Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review: Katherine Parr: Opportunist, Queen, Reformer, by Don Matzat

5 February 2023

Book Review: Katherine Parr: Opportunist, Queen, Reformer, by Don Matzat

Available for pre-order 

Author Don Matzat nails his colours to the mast by telling us he was a Lutheran pastor for over fifty years, but his new book is refreshingly open minded and soon turns into a thought-provoking discussion of the big question: Why did Katherine agree to marry Henry VIII?

A clue to the author's view is in the title - that Katherine was an 'opportunist', as evidenced by her lavish new lifestyle. Others have proposed she was driven by a very difference opportunity - the chance to lead reforms from within.

I've always thought the influence of leading Protestants, such as Katherine's best friend, Lady Katherine Willoughby (who was married to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, until his death) and William Cecil. Both are thanked in her foreword to The Lamentation of a Sinner, and encouraged Katherine to publish:

The full text of The Lamentation of a Sinner is included, with a detailed analysis and interpretation, one of the best I've seen to date.  

Katherine Parr reunited Henry's family, paved the way for Elizabeth's reign, and was the first woman in England to be published in her own name. I'm happy to recommend this book to anyone looking for a new perspective on the thinking of this extraordinary woman.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Don Matzat is a retired Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor, having been in the ministry for over 55 years. In 2016, he read a Wikipedia notation about Katherine Parr, where a note indicated that her treatise "The Lamentation of a Sinner" included a high degree of self-debasement, not appropriate for a queen, and she embraced the Lutheran concept of justification by faith. This piqued his interest, and resulted in his  unique biography. He has been married to  Dianne for 57 years, and they have four children, eleven grandchildren ranging in ages from 4 to 27, and one great-grandchild. Find out more at

I am grateful to Amberley for an advance review copy of this book.

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