Anne of Cleves – Flanders Mare?

Posted By on February 10, 2011

Anne of Cleves seems to have gone down in history as the ugly one, the Flanders Mare who Henry found so unattractive that he just couldn’t bring himself to consummate their union, but what other opinions, labels, myths and stereotypes are there out there about Henry VIII’s fourth wife:-

  • Anne of Cleves the Flanders Mare
  • That she smelled bad
  • That she was not a virgin
  • That Anne was a strict Lutheran
  • Anne had no fashion sense
  • She had children with Henry VIII
  • She hoped to remarry Henry after the fall of Catherine Howard
  • Anne was already pre-contracted to someone else
  • That she had a lesbian affair with Catherine Howard
  • Anne of Cleves was the one who got away and outlived them all
  • Anne had royal blood
  • Anne of Cleves was half-horse and half-human

So, let’s look at these statements one by one and see what the real truth about Anne of Cleves is…

Anne of Cleves the Flanders Mare

Although Anne of Cleves has gone down in history as the Flanders Mare, the wife who was ugly and looked like a horse, it is only Henry VIII who seems to have considered her ugly. In January 1539, Henry VIII sent Christopher Mont, a member of Thomas Cromwell’s household, as ambassador to Germany to discuss a possible marriage between the Princess Mary and William, Anne of Cleves’ brother, and to “inquere of the beautie and qualities of the lady eldest of booth doughters to the duke of Cleves, as well what stature, proportion and complexion she is of as of her lerning actyvitie, bihauiour and honest qualities”1. Mont reported back that “everyone praises the lady’s beauty, both of face and body. One said that she excelled the Duchess [of Milan] as the golden sun did the silver moon”, although he was going on hearsay as he had not seen Anne himself.

In March 1539, Henry sent ambassadors to Cleves to get further reports on Anne and to get a portrait of Anne but the ambassadors encountered difficulties as Anne and her sister kept their faces covered. In the summer of 1539, Henry sent his court painter, Hans Holbein, to Cleves to paint Anne and her younger sister. When the leading English ambassador, Nicholas Wotton, saw Holbein’s portraits of the sisters, he declared that the artist “hathe expressyd theyr imaiges verye lyvelye”2 and that others also considered the portraits a good likeness of the young women. Although we do not know what Henry thought of Anne from her portrait, we have to conclude that he liked what he saw as he continued with negotiations. Why then did the King take an instant dislike to his bride-to-be when he first encountered her at Rochester on New Year’s Day 1540? Why did he adamantly declare “I like her not”?

In my opinion, Henry was humiliated and embarrassed by their first meeting, which had been a complete disaster. Always the romantic, Henry had decided to surprise Anne by disguising himself in the great chivalric tradition and intercepting her on her way to London. According to this tradition, the would-be bride would see through the disguise, fall in love at first sight and swoon into her beloved’s arms, it would be the perfect first date and they would both live happily ever after. Unfortunately, Anne knew nothing of this tradition, did not recognise Henry and was shocked and scared by this monstrous man who tried to embrace her and take such liberties with her. She acted in an entirely proper way but she failed to recognise Henry for who he was and failed to react in the way that Henry had anticipated. We don’t know whether Anne lived up to her portrait, but I think it was her reaction to Henry which sealed her fate. If she had been ugly then why did nobody else notice and why did Holbein risk painting her the way he did? Of course, it could be that Anne with her tall stature, her rather long nose and heavy lidded eyes was just very different to Henry’s previous wives, perhaps she just wasn’t Henry’s type?

By the way, there is no contemporary evidence for Henry VIII calling Anne of Cleves a “Flanders Mare”. Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, wrote in his 1679 book that Henry “swore they had brought over a Flanders mare to him”, but that is him saying that Henry VIII uttered those words and it is not backed up by evidence. Anne was not from Flanders anyway, something that Henry VIII was well aware of.

Contrary to legend, there is no evidence that Anne wore a huge blonde wig and that she was actually dark-haired, or that she was dark-skinned or “swarthy”.

Did Anne of Cleves Smell Bad?

On the morning after their wedding night, Henry VIII made it clear that he did not like Anne and that she had “very evil smells about her”3. Hmm… a rather hypocritical comment coming from a man with a nasty leg ulcer which often smelled to high heaven, but Henry did expect perfection and perhaps Anne did suffer with body odour or perhaps she used a scent which Henry just did not like. Of course, Henry had already made up his mind that he did not like her before the wedding night and had felt pushed into the marriage. I can just picture Henry having a tantrum on the morning of the 7th of January and acting like a child, “I said I didn’t like her and I still don’t”, or words to that effect!

Was Anne of Cleves a Virgin?

Of course the poor girl was! Anne seems to have been a complete innocent and completely ignorant of what sexual intercourse involved, so much so that it appears that she though she had done her duty by kissing the King goodnight! (See my article The Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves for more discussion on this). However, Henry professed on the morning after that Anne could not possibly be a maid due to “the looseness of her breasts and other tokens”4. Perhaps Anne was simply large breasted, who knows, but Henry was not satisfied with her body. Henry had found Anne so unattractive that he had not been able to have sex with her. He told his physicians how “he found her body in such sort disordered and indisposed to excite and provoke any lust in him”5, in other words Anne’s appearance had led to Henry not being able “to get it up”, something which, of course, could not possibly be Henry’s fault, after all, he had experienced wet dreams and “thought himself able to do the act with other, but not with her” – yeah, right! Anyway, Henry later annulled his marriage on various grounds, including non-consummation, so Anne did not lose her maidenhead to the King.

