9 July 1540 – Anne of Cleves’ great escape

On this day in history, 9th July 1540, the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was declared null and void. They had been married just six months.

The marriage of forty-nine-year-old Henry VIII and twenty-four-year-old Anne of Cleves was found null “by reason of a precontract between lady Anne and the marquis of Lorraine, that it was unwillingly entered into and never consummated”. It was declared that both Henry and Anne were free to marry again if they so wished. Of course, the king had a new bride waiting in the wings, the 17/18-year-old Catherine Howard, and he would marry her on 28th July 1540. Anne, on the other hand, still considered herself married to the king and never remarried. When Catherine Howard fell in 1541 and was executed in 1542, Anne assumed that the king would return to her, but it was not meant to be.

Although we might think that Anne of Cleves was lucky to escape with her head from this marriage, Anne was very unhappy about the annulment.

Read more…

Related Post

54 thoughts on “9 July 1540 – Anne of Cleves’ great escape”
  1. I am happy that Anne survived her ordeal with the King but how horrible this would have been for her. She was raised to be the wife of a king and when that chance comes he tosses her aside. All of the problems Henry had with her I put on Henry. If the Holbein paining is accurate and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. She was quite attractive. I think Henry’s ego got in the way at their first meeting and he was upset that she didn’t recognize him. I’m thankful that she agreed to the annulment though she didn’t like it as Henry was quite capable of executing her also. Political and diplomatic consequences be damned. My own personal wish Is that there was a painting of her in English dress.

    1. I don’t Henry was at liberty to execute her… Anne, after all was a princess not just some commoner.

      1. Anne Boleyn’s was his annointed Queen. Henry broke with Rome. Henry made himself head of the church. With any other monarch I would agree with you but this man was not a normal person. If he wanted someone gone he would find a way.

        1. On what grounds would he execute Anne of Cleves? He couldn’t kill Katherine of Aragon because she had powerful family members and Henry needed the financial and potential military support of the League, plus William was no push over. He already had a son and getting an annulment now was much easier because of his Supremacy even if Anne said no. Henry showed no evidence of even contemplating executing Anne of Cleves. There was more to the plot to get rid of Anne Boleyn, who was his own subject as well as his Queen. Henry hated her. He wasn’t attracted to Anne of Cleves but there is no evidence that he hated her and even talk at the time of her pleasing Henry or she may be in danger was a load of tittle tattle and Henry went out of his way to make her feel secure and at home. He sent her to Richmond while he worked on the way out and said it was for her pleasure and health and he arranged entertainment for her. She was popular and Henry knew she was popular. Anna was of the disposition to please him as King and husband and she accepted because she wanted to please him and she was content as well. Convocation and Cromwell gave him the evidence that he needed and this time his annulment was relatively straightforward and easy to obtain. Henry didn’t kill his wives just because they failed to please him, there was much more to both the trial and execution of Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard. The worst he could do if she refused was banish her as with Katherine of Aragon.

  2. I feel very sorry for Anne also but I think there was more to it than the fact she didn’t recognise him at their first meeting, his ego was dented of course and he must have felt a bit humiliated but he was no fool and would have known that Anne was not accustomed to English ways, I feel it was more to do with her actual looks not resembling the Holbien painting, she does appear attractive but as we know character is much more appealing than prettiness of face and after conversing with her for some time, he possibly found her accent a bit jarring, there was the language barrier to, there also was her style of dress which has been described as unbecoming and the ugly headdress she wore, I think it was a combination of all these factors, had she spoken fluent English they would have got of to a good start, she would have apologised for not realising he was in masquerade and he would have felt a bit better, but she appears gauche and it seems her advisers had not prepared her for the English court, Henry was so disappointed he had been used to the sophisticated
    ladies of his court, those who could sing and dance and were versed in courtly love, Anne it appears was not like them which was no fault of hers, on her wedding night she was an innocent,and it makes one wonder why on earth her mother or any other woman of her household in Cleves had not told her what to expect, Henry told Cromwell and his council to get rid of her and after digging around they came up the the usual thing – pre contract, also non consummation yet the other, the Kings reluctance to wed, I find that a bit of an insult why was it necessary to put that in, surely the other two were evidence enough? Poor Anne if she wasn’t humiliated before she was then, as people would guess the real reason was because he found her very unattractive, throughout history she has been known as the queen who got away, like the title ‘ her great escape’ but she was not happy and I believe she felt ill used, she had in a sense had as she had been told King Henry had agreed to marry her, the court of Cleves was in a buzz of excitement and she must have harboured dreams about having children, the negotiations were going through and the time came for her to travel to England and marry her bridegroom, it was very sad because her dreams were soon dashed and in fact her erring bridegroom was spending as little time as he could with her and chasing around after her young lady in waiting, she was innocent in lots of ways but not I believe stupid, and she must have heard rumours, she knew he favoured little Catherine Howard and reluctantly agreed to the annulment, she had heard stories of this kings brutality and in fact was heard to say to some one if she displeased him would he have her killed? His reputation was superseding him, how did Anne really feel about Henry? He could be courteous and very charming to women and he had to keep up appearances for the sake of the Anglo/ German alliance, therefore he would not have dared offend her, he was getting pretty large at this time but there must still have been something of the old Henry in him and I believe he charmed Anne, there was the crown as well and Anne I believe was not repulsed by Henry as he was by her, this annulment must have been Annes blackest day ever and although she had plenty of good consolation prizes, several beautiful manor houses and a nice pension, they must have found wanting in losing the crown of England, to top it all her erring ex husband made of with flighty Catherine Howard and in just under three weeks he had married her, she had come all this way just to be the Kings sister! It would have upset any woman and it certainly upset Anne, she sent him back their bethrothal ring saying it should be broke into pieces as it represented their marriage, was this a snipe at Henry telling him his promises were false and they broke easily? If so she was certainly justified, now she was just bought off and although she did live very comfortably she must have regretted losing Henry and the crown of England all her life.

