9 July 1540 – The end of Henry VIII’s fourth marriage

Henry VIII Anne of Cleves Catherine HowardOn this day in history, 9th July 1540, just over six months after he had married Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne was declared null and void. It was also declared that both parties were free to marry again. Anne did not ever remarry, but Henry already had wife number 5 waiting in the wings and he married Catherine Howard on 28th July 1540.

Click here to read more about the end of Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves.

You may have heard of Anne of Cleves’ sister Sybilla, but did you know that she had another sister called Amalia? Click here to find out more about Amalia of Cleves.

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8 thoughts on “9 July 1540 – The end of Henry VIII’s fourth marriage”
  1. Poor Anne must have felt so humiliated having the world know that Henry found her so repulsive he wanted rid of her, even though he used the old pre contract excuse again, I bet the court said ‘here we go again’ ! Anne was fortunate in that she loved England and wanted to stay she had a comfortable pension and nice homes, one being Hever Castle, it’s a droll thought that comes to mind Henrys fourth queen living in his second queens former home and it has a ghoulish air about it, one can imagine Anne Of Cleve’s encountering Anne Boleyns ghost and the latter exclaiming’ you escaped him then good for you’! One lady said ‘what a man is the king how many wives will he have’, by now Henrys marital adventures were the talk of Europe in fact I don’t think they ever completely died, having read the piece about Amalia Of Cleve’s both sisters appeared quite under the yoke of their brother Wilhelm, he sounds a bit of a bully so no wonder Anne didn’t wish to return, she was free from him and she had also escaped the headsmans axe so although she was humiliated by Henry initially she did come out of the affair with her reputation intact and enjoyed great popularity, she also had a reputation amongst her servants for being a most kind mistress and on her death was mourned quite deeply.

    1. I don’t see how Anne of Cleves escaped the headsmans axe as she was never in danger of the axe. She did well out of the divorce as she could see that she had little choice and the benefits of accepting the end of the marriage. It is interesting to note that Anne of Cleves saw herself as Henry Viiis true wife and expressed her displeasure when he married number six. Of course she did not have the only heir to the throne to protect and worry about, nor had she been crowned, but she was being sensible and got a good deal as long as Henry lived. She lost Hever under Edward, along with other properties, had to exchange some, but was honoured well by Mary, who gave her a Queenly tomb on her death.

      I was just thinking, just what I wonder was Anne told about Henry as a person or his looks? No doubt she knew something of his early marriage and exploits, but what did she really hear about her future groom. I think Henry was just as much of a shock to her as Anne was to him. The ending of this marriage was not a bad thing, both sides got out of a situation neither wanted to be in, they had a good relationship later, so she could have no complaints. She was free to marry and chose not to, was the King’s sister, maintaining good contact with the royal family, came to court often, made the palaces to her taste and generally lived a full and relatively comfortable life. Even if she exchanged some homes she still had half a dozen others. Anne entertained noble families and played ceremonial roles at court. Not bad for a rejected wife.

      1. Hi Bandit Queen, regarding the comment I made about the headsmans axe I just meant that as the marriage was annulled she had no danger of falling victim to it as had she actually married Henry he could have had her executed on trumped on charges too, but then again he wouldn’t have been so foolish as to do that, he would not have risked war with Cleve’s, Anne Boleyn had no powerful relatives so it was fairly easy to dispose of her, iv often thought what Anne was told concerning her future bridegroom to, she appears to have had a rather sheltered upbringing as her naivety about the marriage bed showed, when he let Europe knew he was looking for a wife again after Jane Seymours death he was turned down by both Marie De Guise and the duchess of Milan, yet he was successful with Anne Of Cleve’s, I doubt she had been told about the fate of his former wives although she probably had not much say in the matter of Henrys wedding proposal, here was a young woman with absolutely no knowledge of the world or men, a complete innocent yet she was being thrown into the arms of the worlds most notorious bridegroom, she has been called the luckiest of Henrys wives and she certainly was.

        1. I honestly doubt that a high ranked noblewoman would have been shipped half-way across Europe without understanding all the implications of male/female interactions especially the sexual kind.

          If AoC hadn’t know about Henry’s checkered past before she left Cleves, I’m certain that members of the Tudor court in either Calais or Greenwich would have been far too eager to educate her, if only for their amusement..

        2. Hi Christine, I was thinking the same thing, as a foreigner she had the protection of her birth and a complex marriage negotiation with a brother who it seems was not afraid to take the greater powers on. Henry Viii backed off when it comes to the fate of his two political brides. We of course have no evidence that Henry would have had her tried on any charges, or had any other such ideas towards her, there was no need. With Katherine Howard, Henry did not just have her tried on trumped up charges, he was not even tired of her. In fact he was praising her for being perfect when the bombshell dropped, driven by her old servants and Cranmer. Henry did not want to believe the accusations. It was only when more and more stuff came to light that he accepted her guilt. We don’t know if Katherine Howard was really guilty or not, her case is muddled more than that of Anne Boleyn. The problem is that the case against Katherine was more convincing and Henry was convinced, we cannot know for sure what went on, but it was not a case of trumped up charges. I know Henry gets the reputation of getting rid of wives in this way, but he only got rid of one this way, Anne Boleyn. We cannot say that he had any intention of doing this to Anne of Cleves, it was just court gossip that she was being told, she was surprised by Henry’s generosity. I agree that she could not have known much from her protective upbringing. I just wonder though, I could imagine Suffolk saying, now luv, don’t get your expectations up too much, Henry is fat and his leg smells a bit, lol, just look pretty, be impressed and smile.

  2. Yes there would certainly have been gossip in abundance, what I find difficult to understand about Anne is that even after Catherine Howard’s death she is known to have commented that she hoped Henry would take her back, talk about walking into the lions den! Maybe she was so desperate for marriage because she was plain and not very accomplished unlike the ladies of the court, maybe she thought she would save face if Europe knew Henry had decided to marry her after all or perhaps she found him quite attractive? It could have been a combination of all three, yet I believe Anne would have been a good queen consort, she would have kept in the background like a queen should have, presided over banquets and met with foreign dignitaries / officials etc, done all the things that was expected of her and she may even have given him a son, who knows? One things for certain she would never have betrayed him she calm and gracious I think Henry had a little gem there but he didn’t know it.

      1. Yes she was always spoken of with affection by anyone who knew her, servants etc Henry never gave her a chance really but then he found her very unattractive and fell for the flighty Catherine Howard.

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