In this second part of “This week in Tudor history” for the week beginning 15th February, I talk about how the death of a French duke led to an awful massacre, and how the imprisoned Margaret Douglas heard of her son’s murder, as well as introducing a countess who served all six of Henry VIII’s wives and who was close to his daughter Mary, and a noblewoman who managed to give birth twice while imprisoned in the Tower of London.
18th February 1563 – Francis, Duke of Guise, was wounded by a Huguenot assassin at the Siege of Orléans. He died a few days later and his death was a factor in the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
Anne Parr was born on 15th June 1515, in the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. Her parents were Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green. Thomas was an English knight, courtier, and Lord of the Manor of Kendal in Westmorland (current day Cumbria). Perhaps more famously known in contemporary historiography as the younger sister of Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, Anne Parr has remained a particularly elusive character in terms of research, when compared to her fashionable contemporaries. However, she led an equally interesting and eventful life. Despite the Parr daughters having a northern-born father, they grew up in the south of England. Their father’s seat at Kendal castle was, during their childhood, falling into disrepair, and living in the south was more practical in terms of their father’s role at court; Westmorland simply being too far from the centre of government and monarchy. In a manner more cosmopolitan, the Parr family resided at their modest house in Blackfriars, where Anne and Katherine were likely born and raised. This relative closeness to the court was convenient for Maud Parr, who was one of Queen Catherine of Aragon’s primary ladies in waiting.