  3. I’ve said this before; the reason I don’t think it was Anne’s looks is that if her actual appearance differed markedly from the portrait Hans Holbein would have been punished by Henry in some way. At least dismissed. This never happened. Also, Henry seems to have made his decision immediately upon his game not working on her. I’m not so sure he was informed of her lack of knowledge of English court games. I believe his own sense of self importance was so strong that he was flabbergasted that this woman did not recognize him. No one with a normal ego would act this way but Henry was not mentally healthy at this point.

  4. Was Anne known afterwards as the, ‘Kings sister’. I think that made the relationship platonic. I don’t think it was the failure to recognise the king during his disguise though his ego was dented. I think they didn’t have much in common and Catherine Howard was dangling herself in front of the king. Henry seemed to go for hotness is that the right word? Rather than personality and intelligence.

    1. Yes his dearly beloved sister, and she was welcomed to court now and again and attended the Christmas celebrations, she did do rather well and outlived the King and his fourth and fifth wife, she was given a magnificent burial in Westminster and she was well thought of by her former servants, she was it appears a caring person and got on well with her two stepdaughters, Catherine was young and attractive with a little face auburn hair and possibly sexy, she had a love of life, she was different from poor Anne who in her stiff German gowns must have appeared ugly, Anne was not taught basic court etiquette, her mother had not thought it was important, but to marry into a renaissance court it was expected, especially in a queen to know how to dance the latest steps and to dress fashionably, a lot of English gowns were influenced from France after Anne Boleyn had become queen, amd to play cards and ride and hunt, also the courtly love banter which Iv mentioned before, poor Anne didn’t know any of these and she must have appeared like a dull little hen beside all the colourfully dressed peacocks, in short she was like a fish out of water, she did learn to play cards which she grew to love but I don’t think she ever became really comfortable with the other court pastimes, she did however learn to dance and like two schoolgirls she partnered Catherine Howard the following Christmas, Catherine also gave her a dog a present from the King, and they all got on well together, the sad thing about Anne from Cleves I think is that she could have been a good wife to Henry and even given him a son but he never gave her a real chance.

      1. I think Henry really was generous giving Anne a house in Richmond and Hever Castle. Though it was a shame as that son speculating could have been king. Elizabeth would not have had the burden of being queen and could have married who she wished more easily. I would like to know more about what Anne did for her stepchildren.

        1. One thing we do know is that she had a very good relationship with Mary and with Elizabeth who visited her at Hever. Edward was far too young to know her very well, being only three when she came, but she received little notes from him as he grew up.

  5. Alas we will never know why Henry found her so unattractive we can only speculate, her portrait is pleasant enough and here’s a trick, Holbein painted her full faced not at an angle, he was known for his accuracy so it’s a mystery that Henry was so shocked on meeting her, perhaps the great master made her appear more attractive than she was, I have often thought that, because there is nothing in her picture that suggests she was quite repellant, she looks more attractive than Jane Seymout, he was soon going around declaring she had sagging breasts and a big belly, and casting doubts on her virtue, glaring at Holbein who most likely took to his sick bed and shut himself up with his easel and oils for a week, his master was furious but he would not vent his wrath on his favourite painter, we must not forget he painted several beautiful pictures of Tudor men and women including the full length one of the King and then the one with him and his family and his third queen, he could well have painted Anne Boleyn but it was probably destroyed, it was Cromwell who would suffer from Henrys marriage to Anne he had instigated the whole sorry affair, it did turn the Kings favour from him and he was never to regain it, after his fourth marriage floundered Anne still hoped rather naively that the King would take her back, which makes one wonder that she could have been rather attracted to him, but then her ego possibly needed reassuring and to then re marry the King would have repaired it somewhat, but it was never to be, Henry could not take her back after he had cast her off, it would make Europe think he wasn’t a man of integrity, indeed there must have been a certain amount of worry what her brother Duke William of Cleves would think with the annulment, but his sister had been treated generously, (if you could call it that) and Henry was now free to marry wife number four!

    1. This is one of those instances where we can never know what happened. Between everything I’ve read about Henry and everything I’ve read about Anne I will lay all the blame on the King. This is just my personal opinion. Regardless of who is at fault I feel terrible for Anne.

