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The Wives of Henry VIII - Anne of Cleves

The Wives of Henry VIII - Anne of Cleves

After the death of his third wife Jane Henry did not marry for another two years, most likely mourning for Jane and worrying for his now motherless son, Edward. However when the time came for him to marry again he this time chose from foreign nobility, instead of within England as he had done with his past two wives. Anne of Cleves was a candidate for the hand in marriage to the king, desired by the men at the English court to produce a sort of political and financial stability to the English throne after many years of religious strain with the Holy Roman Emperor and France. Anne is most well-known for the comment made by Henry about her appearance, as after seeing her for the first time in person Henry was displeased and compared her to a horse. The popular painter Hans Holbein was sent to paint a likeness of Anne, which apparently captured her appearance in an all too favourable light. However, Henry continued on with the match, and the pair were wed on the 6th January 1540. Not finding his wife attractive or overly appealing in any way Henry sought a way out of the marriage as soon as it began, with his soon to be next wife Kathryn Howard making herself more and more known to the king. Anne, observing the fate of the previous wives’ of Henry, and seeing his unhappiness, agreed to an annulment and was given the title of ‘King’s Sister’. Anne made little impact as a wife to Henry and Queen of England, but lived the rest of her life in comfort at Hever Castle (the once home of Anne Boleyn). There are rumours that Henry and Anne had an affair some years later after their annulment, but it is unclear as to whether this is true or not. Anne died in 1557 and was buried at Westminster Abbey, having never remarried after Henry.

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