QUEEN KATHERINE PARR by Anthony Martienssen


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A rather limp tribute to that starchiest of queens, Katherine Parr, one of two survivors among Henry VIII's wives. Instead of focusing on what was undoubtedly Katherine's major assets (essential to those who weathered Tudor storms), namely her wit, tact and political sensitivity, the author champions Katherine as a prime exponent of Humanism (which he equates with clerical and theological reform and the ""New Learning"") and -- of all things -- women's tights. Because of her court education under, at one point, that Humanist scholar Juan Luys Vires, the author seems to assume that all new directions in education and religion that came within Katherine's sphere were not only encouraged but aided by her. (In a peculiar interpretation of Cramner's position on Holy Communion -- ""not as some mystical pagan rite"" -- Katherine is given credit, along with Anne Askew, for changing his mind!) Her advocacy of the Act of Succession, naming Mary and Elizabeth after Edward, is regarded as a giant step in women's rights -- England's non-Salic law and ducal power ploys aside. Although he quotes copiously from contemporary letters, and utilizes basic biographical matter, all the author's deductions seem oddly tilted, and the prose is a mishmash of the tried-but-not-necessarily-true: ""In bringing religion to the marketplace. . . the Humanists. . . unleashed violent emotions which caused riots in the taverns and disorder in the streets."" Katherine Parr once wrote to Thomas Seymour concerning his brother: ""It was fortunate he was so much distant; for I suppose else I should have bitten him."" In that other world, Martienssen, have a care!

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1974
Publisher: McGraw-Hill