Anne of Cleves the Lutheran Queen


Although Alison Weir writes of how Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, was “at first dismayed to learn that her father was marrying a Lutheran heretic”6 and how Mary was “partly responsible for Anne’s conversion to the Catholic faith”, I’m not sure that Anne of Cleves was a staunch Protestant. Elizabeth Norton, in her biography of Anne, points out that Anne’s religious education was controlled by her mother, a devout Catholic, and that her father, although “influenced by the religious reform” was humanist rather than Lutheran, “remaining in outlook very much a Catholic, although a reformed one.”7 Later in her book, Norton goes on to say that”the absence of any reference to her religion during Edward’s reign suggests that she conformed to the reformed faith” but that she was prominent at court in the early years of Mary I’s reign, that she was happy to attend mass and that “there is no evidence that Anne ever really adopted Protestantism and she died a confirmed Catholic”8. Perhaps Anne the pragmatist just did what she could to survive, perhaps her beliefs were those of a ‘reformed’ Catholic, someone sitting on the fence, and so she was happy to abide by the law of the land.

Anne the Frumpy Queen

It’s not so much that Anne of Cleves was a frump and had no dress sense, it’s just that her dress was very different to English dress at that time. Elizabeth Norton points out that “Anne had grown up wearing the heavier fashions and round skirts popular in Germany and the Low Countries”9, dress that did not flatter the figure.  As you can see from Holbein’s portrait of her, her headdress was also very different to the English gable hood favoured by Jane Seymour or the French hood favoured by Anne Boleyn.

Children and Remarriage?

Once when I wrote about Anne of Cleves, I had the following comment left by a gentleman called “Prince of England and Ireland from Tudor-Cleves Ludovit Bialon”:-

“Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to, kindly, advise you, that my Dear Ancestry Grandmother the German Princess and English Queen Anne of Cleves, with my Ancestry Grandfather the English Monarch King Henry VIII have had together two Royal Children.
Their first-born Royal Child – their little Princess, was born, in Sept/October 1540, which, then, became, my next Ancestry Grandmother, (so that the “not consummation of their marriage” is absolute nonsense, please, see the proves of the consummation of their marriage, for example:http://englishhistory.net/tudor/pricleve.html – “amusing themselves in another chamber”- absolutely alone, for 24 hours, in one go…!) and their second Royal Child was the “Faire Boye”, born, in January 1542, (Please, see the witnessing Document, about his birth : http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hf0TAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA97-IA1&dq=Anne+of+cleves+Agnes+STRICKLAND,+%22+Lives+of+the+Queens+of+England#PPA85,M1 see PAGE 83)
when this truth, about these their concealed Absolute Legitimate Royal Children, have been exposed, by the servants, which loved their English Queen Anne of Cleves, very much, and wanted her, to live, also, officially, with her Royal Husband, and not just secretly.
But however, at this moment, when this have been exposed – revealed, our Dear Ancestry Grandmother the English Queen Ann of Cleves, according which, all CLEVER Beings, in this world, have been named, have immediately, lost both, of her Royal Children, at ones, as they had to be, immediately, sent, secretly, into Exile, on to the Slovak Territory, of the Kingdom of Hungary, where they, then, had to live, without Mother and Father, in poverty and need and in discriminations, and where all their Royal Descendants lives, this way, even, until today!”

Now, King of Gossip, Eustace Chapuys, wrote in December 1541 that Anne of Cleves “was known to have gone away in the family way from the King, and had actually been confined this summer”10, but there is no evidence to back up this rumour and although it appears that Anne expected to be re-instated as Henry’s wife and queen after the fall of Catherine Howard, Henry was not inclined to take her back. As for the ‘evidence’ cited above by Ludovit, the first one, a report by Chapuys is simply a report of Anne and Henry’s meeting on New Year’s Day, and it definitely would not have been proper for the King and Queen to sleep together before their official marriage ceremony, and I can find no mention of any document in Agnes Strickland’s book on the birth of a child to Anne. Gossip and rumour is what this all boils down to and if Henry had had a son by Anne he certainly would have recognised him in some way.

The Pre-Contract

One of the issues used as grounds for the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was the alleged pre-contract between Anne and Francis of Lorraine. Anne’s betrothal to Francis, heir of the Duke of Lorraine, had been arranged by her father in 1527 but was broken when Ann’’s brother, who became Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg on the death of his father in 1538, refused to give up the territory of Guelders to the Duke of Lorraine in 1539. Henry VIII’s Council had looked into the issue of the betrothal in January 1540, when Henry was trying to wriggle out of marrying Anne, but Anne’s brother’s ambassadors had been able to ensure the Council that Anne was free to marry and that the betrothal had been abandoned many years before. In February 1540, the ambassadors had been able to provide the Council with a notarial certificate stating that the betrothal had been broken off as early as 1535, although the original documents no longer existed.

Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard

I have not yet read Brandy Purdy’s novel, “The Boleyn Wife), but I have heard that there is a lesbian ‘encounter’ between Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. I have also seen discussions online pondering whether the non-consummation between Anne and Henry was because Anne was actually a lesbian. Just because Anne did not sleep with Henry it does not mean that she was a lesbian and just because she is depicted as having a lesbian fling with Catherine Howard in a novel it does not mean that it happened in real life! Aaggghhh!

