Katherine Parr: Religious Writings

Chapter 1: Introduction

Katherine Parr was the first Queen of England to publish a book. Religious self-examination was all the rage amongst the educated women of the early sixteenth century, and Katherine was a worthy heir to the fashion. She was not the first royal woman to appear in print: her grandmother-in-law, Lady Margaret Beaufort, had translated and published "The Mirror of Gold to the Sinful Soul" in 1507. Queen Marguerite of Navarre, whose reforming influence on the young Anne Boleyn was so profound, had published a second translation of the same work into French, from its original Latin, in 1531.

Nevertheless, it is apparent from her writings that Katherine's faith was a truly heart-felt matter. She seems to have undergone some sort of personal conversion experience which she wrote about: at great length and in language that to modern ears is excruciatingly self-abasing.