  6. Here’s my speculative scenario ……. So, Anne and George had scoffed about Henry’s lack of virility. Utter submission from Jane enabled Henry to partially recover from his erectile dysfunction but Jane died and Cromwell arranged this match with Anne 2 who did not have Anne 1’s skill set nor Jane’s demure accommodation. Anne 2 was foreign and a complete unknown and Henry’s old erectile dysfunction surfaced again. Henry, being Henry, aided by his conservative elite, found a needed distraction with the very young Catherine and he found himself enamoured with her. Alas for Anne and indeed Catherine, Henry’s fading health and his constant pain and discomfort, made him virtually impotent. I speculate that Catherine, so young and very full of life, found Henry increasingly unable to
    be any kind of husband to her, showered her with jewels and clothing to compensate, and that she grew lonely and flirted with more virile young members of Henry’s court. It is a sad scenario, but to me it seems .. probable.

    1. I love that scenario. His e.d. could also explain how he was able to convince himself that Catherine Howard was a virgin. Your idea makes a lot of sense.

    2. You have a point there, Henry told his doctors he was sure he could do the deed but not with her, he said he was still having wet dreams, in truth what he was saying was he wasn’t turned on by her, anxiety can also cause impotence, wether Anne and George really did discuss Henrys alleged impotence is something we will never know, but he could well have suffered from it due to his increasing ill health and the stress caused by the need to ‘perform’ to get an heir, the first three of his wives Katherine Anne and Jane would all have suffered stress which can play a part in miscarriage to, I think Anne was more under stress than the other two as Katherine being of a more calm nature told herself the deaths and miscarriages of her children was the will of God, as we know Jane died after her son was born, but Anne was highly strung and had promised to give the King sons, she could have suffered from an unknown medical condition of course but if not, it’s quite likely that due to the pressure she was under to bear a son, sheer worry could have made that impossible, he was attracted to Catherine and yet she never became pregnant, but iv often thought that if she was sleeping with Culpeper she would have used one of the crude contraceptive methods of the day, (she did say she knew how to stop getting pregnant) or it could be as Globerose says that the King found it impossible to have sexual relations with her, I don’t doubt that this would not have bothered her that much as he was not the man he once had been and Catherine would have compared him with the other much younger handsome men of the court, she was queen, the most important lady in the kingdom the first lady in the kingdom, she was young the King idolised her, she could enjoy herself with people her own age, as Lacey Baldwin Smith commented, ‘ she blazed across the sky like a comet’, if Henry thought Anne was not good enough to be his queen he seriously misjudged Catherine, Anne had been his wife for a mere six months, the shortest time out of all his wives, he had spent virtually all that time trying to discard her, his next venture into marital bliss made him feel young again with all the excited fervour of youth, it was as if he relived his youth again through his young child bride, but it was to turn into a disaster the consequences from which he was never really to recover from.

  7. Henry Viii is a very odd Monarch in that he had several wives, beheading two Queens, and that he married four English women, making them his born subjects as well as his Queen. He ventured into a foreign alliance only twice, once very successful, until Henry became anxious about his heir, or lack of and this second one, not at all successful. His second adventure to a foreign alliance was not one of his entire choice. Cleves was a good match, Anne would make a good Queen, but Henry happened.

    After the death of Queen Jane, Henry was left with one young infant son. Henry was the second son, the spare whose older brother had died aged sixteen, leaving Henry as the next King. Henry married the widow of his late brother but Katherine swore her first marriage was not consummated and it probably wasn’t. For twenty years she and Henry had a good marriage but then he despaired of a male heir and the validity of his marriage to Katherine. Henry had sued for an annulment of his marriage but Katherine refused. The problem lasted seven years before Henry broke from Rome, fixed his own annulment and married wife no two. Again, this marriage to Anne Boleyn produced only one live child, a daughter Elizabeth, and since this is the Anne Boleyn files and we know the rest, I will skip the rest. Henry fell out of love with Anne, became determined to move to a new wife, Jane Seymour and on trumped up charges of treason, adultery and incest, Anne and five innocent men were executed to make room. With Jane yes he had his son, but history taught him that more than one was needed and he sought an advantageous marriage abroad with a young Queen to give him more children.

    Anne and Amelia from Cleves were both proposed as viable candidates very early on, after Henry emerged from isolation and mourning in January 1538. His search went on for the next two years, with Christina of Milan, aged sixteen being the front runner and candidates from all over France being proposed. As others fell out of the race the negotiations with Cleves went on throughout 1539. Via her brothers power and wealth Anna had the promise of a grand union with the Duke of Lorraine but that was broken in favour of her marriage to Henry Viii. The Duchy was wealthy, strong and had several lands under its control thanks to marriage and award. William was at this time a powerful man and Kleves no backwater. The League had military strength and had courted England for years. Henry saw advantage in this alliance and Thomas Cromwell was in favour of it.

