The Tudor Society

31 July – A young Elizabeth writes to Catherine Parr

On this day in Tudor history, 31st July 1544 and 1548, the future Queen Elizabeth I wrote letters to her stepmother, Catherine Parr.

The letters were written at very different times in Elizabeth's life, the first when Catherine was queen and Elizabeth had been separated from her for a while, and the second after Catherine had actually removed Elizabeth from her and Thomas Seymour's household.

I share Elizabeth's letters and explain the context.

Book recommendations: "Elizabeth" by David Starkey"; "Elizabeth I: Collected Works" ed. Leah S. Marcus, Mary Beth Rose, Janel Mueller.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1549 – Death of Edmund Sheffield, 1st Baron Sheffield, in Norwich. It is said that he was killed by a butcher called Fulke, while serving in the royal army against the rebels of Kett's Rebellion. Apparently he stumbled into a ditch and then was killed by a blow from Fulke. Sheffield was buried in St Martin's at the Palace, Norwich.
  • 1553 – Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, “was discharged out of the Tower by the Earle of Arundell and had the Quenes pardon.”
  • 1574 – Death of John Douglas, Archbishop of St Andrews and educational reformer, in St Andrews. He was buried in the public cemetery. It is said that he died in the pulpit.

There are 6 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    This is a beautiful letter, showing the intellectual achievement of Elizabeth, but it gives a false impression as Elizabeth had recently been at Court during this time. Katherine took her on her progress with her and was in fact picked up a few days after this letter. See Susan James biography of Katherine Parr on this.
    The letter is also in Italian, a language which Elizabeth was very much familiar with later in life.

    The second letter was written from exile because Elizabeth in 1548 had been sent away because the pregnant KP thought that Tom Seymour had a fancy for the Princess. It was all inappropriate and Katherine did still send her step daughter blessing and good wishes.

    Elizabeth had a good relationship with her father in 1544 and was in fact third in line to the throne as Henry restored her and Mary to the succession, but didn’t make them legitimate again. It’s a good job modern historians have better knowledge of what was going on because the first letter, beautiful as it is created a false impression, picked up on as the video says by Lady Agnes Strickland.

  2. M

    Very interesting. Beautiful letters. A question…is there a definitive biography of Catherine Parr? I know she’s featured in several books, like Alison Weir’s Six Queens of Henry VIII, but is there any just of her? I would think she’d be fascinating, her mother served Queen Katherine, she was well educated, but maybe there just isn’t enough. Thanks. Michelle t

  3. R

    The one I mentioned is by Susan James but there is also Katherine the Queen. The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr by Linda Porter. There is also Catherine Parr by Elizabeth Norton but for me none compared to Queen Catherine Parr by Anthony Martienssen which was published in 1973. The collection of her Complete Works was published in 2011.

    Hope these help.

    1. C - Post Author

      Thank you! I haven’t got the Martienssen one so will have to look out for that.

    2. M

      Thanks, Real Tudor Lady!

      1. R

        You are welcome, ladies.

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31 July – A young Elizabeth writes to Catherine Parr