Katherine of France (1401-1437)
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Katherine of France (1401-1437)

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Therefore a happy wife this was, a happy mother pure. Thrice happy child, but grand dame she, more than thrice happy sure !

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Katherine of France (1401-1437)

The daughter of the mad Charles VI, King of France, Katherine was terribly neglected as a child and was brought up in relative poverty but when Henry V wanted a French bride to strengthen his claim to the French throne, and after Agincourt in 1415, he was in a strong position to press his suit for her. After negotiations had broken down several times due to Henry's demands for an excessive dowry of 2 million crowns, the arguments were settled when he accepted the French offer of their crown for Henry and his heirs with him as regent to Charles VI during Charles' lifetime. Henry and Katherine were married immediately afterwards in France. The Plantagenet kings had now achieved their dreams of sitting on the thrones of both France and England.

They entered Paris in triumph and settled in the Louvre Palace, however two months later it became necessary for Henry to return to England and soon after they arrived, Katherine was crowned in Westminster Abbey followed by a coronation banquet of great splendour in Westminster Hall. But after making a royal progress around the kingdom, Henry was required to return to France to rescue a worsening military situation. Katherine was now pregnant and a delighted Henry had her join him in France after the birth of Prince Henry (later Henry VI). But within a few months Henry V was dead.

Three years later Katherine then began a liaison with Owen Tudor which through their son Edmund, who married Margaret Beaufort (great-grand-daughter of John of Gaunt) was to produce the future king Henry VII. Meanwhile, perhaps unsurprisingly, King Henry VI was not happy with his mother's relationship with Owen Tudor and summoned them both to London. Tudor was apprehensive about situation and sought sanctuary in Westminster Abbey and rightly so, because once enticed out, he was imprisoned in Newgate, from which he later escaped to Wales. Katherine was sent to Bermondsey Abbey where she died in 1437. She was buried under the altar in the chantry at Westminster Abbey by Henry V's tomb but was moved later to the other side of her husband when Henry VII rebuilt the chapel to accommodate his grander tomb design.

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