‘Becoming Elizabeth’ Shows How Catherine Parr Survived Henry VIII To Die Of Childbirth

Catherine Parr is usually remembered as Henry VIII’s wife who “survived.” What that nursery rhyme leaves out is that she didn’t last long. Just over a year after Henry VIII’s death, Catherine Parr herself would die of complications in childbirth. It’s a grim part of Tudor history that is central to become Elizabeth Episode 4 “Light Up Our Darkness.” Catherine Parr (Jessica Raine), a woman who has been a major political player in the Tudor court and closest to a mother, Princess Elizabeth (Alicia von Rittberg), delivers her daughter Mary and dies a few days later.

Catherine’s death shakes up the world of Starz become Elizabeth in more ways than one. It leaves Thomas Seymour (Tom Cullen) devastated and, worse, adrift without Catherine’s stabilizing presence. And politically, it gives Elizabeth a sudden jolt of newfound power. With Catherine’s death, the royal home of Chelsea Place is given to Elizabeth to use as her own household. The newly rich (and adult) princess is welcomed back to court and Lady Jane Gray (Bella Ramsey) is forced to return to her odious, scheming father.

What is perhaps even more tragic about Catherine’s death is: become Elizabeth let the clever dowager queen see it coming. When a doctor tells Catherine she’s pregnant in episode 3, she bluntly says, “It’s a death sentence.” become Elizabeth star Jessica Raine explained Catherine’s fatalism to Decider.

Jessica Raine and Tom Cullen in Becoming Elizabeth Episode 4
Photo: Starz

“For her, it’s like she’s a late bloomer and everything is perfect. I think she’s had three marriages and just assumed she can’t get pregnant, is okay with that, has stepchildren that she’s given birth to,” Raine said. “And the moment she’s actually pregnant, I think it feels like a death sentence.”

Raine added that not only would Catherine know that giving birth is fatal for women during this time, but that she is old to have a baby.

“And it’s just not in her plan. I think she assumed she was infertile, so obviously she’s having a lot of sex, but she’s assuming there’s no consequence for that, so it’s a complete shock. She’s a planner, and it’s just not in the plan.”

In the end, it seems that Catherine is coming after all. She is immediately happy after the birth of her daughter and lovingly tells her husband Thomas that he is one of the few men who see her as a real person. For a moment it seems that their love is stronger than ever. You know, despite all the things Thomas did to Elizabeth… Then this joy is shattered when Thomas returns from a party to find that Catherine has died of postpartum fever, a common condition that also killed Thomas’ sister (and the third wife of Henry VIII), Jane Seymour. Catherine’s death also reopens the wound of that grief.

“This is actually one of the things I would defend Thomas about. I think he’s the only male character in the whole show who really listens to women and respects women,” Tom Cullen told Decider. “He does it so often.”

“He sees Catherine and respects her. He sees Elizabeth… But that’s what’s so complex about him, he’s someone who has deep, deep respect for women, but at the same time he betrays it.”

Jessica Raine added: “And it’s not a trick, it never feels like it’s a trick.”

Jessica Raine and Tom Cullen in Becoming Elizabeth Episode 4
Photo: Starz

“I do not think so. It’s real, absolutely,” Cullen said. ‘I don’t think he’s that farsighted. He’s so impulsive, he really can’t see beyond his nose. He’s just moving through the world in the present, and it’s quite a special character to play in that sense. Every moment is just life for him. He doesn’t even know what’s going to happen. He lives his life to live.”

Raine said, “That’s what makes him so tempting, I guess.”

“It’s such a shame, because Thomas is her kind of poison, Catherine’s poison. But I think he’s offering her something that other men just don’t have,” Cullen said.

“I really think he’s her only blind spot,” Raine said, before praising the two’s complex relationship.

Apparently Catherine’s pregnancy storyline wasn’t all doom and gloom for Raine, though.

“It was fun walking around in those Tudor clothes and a huge pregnancy bump too. Everyone will be like, ‘Are you wearing the bump?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah!! It’s so heavy!!’ No one could notice because they were really just wearing a huge array of curtains,” Raine said, giggling.

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