The Survivor and the One Who Got Away

Anne of Cleves managed to get out of her marriage to Henry with her head held high (and still connected to her neck, a feat in itself!), property and money, the title of “right dear and right entirely beloved sister”, a good relationship with the King and his children and she outlived Henry and his other wives, dying on the 15th July 1557 (although she was only 41). So, she can be seen as the one who survived, the one who got away, the lucky one, BUT I wonder if she was really happy. Elizabeth Norton writes of Anne:-

“Despite her acquiescence, Anne always believed herself to be the legitimate wife of the king and the true queen. In spite of this she was, first and foremost, a survivor and, if the price of that survival was a denial of her true status in exchange for a life of opulent retirement, she was prepared to play along, even if that meant accepting a new lower status beside her former maid, Queen Catherine Howard.”11

She sacrificed a part of herself when she submitted to Henry’s request for an annulment and I wonder if money and status really made up for what she lost, the chance of marriage and children. It’s hard to say.

Royal Blood

Like all of Henry’s wives, and Henry himself, Anne of Cleves was descended from Edward I, but, Anne was also descended from the French Kings, being related to Louis XII of France on her father’s side.

Half-horse and half-human

When I was researching myths about Anne of Cleves, I actually stumbled on someone asking “Was anne of cleves half horse and half human?” on Wiki Answers.com! Someone had answered, saying “No, no she was not”,  thankfully!

Notes and Sources

  1. Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride, Elizabeth Norton, p31
  2. Ibid., p36
  3. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir, p382
  4. Ibid.
  5. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, David Starkey
  6. Weir, p367
  7. Norton, p11
  8. Norton, p146
  9. Norton, p71
  10. LP xvi. 1441
  11. Norton, p112

Further Reading

80 thoughts on “Anne of Cleves – Flanders Mare?”

  1. Anyanka says:

    In Karen Lindsey’s Divorced Beheaded Died, she suggests that Anne was far from naive about sex and was in fact spreading gossip about H8 through Jane Rochford and her cronies for her own purposes.

    Margaret Doner’s Lies and LUst in the Tudor Court also implies lesbianism in Anne.

  2. DuchessofBrittany says:

    Anne of Cleves is one of my favourite wives because she embodied all that was honourable: kindess, intelligence, and pragmatism. She succeeded where others faltered. No, she did not win Henry’s love and affection, but we all know how those realtionships ended. Rather, she won his respect, and lived in the splendor of court life. I would choose Anne of Cleves maritial outcome over the others. At least Anne survived to enjoy life, have true friends, and be a great role model for Henry’s children.
    I’ve not read Brandy Purdy’s The Boleyn Wife, but hearing that there is a lesbian encounter between Anne and Katherine Howard is a turn off. Why distort history? Oh right, to sell books and make a profit.
    I agree with Claire’s assertion that just becasue Anne did not want to have sex with Henry, does not make her a lesbian. She could have been a-sexual, or no one came into her life that she wanted an intimate relationship with. Frankly, I would be relieved that disgusting old Henry found me sexually unsatisfying because he was no prized pig by 1540. But, hey, that’s just me!
    Thanks Claire for bringing to life the real Anne of Cleves and busted the mythologies surrounding her life.

  3. Fiz says:

    I always see Anne of Cleves as the other survivor. I agree with you, Claire, that Anne just wasn’t Henry’s type, and may have worn scent he just didn’t like (the example of Katherine Mansfield comes to mind – she always wore a scent called Fleuri Genet – and Virginia Woolf writes of her “smelling like a civet cat”. This cannot be true – Katherine was meticulous about personal hygiene and it is known that Virginia was particularly sensitive to smells). Of course she was a virgin and had not been told the facts of life , so I love her innocence ” Every night he kisses me and says “Good night, Sweetheart, and I do the same. Is this not enough?” I really am fond of her as a person, and must try to find out about “The Queen’s Head” pub in Fowlmere, Cambs, which has Ann on the sign,especially as the house a little way from it has Prince of Wales feathers on it, which I believe originated in Germany.

  4. Carly says:

    I think what it ultimately boiled down to was there was just not that “spark” between them, and we all know that Henry was a hopeless romantic. They obviously became very good friends, so it’s kind of like “It’s not you, it’s me … well, it actually really is you.”

    On one hand I can see Anne being that sexually naive, but on the other hand I really cannot abide by that conclusion. As a princess, as a woman, would they have let her be so unaware of her duties? I think maybe some of her “innocence” was a way for her to save face — the king was telling everyone she was fat and smelly! Any woman would be mortified. And she couldn’t exactly say she wasn’t sexually attracted to her truly fat and smelly husband, so I can see how she would have settled for playing dumb instead. Of course that is all speculation, no one can really know!

    1. Claire says:

      I think the fact that Cromwell asked the Earl of Rutland to have a talk to Anne about sex and that her ladies were asked to advise her on things shows that Anne was seen as naive. I grew up in the 1980s yet my parents never talked to me about sex, though they knew it was covered at school, so I can imagine Anne’s mother, a very strict Catholic, not mentioning it to her daughter. I guess we’ll never know!

      1. Anyanka says:

        I was a teen in the late 70’s /early 80’s and my friends at the local convent school got a much better sex ed than we did at the comp.

