1 January 1540 – Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves have a disastrous first meeting

Posted By on January 1, 2018

Anne of Cleves, or Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg, had arrived in England on 27th December 1539, landing at Deal in Kent, in preparation for her forthcoming marriage to King Henry VIII. On New Year’s Eve, she travelled on to Rochester, where she was to rest before travelling to Greenwich Palace, where she’d be formally received. She expected to meet her husband-to-be at Greenwich, but Henry VIII had other ideas…

Henry VIII was excited about meeting Anne and so he decided to disguise himself and travel to Rochester to surprise her. Chronicler Edward Hall gives an account of their first meeting on New Year’s Day 1540:

“On which day the kyng which sore desyred to see her Grace accompanyed with no more then viii. persons of his prevy chambre, & both he & they all apparelled in marble coates prevely came to Rochester, and sodainly came to her presence, which therwith was sumwhat astonied: but after he had spoken & welcomed her, she with most gracious & loving countenance and behaviour him received & welcomed on her knees, whom he gently toke up & kyssed: & all that after noone commoned and devised with her, & that night supped with her, & the next day he departed to Grenewich , & she came to Dartford.”

Charles Wriothesley goes into a bit more detail:

“[…] and on New Year’s daie at afternoune the Kinges Grace, with five of his Privie Chamber, being disguysed with clookes of marble with hoodes, that they should not be knowen, came privelie to Rochester, and so went upp into the chamber where the said Ladie Anne looked out at a wyndowe to see the bull beating that was theat tyrne in the court, and sodenlie he embraced her and kissed, and shewed her a token that the King had sent her for her Newe Yeares gift, and she being abashed, not knowing who it was, thanked him, and so he communed with her, but she regarded him little, but alwaies looked out of the wyndow on the bull beatinge, and when the King perceaved she regarded his comming so little, he departed into [an]other chamber and putt of his cloke and came in againe in a cote of purple velvett, and when the lordes and knightes did see his Grace they did him reverence, and then she, perceiving the lordes doeing their dewties, humbled her Grace lowlie to the Kinges Majestie, and his Grace saluted her againe, and so talked togeether lovinglie, and after tooke her by the hand and leed her into another chamber where they solaced their graces that night and till Fridaie at afternoune […]”

As we can see from this account, Anne was not expecting a visit from the king, Henry was in disguise and she did not realise who he was and so treated him just like a servant. Ooops!

In the depositions taken a few months later, regarding Henry VIII’s wish to have his marriage to Anne of Cleves annulled, we have another account of this meeting from Sir Anthony Browne, Henry VIII’s Master of the Horse:

“The said Sir Anthony saith. How at the arryval of the Quene at Rochester, the Kings Highnes appointed to go thither to se her upon newyeres day, and ordered the said Anthony to wayt upon hym: and at his comyng thithe, to go before him with this message, how he had brought her a newyers gift, if it liked her to se it. And when the said Sir Anthony entred the chambre where she was, and having conceived in his mind, what was by picures and advertisements signified of her beauty and qualities, at the general view of the ladies he thought he saw no such thing there, and yet were thother of better favour than the Quene. But whan he was directed unto herself, and advisedly loked upon her, he saith, he was never more dismayed in al his life, lamenting in his hart, which altered his outward countenance, to se the Lady so far and unlike that was reported and of such sort as he thought the Kings Highnes shuld not content hyself with her. Nevertheless, at his retorne to the Kings Majesty with her answer, the said Sir Anthony said nothing, ne durst not. Then whan the Kings Highnes entred to embrace her, and kiss her, the said Sir Anthony saith, he saw and noted in the Kings Highnes countenance such a discontentment and misliking of her person, as he was very sory of it. For the said Sir Anthony saith, he moch marked that the Kings Highnes taried not to speak with her twenty words, but called for her counsail, and with his counsail and theym devysed
communication al that night, the Kings Highnes without shewing any cherful or mery countenance disclosed not his hart. But wheras the Kings Majesty had brought with him a partlet furred with sables and richly garyshed, sable skins garnyshed to wear about her neck, with a muffley furred, to geve the Quene, and a capp, the Kings Highnes passed over thexecution of his intent that night, and in the morning sent them by the said Sir Anthony Browne with as cold and single a message as might be.

