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Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII Hardcover – November 23, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Although often depicted by the Victorians as a matronly nurse to an elderly king, Katherine Parr (1512–1548), according to Porter, was a stylish trendsetter of 30, sensual, confident, dynamic, exceptionally educated and cultured, and able to perform with aplomb on both an English and international stage. Born into a prominent, northern family of Yorkist sympathies, Katherine was widowed twice before marrying Henry VIII: a brief first marriage thrust her into a troubled family; her second husband, John Neville, Lord Latimer, put his life and fortune at risk when he became embroiled on the side of the rebels in the 1536 northern uprising, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. Probably already in love with seasoned diplomat and soldier Sir Thomas Seymour, the king's brother-in-law, when she married Henry, the pragmatic Katherine embraced her royal role with enthusiasm. British historian Porter (The Myth of "Bloody Mary") claims Elizabeth I's education, religious beliefs, and consciousness of personal image owed much to her loving stepmother. Rich, perceptive, nuanced and creative, this first full-scale biography gives one of Britain's best but least-known queens her due. 16 pages of color illus. (Dec.) (c)
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From Booklist

Published almost simultaneously with a biography of Henry VIII’s first queen (Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII) comes this one on his last. Katherine Parr had already been wed and widowed twice when Henry asked her to be his wife. Although she was in love with another man, the swashbuckling Thomas Seymour, she agreed to marry the king because she thought it was “God’s will.” Her new position enabled her to develop close relationships with the king’s children, and she was a role model for Elizabeth, in particular. It also enabled her to promote the cause of religious reform and even undertake several literary projects. Her intellectual pursuits may have been part of what got her into hot water with the king, who was disappointed (again) by the lack of a son and in any case was quickly bored by wives. Not long after Henry’s death in 1547 Katherine raised eyebrows by marrying Thomas Seymour, and in 1548 she herself died after giving birth. This readable study fills another hole on the growing Tudor bookshelf. --Mary Ellen Quinn
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1St Edition edition (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312384386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312384388
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By MusingCrow VINE VOICE on December 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Katherine Parr is really an interesting figure - a woman who was ahead of her Tudor time. She was highly intelligent, well educated and well read - and she survived her oft married husband - Henry VIII.

There has not been that much written about her life however - until now. This book is a really well written,thoroughly researched and utterly captivating glimpse into the life of this remarkable Queen. Linda Porter has a remarkable way with biographies. They come to life under her pen. I have been a life long fan of historical fiction - based on British history. Some time ago I decided that I wanted to fill in the fictitious gaps with non-fiction. This book reads as easily as fiction. It's a pleasure - not pedantic, not dry - but completely easy and pleasurable to read. It took me only a few days to read this book and it is a book that will remain in my collection.

The book covers :
The early life of Katherine Parr,
Her two previous marriages (I had not heard much about the first before reading this book)
How she made her way into Court life and how Henry decided to make her his sixth wife.
Her relationship with Henry's three children and her own step-daughter from her second marriage (another fact that had not registered in my head before)
How she narrowly missed being another statistic for murdered Queens of England.
Her life after Henry's death.
Life with Thomas Seymour and the kerfuffle with Princess Elizabeth and Thomas Seymour.
Her death giving birth to her longed for child.

This book covers it all and does so in a most enjoyable way. If you are an Anglophile as I am this book is, simply, a must read. It's a should read for anyone who enjoys biographies, British Royalty and British history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Katherine Parr (1512-48) was the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII. She has been neglected and mytholigized by historians in the 450 years since her death. Katherine was a bright, sexy woman who spoke and read several modern languages as well as Latin. She was married as a teenager to Edward Borough a rich and eccentric man who died when she was only 20. Katherine then married John Neville Lord Latimer. Latimer was involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace uprising against Henry VIII. He was much older than Katherine and died while she was still young. Katherine, twice widowed, was then wed to Henry VIII becoming the Queen of England.
Katherine was a good stepmother to Henry's three children: Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. All three was ascend the throne. All three loved Katherine. Following the death of Henry she married Admiral Thomas Seymour. Seymour may have been in love with Princess Elizabeth. He was executed for treason. Katherine died as the results of giving birth to a girl Mary.
Katherine is important for several reasons:
a. She strongly influenced Queen Elizabeth I on how to govern. Katherine served as Regent of England while Henry was away on campaign in France.
b. She was a strong advocate of the Protestant Reformation influencing Edward VI who in his short reign of six years advocated evangelicalism in Great Britain. (Edward I reigned from 1546-53).
c. Katherine was the author of "Lamentations of a Sinner" which espoused Protestant piety and the reading of the Bible in the English language.
Katherine was a tough survivor in a brutal age. She is most deserving of this fine biography by Dr. Linda Porter. This book is Tudor history at its best.
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It's refreshing for a history buff like me to find an author who takes the time to make the story of an iconic but largely understated figure like Katherine Parr accurate as well as interesting. There are plenty of small details such as Katherine's love of finery and jewelry as well as religious reforms that help us to understand what her life was like. Her influence on English history is far greater than historians of the past have considered - her love and concern for all three of Henry VIII's gifted children and her conscientious bringing them together as often as possible made her a trusted friend they could turn to in the absence of their father who loved them but was rarely seen by them.

I highly recommend this book for all Tutor fans who have become familiar with this period through the many available books as well as the popular "The Tutors" series.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. It was the first time I had read anything about Parr in depth. And I thought it seemed quite well sourced, an easy read, good context, and had amusing take-downs of some of the more mythological stuff that has developed over the centuries about the Tudor players.

But I couldn't love this sentence any more--it's in a letter to her husband, Thomas Seymour, about her new brother-in-law, Seymour's older brother:
"It was fortunate we were so much distant, for I suppose else I should have bitten him." From Katherine the Queen, by Linda Porter. P. 297.

I liked Katherine. And I definitely learned new things about the period. It's worth the read if this is an era in which you are interested.
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......a very intelligent, thoughtful, capable, and apparently attractive lady. I thought the book started off a bit slow and was not certain I quite appreciated the writing style, but I liked this more and more as it went on. Katherine is certainly presented here as a dutiful and devoted spouse, even to those first two that were not borne out of love. It seems here that she did have true affection and respect for Henry, perhaps even a kind of love, and that she was a true wife to him, despite so many previous accounts of her being a glorified nurse to an old and ill king. She acted with purpose and prudence in many ways as well as with duty and foresight and was evidently a committed religious reformer. This desire for and furthering of reform almost proved her undoing, as Henry truly seemed committed to a middle way and not a radical change, but she fearfully, and smartly, pulled back into the king's good graces...somewhat diminished but nevertheless forgiven and cherished it would seem. She would continue her writing following Henry's death and her commitment to religious reform. She finally marries for love, to the very interesting Thomas Seymour, brother of the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour. Katherine and Thomas don't, sadly, realize their goal of playing a critical part in the raising of King Edward and come to part following the birth of their daughter, Lady Mary Seymour. Very sad ending for these two. It was fascinating that following Henry's death, Katherine seemed to abandon some of her former prudence and propriety and to follow her heart into something that proved emotionally unsettling, uncertain, and finally, deadly.Read more ›
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