      2. DeAnn says:

        Where is the evidence that Cromwell mentioned sex to Rutland? In the State Papers, Cromwell says he asked Rutland to urge Anna to act “pleasantly” toward the king after the king listed the things he “misliked” in the Queen.

        Here’s a link to Cromwell’s writing on this issue: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76173&strquery=secret

        1. Claire says:

          Historians take Cromwell’s words as being a euphemism i.e. to act pleasantly means to act in a way to attract or excite the King. It was of course impossible for Rutland or Anne’s ladies to explicitly explain things to her as that would have been risking treason by implying that the King was having problems getting excited by her and they of course knew what had happened to George Boleyn who had discussed the King’s impotence with his wife and sister.

  5. Clarebear says:

    Thanks Claire for another great installment about one of Henrys wives. I like Anne of Cleves and her story, but am going to be doing some more research into her. I wish there were more novels about her story. I think she is one of the less written about wives. I have read Brandy Purdy’s The Boleyn Wife, its an OK novel but there is a lot of story telling in it, so I took it with a pinch of salt. I thought that the part about Anne having a lesbian affair with Katherine Howard was a bit silly to be honest, I didnt like it much at all. I watched episode 3 of the season 4 of the Tudors last week and it was the one where Henry starts visiting Anne at Hever and ends up asking her if he can come to her bed. I dont know quite what to make of this scene, i thought that it was quite sweet seeing that he did actually like Anne in the end though

  6. Anne Barnhill says:

    Whew, lots to think about here! Thanks, Claire, for all the Cleve info–I really cannot believe anyone thought she was part horse! I agree with you completely that the relatiionship got off on the wrong foot. Here is Henry, in his late 40’s, a bad leg and growing ever fatter, trying to surprise his new fiance–as if she would immediately know him (what an ego!!) and swoon over him. That she was repulsed and shocked by this stranger coming on to her turned him off and humiliated him. I think Henry, like all of us, never saw himself as old. As Bruce Willis said, “We’re all eighteen at heart.” I think Henry was like that. And, perhaps Anne had a different scent–so much of attraction is via smell–and Henry just didn’t like it. She is one of my favorites, though. She escaped in more ways than one–she escaped her life in Flanders, which was no wonderful under her brother’s thumb and she escaped having to sleep with Henry. She also escaped with her life–not a small feat given Henry’s nature and history with women! It is too bad she didn’t ever find anyone else–but who knows? Maybe she did and it’s a historical secret! I don’t think she found Catherine Howard, though. 🙂

    1. Linda says:

      I agree with Anne Barnhill. If I were Anne of Cleves I would have danced a jig if I were rejected by Henry8. Free at last, Anne could live her life richly, with beautiful clothes, jewels, and a lovely house (Richmond Palace). In addition, she had the love & respect of many.

      You go, girl!

  7. Michelle says:

    Once again, I have to say Anne of Cleves got a raw deal. Yes, she managed to keep her head and got some cash in the divorce settlement, but really?!?! She has been maligned and gossiped about just like all of Henry’s wives.

    My guess is that Henry was indeed embarassed and angered that his future wife didn’t see through his disguise. How childish, but there you have it, that was Henry. So what does he do? Start rumours that she looked like a horse and smelled god-awful. How very adult and forward thinking of the king, not!

    Wether or not she was a virgin, a lesbian, or a gossip monger is neither here nor there. We will never know for sure. My guess is that she was virgin. Wether she remained one after her marriage to Henry is up for debate. A lesbian? Probably not. Same sex relations were considered “unnatural” and usually ended with the “guilty” individuals being tortured and executed. Anne would have had to have suicidal tendencies to even consider such a relationship. I would think that if she was indeed a lesbian that would have been used against her when Henry was trying to divorce her. He would certainly not have maintained a friendship with her once the divorce was final, even if he didn’t use this as a bargaining tool to regain his freedom. Can you imagine the snickers and back talk, not to mention the shock that information would have generated? Chapuys would have gotten quite a bit of mileage out of that one.

    She was intelligent enough to avoid the pitfall of religion. She was “Catholic” enough to keep Mary 1’s friendship and “Protestant” enough to avoid scrutiny by King Edward and his ministers. She kept her religious beliefs personal. Smart woman!

    Chapuys was the “king” of gossip, as you mentioned Claire, and, I would take much of what he said with a large grain of salt. I seriously doubt he would have known the truth if it bit him!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Anne of Cleves paid the price for marrying Henry. She’s been maligned, just like all six of Henry’s wives, while “good old King Hal” walked away smelling like a rose. The true injustice is that history still whitewashes Henry’s attrocities and puts blame on his wives. A sad testament indeed.

    Michelle

  8. Rose says:

    It’s quite bad really; Henry VIII spredding that Anne looked ugly, or smelt bad, and that’s how she is remembered! Ask anyone on the street, I’m sure they’d say that she looked like a horse. 🙁

    1. Matilda Forbes says:

      Yes Rose most people would I agree say those things about Anne. But I think she was quite an intelligent woman and did know about politics and religion at the time. Women where not really suppose to talk about political topics in those days unless they where a Queen with their ministers. I think that history in my opinion has much maligned some of Henry’s wives and Anne of Cleves is one of them. Poor old Henry didn’t really have a lot luck with his wives two of them he divorced two executed one died sadly in child birth and the last one outlived him. But she was nearly for the chop as she spoke out about certain aspects of religion and upset Henry V111. I saw a TV programme about Henry V111 and it said that he was once a very handsome man fit and athletic but by the time that he died only in his 50’s. His body was so overweight and he suffered many illness including dropsy.