The said Sir Anthony saith also, how the Kings Majesty retourning in his barge from thens to Grenewich, said to the said Sir Anthony, by his Highnes commandment than sitting by him, these words very sadly and pensively: I see nothing in this woman as men report of her; and I mervail that wise men wold make such report as they have don. With which words the said Sir Anthony was abashed, fearing lest any thingg shuld be objected to my Lord of
Southampton his brother, for that he had written to her prayse.”

Charles Wriothesley doesn’t read too much into the meeting. Although Anne didn’t recognise the king (and why would she?), when the king removed his disguise and she was made aware of who he really was, she humbled herself to him and they were reported as talking together “lovingly”. However, this disastrous first meeting is used later as evidence of the king’s unhappiness and his view that he had been deceived into marrying Anne by those who had made false reports about her.

What’s the truth?

Well, it is likely that the king was humiliated by this meeting. According to chivalric tradition, the woman was mean to be able to see through a disguise and recognise her true love. Anne was meant to fall in love with Henry at first sight, she was mean to be bowled over by him, yet, instead, she had ignored him. It must have been a blow to Henry VIII’s pride, particularly as this happened in front of Anne’s ladies and the king’s men. He may have been able to cover up his embarrassment, but I do think that this had a major impact on how he felt about Anne. I don’t think he’d been deceived at all. Nobody else found Anne unattractive or questioned Holbein’s depiction of her or reports on her looks and personality, I think Henry just needed to blame someone else for setting him up with a woman who hadn’t been ‘wowed’ by him on their first meeting. He couldn’t get over that and it left him unable to consummate the marriage. My view anyway!

If only Anne had been warned of Henry VIII’s love of dressing up, if only someone had whispered in her ear that the servant in front of her was the King of England, if only Anne had swooned and sunk to her knees, recognising her husband to be, if only…

It’s so sad, don’t you think?

You may be interested in reading my article Anne of Cleves – Flanders Mare?
Also on this day in history…

Today is also New Year’s Day, the traditional day for monarchs and nobles to exchange gifts. Click here to read about the gifts Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn exchanged.

Happy New Year!

Notes and Sources

  • Hall, Edward. Hall’s chronicle : containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. Carefully collated with the editions of 1548 and 1550, Printed for J. Johnson, 1809, p. 833.
  • Wriothesley, Charles. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume 1, Printed for the Camden society, 1875, p. 109-110.
  • Strype, John. Ecclesiastical Memorials Relating Chiefly to Religion and the Reformation of It, and the Emergencies of the Church of England under King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I…, Volume I Part II, Appendix, 1822, Clarendon Press, p. 456-457.

17 thoughts on “1 January 1540 – Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves have a disastrous first meeting”

  1. Ruth Goebel says:

    I tend to agree with your assessment here. Anne was rather ill-prepared for this type of meeting and likely had no idea he like to dress up. Was she aware of the chivalric tradition? If she knew of it, she may have responded differently. It is too bad Henry used this humiliation as his way of getting rid of her. But on the other hand, had she reacted in the manner he expected , she could well have gone the way of Katherine or Anne Boleyn had she not produced the desired son. Who knows for sure?

  2. Banditqueen says:

    Henry the New Year Fool!!! I really can’t think of much more to say. Anne was resting, enjoying an animal fight, cruel, yes, but a typical entertainment and is disrupted by this very large stranger pawing and kissing her and being overly familiar. I am surprised she was so polite and didn’t snack him as she had no idea who he was and he was not showing any manners. She was told here is a messenger from the King and the messenger grabs at her. Even if she knew Henry dressed up why should she expect him to greet a complete stranger in this manner?

