4 September 1539 – The Duke of Cleves Promises Anne of Cleves in Marriage to Henry VIII

Anne of Cleves miniatureOn the 4th September 1539 William, Duke of Cleves, signed the marriage treaty promising his sister, Anne of Cleves, in marriage to King Henry VIII. The Duke then sent the treaty to England, where it was ratified and concluded by early October, being signed by the king’s commissioners on 4th October 1539.

In her book, “The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Tudor England”, Retha Warnicke gives details of the marriage treaty, including the financial settlement. The Duke of Cleves promised a dowry of 100,000 gold florins for Anne, which was to be split into a wedding day payment of 40,000 and the remainder being paid within a year of the marriage. Historian Retha Warnicke notes that “In related documents Henry waived this sum, which her brother could ill afford”. The king also promised a dower (a widow’s share of her husband’s estate) of 20,000 gold florins. A copy of the treaty can be found in Letters and Papers:

“The treaty, which is here set forth textually, declares and provides:—
(1.) That a marriage has been concluded, by commissioners, between Henry VIII., king of England, &c., and lady Anne, sister of William duke of Juliers, &c., whose other sister, the lady Sibilla, John Frederic duke of Saxony, &c., has received in matrimony. (2.) That the duke of Juliers shall within two months, if he can obtain safe conduct, convey, at his own expense, the lady Anne his sister honourably to Calais. (3.) That there the King shall receive her, by his commissioners, and traduct her thence as soon as possible into his realm and there marry her publicly. (4) That if safe conduct cannot be obtained, which is very unlikely, the Duke shall send her, as soon as possible, to some sea-port and transport her thence to England with a suitable convoy of ships at his expense. (5.) That the Duke shall give with her a dote of 100,000 florins of gold, viz., 40,000 on the day of solemnisation of the marriage and the rest within a year after. (6.) That the King shall give the lady Anne, under his seal, a dower in lands worth yearly 20,000 golden florins of the Rhine, equal to 5,000 mks. sterling money of England, as long as she remains in England. And if, after the King’s death, she have no children surviving and would rather return to her own country, she shall have a pension of 15,000 florins, payable half-yearly, for life, and her own dress and jewels; and it shall be at the choice of the King’s heirs to pay the pension or redeem it with 150,000 florins. The sealed grant of this dower to be delivered to the Duke’s commissioner on the day of the marriage and a true copy of it to be sent to the Duke ten days before her traduction. (7.) If the Duke die without lawful issue, and his duchy go therefore to the lady Sibilla, wife of John Frederic duke of Saxony, according to their marriage contract, and they in turn die without lawful issue, the succession shall go to the lady Anne. In the event of the succession going as aforesaid to the duke of Saxony a sum of 160,000 florins shall be paid within four years to the two sisters, the ladies Anne and Amelia, or their heirs; or if the succession come as aforesaid to the king of England he shall pay the 160,000 florins to the lady Amelia and her heirs. (8.) If the succession go to Saxony as aforesaid, and either of the two other sisters die without children, her share shall accrue to the surviving sister or her children. (9.) If the succession go to Saxony, then the lady Anne shall have, besides her dowry, the castles of Burdericum in Cleves with 2,000 florins a year, Casterium in Juliers with 2,000, and Benradum in Berg with 1,000, for life. (10.) That the duke of Juliers shall keep the King informed by letter of his proceedings for the transportation of the lady Anne, so that the King may thereby time his preparations for her reception. (11.) That the King and the said dukes of Saxony and Cleves shall confirm this treaty by letters patent under their hands and seals to be mutually delivered within six weeks from the date of this present, viz., by the King to the duke of Cleves and by the dukes to the King.”2

Of course, all these negotiations were for nothing, really, as the marriage only lasted six months and was, according to Henry VIII, never consummated.

You can read more about Anne of Cleves in the following articles:-

Notes and Sources

  1. Warnicke, Retha M. (2000) The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Tudor England, Cambridge University Press, p101
  2. Warnicke, Retha M.. “Anne [Anne of Cleves] (1515–1557).” Retha M. Warnicke In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed., edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: OUP, 2004.
  3. LP xiv. ii, 286

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4 thoughts on “4 September 1539 – The Duke of Cleves Promises Anne of Cleves in Marriage to Henry VIII”
  1. My theory is that Henry just could NOT handle a fair German Fraulein – German women are in a class all by themselves.

    Anne of Cleves was the LUCKIEST of Henry’s wives – when she heard the rumblings about divorce, she undoubtedly decided her pride was NOT worth her head.

  2. Even though we know of the ‘Rude’ reception she received from Henry, and the story that follows, she was the luckiest of the 6, as miladyblue says, but I am sure at this time it must have been a very exciting prospect for her, leaving her home, (by all accounts seemed to be so strict and dull), and venturing into this ‘Glitzy and Glam’ court to become Queen.
    Exciting, but disconcerting perhaps, all facts considering! but she did get a kind of Happy Ending, I think… Hever Castle as part of her settlement, oh yes please!! 🙂

  3. After Anne of Cleves was rejected by King Henry V111 why did he not just ship her back to her home and to her family in Germany? Why would she want to stay in a country that was unfamiliar and did not speak the language?

    1. Hi Lily, I have read that Anne of Cleves was very much abused by her older brother and happily she remained in England rather than return in shame to her family (by then her father was dead and her cruel brother inherited the title from the father). I also believe back then, the story would have disgraced her immensely if she returned home – not good enough for Henry VIII – and no other man would have probably married her. She did not therefore have good prospects if she went home, and Henry VIII was actually generous – he called her his “sister” and even invited her to have Christmas with him and the new queen, Catherine Howard.

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