    Although Henry argued he was forced to marry Anne, he had been enthusiastic when the deal was made and he rode to Rochester to see his wife to be. Like a schoolboy Henry disguised himself and expected Anna to pick him out from his other courtiers and fall for him. Anna was watching an animal fight and was not paying much attention to these huge gentlemen who called upon her but he walked up to her and kissed her. Anna thought his manners uncouth and Henry was disappointed that she didn’t recognise him and find his gesture romantic. He withdrew and returned in his finery and Anna knew he was the King and showed him reverence. Henry greeted her and gave her his gift and they spoke a little before his departure, the next day, not moments later. Henry returned home and immediately tried to get out of the match. He made the excuse that she was nothing like he had been told, but this report is biased and we have no reason to doubt that Anna wasn’t attractive or like her Holbein and we must take his words with a pinch of salt. Henry told Cromwell to get him out of the match but he couldn’t find any reason and Anna was greeted in style and she and Henry married on 6th January 1540.

    Henry complained the day after the wedding that he had not been able to do the deed but blamed Anne’s sagging breasts and belly. Again we have to take this also with a pinch of salt and suggest that now that Henry was forty nine and very over weight that perhaps he was having sexual problems. Anna was described by others as fair and generous as well as kind and intelligent and merciful. There is no evidence she had sagging breasts and she went out of her way to make herself English looking and attractive. She wore English dress and even an English gable hood. She learned to play music and to dance and she learned to win at cards. She was unlikely to be ignorant of sex and she was better educated than is often claimed with a keen mind. She became close to both Mary and Elizabeth. There is little evidence that she had anything wrong with her other than a lack of understanding of Henry’s childish pranks. Henry was too embarrassed and he disliked Anna because of it.

    Anna was more intelligent than his other wives because she agreed to an annulment and got herself a good deal. While it is highly unlikely that as a Princess Anna would have been executed and there are no circumstances in which she would have been, she could have been banished and confined as Katherine of Aragon was for years and it was to her benefit that she agreed with the annulment. Anna showed good judgement and received a handsome settlement. She was honoured by King Henry as The King’s Sister and received an income and two palaces. Anna did want to remain married to Henry who she didn’t find a monster or a Tyrant. Henry visited her often as a friend. The article refers today as Anne of Cleves lucky escape and maybe it was but there is no evidence that she escaped from anything more than a marriage both parties found had no chance of working. Henry had met a young woman called Kathryn Howard, one of her Ladies and was smitten with her and keen to marry the young lady. Anna was treated well and had some happiness but she knew something was wrong. Henry wanted to be free to remarry and Anna agreed to please him. She was anxious to please him. She gave testimony to him as being nothing but kind to her. She wanted to be his Queen. She was perfectly happy to remain as his Queen and there is no evidence that had Henry not had the reaction at Rochester that this might not have been a final successful marriage. Anna held her marriage as true for the rest of her life and was a guest at Court often. Ironically, out of all six Queens, she alone has a grand tomb in Westminster Abbey, paid for by Mary I. She may have been the most short lived of Henry’s Queens, but she was one of the most regal, well connected and the only one with any degree of common sense.

    1. Very odd indeed, he is the only English King to have married his mistress in fact I know of no other monarch in world history who has married their mistress and he is unique in that he married for love – twice! Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, with his sixth wife it was more for companionship and most likely he wanted a stepmother, a role model for Mary Elizabeth and little Edward, when he wed Catherine Howard she was younger than his daughter Mary and there is evidence she resented the young girl queen, however Catherine was Catholic which was in her favour but she probably found she had little in common with her, she deplored her frivolity and considered her not suitable for her father, Anne of Cleves must have felt sad when she heard of her arrest and later execution as she must have grown quite fond of her, however she did hope the King would reconsider her, it goes to show that Anne possibly had quite a lot of courage to even what to marry this much wed monarch who had sent two wives to the block, the same goes for Jane Seymour, although as women in a man dominated world they did not rate as much, it just shows how ambitious most of them were, the honour of being Queen of England was enough for most women even though sleeping with an overweight bad tempered King went with it, Anne did always believe her marriage was true till the end of her days, like her tragic predecessor’s Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn also she lies now amongst the ancient dead at Westminster, rejected by an English King, she keeps good company amongst Englands other earliest monarchs, I would just like to add I was thrilled when Stephen Hawking was also laid to rest beside Charles Darwin and Issac Newton, he surely deserved a place there for all eternity.

      1. Re. Monarchs who married their mistress – I’ve just discovered that Erik of Sweden (one of Elizabeth I) married his mistress Karin Mansdotter which seems like a fascinating story.

        1. Actually Gemma you are right, Erik or Eric married a beautiful nut seller who he spied one day outside his palace walls, now that sounds like a proper fairy tale! I heard her name was Kate but that is possibly the English version of her name.

      2. I believe Alexandra married of Russia married his mistress after his royal wife died and Louis XIV married his mistress and more than we can name.

  8. Hello Christine, you are very right only one other King made so bold, and then unofficially, was Louis XIV who married Madam de Maintenon after the death of Marie Theresa in the 1680s. All of Henry’s wives had ambitions and all of their families had connection to the old Plantagenet line of Kings. I have no doubt that Henry offered something to all of them and he loved Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and he found affection in Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard. Anne of Cleves ended up as his honourable sister and he visited her so often that rumours went about that the poor Lady was with his child. Henry put them at an end but it worried Katherine Howard.

    I agree, Anne must have had some sympathy for young Katherine when she was executed and she was amazed when Henry married Katherine Parr and didn’t return to her.

