus. Catherine’s family was represented only by her sister and brother-in-law, Anne and William Herbert. But the three aristocratic ladies who were then closest to her – Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk, Anne, Countess of Hertford and Joan, Viscountess Lisle – were also present.

David Starkey points out that there were many reminders of the past around Henry. Only a few dozen yards away from where he then stood, Henry had found Cranmer’s letter denouncing Katherine Howard. The celebrant, Gardiner, had already helped make or unmake four of the King’s previous marriages. And many other members of the congregation had been almost as actively involved. His daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, most of all. Henry still made the marriage vows ‘hilari vultu’ – ‘with a joyful countenance’. Catherine’s expression isn’t noted.


LP XVIII i, 873

Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey, 2004, p711-714


Picture of Catherine Parr.

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