Re "The Marching Order" (Jan. 15): In the sidebar, Henry VIII's sixth wife, Catherine Parr, is listed as a firstborn over a paragraph that reads, "She was the only firstborn and the only one to outlive him. The wives who lost their heads tended to be laterborns and outspoken."
Catherine Parr was not the only one of Henry's wives to survive him. Anne of Cleves (wife No. 4, divorced after six months) not only survived Henry, she also outlived Catherine Parr and Henry's son, Edward VI.
The two wives who lost their heads did not do so because of their outspokenness. Anne Boleyn, admittedly an outspoken woman, might have stayed in Henry's good graces forever had she borne him a son instead of a daughter. She was executed on charges of witchcraft and adultery.
Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth wife, was not notably outspoken. Her fatal error was trying to hide the fact that she had committed fornication before her marriage to Henry and was proven to have committed adultery while married to him.
Catherine Parr, in fact, was so outspoken that she argued theology with Henry, who by then was acknowledged temporal head of the Church of England and who held the title Defender of the Faith. This almost got Catherine into serious trouble; she was able to get out of it by saying that she had brought these matters up only to distract him from his ill health and to benefit from his learned opinions.
NANCY J. DOMAN