This was Henry’s sixth and final wedding, and it was celebrated privately like those of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and Catherine Howard (only the two foreign princesses, Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, got the big public spectacles…). And especially after the whole Catherine Howard fiasco, this one was kept to a small family affair, with only eighteen guests (plus Gardiner who officiated and Richard Watkins the prothonotary).
I’m going to skip over the background of how Katherine ended up in this place (I’ve done other posts about it, like this one) and go right to the ceremony. Letters and Papers has the wonderful summary of the notarial document formalizing the wedding – and showing us that the basic form of the wedding service really hasn’t changed all that much since that time! Here it is, cleaned up and formatted a little but kept as close as I could because it’s just too cool…
“In an upper oratory called ‘the Queen’s Privy Closet’ within the honor of Hampton Court, Westminster diocese, in presence of the noble and gentle persons named at the foot of this instrument and of me, Richard Watkins, the King’s prothonotary, the King and lady Katharine Latimer alias Parr being there for the purpose of solemnizing matrimony between them, Stephen Bishop of Winchester proclaimed in English (speech given in Latin) that they were met to join in marriage the said King and Lady Katharine, and if anyone knew any impediment thereto he should declare it. The license for the marriage without publication of banns, sealed by Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury and dated 10 July 1543, was then brought in, and none opposing but all applauding the marriage, the said Bishop of Winchester put the questions (recited) to which the King, hilari vultu, replied ‘yea’ and the lady Katharine also replied that it was her wish; and then the King taking her right hand, repeated after the Bishop the words, ‘I, Henry, take thee, Katharine, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.’ Then, releasing and again clasping hands, the lady Katharine likewise said ‘I, Katharine, take thee, Henry to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonnair and buxom in bed and at board, till death us depart, and thereto I plight unto thee my troth.’ The putting on of the wedding ring and proffer of gold and silver (described) followed; and the Bishop, after prayer, pronounced a benediction. The King then commanded the prothonotary to make a public instrument of the premises.
Present were: John, Lord Russell, K.G., Keeper of the Privy Seal; Sir Anthony Browne, K.G., Captain of the King’s Pensioners; Thomas Henage, Knight; Edward Seymour, Knight; Henry Knyvet, Knight; Richard Long, Knight; Thomas Darcy, Knight; Edward Beynton, Knight; Thomas Speke, Knight; Anthony Denny, Esquire; and William Herbert, Esquire. Also the ladies Mary and Elizabeth the King’s children; Margaret Douglas his niece; Katharine, Duchess of Suffolk; Anne, Countess of Hertford; Joan, Lady Dudley; and Anne Herbert.”
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