    Henry obviously didn’t even wait for her usher to announce him as someone could have suspected it may be the King, especially from his great size and warned her. He came in like a giddy young man and expected her to swoon with delight. It is no great surprise it didn’t go well and he was embarrassed.

    I accept the version that he returned and tried to make good, with conversations and gifts as he would want to retrieve the situation. This may have been part of his later aversion or blamed but I don’t accept it had any impact on the marriage. That was down to lack of ability and chemistry in the bedroom. It could also be down to his fancy of Katherine Howard, whose charms he courted from early in his marriage. He was a reluctant bridegroom, everything which followed was just an excuse.

    Given a fair crack of the whip, Anne was charming, not bad looking, curvey, able to have children, most probably, a good political match, apparently got on well with his children, was popular, had a friendly disposition, would have gotten on well with the King and came from a good family, with wealth and land to boot. Cleves was strategically important and the League offered Henry political support and neutrality. It is highly unlikely she would have been divorced if there was any attempt at attraction and although Henry hoped for more sons, it was not as important as with Katherine as he had a living male heir. She wouldn’t have been executed either, why would she be? Really where do people on here get these ideas from? The situation with Anne Boleyn was different and Anne had too many enemies. Anne of Cleves came from a foreign domestic family and had the common sense to agree to an annulment. There is no evidence that she would have been treated with any less respect than she was, even if the marriage had lasted longer. Henry was not a fool when it came to international politics. He didn’t risk wars he was not prepared for. Children would have secured her position, even if he fancied Katherine Howard. No child would merely have either resulted in the same arrangements as she agreed to or a public marriage only. She was a good match. It was his silly behaviour that put it in jeapardy, nothing else.

    Sorry for slight rant, but I feel very strongly that we can’t judge everything Henry does by what happened to Anne Boleyn. Happy 2018!

  3. Christine says:

    Ha ha imagine if she had slapped him that would have looked so amusing but may have had dire consequences for the Cleves union, it’s true no one else made any deragotory remarks about her but there was one courtier who met her before the King and according to one source did not believe having seen her, that Henry would like her very much, so what did she actually look like? certainly she was gauche not having been educated in France and London or Burgundy whose courts were very polished and sophisticated, she did not know the art of flirting and courtly love, she had no idea her chosen bridegroom loved masquerade’s and he was playing a game with her, instead of recognising her ardent intended she promptly ignored him and was more interested with watching the animal sport, she is said to have been quite tall and blonde, maybe she was a bit on the big side to and Henry did prefer small slight women, his own size he didn’t have a problem with! If his future wife did that was her problem, I think it could have been a number of things that doomed Anne of Cleves marriage with Henry V111, we have seen how off putting the first meeting was, but he appeared to treat the matter as something that could be put aside, he conversed with her yet found it quite difficult as she wasn’t fluent in English and he couldn’t speak German, for couple who are attracted to each other that wouldn’t have been a problem and here was a very real issue, Henry did not fancy her, there was no spark, she did not resemble the painting executed so masterly by Holbein, I have a sneaky suspicion the great artist made her appear better than she was, it was a diplomatic piece of work after all, meant to impress and he must also have been comparing her with the ladies of his own court, elegant and witty who could dance and were well versed in the art of courtly love, the English fashions were taken from France and were much more attractive than the rather unbecoming stiff German gowns and headdresses that Anne were, there was her accent and he may have found it a bit grating on the ear, not being used to it, it could have been a whole plethora of things that Henry just couldn’t find himself overcoming, after the wedding night he was in no better mood than before and barked at Master Secretary who had arranged it all, he suffered from the full force of Henrys anger and from that day on his political career was on the decline and he soon fell from favour, everyone knew how displeased the King was with his new bride and they must have said, ‘here we go again, how long will she last?’, anyway iv had a bit of a rant myself and will take this opportunity to say I hope everyone enjoyed their Xmas and to wish you all a happy new year.

