Thursday, February 13, 2014

A True (Love) Story Captured in Stained Glass

By Gretchen Sawatzki

For Valentine's Day we often think of flowers and candy, a night out with a loved one, or just some extra time together. The marriage of Henry V and Catherine of Valois is captured in stained glass by artist Karl J. Mueller, a famous German-American stained glass artist. But flowers and time together didn't define this couple. The real story behind their marriage was not as picture-perfect as it may seem...

Henry V (1387 - 1422) was the King of England from 1413 to 1422. A valiant warrior in The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), Henry was victorious in a battle of Agincourt, France. As a reward for his conquest, the French king, Charles VI gave Henry the right to marry one of his five daughters - a financial and territorial incentive Henry could not overlook. After asking the first five daughters for their hands in marriage, Henry was forced to marry the youngest daughter, Catherine, as all of her sisters were betrothed. Unhappy with his prize, Henry demanded 2,000,000 crowns for Catherine's hand, a price that Charles could not afford. But with land and money to gain, Henry married Catherine anyway in the summer of 1420, only to leave the morning after their marriage for combat in Europe.

In 1421 at age 20, Catherine was crowned the Queen in Westminster Abbey, an event unattended by her king. In December, Catherine gave birth to a son and only true heir of Henry V. Sadly, their son never knew his father with the sudden and untimely death of Henry V in 1422 while away in France. A young widow, Catherine took to the arms of Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire, and had four children. Nearly 50 years after Catherine's death, her grandson, Henry VII becomes the first monarch of the House of Tudor, a dynasty that ruled England for nearly 200 years - made famous by the tyrant Henry VIII (1491-1547).

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