    2. Frances Norris says:

      No, Matilda Forbes. If you ask questions on the street, you will be lucky if they know who Henry the Eighth was, much less Anne of Cleves.

      1. bruno says:

        I do agree – the same in France (I wonder what they learn at school by now)

  9. Beth says:

    Some of those myths that you have dug up, Claire, are just plain hilarious. I couldn’t believe the “was she half-horse?” or the “she had a lesbian affair with Catherine Howard” ones – never heard anything so hilarious in my life! Great job in debunking the myths. Personally I do think there was sadness in her parting from Henry (even though she never really knew him that well), and she definitely thought that being queen and marrying him was her duty and something that she hoped to reclaim after Catherine Howard’s execution. I also think she must have experienced sadness that her state of limbo as “King’s Sister” meant she would never fulfill the role of married woman that she had probably been brought up all her life to fulfill – it seems that no one was going to risk proposing to her when she was Henry’s former wife and they could be accused of trying to gain more power by it! – and of course I think she was sad to be deprived of the chance to have children.

    On the other hand, I think she had happiness in her life afterwards as well. Not just because she “escaped” marriage with Henry (I don’t think she saw it that way anyways, as I said above), but because the settlement Henry gave her did make her one of the foremost ladies at the English court and did make her very rich, and she owned it all in her own name. As we know, this was very rare for women in Tudor times – rich heiresses were quickly married off and subject to their husband’s will, only widows had a degree of autonomy, and remember the raised eyebrows when Henry made Anne Boleyn Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Anne of Cleves enjoyed a level of freedom that was very rare, and was sole mistress of her estates and households. In later years she seems to have been known as an accomplished and great lady, and a prestigious hostess.

    So, I think whilst she was undoubtedly sad to be deprived of the chance to be married and have children, her life was balanced by happinesses as well – there were reasons to be sad, but also some reasons to be happy.

  10. Brienna says:

    Margaret Campbell Barnes has a novel called “My Lady of Cleves” that shows Anne as strong, kind and intelligent. It’s a very entertaining book. In it, she falls in love with Hans Holbein which is much more believable fiction than a lesbian tryst with Catherine Howard!

    1. Heather says:

      I remember that book too. It was quite sad how she and Holbein were in love and his portrait of her depicted her in his eyes, not as she truly was. It was a long time ago when I read this book and I believed it then but have not found any truth to back it up since.

      1. shelagh says:

        Thank you ! I read the book where Holbein falls in love with her, and I couldnt remember the title or author. It never claims to be anything but fiction and it is a sweet story.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Haha…half horse, half human…WHAT?!?!?! That’s ridiculous. Thank goodness someone said NO! It’s funny how rumors get around, but a rumor of something close to a sci-fi type description to be taken seriously? Come on! 🙂 I think Anne was definitely naive about sex. She seemed to be very guarded by her family (in particular her brother)–which is not a bad thing! But I think it would have been nice for someone to inform her before she got moved to England and got married! 🙂 I agree with her maybe not being Henry’s type. I think, though, her portrait is the prettiest (I guess in modern terms) of them all!! In her portrait, she looks very sweet and gentle…someone I’d like to meet. I really enjoyed this article, especially because I don’t really know too much about her and of course I didn’t know many of the misconceptions about her. Thank you Anyanka, for mentioning that about Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. I just started that book and will definitely be on the look out for wrong information because to me–that doesn’t sound right at all! Anne seemed too mild and meek to be doing that sort of thing and when she really didn’t know English very well at first…how could she gossip? Something that did bother me was in Phillipa Gregory’s book “The Boleyn Inheritance,” she made Anne innocent of course, but that her brother was like incestuously attracted to her in some way–for example, the part where Anne “gets into trouble” and is spanked…her brother is creepily watching from behind the curtain….gross! I don’t know if that is spurred from any real truth, but I hope it’s far from it!! Anyway, thank you Claire for such a wonderful article and I look forward to the other two! 🙂

    1. Anyanka says:

      Anne gets spanked while her brother is a peeping tom…PG should start writing soft porn rather than historical fiction..

    2. miladyblue says:

      Divorced, Beheaded Survived is a terrific read – and Karen Lindsey, the author, really takes out the long knives for Henry. Henry would probably be mortified that modern women would not be fooled or charmed by him for a second, and would definitely kick him to the curb.

  12. Jennifer says:

    oops…was moved to England…not got moved to England! Need to read through my posts before hitting Submit!!! 🙂

  13. Claire,

    I have nothing against anyone’s sexual inclinations, like you I find it absurd that people would think that Anne was a lesbian simply because she didn’t want to sleep with him. How ridiculous? He smelled. Had a reputation of cruelty and let’s face it, he was not the young stud that he use to be. I wouldn’t have wanted to sleep with him either.

  14. Oh, I almost forgot. I have found several people on the internet claiming to be descended from Henry VIII through mistresses or wives. The proof is often minimal or absent, but I find it interesting that some people just won’t let go.

    1. Bess Chilver says:

      There are many a person convinced they are a direct descendent of Lady Jane Grey; Queen Catherine Parr (after her marriage to Henry VIII) or Queen Elizabeth I or even Mary I.

      1. Anyanka says:

        The “best” one I came across was a lady who claimed she was a descendant of Anne Boleyn and George . Their “son” was born in 1540 and hidden due the fact he was not H8’s son…..