    1. Hi Bq yes your right Henry grew to like Anne very much due no doubt to the fact that he was not shackled to her, she was well liked by many therefore she must a been a very pleasant mild mannered lady, obviously eager to please and Henry found her company enjoyable, he did visit her often and yes there were rumours she was pregnant, they had a mutual love of cards and dice games and he no doubt found that they had quite a lot in common, he came to respect her good grace in not putting up obstacles when he wished for the annulment, how different from Katherine his first wife, he had come to dislike her most intensely because she was not prepared to go into a nunnery, thankyou for telling me about Louis X1V i must admit, I don’t know much about the French kings but yes it was a highly unusual state of affairs for a king to marry his lover, Henry V111 was strange in that he knew wives were just for breeding, Anne could have given him a healthy son, he would not have had to share her bed after that, that’s were mistresse’s came in, they were for pleasure, why was he so different he could not be satisfied with his fourth wife and taken Catherine Howard for his mistress, the Howard’s would still have been so pleased it was an honour for a noble family to have one of their own as the Kings mistress, the poor little thing would not have died so dreadfully, Henry really with his constant chopping and changing of wives (excuse the pun) did in a way lower the sanctity of marriage, it gave for his male subjects at least an excuse to discard an unsuitable wife, much to the wife’s detriment.

      1. I can see Anne of Cleves with two children, a boy and a girl, cuddling them both and Henry growing even bigger on some home cooking and looking content. I can imagine them both being very homely and the rest of the family gathering around them as well. I can see her as a good Queen and a good mother, but Henry missed out on everything because of his own stupidity. On the other hand Henry may not have been capable but this scenario is a perfect ideal assuming he could. I bet she would have been a wonderful mother and a Queen who listened, a helpmate and a woman of integrity and gentle conscience. I see her as a cross between Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr and she was probably the best Queen he walked away from.

        1. Henry seemed to get more impatient as he grew older, he wed Jane Seymour barely two weeks after Anne Boleyns death, he wed Catherine Howard two weeks after his anullment from Anne of Cleves, why the hurry ? He was so paranoid about getting a son, even though he had Edward by the time he was wed to Anne of Cleves, so why was he so eager to marry Catherine, as one biographer of his noted, why the need to marry Catherine why not just have her as his mistress, yes he was a very unusual monarch, after Catherines meetings and her past came out King Francis sent him a letter expressing his regret on her misdoings and said she had been wondrous naughty…. here was a king who ruled the most licentious court of the age, but yes with his fourth wife I think he let his utter dislike for her rule his emotions, he couldn’t stand her therefore she had to go, but kings over the ages had married women just to cement alliances, to gain powerful allies and for the breeding of heirs, not because they had pretty faces he knew that, it did not matter if they were not attracted to them, such was the lot of kings, that’s were mistresse’s came in so why was Henry so different from his forbears and other kings of the day, Francis was married to Claude a plain little cripple yet he treated her with respect and they had children, he had mistresse’s for sexual satisfaction, he would not dream of discarding Claude, he did have an heir however, and granted Henry had no son but then with Jane he had Edward, his fourth marriage was to get Cleves on his side as Cromwell put it, they needed Germany’s support against the Emperor but Henry was grieving Jane still, and was not really keen on the match, so we can see something in this his aversion to Anne, however by the time she had arrived his spirits had lifted and he was looking forward to meeting her, he no doubt thought he was getting a flaxen haired fraulien, instead when he looked on her face he was aghast, poor Anne! He acted like a petulant schoolboy ‘I don’t like her get rid of her’! Like a child who had been given a bag of sweets only to find all the favourite toffees had gone, and he threw the rest out of the bag, so now Cromwell who had successfully engineered the killing one queen was now faced with the task of getting rid of another, Henrys marital adventures by now were the talk of Europe indeed after Jane had died, two noble ladies had turned him down, Duke William it was said was eager to get rid of his two unmarried sisters and Anne was chosen, or Anna which was the German version of her name, he should have realised with Anne he had a pliable woman here of good common sense who may have given him a son, instead he let his emotions rule his head and by now he was dazzled with little Catherine Howard, pure lust reared its head again and all Henry knew was, he had to have her, thus his anullment from Anne was made and history welcomed wife number five…

        2. Henry Viii is also a mystery and I would ask the same question. He certainly needed a male heir and the King’s around him all had sons, but not every King had sons at the time of his early marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Louis Xii of France had two daughters but he found a solution, marry one to her cousin and name Francis as his heir. Thus Francis I became King. Claude could not rule France because of the Salic Laws but in England no such laws existed so Mary was perfectly acceptable legally and was raised to rule, being sent to rule the Marches in Ludlow, as if she was Princess of Wales. However, this was a man’s world and a woman was not considered able to rule. Henry’s paranoia was partly due to the Tudor claim being young and fear of rival claims, but also he also believed that a woman would not be accepted and his example was the failure of Empress Maud. It was the only time a woman had tried to rule all of England and it was a disaster. However, in Spain there had been female rulers and in other countries women had ruled as Regent. However, we have never had a female Regent, save in times when they acted for a male adult, away at war. Most Regents were the brother of the late King or another male relative. Even in France women had fulfilled a Recency. Henry was not secure without a son he felt and he didn’t see the benefits of any other path. Mary could have married and a grandson be next in line, but yes, there was definitely something odd which made him behave in a number of weird ways towards for the women he married, including a collection of three very different wives in his last seven years. Goodness knows why he did everything you ask, but then Henry was Henry and he certainly was affected by something during those final seven years which made him impatient and unpredictable. His patience with Kathryn Howard was exceptional, as was his investigation into her past and alleged present, compared to his rush to marry her and his rush through the false trials and execution of Anne Boleyn. Why? Who knows, but I am sure some medical or other explanation matches Henry’s behaviour, but that is the beauty of history, half of it is a complete mystery.

