In my last post, I told you about my love affair with England. I told you it was strong—but did you think it would be this strong? After coming back from my trip to the UK, I was catapulted back into a life filled with classes and assignments and general “work overload”.
During my creative writing classes, I looked for every opportunity to swing assignments and writing prompts so that they would relate to England in some way or another—I wanted to talk about it at every opportunity I could find. Eventually, an assignment requiring me to write a piece of creative non-fiction allowed me to use my interest in England (both historical and modern) to my advantage.
I chose to write about one of the castles that I visited on my trip—Sudeley Castle. This castle is the resting place and was the last home to the sixth wife of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr. Therefore, I needed to research the English monarchy of the time period in order to write this piece to the best of my ability. You guessed it, that sparked a, I wouldn’t say love affair because that’s just weird and creepy but, a deep interest in Katherine Parr, Henry VIII and what was going on throughout England in the time that they were alive.
N.B. Different spelling of Katherine. It is debated how Katherine Parr’s name was actually spelt; hence Elizabeth Norton’s decision vs. mine.
Unfortunately, this book came in the mail after my assignment was due—but I am slowly making my way through it.
One thing from Katherine’s life that stands out to me, is that she was married four times before she died days after the birth of her first and only daughter at the age of thirty-six years old. I found it interesting that we remember her third husband, Henry, as a man who married so many, when she only married two fewer men than he did women. Of course, being a king, Henry has more notoriety than Katherine. He also was known for being quite tyrannic, whereas she seemed to be more of a quiet yet strong being. In terms of Henry VIII ourageously marrying so many people, though, it doesn’t seem like six (or at least four) people was that far out of the question—either that, or Ms KP was a “hottie with a body”, one of the two.
Not only that, but after her death in 1548, Lord Thomas Seymour, her fifth husband and the brother of Jane Seymour (Henry VIII’s third wife; I am chanting to myself Catherine, Anne, Jane, Anne, Catherine, Katherine) tried to kidnap the new king, Edward VI for ransom—oh, and he tried to marry Edward’s successor, Elizabeth I, too, just days after Katherine died.
Records of the life of her daughter, Mary, ceased to exist beyond 1550, so it is thought that Mary did not live past two years old. She was sent to live with other women after her mother died as fathers were not expected to nuture or care for their offspring—besides, by the sounds of it, Thomas was too busy breaking every possible law you could think of. He was executed for thirty three accounts of treason in 1549.
I realise that the lives and times of the English monarchy are not for everyone, but I can’t help but share the things with you that interest me. Katherine Parr was a strong woman. She is believed to have talked her way out of being beheaded (like her predecessors) with her husband, Henry VIII. She is also the first woman in England to have written and published a book under her own name. Her life—the things that she achieved—never fails to facinate me. She is a true inspiration and I am grateful that I got to see the house she lived in.
The Duties of a Woman
All the people around me died. It is as though God had ordained spontaneous combustion for the person to whom I committed my life. We were happy; we lived comfortably and, before the decade was through, he was gone.
I was lucky that my parents were able to give me strong will before I married for the first time—I was able to think for myself, able to be a new-age woman. I had power over my people, for they looked to their Queen, but I was required to bow to the forces of a powerful Tudor king … at least, appear to bow.
I curtsied, I attended court, I dressed as expected, I was attentive to my husband. I did everything that was expected of me, but I completed these tasks with my flair. Surprisingly, he seemed to take it well … until I spoke of my feelings upon the topic of theology—he didn’t take to that too kindly. I recognised his questions for their true form—he was trying to gauge whether a room in the tower should be arranged before an appointment with the gallows. I was quick, I used my will—he buckled, he fell.
I didn’t get the chance to provide Mary with these talents, before I, too, was gone from her life. She was relying on her father, but he also left her and she was sent to women of our acquaintance in a “if I can’t see or hear her, she doesn’t exist” sort of fashion.
She didn’t deserve it. She should have been protected, despite her sex. I should have been there but God took me, like he did my husbands and she was left to protect herself whilst still a babe.
The people around her died; and so, eventually, did she.
N.B. This piece of flash fiction is not the assignment that I submitted.