  4. Banditqueen says:

    Good evening and Happy New Year Christine. I am not certain Henry knew what he wanted and he had certainly been turned down by enough of the elite noble ladies of Europe, including Christine of Milan and several French Princesses. He had looked at Anne and Amelia of Cleves earlier but had not followed through and Anne had been proposed even in 1534, apparently when he was married to Anne Boleyn. It was mostly Thomas Cromwell who sought out the alliance but it was still a good one. Anne may not have had much in common with Henry but she was willing to marry him, willing to learn and adapt and wanted to please him. It’s true her education could have been more international but it was not seemly to play music in Cleves as a high born lady. She was obviously educated to the standard of a lady who would run a great household and her needlework was much admired. She must have been taught statecraft as she made a good impression and was very dignified and gracious. The problem is we have very biased views on Anne, driven by Henry himself, which hides her true appearances and talents. Anne wanted to learn all she could about Henry and would become a card sharp and enjoy music as time passed. Communication must have been odd, but then again Latin and French often acted as mutual languages. We don’t have any idea what they spoke or if they used interpretation but they must have used something to get the message across and I assume that she learned English as Henry spoke to her every day. Maybe it was limited but within months she had settled well into court life and dress. She must have been easy to get on with and certainly tried her best. However, a lot more stood in the way, dooming the marriage, including a lack of attraction in the bedroom and Henry’s own prejudices. We don’t really know how Anne felt but she may have complained about his leg when he complained about her. The rest is based on gossip. One very odd comment Henry did make about his perspective wives was when he sought the hand of Marie de Guise. She would marry James V and give birth to Mary Queen of Scots but Henry was interested in her and remarked that as a big man, he needed a big wife, which means that Marie was tall and big boned. He was particularly taken with the beautiful Christine of Milan who was sixteen, a widow, a virgin and from her portrait slender. Goodness knows what the others looked like, but Henry obviously didn’t have a clue what he wanted. It is possible that Holbein painting Anne front facing and pale did so to use a clever artists devise and allowed his viewer to see what they wanted in his subjects face. In other words Anne was a blank canvas and Henry saw an enchanting beautiful woman and put his own ideals onto her. Henry was very romantic and he had very much a romantic idea about his new bride. When the poor lady didn’t meet his high expectations he was disappointed. After that it was downhill.

    Henry was one of the perfectionists of the age and he still saw himself as a vibrant young handsome man, who was the ideal of kingship. He couldn’t believe any woman would not want an alliance with him. This is probably part of his attraction to Katherine Howard, he saw her as giving him new life and having his sons. In other words he was seriously deluded. He had to blame Anne for his failure in the marriage because it hurt his ego to admit that he had made a mistake. Anne had the common sense and intelligence to agree to his request for an annulment, partly because she wanted to please him. She became his friend and his Sister and it is clear that they got on well. If Henry went to visit her during 1541 after the New Year/Christmas party which they shared with his new Queen, Katherine, it is because he found that he had things in common with her. She remained close to his children, especially Princess Mary and Henry found he liked her afterall. Well, he no longer had to sleep with her, but he still found something attractive about her. This leads me to believe that she was charismatic, accepting, forgiving and regal. She was certainly more gracious than Henry and would have really made a good Queen.

    Anne was possibly more successful as the Queen who escaped than the wives who remained married to him. She was wealthy, a regular important guest at court, was no political exile, gained several homes and palaces, was involved in the lives of his children and received a royal funeral in Westminster Abbey. Only Jane Seymour received a similar honour. I don’t know the truth of Anne’s looks or her education because we only have Henry’s words but her personality was certainly gracious, patient, merciful, forgiving, generous and loving. I think she would have learned to be Queen, but Henry would still have failed, because he was embarrassed.