  9. I admit that I don’t know on what grounds. This is strictly my opinion/feeling based on his apparent mental state. I cannot back this up with any facts.

  10. Some no one has brought up is how after Henry’s death under Rdward’s reign Anne began losing her standing. She had to give up various homes and her income was lessened. Because of this she had to move quite often. This I would think would be another devastating blow to her after such good treatment by her ‘brother”.

      1. Yes, you are right, Michael, she had to exchange Hever and she fought hard to prevent the loss of this house very much. Edward ‘s government didn’t want to spend the money and as usual, people who are more amenable or active in the service of the new regime were offered her home because they fancied it. I think these times were very stressful, especially as Anne stood her ground before making a settlement. Exchanges were common with government properties as Hever had become, but sometimes the crown picked on more vulnerable owners because they knew that they could be bullied and would do anything to make the best of an enforced exchange. These houses had been given to her by her dear brother and of course she didn’t see why she should give them up or even the legality of these exchanges. The crown always came off better and the loss of a family home to the latest mistress or favourite was very distressing.

        1. Ironically, Sir Edward Redgrave who got Hever was a Catholic, who built the private chapel which is often associated with Anne Boleyn, but is later and his family kept the property for some time. Anne had a beautiful prayer book and Book of Hours she left there (Anne Boleyn I should say, too many Anne’s) which is on display. Anna herself was a traditional Catholic but quite easy to accept whatever went in England and she attended Henry’s version of the Mass as well as Mary’s Sarum Rite. She was buried in one of the last Catholic Royal funerals in England, saving Her Grace, the Queen, who of course paid for it.

          I agree, Michael, it was a loss for England because two more marriages and especially the fall out of Katherine Howard screwed Henry’s head even more than his brain injury ( disrupted) and the Supremacy had. His leg would contribute to much pain and possibly lead poisoning from the plasters on his legs, made with a lead based creams according to Tudor Medical expert, Seamus O’Caelleigh who speculated he may have been affected by these treatments but his depression was caused after his early marriage to a teenager. A settled King with a settled wife and more children would be much better for the country. I just see Anne as homely, gentle, loving Queen, with so much to offer and happy with a brooding husband and brood of kids. Like KP she probably would know how to calm him as well and this alliance, believe it or not was the most stable he had made.

          Oh well have to go, it’s Steve’s 65th Birthday today and we are going out for a late lunch, so see you later as he is starting to fiddle about which means he’s hungry.

  11. This is in response to Gemma and Christine. I had not heard this about Erik of Sweden. It sounds an awful lot like the meeting of the parents of William of Normandy does it not?

  12. Williams mother Arlette was so the story goes a humble tanners daughter though beautiful, and was washing her laundry in the stream one day when Duke Robert rode by, the result was the birth of a son who would grow up to found a new race of kings and whose name was feared throughout England and Europe, a pretty face and a roving eye, thus are empires forged not without their fare share of bloodshed however, the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry V111 also had a cataclysmic effect on England, the meeting one day between Edward 1V and the lovely widow Elizabeth Woodville in the forest has all the elements of a fairy tale, their daughter would go on to found the Tudor dynasty, a chance meeting maybe ordained by the fates and history begins to unravel it’s timely course.

    1. I’ve never heard the version of William’s father riding by. I’ve always read or heard that he spotted her from the castle wall while she was bathing.

      1. It could be Michael that he saw her from a window, there are usually several variations, his son William asked for Matilda’s hand in marriage and she insulted him by declaring she would not marry a bastard, William then violently assaulted her and as she lay in the gutter a strange alchemy began to work, she declared she would have no other for her husband! Maybe Matilda was a masochist but theirs was a most successful marriage and he unlike his forbears and descendants had no roving eye and was undoubtedly faithful to her, although there were rumours of him during a bastard son.

        1. Yes, I don’t know this last story of William the Bastard when he wanted to marry Matilda of Flanders and it’s in the Jean Plaidy story, with her refusal he dragged her by her hair and she eventually gave in. I very much doubt such a thing because it was a political match and Fulke would not have given his daughter under such circumstances. It’s more likely that William agreed with her father and Matilda accepted him but had a stormy early relationship but she was to be a strong supporter to him as well as bringing him wealth and a strong military alliance and much power. His father, Robert had developed his own political base but William had survived kidnap, attempted assassinations and real struggle for the Duchy he inherited as a child. It might be that William was as brutal with women as he was with men and his reputation results in such stories about how he won his wife. William was a brutal man, he was a merciless swine in fact and although he might not treat his wife cruelly he was responsible for massacres in large areas of Midland and Northern England. Of course he is a Norseman, as the Normans were because their ancestor Rollo brought the land from the Franks and converted to Christianity, becoming it’s Lords and indirectly they also have an allegiance to the Kings of France. The traditional form of marriage we know now was also very informal in the Middle Ages and illegitimate children could be legitimized in order to gain lands, as otherwise they usually didn’t inherit much later on. Of course if you take over by force, well you don’t really worry about such rules.

