22 September 1515 – Birth of Anne of Cleves, Fourth Wife of Henry VIII

Anne of ClevesOn 22nd September 1515 Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg (known in English as Anne of Cleves), was born near Düsseldorf. She was the second daughter of John III, Duke of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, an important German ruler, and Maria of Jülich-Berg. Anne had royal blood; not only was she descended from Edward I, she was also, on her father’s side, closely related to Louis XII of France and the Duke of Burgundy.

Anne married Henry VIII on 6th January 1540 in the Queen’s Closet at Greenwich Palace. She was his fourth wife, following Jane Seymour who died in October 1537. Henry and Anne’s marriage lasted only six months. On the 7th July 1540, a convocation of clergy agreed that “the king and Anne of Cleves were no wise bound by the marriage solemnised between them, and it was decreed to send letters testimonial of this to the king.” The invalidity of the marriage was proven by three pieces of evidence:

  1. The betrothal between Anne and Francis of Lorraine
  2. Henry’s lack of consent to the marriage
  3. Lack of consummation – Henry declared that “I never for love to the woman consented to marry; nor yet if she brought maidenhead with her, took any from her by true carnal copulation.”

On 28th July 1540, Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Despite this, Anne went on to have a good relationship with the King, so much so that she even thought that he’d remarry her after Catherine Howard’s fall. She also had a good relationship with his three children: Mary, Elizabeth and Edward.

Anne outlived the King and all of his other wives, dying on the 15th July 1557 aged 41.

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7 thoughts on “22 September 1515 – Birth of Anne of Cleves, Fourth Wife of Henry VIII”
  1. It was to my surprise upon a recent visit to Westminster Abbey to see the grave marker for Anne of Cleves. Quite plain, simply a stone set into a wall, floor level. I’m so glad that I spotted it, as Anne of Cleves is my personal favorite wife in the category of “Exiting Marriage with Head Attached.” She was clever and subdued what personal ego she had to out-think Henry VIII in the matter of his distaste for her.

  2. Anne of Cleves… She was the one who survived in my opinion (not por Kate Parr.) . The only thing I don’t understand is why she tried to remarry Henry… Finantial insecurity, perhaps? We can be sure it was not love! 😉

  3. Anne was a wiley lass. She had enough good common sense to consent to a divorce even though she clearly believed herself still to be Henry’s true wife and must have been disappointed that he had discarded her. She also came of reasonably well with her divorce settlement with a couple of palaces and a few houses and a private income. She attended court in January 1541 to be presented to wife no 5 and took it in good part. She was on good terms with Henry and his children who visited her regularly and she saw his marriage to Katherine Parr as a mistake and an insult. I do think she wanted to remarry him; not for love but for some affection and companionship. Although during the reign of Edward she had problems with his coucil and had to change some of her houses; she did not do too badly even then. As for Mary; she must have been close to Anne as she invited her to take part in her coronation and she shared a carriage with Princess Elizabeth. She made some other public appearences before a short falling out with Mary due to the Wyatt plot but then was in favour again and the Queen remained affectionate towards her. She paid for a grand funeral in Westminster Abbey as befitted Anne’s royal blood. Other than Katherine of Aragon she was the most royal of Henry’s wives. Cleves was not a tiny insignificant Duchy; it had land and claims all around it on both sides of the family. It was in fact a great prize for the English crown to ally with; so I feel Henry lost out. I am always moved by the request to Henry to destroy her wedding ring as a thing of no value; not meaning her marriage was of no value; but it obviously meant little to him. Sad!

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