        She apparently had a birth cert showing the “Mother ” as the Marquis of Pembrooke and the “father ” as Lord Rochford.

        I think the thread must have been lost because I just can’t find it again or my google skills let me down.

  15. bollie says:

    Thanks claire for this great info on Anne of Cleeves, she is one of my favorite persons in history. I do not find her like Henry descibres her a flanders mare…omg how does he dare to say so..didnt he had a mirror to look in??I also think that he was just sadly dissapointed that Anne didn’t recognize him in their first encounter..and that was just the reason why he acted like a big child to say that she was ugly.. I am happy that she survived him. She was not a lesbian and i also think that she was indeed a virgin when she married Henry

  16. Diana says:

    Enjoy the postings Reading about Anne of Cleves in a Jean Plaidy bok about Mary Tudor I dont believe she wanted to go back to Henry . I believe the idea would have frightened her she was very happy with her life. She came to court and was well recieved as the kings sister, and brother Henry never tried to marry her off. I agree with the bad smell statement most likely from Henry ulcerated leg. Of course Henry had a gift of making other the blame for things that happen. Its a shame Henry secretary who arranged the match ending up paying the price . Someones head had to go for it

  17. Kara says:

    I personally think Anne was quite beautiful and possibly Curvalisious, which in some eyes was the sign of true royalty back in the day. Skinny, not like today (unfortunately) was seen as poor and unhealthy. Which I still find to be true today.
    I read somewhere that H8 saw Katherine Howard before he met Anne and secretly already had thoughts toward her, wether it true or not I don’t know. The thing is, 450 years ago was a long time ago and we, now, really don’t know what really happened. The reason insay that is because I truly believe that things might if gotten recorded falsely at times.
    All that being said, Claire, great job again in this write up a woman thrown and jilted from history like most back then. She was so young at her own death and I’m not sure if she herself recorded any of her own true thoughts from those days and if she did, it most likely has been lost. I wish that their were more portraits of her too, because it’s really hard to judge someone from one main portrait.
    In my opinion, Anne was a true princess with real royalty in her blood, she knew how to behave in a mature, respectful manner and to me that shows her true royal side, kind of like Catherine of Aragon. If you think about it those two were the only wives of H8 that came from Kings and Queens in the rightful way.
    Thanks Claire for a great article, it’s definately worth looking into more.

  18. Nancy says:

    Being mostly of German descent myself, I like to joke that the wife who beat Henry at his own game was the German one. She kept her head, Henry gave her lots of money and homes (including Hever Castle, my favorite!), and even if she didn’t have the joy of marrying a man she loved and having children, at least she didn’t have to sleep with Henry, who was really repulsive by that time. Can you imagine having to wake up to an ageing Henry VIII every morning – you could probably smell him coming two rooms away with the oozing boil on his leg! Even if she had remained his queen until Henry died, Anne probably would have been completely turned off to marriage and sex by that time. She also escaped her life back in Flanders – I loved and adored my father dearly, but he could be controlling at times, much like it seems Anne’s brother was. Had she returned home she probably would have been used for another political marriage to someone she had never met before. BTW, my grandfather was born and raised in Hannover, Germany, like the Hannoverian monarchs!

  19. miladyblue says:

    One thing I have wondered is how much did cultural differences come between Henry and Anne?

    Henry was married once before to a foreign Princess, but Katharine of Aragon had had time to learn English customs and the language, plus, she had a much more extensive education than Anne of Cleves, and thus, was much better prepared for marriage than Anne had been.

    Maybe the “awkwardness” of which Anne has been accused, was actually nerves – “I’m far from home, in a completely foreign land. Will my husband like me? Will the people accept me as one of them, as well as their Queen? What happens if it doesn’t work out? OMG, look at his marital history! Is Wilhelm (her brother) insane?”

    She had to have known about what happened to Katharine, Anne Boleyn and Jane – that was fairly common knowledge in the rest of Europe, and Henry’s previous marital history probably did nothing to reassure her that her life would be any better than theirs – I myself would have been a nervous wreck, especially with Henry as a propsective husband!

    I am leaning toward Karen Lindsey’s belief that Anne was not as naive about sex as she was letting on to her English ladies – grumbling about how bad Henry’s leg smelled, or how fat and truly unappealing he was at that point in his life, especially since she was on her own, would not have been wise. It was much easier to play ignorant, in the case that perhaps if Henry decided to divorce her, nothing could be brought against her, like what blew up in Anne Boleyn’s case, the multiple adultery and incest accusations. “How could she have been an adulteress if she didn’t even know what a man and a woman had to do in order to conceive a child?”

    There are some who say that Holbein, in an attempt to make Anne seem the most attractive, made her clothing and headress more attractive in that famous (infamous?) painting than concentrating on her own features. I don’t think so – if a talented artist could take just Anne’s face from that picture, as in modern times, and give her more “appropriate” – i.e. English or French style – clothing and headdress, I think they would find a woman whose beauty was the equal if not the superior of any of Henry’s other wives.

    There is no evidence to suggest, one way or another, that Anne was unhappy with her divorce settlement, and subsequent life as Henry’s sister. He was certainly kind and respectful toward her, that much is certain. Did she regret not having a “proper life” as a wife, mother and Queen? That, too, is hard to say, but she did appear to enjoy being independently wealthy and mistress of her own destiny.

