Henry Is Married to Katherine Parr – Invasion of France and
Control of the Strait of Dover
Sixth Wife for Henry VIII – Mary and Elizabeth Restored to the Succession –
Invasion of France – Seymour’s Scheme for Scotland Rejected
During the spring of 1547, Thomas Seymour reaped what he had sown. Just as he had plotted, Katherine Parr enchanted Henry VIII, and she became his sixth wife on 12 July 1543, five months after the death of her previous husband. However, at the same time as the well-practised Henry was slipping another ring on another new wife’s finger, matters in Scotland were going awry.
On 6 July 1543, Katherine’s brother William Parr, ascending in royal favour, wrote from Warkworth Castle in Northumberland to Charles Brandon (Duke of Suffolk) about intelligence he had gathered in Scotland – namely, that the Scots had no intention, and never had, of adhering to the Greenwich treaty.
Although the agreement was ratified by the Scots on 24 August 1543, none of it was ever performed, and by 11 December 1543 the Scottish Parliament had ripped it up altogether. Henry VIII had trusted the Scots to stick to their word but they had proved themselves unfaithful.
At court, Katherine Parr was at work making political inroads bolstering the Seymour position by befriending the royal children (all three), and in the spring of 1544, in the Third Succession Act, both Mary and Elizabeth were restored, behind Edward, to the line of succession. To defeat a potential claim from north of the border, the descendants of Henry’s two sisters were specifically excluded.
By the beginning of April, Edward Seymour was at Newcastle to deal with the Scots. He carried a plan with him, which was to take the chief port in Scotland, Leith, and use the navy to blockade the Firth of Forth. By that means he would cut off Edinburgh from both essential supplies and protection from the French. He would then use his land army to ‘force all on this side [south] of the Fryth to become [Henry’s] subjects’.
The plan was countermanded on 10 April 1544. Instead, Edward was to sack Edinburgh, not ‘forgetting to turn upside down the Cardinal’s [David Beaton] home city of St Andrews’, which Seymour complained was a daft idea.
He replied to the council and said that to sack the capital was pointless; it would only strengthen the Scots’ resolve and within a short time they would recover their position. Despite restating the merits of his original plan, he was overruled. The council replied on 17 April that they wanted only a quick raid; France was the priority.
Seymour now calculated that there was another way of beating the Scots – cut them off from France by controlling the Strait of Dover.