Saturday, 19 February 2011

Worthy stuff!

This week we had Book club as well as History club. They are each organised by lovely home ed mums who remind me of me 15 years ago. There was a time when I had more energy and lots of motivation and everything was new and exciting and we were learning loads of stuff together. But it does seem as though the more kids I have had, the less energy and motivation I have had, and I have done lots of things several times already, so I don't think to do them again.

On the one hand, it means that the Meister has had lots more freedom than her two eldest sisters, and on the other hand, she has had less attention from me. But being around these new friends with younger kids, as well as having good mummy hormones from having the Babe, is re-energizing me and making me want to do things again.

The good thing about both Book club and History club is that they are each once a month. So we have a goal that is achievable, and still lots of time to do all of the other stuff that we do. We read, play music, watch films, play games, go places, visit friends, bake and cook and eat, and do all of the regular weekly activities, and then do the worthy Book Club and History Club.

This month, The Meister was doing Henry VIII and his 6 wives. Of course, she chose this because it is interesting to her, and we have done some reading and stuff about them before. But I thought it was a bit boring. She planned to do it all on her own, and still was planning that, until 10pm the night before they were meeting. :-) Of course.

Her plan, which was sorted out with the group leader, was to be the head of Katherine Parr (5th wife) and to tell the story of the other wives. She had done loads of research, and had started to write it in first person, but it was a bit too much for her. Actually, she would have done it, had I encouraged her more, rather than just saying, "Go do your History." However, she isn't quite able to pick out the most relevant information. She wants it all to be in there! Being concise is something that we may need to work on. :-)

So I was up until midnight finishing it off for her. (I got to work as soon as we finished our family Valentine's day Trivial Pursuit game!) And then the next morning realized we had no props. We had all the props that other people were borrowing, but hadn't done any for her. So after some last minute (again) stitching and stapling and cutting, we had a lovely authentic (sic) piece of regal headwear.


It's amazing what you can whip up with an elastic head band, the cardboard lid of a Thorton's chocolate box, and the cut off leg of an old pair of velvet trousers, and a stapler. :-) (and a wall hanging that matches)

She gave hear speech, with lots of face paint on to make her look like she was adequately dead, while she was kneeling and somebody else held her head in the crook of their arm, like Katherine Parr was holding her own head. :-)

Katherine Parr Speaks....

Hello, I'm Katherine Howard – or at least, I was, before my head was separated from my body by my dear husband King Henry VIII. I shall tell you all about that man and his wives, for wives they all were, no matter what Henry's church says.



Henry was only young when he married Catherine of Aragon. I think that he did love her really, although he didn't tell me much about her. You see, she had married his brother, Arthur, in 1501. They were really only married for political reasons because Henry and Arthur's father, Henry VII, wanted to make an alliance with Spain, and that was where Catherine was from. But after the marriage, Arthur died. They were only married for 6 months, and according to Catherine, the marriage was never consummated. (That means she says they never had sex.) That was how she was able to say they were never really married, and how she ended up marrying Henry. Actually, they didn't get married for a few more years as Henry was so much younger than Arthur. But in 1509, they did get married, and all seemed settled for quite awhile. It would be a couple of decades before all the brouhaha erupted.


When it did erupt, it never really ended. You see, Catherine had lots of babies and miscarriages, but she didn't give birth to a male heir for Henry. In 1511, she had a baby called Henry, who only lived 52 days. And in 1516, she had Mary, who was queen for a while much later, but other than that, it was all quite sad.


Henry did have mistresses, and they did have children, but he needed a legitimate male heir, and I think as he got older, that became much more important to him. It wasn't until 1532, after Henry and Catherine had been married for 23 years, that Henry started trying to have his marriage annulled.


You see, he had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, and in 1532, she finally gave in to his advances, and she ended up pregnant. All Henry wanted was a son, poor man. So he married Anne in secret in January of 1533. He had finally given up on getting the Pope to say that his marriage to Catherine was never real. She didn't think that, the Pope didn't think that, nobody thought that. But he wanted to have a legitimate male heir to be king after him, so he ignored them all.


He got the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, to break with Rome, that means breaking with the Catholic Church, and to proclaim that Henry's marriage to Catherine was invalid. It was as if they had never really been married. So now he was free to be married to Anne Boleyn. Boy, she didn't know what she was letting herself in for, poor woman.


The baby she was pregnant with when they got married was expected to be a boy. But it wasn't. It was a girl, who they called Elizabeth, and turned out to be a pretty good queen, but Henry didn't think much of women ruling. He only wanted a son. And then Anne had a couple more miscarriages. Poor woman. After they had been married for only 3 years, Henry had her arrested. She was accused of adultery, incest and planning to murder the king. There were quite a few other men arrested at the same time. It was as if Henry used this as an excuse to get rid of a few enemies, or he just didn't care, as long as he ended up with what he wanted.


And what he wanted this time, was to be married to Jane Seymour. Poor Anne was beheaded on May 19th, 1536, in spite of the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, declared that this marriage was invalid as well.


A few days later, on May 30th, Henry VIII married Jane Seymour. Their son, Prince Edward was born in October of the next year. But his birth had been too much for Jane, and she died a couple of weeks later. Who knows? Maybe she was lucky. Maybe, had she lived, she would have been beheaded, like Anne and myself? Henry was quite sad when she died, though. He thought of her as his 'true' wife. But he didn't know how things would end up, and that his daughters would prove more important in history than the son he wanted so so badly.


I suppose Henry grieved for Jane. He didn't think about getting married again for a couple of years. And then he hadn't fallen in love with anyone. But his advisor, Thomas Cromwell, who had supported him in getting rid of Anne Boleyn, now helped to arrange another marriage. This was another marriage for reasons of political alliance, and the poor bride was Anne of Cleves. But Henry had to form alliances. After all, you can't break with Rome and expect all to be well. So this marriage was to help England, but it didn't in the end. It didn't really help anybody. Henry was unhappy because he didn't like Anne of Cleves. He called her the 'Flanders Mare.' Thomas Cromwell ended up accused of treason and executed. Anne didn't really know what was going on, but her marriage was never consummated. I guess she was lucky in that their marriage was dissolved, after she testified that it had never been consummated. She didn't do too badly though. She was given land, and was treated like the king's sister.


Maybe that all went well for her because Henry was falling in love with me. It was 1540, Henry was 49 years old, I was 19, and he was besotted with me. I was quite lovely when I was alive, and Henry gave me lots of lovley presents.


But I guess I didn't know about everything that was going on. There were a lot of people trying to get power. And all I was interested in was love. You see, I had been engaged to Francis Dereham before I met Henry. And then I met gorgeous Thomas Culpeper. What did anybody expect? I mean, I know Henry was king and was very powerful, and he had been quite something when he was younger, but now he was older, and he had that smelly infected leg, and I was young and naïve, and I liked Thomas. Henry gave me lots of gifts. He called me his 'rose without a thorn' and the 'very jewel of womanhood'. I did like him, but, well...


Thomas Cranmer got involved again. The Archbishop of Canterbury went to the king, and told him about me and Thomas Culpeper, and poor Francis Dereham, who had expected to marry me. Francis and I had been officially engaged, and since that was never officially changed, it meant my marriage to Henry supposedly wasn't valid.


Henry and I had only been married just over a year and I was in prison, and Francis was hung, drawn and quartered. Thomas was beheaded, which wasn't as bad, but both of their heads were stuck on spears on London Bridge. They stayed there for years.


And then I was executed too. February 13th, 1542, and off came my head. I can't remember if it hurt very much, but it wasn't very nice.


And then I had to watch as Henry got married for a 6th time. I was a bit surprised when he married Katherine Parr. I mean, he had been so obsessed with getting a male heir, and he goes and marries a woman who has been married twice before, and has never been pregnant. Maybe he wasn't worried because he already had Prince Edward growing up.


And he did like Katherine. Parr that is. She was witty and vivacious and even though she was in her 30's, she was still 20 years younger than the king. I wonder if he ever knew that she wanted to marry Thomas Seymour. Thomas was Jane's brother. You remember Jane? Henry's third wife?


But in July 1543, Henry VIII and Katherine Parr were married. Although the king liked her, there were many who did not, and there was a plot against her. She was rather too taken with Henry's reformed church I think. In 1546, she was nearly arrested for heresy, but because the arrest warrant was found after it had been dropped, either by accident or on purpose, Katherine was aware of what was about to happen, and she managed to placate Henry. She wasn't arrested. And she was able to remain his wife, and a good stepmother to his three children until Henry died a few months later, in January 1547.


I think Katherine wanted to be a part of the new King Edward's rule. He was only 9 years old, and needed older helpers. But she wasn't allowed to be involved. Instead, she finally married Thomas Seymour, whom she had loved before Henry, and she finally got pregnant. Unfortunately, she died just after giving birth to her baby daughter. She only outlived Henry by about 20 months.


It wasn't really easy on any of us being married to Henry. Some lived longer than others, but there was always a price to pay. And it is rather bemusing to think that even though he was married 6 times, and had several mistresses, he only had two official wives, Jane Seymour, who died while they were married, and Katherine Parr, who outlived him. All the other marriages were declared invalid. But 'Henry the Eighth and his Six wives' makes history sound a lot more interesting than 'Henry the Eighth and his two wives.' Plus there were his daughters Mary and Elizabeth to account for. They each became Queen.


But that is another story...

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