  5. Christine says:

    Holbein did paint his subject full faced which does show the features at their best, a crafty touch on his part, if we look at the profiles of most people they show the sitter in a not very flattering light, a straight nose and a firm chin makes for a very attractive profile and yet if the sitter has neither they can look quite plain, but it’s a deception, there is a sketch of Anne Boleyn (allegedly) by Holbein which many do not like as she is shown with a jowly chin and quite a strong nose, but the portraits of her from a different angle show a most attractive lively face, a strong nose unless over large does not mean a woman or man is plain, Jane Seymour had a strong nose in a small face with a receding chin yet Henry found her quite attractive, I don’t think it was a grand passion which he felt for her, merely that she was in the right place at the right time, with Anne of Cleves Henry appeared dismayed at her appearance and lamented he could see nothing in her what men have reported of her, I think he became rather romantically in love with an ideal of her which was supported by Holbeins portrait, he imagined she was this lovely vision and like a lovesick teenager over a pop star thought she was perfect and she would be his ideal bride, he thought she would swoon at his feet and it would all be perfect, yet when he met her in the flesh he was appalled, she didn’t know he was the King and she looked nothing like her portrait, poor Anne it wasn’t her fault and she wasn’t to know it then but she was to go down in history as the one who got away!

  6. Christine says:

    I agree she could have been a most successful queen consort had Henry not acted like a petulant kid and declared he wanted the marriage annulled, throughout history monarchs did not marry for love it was for political expediency, alliances between countries and the begatting of heirs that they married, daughters were engaged to their prospective bridegrooms when they were still toddlers, to have lots of children was a necessity as they were bargaining tools, no King married for desire or love, that’s what mistresses were for, that is why Henry V111 is so unique, he moved heaven and earth to put Anne Boleyn on the throne and married the young Catherine Howard because he was dazzled by her, he had to fancy his wives yet his great rival Francois of France had a wife who was said to be crippled and plain, Claude however had scoliosis and was no raving beauty but her husband respected her and she gave him many children, her portraits of her show quite an attractive girl in fact, to me anyway, but Francois would never have discarded her, and married his favourite mistress, he also was the most notorious rake ever apart from Casanova of course, but he would never have let his mistress dictate to him and force his queen from her rightful place like Anne Boleyn did, now Henry was about to let his feelings overtake him again and just because his new bride wasn’t whom he imagined her to be she had to go! Did he try to have sex with her on the wedding night, it’s almost as fascinating as Katherine of Aragons wedding night with Prince Arthur years before, he complained to Cromwell that her body repulsed him, that she was flabby and had droopy breasts, but she was only young and when women are young we are supple, we do not get the middle aged spread and go south till in our late thirties, if we tend to overeat that is, did he try to perform but couldn’t, his prowess as a lover was debated in the trial of Anne Boleyn was there some semblance of truth in that? Had Henry tried to sleep with Anne but couldn’t and therefore lied saying after that he just didn’t find her attractive, had they slept together and Henry was satisfied he may have viewed her in a different light but she was said to be such an innocent that she naively told one of her women that she believed him kissing her meant they had consummated their marriage, or was she lying to save face, it’s very hard to believe a young woman had been told nothing about the sex act yet if her mother had been a bit of an oddball she could well have been in the dark, if that was so she would have had a total shock on her wedding night and could have cried out and jumped out of the bed, Henry would have been shocked himself that she was such an innocent, and that would have been a huge turn off for him, women were expected to be virtuous particularly high born women, in queens it was imperative yet their mothers would have tried to prepare them, it could be that Anne was simply lying when she said they kissed each other in the night and in the morning and ‘is that it’? Was she saying that to save both her and Henrys faces, it could be so, I believe it was the Countess of Worcester who told her there must be more to get a Prince of Wales, Henrys fourth fifth and sixth and last marriage did not reward him with anymore children so his fertility was a very real issue, with increasing weight over the years and possibly borderline diabetes, high blood pressure and the infirmity that came with it, all these illnesse’s only served to lower his chances of siring a healthy heir, Catherine Howard came from a very large family, she was young and healthy yet never conceived even though Henry must have slept with her on numerous occasions throughout their marriage, however at the time of his marriage to Anne of Cleves I doubt if he was thinking of sons at all, like the romantic he was he was thinking of just hearts and roses, a rosy cheeked fraulien with flaxen hair, the reality was totally different.