        2. Harold Hardrarda who fought Harold of England before William had three wives all at the same time who brought him different sources of power and none of them were married in the traditional way. Charlemagne also married two mistresses and at one time had more than one wife at the same time. He probably had five in all and there mistresses at the same time. Frankish marriage could either be a formal marriage with an alliance for power with the blessing of the Church or an informal marriage which consisted of sleeping for one night together and then living together. This was adopted in canon law as recognised if both parties consented to be husband and wife and slept together and you could also be husband and wife for a year and a day and then ask for it to be annulled. These none sacramental marriages were recognised but they caused complications. If the bride or groom came from the nobility they were likely to be married through this method to someone mum and fad disapproved of and later they may be married to someone else. If they spoke up and the case came to Court, the Church normally agreed the promise marriage was valid.

          It wasn’t always young people in love being caught up by this quirk of canon law, because one or two famous Royal cases had rather more serious consequences either for them or their offspring.

          Some historians may contend today that not only did Edward iv marry a woman who was his mistress, but he remained married to a woman who legally remained nothing but his mistress. O.K everyone breathe out, this might be a slight exaggeration but his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, Dame Grey did have consequences that changed history. For one thing we don’t have any evidence other than their word and that of her mother that any such marriage took place or even when. No priests gave testimony of it or recorded it but it was recorded in a chronicle so it must have happened? Well that was all that was needed and the couple had slept together many times during 1464 and they appear to have married by September. Edward confirmed they were married because he had to at a Council meeting before his Uncle, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and the Ambassador from France because he would have to marry a French Princess in the next few months if he hadn’t done so. It has also been speculated whether or not Elizabeth was pregnant. She had been his lover and there is a tale that she took a knife to him to fend him off and he married her to get her into bed. Whether or not this was true in September 1464 they claimed they were married and her mother claimed to be a witness and probably someone had a record, but the Kings word was not going to be questioned. However, immediately it had consequences.

          Firstly, Warwick was furious. He had spent weeks in France negotiating a marriage for Edward on his appointment and now everything was up in the air. The marriage and dislike for the Woodville family who took power that Warwick should have had brought about an inevitable split which would turn him against Edward permanently.

          Secondly, the Queen had an enormous unwed family. Her many brothers and sisters were married into the nobility, some marriages were totally ridiculous, such as her brother aged about twenty marrying the Duchess of Norfolk who was well into her sixties. This of course caused more resentment from these nobles, the Court, the Ambassadors and the delegations who came to Court, looking for advantageous marriage.

          The third consequences affected their children. It was believed by George, Duke of Clarence and others that Edward himself may not be legitimate, but most certainly that his children were not legitimate. Richard Shillington would later confirm that before 1464 Edward had married Eleanor Talbot, nee Boutler, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury and he had married them. It was rumoured that Edward had a habit of promising marriage to get women into his bed, but somehow E W managed to win him, probably through love and family manoeuvring. It was falsely alleged at a trial of her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, by Warwick that E W had married Edward with witchcraft. When Edward died prematurely in April 1483, he left two young sons, Edward, almost thirteen, tall and intelligent and raised at Ludlow, a stranger to most people and Richard, almost ten, raised at home. The King’s loyal and capable brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, High Constable of England and Lord of the North, was given the rule of England as Lord Protector and both boys should have been placed under his protection, not that power usurped by their mother. A few weeks after Edward V and his Uncle came into London and the former was housed in the Royal Apartments in the then Royal Palace of the Tower, not the Dark place the Tudors made it, Bishop Shillington revealed that he had kept a secret. He revealed what most historians accept as the truth that Edward was married before to Lady Eleanor and although she had died long ago, she was alive at the same time as his marriage to E W. He couldn’t come forward with this when Edward was alive, for obvious reasons, he clearly valued his head and Edward had imprisoned him to silence him in 1478. Now he felt safe and it was the right thing to do and Richard was preferable as an adult to a minority rule. He revealed the said marriage and the case was looked into and then the two Princes and their sisters were declared illegitimate and Richard offered the throne by the three estates of the Realm. In the indictment against Clarence in 1477 it states he made remarks which threatened the rights of both the King and Queen and their children. In other words, he had said something to question the legitimacy of his brothers marriage as well as his own legitimacy.

