Catherine PLANTAGENET

(C. Devon)

Born: ABT 14 Aug 1479, Eltham Palace, Kent, England

Died: 15 Nov 1527, Tiverton Castle, Devon, England

Buried: 3 Dec 1527, Tiverton Church, Devon, England

Father: EDWARD IV PLANTAGENET (King of England)

Mother: Elizabeth WOODVILLE (Queen of England)

Married: William COURTENAY (10į E. Devon) BEF Oct 1495

Children:

1. Edward COURTENAY

2. Henry COURTENAY (1į M. Exeter)

3. Margaret COURTENAY


Catherine Plantagenet was born in Eltham Palace, the youngest daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Early matches were proposed for her with a Spanish prince and with James, Marquess of Ormond

Edward IV hastened to seek a marriage contract for his youngest daughter. On 28 Au 1479, a marriage contract was concluded. The contract promised Catherine to Juan of Aragon, eldest son of Fernando II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile. The alliance was still being negotiated when her father died on 9 Apr 1483. This marriage was never concluded.

After her fatherís death she went into sanctuary in Westminster with her mother and sisters but afterward was at court, both under Richard III and Henry VII.

Her brother-in-law Henry VII later negotiated with James III of Scotland to obtain a possible husband for her. According to an agreement drawn up in Nov of 1487, Catherine would marry James Stewart, Duke of Ross, second son of James III. The same agreement promised the hand of her mother Elizabeth Woodville to James III and the hand of one of her sisters to the future James IV of Scotland. James III was killed in the Battle of Sauchieburn (11 Jun 1488). His son and successor James IV never pursued this agreement.

She married, by late Oct 1495, Sir William Courtenay, who is praised for his bravery and manly bearing by Polydore Vergil. Her children were Edward (d. 1502), Margaret, and Henry. Shortly before the death of Catherineís sister, Queen Elizabeth, in 1503, the King, fearing that Courtenay's near relationship to the throne might tempt him to conspiracy, committing him to the Tower on an obscure charge of corresponding with Edmund De la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, the surviving chief of the Yorkist faction. Catherine remained at court and was chief mourner at her sisterís funeral. Courtenay was released and restored as Earl of Devon when Henry VIII became King in 1509, and carried the sword at his coronation. 

When the Earl of Devon died, the boy Henry was treated kindly by his 1st cousin, Henry VIII, who had great affection for her aunt Catherine; and he was allowed to succeed to his father's Earldom in 1511, and the attainder was formally removed in the following year. 

After his death from pleurisy, Catherine took a vow of chastity in the presence of Richard FitzJames, Bishop of London, on 13 Jul 1511. On 3 Feb 1512, she was granted all the estates of the earldom of Devon for her lifetime. Her son Henry was raised at court, and remained high in the new Kingís favor for the remainder of Catherineís lifetime, although he was later executed for treason. Catherine herself resided either at Colcombe Castle, in the Parish of Colyton, or else at Tiverton Castle, Devon, maintaining a large household there. Catherine reportedly went through periods of both "wealth" and "adversity" but was reportedly favored by her nephew Henry VIII who "brought her into a sure estate". She had an annual income of around £2750 and lived in style, including minstrels and no fewer than three fools among her retainers. 

There are still traditions in Devonshire as to the "quiet, proud, gentle lady", who used to walk about Tiverton with her little daughter Margaret, who, folks say, was choked by a fishbone in 1512, and lies buried at Colyton.

This tradition is supported by an inscription on the tomb at Colyton, of much later date, which sets forth that the said "Margaret was the daughter of William Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and the Princess Katherine, and that she died at Colcombe, choked by a fishbone, A.D. 1512". But Margaret Courtenay is mentioned in the will of her grandfather, which was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on the eleventh of Jul, 1509, and this lady is also mentioned by her mother in a document dated 1511 (3rd Henry VIII), and signed "Kath. Devonshire", in which she states that Margaret, her daughter, is now above thirteen years of age, and that she proposes "to procure for her a fitting marriage". This was found for her, in the person of Henry, Lord Herbert, eldest son of Charles Somerset, Earl of Worcester; and she was living at Richmond, in attendance on the infant Princess Mary, on the second of Jul 1520. She died before her husband, who married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Anthony Browne.

So we can only conclude that the inscription at Colyton is a mendacious inscription, and was invented to support the tradition about "little chokebone", as the "natives" call her, and which, like many other traditions about the Courtenays, can have had no foundation in fact.

In 1516, Princess Mary was borne in pomp and solemnity to the Church of the Observant Friars at Greenwich and baptized with the name of Mary. Cardinal Wolsey was her Godfather, Catherine of Devon and the Duchess of Norfolk were her Godmothers at the font, and the Countess of Salisbury was her Godmother at the bishop.

Princess Catherine survived her husband by sixteen years, and was buried in St. Peterís. Tiverton. She outlived all her full-siblings.
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