The Reason Henry VIII Nearly Executed Catherine Parr

Henry VIII was a multifaceted man with a lot of fun interests, like eating and building his own church like a K'Nex Ferris wheel and seriously, just eating so much. Yet despite all of his myriad hobbies, this robust Tudor is best remembered for just one folksy pastime: finding colorful new ways to call mulligan on his panoply of marriages.

The last of Hank's wives was one Catherine Parr, who nabbed the gig after the king's fifth wife, Catherine Howard, came down with a bad case of the decapitations at the ripe old age of 19. Parr was a rare sort — she managed to make it all the way through her three-and-a-half-year marriage to Henry without being executed, divorced, or dying of having doctors who didn't wash their hands. She did, however, come within spitting distance of being another notch on the king's beheading stump in 1546, according to the Anne Boleyn Files.

The story goes that Catherine Parr had some deep religious convictions, believing that God had intended for her to be queen and that the best thing for the Church of England was a good old-fashioned Catholicism shakedown. John Foxe described her honeydew list for her husband as "a good and a godly work in banishing that monstrous idol of Rome, so he would thoroughly perfect and finish the same, cleansing and purging his church of England clean from the dregs thereof..." and so on.

Parr for the course

Henry's advisors weren't wild about Catherine's perceived influence on the king, and started arresting religious reformers and asking them pointed questions about her majesty's sympathies. A few interrogations later, Henry had an arrest order written up for his wife on the grounds of heresy, which was as solid a way as any for a person to end up with egg on their face and their face in a basket.

The arrest order was made in secret, but the king told a court physician who then told Catherine. A lot of royal scuttlebutt came down to gossipy advisors back then. Catherine, with a sudden sense of gravity, approached the king while he was hanging out with his friends and made a point of saying "everything's up to you, sweetheart" loudly and often when religion was being discussed. Henry, apparently relieved to the point of Yoda-speak, said of the queen "that perfect friends we are now again."

And that was that. Catherine was fine. She bucked the odds by outliving her rotund boo, married again, and made it all the way to 36-years-old before, according to Britannica, she died of complications from childbirth.