          Another time this quirk of canon law caused a problem was with our own Henry, himself the grand manipulator of pre contracts, when his fifth wife, Kathryn Howard failed to tell him she had a boyfriend who was a sexual partner. When her unfortunate past was laid out to Henry in a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer on 2nd November 1541, the Day after Henry had given thanks for his ‘perfect jewel of womanhood ‘ it emerged from the investigation that she had some sexual contact with Henry Mannox one of her music teachers and later a full sexual relationship with Francis Dereham, in her step grandmother’s house and the latter had called her his wife. Francis said he and Katherine had been promised and he saw her as his common law wife and it is assumed he came to Court to try to reclaim Katherine but she didn’t want to know. Kathryn denied any contract with Dereham but admitted her relationship with him. She also tried to say he had raped her, when in fact the rest of her testimony shows it was consensual. She obviously didn’t take calling him husband very seriously. Thus her marriage to Henry could not be annulled. As other evidence emerged that Kathryn was meeting another young man, an intimate servant of King Henry, Thomas Culpepper, regularly late at night, the shocked Council pursued a more aggressive policy and Henry was now facing the real possibility of his wife committing adultery. We really can’t say if Culpeper and Kathryn had a sexual affair or not, but the Council and King believed it and all parties were eventually executed for presumption of treason and leading a base life. The two men were tried and executed on 10th December 1541 and Katherine was condemned, along with the woman who helped her, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford by Act of Parliament in February 1542.

          The alleged former contract had consequences for the wider Howard family as the Howard women were all rounded up and interrogated as to what they knew and they were also locked up in the Tower. Several male relatives were also locked up. They were all there for several months. The contract was important because hiding knowledge of it according to the law put the future children of the marriage in danger of being legitimate and was thus misprison of treason. Henry of course would use this excuse to get in and out of his marriage to Anne Boleyn and out of his marriage to Anne of Cleves. Even just sleeping with two sisters could be seen in canon law as having a promised relationship and was a no no.

          The most notorious Prince we have for marriage that was declared unlawful because Parliament said so was George Iv as Prince of Wales with his marriage to Mrs Maria Fitzherbert, who was a Catholic and couldn’t marry an heir to the throne. He was so in love with Maria that he didn’t even stop to think of the consequences or to check the licence of the clergy who had been defrocked. Poor Maria was abandoned and he had yet another marriage before that too was found to be illegal and he eventually officially married Caroline of Brunswick. Her he hated and yet by some miracle they managed to produce the beautiful, but tragic Princess Charlotte.

    1. No you are not. I’ve been wondering the same thing. Nine days since the last posting. Pray all is well and she’s just busy or on vacation or such.

    1. I was wondering the same thing, it’s very unusual, especially for this long. I do hope everything and everyone are fine. I know Claire or Tim are posting on the Tudor Society every day and we had a Claire Video at the weekend, but it’s unlike Claire not to check in so I hope she isn’t unwell. We will just have to put the world to rights in her absence.

    2. Hi Globerose, Christine, Michael and BanditQueen,
      Thank you so much for your concern and for what you do here. Things are challenging at the moment. We’ve been going through the bureaucracy of enrolling our daughter at uni, we’ve been selling and buying a property (which seems to have taken so many days out), we’ve had some family issues, and I’ve also been having vision problems. After a couple of hours of working on my computer, my eyes are fried and I can’t do any more work until it subsides, which sometimes is quite a few hours. It’s been a bit of a nightmare to be honest and is really affecting my work. It’s also meant that we’ve had to take days off to go to hospital and optician appointments. Everything’s just happened at once and I’m hardly getting anything done. It’s all so frustrating. I’m just not coping to be honest.
      Thank you, you’re all lovely.
      Claire x

      1. Hi Claire, its great to hear from you again and so sorry that you have been having problems with your eyesight, computers though very handy can have a very detrimental effect on the eye, trouble is they are part of our modern world and we all use them, sounds like you have had your hands full with one thing and another, moving house can be stressful and you must take time off to relax, so look after yourself and take things easy xx

      2. Hi Claire, so sorry to hear you are having so many problems all at once and you are unwell. Everything always arrives when a person is not at their best health wise and stress from moving and selling property can be very upsetting. I hope you find a solution to make your eyes better but don’t do too much computer work as it does make any eye problems worse. You need to take some time out for yourself and try to relax and it must be paperwork hell getting your daughter into Uni but her hard work there I am sure will make you very proud and it will be worth it but you must be tired and worn out trying to go through all of that and work as well. Don’t worry about us, we understand. Take care of yourself and get better soon. Hope all will turn out right.

        Best wishes and prayers and our love. Thinking of you all with a big hug from the Universe.

        Keep well. LynMarie

  13. So good to hear from you. Glad all is well. Sounds terribly hectic though. Just take a deep breath and plough through. And good luck.

  14. Hello Claire! You seem to be having ‘a perfect storm’ of stressful events and I’m sure we empathise with that …. my late husband used to say that when things get on top of you, slow down, take a deep breath, then do one thing at a time, focusing on it and only it. Easy to say.
    Wish you well.

  15. I feel sympathy for Princess Anna of Cleves. She left her home, traveled by land and sea to marry her bridegroom. Sadly he was an
    old middle aged, overweight womanizer. He got his annulment, and
    quickly married a child.

    Princess Anna was wise to accept the pay off from him. He got
    what he wanted, and she got her life and freedom where as Anne
    Bolyen was arrested, put on trial, and beheaded on some trumped
    up charges.

    Sadly if Anna had gone back home, she would have been put back on
    the marriage market by her brother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *