The Coronation Sale

The Coronation Sale

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 6. Queen Katherine Parr | Letter signed, announcing her marriage to Henry VIII, 20 July 1543.

Queen Katherine Parr | Letter signed, announcing her marriage to Henry VIII, 20 July 1543

Lot Closed

May 4, 01:07 PM GMT


15,000 - 20,000 GBP

Lot Details


Queen Katherine Parr.

Letter signed (“Kateryn the queen”), to her brother William Parr,

ANNOUNCING HER MARRIAGE TO KING HENRY VIII, explaining that “It hath pleased Almighty god of his goodness to incline the Kinges ma[jes]tes harte in suche wise towards me”, celebrating an event which is “the greatest Joye and comfort that could happen to me in this world”, and inviting her brother to “rejoyse with me in the goodness of god and of his Ma[jes]te”, 1 page, oblong folio, Oatlands, 20 July 1543, integral address leaf ("To our right der and entirely beloved Brother the Lord Parre Lord Warden of the Marches..."), docketed, fragile at folds, crude repair to marginal tear, spotting

HENRY VIII’S FINAL QUEEN ANNOUNCES HER MARRIAGE TO THE KING. This remarkable letter was written just days after the marriage between the aging Henry VIII and his final Queen. The wedding ceremony had taken place on 12 July in the Queen’s Closet at Hampton Court Palace, attended by only 18 people. The couple immediately started on the court’s summer progress and this letter was written from the first stop on their journey, Oatlands Palace in Surrey. 

Katherine Parr had come to the notice of the King the previous winter, after she had joined the household of his eldest child, Princess Mary. She was from a courtly family, but – unlike Henry’s previous wives – she was from neither a royal family nor one of England’s great noble houses. Katherine has often been represented as a nurse to an ailing king but she was an attractive widow in her mid-thirties, extremely well educated, fluent in several languages and with a keen interest in religious reform.

Katherine understandably felt some ambivalence about marrying an aging, obese, (probably) impotent, and increasingly unpredictable King Henry, who had executed his previous wife less than 18 months previously. She was also in love with another man, Thomas Seymour of Sudeley, who was eventually to become her fourth husband. However, rejecting the King was unthinkable, and the marriage would undoubtedly bring great benefit to her family. Her brother William (1513-71), the recipient of this letter, was elevated to the Earldom of Essex within six months of the marriage, and was soon also a Gentleman Pensioner and Privy Councillor. 

Katherine proved to be an adept Queen. She nurtured good relations with all three of the King’s children; became regent when the King went to war in France; supported a remarkable range of musicians, publishers, actors, and other artists; and survived a plot by religious conservatives who nearly had her arrested in 1546. Her manoeuvres for power after the King’s death failed, and she was excluded from the regency after the accession of Edward VI. She only had brief period to enjoy her considerable wealth and independence as Queen Dowager, for she died in September 1548 from complications following childbirth.



Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1983, lot 29