9 July 1540 – Anne of Cleves’ great escape

Posted By on July 9, 2018

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.

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