Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Question from Diane - Kathryn Parr's hair on her badge

In this site's Katherine Parr gallery there is a badge of Katherine. She is crowned and rising from a Tudor rose. Her hair is loose. Does that mean she was a virgin when she married Henry VIII (even though she'd been married twice before) or would all queens of the period wear a crown over loose hair regardless of whether they were virgins or not?

[ed note - here is a link to the image: http://tudorhistory.org/parr/parrbadge.jpg You can also see it at the bottom of her figure at St. Mary's here and here - although it is cut off in the second one- sorry!]


Blogger Foose said...

Susan James, Katherine Parr's biographer, says that the Katherine depicted is actually St. Katherine of Alexandria, a virgin saint: "an iconographic portrait of a woman triumphant ... For the young schoolgirl Kateryn, this must have been an image worthy of emulation." The image was originally in the Parr family's Horae ad Usum Sarum, a book of hours in Latin; as a child, Katherine Parr inscribed her name on the page that described the story of St. Katherine of Alexandria. As queen, she adopted the image for her insignia: "the queen's badge ... displaying the head of St. Katherine adapted from the woodblock print in the old Horae ad Usum Sarum ..." (Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen, by Susan James)

It might seem a bit odd that a fervent Protestant would have adopted a very traditional Catholic image for her badge, but it was a transitional period; people could still celebrate their personal saint's day while strongly disapproving of the cult of the saints as a "corruption" of pure religion. And Katherine Parr was married to Henry, who was still very attached to most forms of the old religion, so her choice would probably have pleased him and been in keeping with the tradition for English queens at that time.

October 21, 2008 6:18 PM  

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