20 June 1540 – Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, is concerned

Posted By on June 20, 2017

On this day in history, 20th June 1540, Anne of Cleves, the woman who Henry VIII had married on 6th January 1540, confided in her advisor, Carl Harst, the Cleves ambassador.

Anne was concerned about her husband’s interest in her maid of honour, young Catherine Howard, a cousin of Anne Boleyn. Her marriage was just over 5 months old and already her husband’s eye was wondering.

Little did Anne know that her marriage to the king would be annullled in just 19 days time!

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6 thoughts on “20 June 1540 – Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife, is concerned”

  1. Christine says:

    Poor Anne was married for the shortest time of Henrys wives and her ambassador was trying to quieten her fears yet he to must have been troubled, his mistress was married to a man who found a way of disposing of his wives and now she was being ignored whilst her husband was playing court gallant to one of her maids, has anyone else ever noticed a pattern with Henry and his wives? Anne Boleyn was Katherines maid, and she became queen, the same with Jane Seymour, now Catherine Howard, she was maid to Anne Of Cleves, he seemed to have a thing about his wife’s maids! She was no fool however and when packed off to the country using the plague as an excuse she must have been extremely worried, people have an unerring sense when something is not quiet right, Anne Boleyn had that same feeling when Henry abruptly left the tournament that memorable May Day, Anne was dumped in Richmond whilst Henry was asking Catherine to marry him, this was adultery of course, plain and simple yet Henry did not see it like that, in fact he was an adulterer a thousand times over but Kings were not adulterers only their wives! He was working on a plan to get out of his marriage while Anne was languishing in the country, memories of his second queen must have haunted her, in fact I believe she haunted all his wives, in a strange twist of fate she ended up living in her predecessors old family home, the idyllic Hever castle set in the rolling countryside of Kent, now called the garden of England, l like to think that this fourth wife of Henry V111’s had a contented life after the anullment of her marriage, by all accounts she led a most pleasant existence, it was the merry bridegroom who was miserable after his fifth queens shenanigans came to light.

    1. Lou Rae says:

      I believe “memories of his second queen” did indeed haunt Anne of Cleves while she was rusticating, waiting to see what Henry would do — I seem to remember reading that when Henry’s delegation showed up to broach the subject of an annulment, she actually fainted (not sure if that’s true?)

      1. Christine says:

        Hi Lou I heard that too, maybe she thought they had come to arrest her.

        1. Banditqueen says:

          Hi Lou, Christine, yes, indeed, she may have feared the worst. I don’t recall if this is fact or not. However, I do remember that she fainted in the novel about her by Margaret Cambell Barnes “My Lady of Cleves” and was caught by Charles Brandon as she fell. She is also blonde and very fair and lovely on the cover of my 80s reprint paperback. It must have been a shock, even if she suspected.

  2. Banditqueen says:

    Anne of Cleves may or may not have been as formally educated as a Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn, but she had more common sense than both of them put together. Firstly she was clearly suspicious of Katherine and was right to worry, and I suspect she wasn’t easily monnie coddled by the Ambassador. She may have felt slightly reassured by his remarks that Katherine Howard was a “little romance” but I doubt Anna took her eye of the ball. She must have indeed been relieved when Katherine H went from court, but maybe she just hoped it was over. Henry had sent her to Richmond ” for her health ” and no doubt it was very much a pleasant change to Windsor and the capital, but as Christine has pointed out it was more a case of ‘dumping her there ” while he sorted out an annulment. She was a stranger, although people welcomed her and she may or may not have spoken much English by now. She must have wondered what on earth was happening and hadn’t Anne Boleyn or Jane Seymour started as a “little romance” ? Henry was very gracious to Anne when with her, even if he snarled behind her back. What is even more amazing is the fact that Henry and Anne C got on so well afterwards and Anne was happy. I believe she began to see the signs but ignored them. She was hopeful everything would work out and Henry would settle down. Instead he was being ferried across the river to a house he had so he could meet Katherine Howard every evening. It was only a few weeks later that Henry had her receive news that he would annul their marriage. He offered Anne a generous settlement and she reluctantly, but intelligently, agreed to this annulment. Anne was granted Richmond and Bletchley and Hever among other houses. She was wise in her decision not to resist. Henry by now was dark and dangerous and although he couldn’t execute Anne C on trumped up charges, he could cause trouble for her as he did Katherine of Aragon.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes BQ Henry was by now becoming quite ruthless and the story about Anne Of Cleves fainting may in fact have its roots in fact, in Jean Plaidys novel Murder Most Royal which covered all Henrys queens except the last, the story ending with the execution of Catherine Howard, when Henrys servants came to inform Anne of the anullment she too swooned, she also is alleged to have asked someone if the King will kill her, it just goes to show how bad Henrys reputation was, Miss Plaidy also writes that never had Henry succeeded in making any of his wives so happy!

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