    I’d say, rather than a “Great Flanders Mare” that Anne should more properly be viewed as a “Great Flanders Fox,” not only in terms of her looks, but also her intelligence.

    1. Kara says:

      What was the cause of her early death?

    2. shelagh says:

      Nice one! Agree totally

  20. Beth says:

    Talking about Anne’s attractiveness, I both agree and disagree with what’s been said here. I’ve never understood the whole “Flanders mare” stuff about Anne of Cleves, not by a long shot, and definitely think that was just Henry’s personal reaction as it clearly wasn’t the reaction of those who met her and reported on her prettiness. Combined with the terrible first meeting, and Anne’s strange German fashions it just didn’t go well from the start. However, I wouldn’t say that she’s the most attractive of the wives. Personally, I wouldn’t say that. I find Holbein’s painting of her to be reasonably pretty, but not stunning – however her placidness in the painting, her tranquility in it, is appealing. But I’m afraid I really have to go with the Hever portrait of Anne Boleyn as the most stunning and beautiful of the pictures of the wives. And, not to be mean, but I find the Holbein portrait of Jane Seymour to be the least attractive. The thin lips and that big nose, and the double chin makes her look much older than she was! And I’ve never liked that gable hood style, it seems very frumpy and austere to me! But that’s just my personal reaction.

    I think it’s almost a shame that Henry didn’t remarry Anne after Katherine Howard. Granted, Katherine Parr made a fine queen, and she knew how to handle Henry, so she was an excellent partner for him, but despite her naivety I think Anne of Cleves had that sense of duty and dignity that would have made her a respected queen, and even what Henry was looking for in a wife – dutiful, obedient, dignified in conduct. Anne adopted the fashions of England after she had been in the country for a time, and didn’t look so strange anymore once she was out of her German dresses. And of course, Henry found her more tolerable once they were no longer married, now, whilst I maintain that was mainly because he no longer had the pressure of having to do his husbandly duty with a woman he didn’t want, in part I think it must have helped that by that stage she had learnt a lot more English, learnt some of the courtly pursuits and so on. Henry apparently found her conversation more interesting and pleasing, to his surprise.

  21. Ceri C says:

    I’ve always had a theory that Anne of Cleves was like many German women I have met – a large frame, big-boned and what might, in another century, have been called an athletic build; of course, she would not have been able to lead an athletic lifestyle! Both Catherine of Aragon and Catherine Howard were known to be very small and short and Anne Boleyn to have been slender – so she really would not have been his type!
    There is also another portrait I’ve seen of her in three-quarter face, whch shows her straight nose to have been rather long.
    As her English was rudimentary on her arrival in England, she would not have been able to entertain the king with her wit to make up for not being his type.
    I think, however, that she was a very sensible and pragmatic woman. Apart from the fact that she was never able to marry and have a family, she had a life which many women at the time must have envied – money, freedom and autonomy. She remained on good terms with just about everyone, which says a lot for her good sense and good nature. She was probably something of a role model for Elizabeth to whom she was close.

  22. Kari says:

    I’ve always thought that Anne of Cleves was, ironically, the most physically attractive of Henry’s wives by far. At least, in my admittedly 21st-century opinion she was!

    Also, Anne was half-human, half-horse? Brb, LOLing FOREVER.

  23. Suzanne says:

    Brandy Purdy also writes about a lesbian scene between Anne and Katherine Howard in Vengeance is Mine, one of the worst books I have ever read. This woman would do well to find another career. I wrote better in the 5th grade. She also refers to a sex scene between Jane Boleyn and Cromwell (!). Avoid.

    1. Rachel says:

      “The Boleyn Wife” and “Vengeance is Mine” – same book, different title (renamed by the new publishers). Just to reassure everyone that there is only one book (to my knowledge, anyway) that has the Anne/Catherine pairing!

  24. Brilliant article, Claire! As usual. I’ve always had a soft-spot for Anne, but I think you’d have to be pretty heartless not to. I think she was basically just a very nice woman.

    I linked to the article from my blog, as usual and I have to agree with Theresa’s comment! 😉

    Posted on Catherine Howard being taken to the Tower on today’s anniversary too. Poor girl! And I guess logically she’s up next in the myth-debunking posts here. Can’t wait! x

    http://garethrussellcidevant.blogspot.com/2011/02/defending-anne-of-cleves.html

  25. Carolyn says:

    At least she had some years to enjoy herself. I’ve heard it said that she was happy in England, was fond of entertaining, drinking a pint or two of beer, and gambling at cards. She made the best of a bad situation and focused on the small joys in life. I think I really would have liked her if I’d had the chance to meet her.

    1. Claire says:

      Me too, Carolyn, she definitely made the best of her situation and I think it’s wonderful that she was able to keep a good relationship with Henry and his daughters, I think Elizabeth learned a lot from Anne.

  26. DeAnn says:

    Thank you Claire for this wonderful website. I love it so much and I have learned so much from it. I appreciate what you do so much and love the forum you’ve given.

    I know you said last week that you weren’t inspired by Jane Seymour and your disinterest shown through. I didn’t think that last week but I am this week about Anna of Cleves.

    I do agree completely with you that Henry expected Anna to swoon at his kiss and touch and fall at his feet. I’m sure his ego couldn’t stand the fact that she returned to watch the bear baiting and was wounded deeply. Anna was like Margaret of Anjou who didn’t recognize Henry VI and kept him on his knees a long time while she read Henry’s letter.

