4 September 1539 – Marriage Treaty of Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII

Sep4,2011 #Anne of Cleves

On this day in history, 4th September 1539, William, Duke of Cleves, signed the marriage treaty promising his sister, Anne, in marriage to King Henry VIII. The Duke then sent the treaty to England, where it was ratified and concluded by early October.

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

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5 thoughts on “4 September 1539 – Marriage Treaty of Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII”
  1. I wonder if the Duke of Cleves would have been so willing to send his sister to Henry if he had known the outcome of this mismatch?

    The “Flanders Mare” comments (legendary or not) would have been one thing, but it insulted the honor of Cleves to say she had a precontract, which rendered her ineligible for marriage. Then, to annul the marriage as a result…

    Out of this whole debacle, Anne was wise enough to keep her head (figuratively AND literally!) and agree to the annullment. The size of her “divorce settlement” makes me wonder what Katharine of Aragon might have gotten had she been so amenable to her annullment, especially since she had been married to Henry for so long, and the two of them had been deeply in love at one point.

    Of course, if Katharine had stepped aside, I wonder if that would have given Anne Boleyn more time to be able to produce the much desired male heir.

    Too many “what ifs” which I don’t think we’ll ever have the answers to – of Henry’s wives, Katharine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr are viewed as the highly educated scholars. But I think the “wisest” of Henry’s wives is indisputably Anne of Cleves.

  2. What a rollercoast ride this started off for Anne. The highs and lows, the twist and turns, the fear of the dis-pleasure of the King, and finally being able to get off the ‘ride’ and feel safe once more…. phew!! She was a courageous lady, with enough sense to play the game of marriage and divorce to her own advantage, to get to stay in England and not be shipped back to Cleeves, were she probably would have been bored to death after her experience with Henry and his glittering court. Very well done to her…
    And I have always thought the ‘Flanders Mare’ remark about her desciption rather harsh, if the portrait above is anything close to her likeness, she is an attractive woman, even with ‘artistic licence’ I would not have thought it safe for Holbein to be too far off the mark when painting her portrait, not with Henry’s temperment at that time… too risky !!!

    1. In Divorced, Beheaded, Survived, author Karen Lindsay notes that it is odd that of the people responsible for interesting him in Anne enough to marry her, only Cromwell lost his head.

      Holbein was “merely” an artist, and had Henry truly felt himself deceived by the portrait, which sealed his interest in Anne, he could easily have fired Holbein and sent him back to Flanders, or even sent him to the Tower on some trumped up charge or other of treason.

      The English marriage negotiators, who had testified that the portrait was “very lively” (lifelike) both ended up with lucrative positions in Henry’s court, and two at least ended up on the regency council for Edward VI.

      So I agree heartily with you – Henry’s distaste is very strange, especially considering how lovely Anne is in this picture. I’d like to see a modern artist take this image of Anne, and put her in French or English style clothing. She could probably give any of Henry’s other wives real competition for attractiveness, for certain.

      1. I have always thought that miladyblue, about her clothes, they were not the most flattering of styles if you compare them with other styles of the time, a french hood would have done wonders, rather than the headress she has on, (does that have a special name) though I do think hers better than the gable headress, I have never been keen on those not very flattering either, they look so heavy and hot to wear, it must have felt great to take it off at night and have a good stratch, lol…
        And oh yes I too think she’s as attractive, or more so in a couple of cases as the other 5.
        I haven’t read that book yet, so many books so little time, and too much blooming housework and other boring stuff, lol, I never really thought about it before, that Cromwell was the only victim of that situation, then again Henry did like his ‘high status’ scapegoats, maybe it gave more clout behind the message of ‘don’t mess with me’ and No one was too high that they couldn’t be toppled…

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