  7. Banditqueen says:

    I was just thinking that the marriage market for royal and noble alliances is a bit like modern day internet dating sites. Instead of a profile you have an ambassador report what they saw and send a portrait. You look at the portrait, find out what the lady or family have to offer, enter into an exchange, make a treaty, meet the lady at the end of it all and hope for the best. The difference is that you see a profile, meet the person and then decide if you want a second date. If this was a match making site for Henry and Francis I and the brides at the time, just imagine the disappointment on seeing them after reading a glowing profile. In the international marriage market, of course, as you say you can’t just back out, because the entire peace of two nations may depend on your marriage. Henry was very unique in being so choosy and marrying four English ladies, three of whom were his current girlfriend while married. He was lucky to find a woman like Katherine of Aragon with whom he had the longest relationship and the deepest commitment as an alliance, because she wanted to marry him and he chose her. England married Spain, yes, but Katherine and Henry very much chose each other. In another life he could have been allied to someone he had just met and well, tough, he would have to get on with it as he was eighteen and needed an heir. Mistresses were for pleasure, wives for the foundation of a Dynasty. Henry by the time he married Anne of Cleves was well past his best. He was almost 50 and he had definitely let himself go. Now his falls had contributed to his weight problems, but he also comfort ate and must have had many health problems by now. However, he imagined he was a catch because he had been spoilt with a long passionate love affair before he married the same love, Anne Boleyn. He imagined he still had the same allure that Anne eventually accepted. He hadn’t noticed his body had aged or if he did he was definitely in denial. He had ideals about romantic love which just didn’t go with his search for a fourth wife. He had lost three wives in nineteen months, Katherine of Aragon died in January 1536, he executed Anne Boleyn in May 1536, and Jane Seymour died in October 1537. It took a sixteen year old foreign beauty to point that out to him in the form of Christine of Milan. Other Kings and Queens had to get on with it. The profile may be exaggerated but they had to accept and stick with their choice or parents choice, no matter how disappointing reality was because if they didn’t, they may end up going to war. You made the perfect comparison with Queen Claude. She did have scoliosis and far worse than Richard iii apparently but she was quite fair and pretty and she was gentle and must have had a lot of patience as Francis I had mistresses all over the place. He respected Claude and was fortunate in that they had many children. Claude died young, but her court was famous for its sophisticated learning, strict moral code and patronage of the arts and science. Some Kings did get a divorce on the grounds of looks, but it was very rare and they had to prove other problems as well. Henry was really only able to achieve his annulment of Anne of Cleves so quickly because he was no longer subject to papal authority and because she agreed. A second Katherine of Aragon would not have been so easy. I really do think Henry seriously thought all he had to do was show up and the lady would fall under his spell. His romantic ideas left him blind to real life.

    I can just imagine his profile. He would probably claim to be magnificent, bold, tall, well proportioned, handsome, athletic, a fine dancer and horseman, a champion jouster, very wealthy, with the best legs in the world, the best at everything, an international superstar, the greatest King who ever lived, powerful, gallant, loved to dress up and please the ladies, a fine composer, a poet and singer, musician, a very learned man and great company. A woman’s dream. Then the lady meets the reality and thinks, well yes, most of these things you were once Henry darling, but not any more. She would just have to smile and say oh well, he is the King so the wealthy bit is right. If nothing else, Katherine Howard got a lot of nice clothes, palaces, servants and jewellery. She just forgot to read the fine print which said: total faithfulness, sainthood and virtue essential. I am not saying she was unfaithful, but she was not very saintly either and that was definitely something the older Henry Viii required.

