Friday, June 24, 2011

Question from Anna - Mary Tudor and Mary Seymour

The the article about Katherine Parr's daughter, the author writes: "She was christened Mary, after Katherine’s elder stepdaughter, was healthy and pretty and her life with two doting parents seemed set fair."

If little Mary was named after "Bloody" Mary, why didn't the elder Mary take her in? I mean, she didn't have any children of her own and was not yet queen, what was stopping her for caring for her namesake?


  1. Little Mary Seymour's care went to Katherine (nee Willoughby) Brandon, the Duchess of Suffolk, who apparently wasn't too happy about this. She complained bitterly about the expense. The Duchess was Katherine Parr's greatest friend. To be charitable, though, maybe she was trying to get some of the Seymour inheritance back for the child after Thomas Seymour was executed for treason? As for why Mary Tudor didn't take the child, her own position was usually pretty precarious. What actually became of Mary Seymour is still a mystery. Mary R.

  2. I doubt that King Edward and Protector Somerset (little Mary Seymour's nearest relatives) would have allowed Mary Tudor to take the child. They would not have wanted the child raised Catholic. Since Mary Tudor was already fighting with them over religion, they knew that Mary Tudor would not raise the child any other way.

  3. Thomas Seymour requested that the Duchess of Suffolk be given custody

  4. I believe this is a rather difficult question to answer because one cannot exactly know someone's motives. My opinion on the matter is the fact that Mary (the bloody) was a staunch catholic, just like her mother was. She believed that her mother, Catalina di Aragon (or Katherine of Aragon) was the only legitimate wife of Henry VIII, therefore, to Blooy Mary, the child was nothing more than the offspring of one of the false queens.

  5. Mary Tudor did not consider Katherine Parr to be a false queen. Henry 8 married Katherine Parr long after Katherine of Aragon's death. Henry's 6th marriage in no way challenged his first. Mary Tudor was present at her father's wedding to Katherine Parr. Katherine P. had at one time been a member of Mary's household. According to Anne Whitelock, Henry first noticed Katherine Parr when she accompanied Mary to court. Katherine P.'s mother, Maud, had been lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

    Under Katherine's influence Mary translated part of Erasmus's "Paraphrases on the Four Gospels". Katherine funded the publication. There were only four years age difference between the two women and it appears they were fond of each other. This would perhaps be why Mary was asked to be god-mother - the relationship between the two women was that strong. For more information see Whitelock's "Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen".

    The impetus for placing little Mary Seymour with the Duchess of Suffolk instead of her god-mother Mary Tudor had much to do with religion. At the time, Mary Tudor was under pressure from her brother's Privy Council to conform to the new religion. She was under threat, calling upon the Emperor Charles to protect her and considering fleeing the country.

    A child with such close ties to royalty, like Mary Seymour who was daughter to a former queen and daughter of the king's uncle, would do better if placed in the household of a woman who had fully embraced the new religion and who had impeccable credentials. Such a woman was the Duchess of Suffolk. In this way, she was less likely to become a rallying point for those who wished to challenge the throne. Unfortunately it seems she died before any of these possible issues could arise.

  6. What about Earl of Pembroke? Why didn't he and his wife took care of Mary Seymore? the Earl was in good terms with Edward and somerset. Also Marquess of Norhampton? why didn't he take care of little Mary? Why didn't Mary's maternal uncle and aunt did anything for her? especially when they were both prominent courtiers and held offices.

  7. As to why all of these people were not standing in line to take in Mary Seymour, remember that a "royal" child required a large (and expensive) household, as befitted a child of her station. As silly as it seems to us, for her not to have nurses, rockers, a Lady Governess, etc. would have been inconceivable by Tudor standards.

    It also seems to me that they just weren't all that sentimental about children back then. It was quite common for parents serving at court not to see their children for months (or perhaps even years) at a time.

    Your question about why Edward Seymour (who was Lord Protector at the time) didn't do more for his niece is a good one. Personally, I think it was a 'sins of the fathers' sort of thing. Edward hated his brother, Thomas, enough to have him executed. I also seem to remember reading that there was no love lost between Katherine Parr and Anne Stanhope (Edward Seymour's wife) either. Anne felt that as wife of the Lord Protector, she should have precedence over Katherine, a former queen. Mary R

  8. My question was about Earl of Pembroke whose wife Anne Parr Herbert was Katherine Parr's sister and so Mary Seymore was niece of the Earl and Countess. Also Marquess of Northampton that is William Parr who was Katherine Parr's brother and Mary was his niece too. Both of them could have brought up Mary as per the standards of aristocratic children. They were both prominent courtiers.

  9. Doesn't the Duchess of Suffolk outrank the earl and marquess? The duchess's household was the highest ranking household for girls outside the actual court. It was more about rank than nay family feeling. At the time it was considered a great act of love to place one's children in the highest ranking household possible. (Much like we want to pick the best schools for our children today.)


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