    1. Lou Rae says:

      I love this! If I were teaching a class on Henry VIII to the current generation, this would be exactly the way to put it — the on-line profile and photo didn’t match the reality. Very tongue-in-cheek, I expect, but also very accurate. Thanks for the fun comment!

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Very welcome, Lou Rae. I wish I could Photoshop a profile picture to match for Henry. Would be fun.

    2. Christine says:

      That’s true they were the first dating sites in the world, some years ago me and a friend went on one to see if we would recognise anyone we knew, ex’s mostly and their profiles were laughable, most of the men were paunchy yet all claimed they went to the gym, in reality they looked like they spent most of the time in the pub, Henrys ambassadors and indeed the intended brides ambassadors all spoke with glowing reports of their masters/ mistresses, Henry’s must have gone to town on him, well yes he chopped his second wife’s head of but she was a disgrace, and Katherine Of Aragon brought it on herself as she refused to obey Henry by going into a nunnery, as for Jane it was just unfortunate she died in childbed and everything was done to save her, well yes he broke with Rome and bought eternal damnation on his country but you can’t trust Italians anyway and the monasteries were full of treasures and the monks were not God fearing men of the cloth but lived in lechery, our good King had merely done what God intended him to do! Of course he was once a fine athlete of a man and it’s true he’s over fond of the claret but with all the pressures of running a kingdom you can well understand if he indulges rather too freely, imagine the nonsense they said to some poor prospective bride as here was a man who had treated his first wife disgracefully and had murdured his second, his reputation had superseded him, Henrys man had to be a master of diplomacy buy it wasn’t enough, the Duchess of Milan spoke rather scathingly of Henrys desire to marry her, he forgot she was his first wife’s neice, she remarked that her aunt had been neglected and that his third wife had died through lack of care, then she said ‘if she had two heads one would be at his majesty’s disposal’! A reference to Anne Boleyn no doubt, he decided to press for the suit of Marie De Guise saying he liked big women, she replied that she maybe big but her neck was little, no one said Marie was overweight therefore it must have been her height, her family were known for their stature like her daughter Mary Queen of Scots who was said to have been five foot eleven inches tall, Henrys first three wives were all petite and each had only presented him with one living child, so we can conclude that by now on venturing into his fourth marriage he possibly thought a more taller bigger boned woman would be a much better breeder, as of course the fault was not with him for the rather empty nurseries in England, no one wanted to marry him after Jane Seymour’s death hardly surprising, in the end Cromwell was able to secure the hand of the Duke of Cleves sister, he it seemed was not too bothered about his sister marrying a wife murdurer, he only wanted to get her shipped of and married, poor Anne could not have had much say in the matter and she must have had all the usual doubts and insecurities that any girl would have had when having to leave her homeland and travel overseas to a foreign country, she was innocent and her bridegroom was nearly twenty years older than she, three times married and had the reputation of a tyrant, all knew what happened to his previous wives and she must have felt very worried, she asked someone if she displeased the King would he have her killed, one can imagine how she felt when he chose to ignore her and began wooing her lady in waiting, Catherine Howard, i wish we knew just what Anne herself thought of her bridegroom as we know all to well how repugnant he found her, if only we knew what she really thought of him, alas history is silent on that matter.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        I am currently reading Elizabeth Norton on Anne of Cleves and one thing that comes across is a woman who did her best to make her marriage work, even though she had sussed out all was not well in the first few weeks and had given up on a sexual relationship by February 1540. Henry was clearly failing her expectations. Anne tried to make herself more attractive by wearing a French hood, tried to contact Cromwell, who wisely passed this on to the King, probably because he was in enough hot water and she appears to have had a public row with Henry by now. She was also keeping a close eye on Katherine Howard and the selection of pretty young women in her service, because she has noticed Henry’s attention to her. This sounds like an astute woman, not someone playing the happy frau and being in ignorant bliss in the bedroom or otherwise. I have heard that she was well aware of Henry and Katherine Howard before, but that was in relation to the talk about her marriage in June 1540, weeks before it ended. According to letters and observations Anne of Cleves appeared to be aware of far more than history credits her for. Who knows, perhaps her improbable conversation about her intimacy with Henry and her reference to wanting nothing more may mean she didn’t want much contact as she wasn’t impressed with Henry either. Anne was disappointed to lose the crown and hoped to be Queen again, but there is a public role as Queen as well as an intimate one. The public role Anne of Cleves enjoyed.

        1. Christine says:

          Yes she wasn’t daft, and she must have felt humiliated knowing her husband was making advances towards her lady in waiting, she had travelled all this way for this? Most women would be fuming, she was however discreet and became friends with her ex husband and new queen and was invited to court for the Christmas celebrations, she was gracious and it appeared she was content but she was in reality making the most of her situation, she had come to England to be queen and had to settle for being his sister, she done well out of it but she must have been disappointed all her life and after Catherines execution she still hoped he would marry her, proof that maybe Henry wasn’t as bad as we maybe think he was?

  8. LINDA FOX says:

    As many of you have said this was doomed from the start a lady tired from travel and the King full of expectation . We will never know what contributions s her own reign could have made …….

  9. Banditqueen says:

    I am not sure about Henry not being as bad as we think, more that he was calmer with those he felt at home with. He was obviously happy with his young love kitten and at the time of year he seemed to be more in a good mood, so you never know, maybe this was a side to Henry we have forgotten. Anne must really have been disappointed, I agree, but she was more gracious than me and accepted his new wife. It is easy to see why she was popular and people liked her. She was praised for her witt and grace, so she must have been rather easy to please. The three way party over Christmas and New Year when they all dined together must have been interesting. Henry gave Katherine lots of presents and she shared them with Anne. Can you imagine Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon doing the same thing? Hair might fly. Ha Ha. Oh well, tea time. Cheers for now.

  10. Anne of Cleves trumped them all. She who laughs last, laughs best.

  11. Banditqueen says:

    Happy New Year 2019 Claire and Tim and all.

    Henry really got this one wrong and I believe the chronicle which accounts the part of the meeting which reflects the disaster Henry saw that it was, because he moaned later to Sir Anthony Brown that he was disappointed in his new bride. Anne we are meant to believe should have known Henry, but how could she know a man she hasn’t met? Well, if he went as he was supposed to, with his finery and very much to be recognised, his heralds went before him and the lady would have known of his coming. As soon as she knew who he was Anne paid him homage and received him graciously and he received her with honours and dined with her, gave her presents and spent the night at Rochester, leaving the following afternoon which means, as protocols dictated he would also have dined with her that morning. He may have felt stupid and embarrassed, but a man so easily offended by the looks and smell of his future Queen does not stick around for 24 hours, spending time with her and being gracious. I don’t believe for one moment Henry found her unattractive or anything else. He remained out of good manners, but Anne didn’t suspect anything wrong. You don’t need to speak the same language to sense someone is averse to your presence. You know by their manner and body language. It was just a load of excuses as his game of love didn’t work, perhaps she wasn’t too keen on being pawed by a great lumbering oaf whom she had not met before. Henry hurt his pride and now he wanted out of the marriage. Well tough! Your lawyers have done a good job and in five days time you will have to marry her.

    And this one has actually got brains, not like the two book worms you married. This one will give you an annulment, but this one will come out of it on her terms and with a very generous settlement, wealth and land. Happy New Year Henry! Ha!

  12. camille thoman says:

    So sad? She escaped life with Henry VIII.

    We have so regularized the “lesser” value of a woman’s life and violence against women, that the sentiment of it being sad that Anne of Cleves DIDNT marry Henry V111 is normal.

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