    I think there is division among historians whether the sun and moon comparison is between Anna and the Duchess of Milan or Anna and her older sister, Sylbille of Saxony who was reportedly a great beauty.

    I do think there is evidence that Anna was dark(er) skinned than say Jane Seymour and had dark hair. Yes, one chronicle, I believe Hall, said she had yellow hair but I am not convinced he saw her. When Henry rushed back to London and was blaring at councillors for not telling him when they saw her in Calais how she looked….they stammered that she was darker and blamed the sea crossing and weather for affecting her complexion. Retha Warnicke’s book, “The Marrying of Anne of Cleves,” has really blown up in wonderful detail the Holbein portrait. She clearly has dark, dark black eye brows, dark eyes and her skin seems darker. It is possible but I think unlikely that someone with black eyebrows and such dark lashes and eyes would also have saffron yellow hair. Maybe she was a dirty blonde but I think more likely she had darker hair.

    I think that she had the “Brunet” look of Anne Boleyn and the same name also helped turn off Henry (guilty conscience hopefully). Again, when confronted about praising her beauty when Henry said had declared she wasn’t the best those had seen of her in Calais and Deal could come up with she was dark skinned. So I don’t think that’s a legend.

    Henry did complain about Anna after meeting her in Rochester and certainly after they were married. But he did not make the famous “tokens” comment the day after the wedding. He made it later to Thomas Heneage who gave this deposition http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76175&strquery=looseness

    He did tell Cromwell the morning after the wedding that he had felt her breasts and belly and she wasn’t a maid. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76174&strquery=breasts

    Apparently Henry was regularly complaining about Anna’s breasts and belly if you look at the State Papers! Poor woman.

    It’s also a myth that Henry tried to consummate the marriage on their wedding night as Warnicke writes about. He wanted to follow marriage law and tradition in order to begat a normal male child. He married Anna on the Epiphany, a feast day. Cramner had to issue a special license to get married on a feast day during a period of time in which marriage was forbidden.

    Warnicke writes that popular belief was that if a child was conceived on a forbidden day that the offspring would be a leper, suffer from seizures of be possessed by the devil. Henry would not have wanted to chance that. Dr. Butts (Anne Boleyn fans may remember him from when Henry sent him to Hever to look after Anne during the sweating sickness period circa 1528) testified in July that Henry purposefully did not attempt to consummate the marriage on that first night, again a feast night, but waited until the third or fourth night.

    This testimony of course somewhat contradicts Cromwell’s. There are two easy explanations. While Henry didn’t attempt to consummate the marriage, he did fondle parts of Anna’s body and made his comments to Cromwell based on that. The other explanation is Cromwell was answering questions in the Tower of London. As the state papers made clear, Cromwell was given a series of questions and the prescribed answers for him. He was essentially told to write and since he was in the Tower while under great duress. Cromwell even got the wedding date wrong so it’s not inconceivable that he got wrong when Henry first tried to consummate the marriage.

    I appreciate anyone who has kept reading this novella to this point. I’d love for Claire and other Anne Boleyn fans to answer me this. Jane Boleyn was a proven liar. Her lies got her own husband killed. Why on earth are people so willing to believe what she said about Anna of Cleves???? Why is it so accepted that Anna of Cleves would just so openly discuss her sex life with the king with three of her ladies?!!!

    Let’s examine the facts. These three ladies described this supposed conversation in July 1540 after Cromwell had been tossed into the Tower. Lord Lisle, Henry’s very own half-uncle, was also tossed in the Tower. Lord Lisle was one of the main people to greet Anna when she arrived at Calais. These depositions were taken because Henry wanted a divorce and Henry got what he wanted. We’ve already seen that Cromwell was specifically told what to say. (see the State Papers where both the questions and answers were sent to Cromwell) Why wouldn’t we think these three ladies were told to manufacture evidence that would help Henry get his divorce.

    Jane Boleyn was someone who had proven she was willing to lie to protect her own hide. The other woman was Lady Rutland whose husband was head of Anna’s household and had been one of the main greeters in Calais. One of the folks that Henry had been mad who hadn’t warned him about Anna’s looks/appearance when they saw her in Calais. Lady Rutland had ever reason to create this conversation to save her own husband’s neck Literally!. As for the third lady, I’m sure in Tudor times it would be easy to persuade her to agree with the other two. After all, Anne Boleyn was accused of having sex with other men when it was physically impossible for her to do so! Why is everyone so willing to accept that lies were made up about Anne Boleyn but not willing to believe that this supposed conversation with Anna of Cleves was manufactured.

    I just cannot believe knowing the history of Henry’s wives that Anna of Cleves would have easily gossiped with her ladies about her sex life with her husband especially with someone who she had to have been told had helped her husband to the scaffold! Anna had to know Jane Boleyn’s history, why on earth would she have trusted Jane with the intimidate details of her sex life?

    I think Ruth Warnicke does a great job of debunking this myth about Anna. She notes that the three women don’t mention a translator being present for this gossip about the royal sex life. We are suppose to believe that Anna had mastered English well enough by then to give such a response to these women? She says either the three women created this fictional story at the behest of the king’s councillors or they were given a deposition with the story already created and just had to sign the document (again, cromwell was clearly told what he was to say).

    Warnicke also cast aspersions on the notion that Anna’s mother never talked to her about the birds and the bees.

    I just wish someone could explain to me why so many people are willing to believe this conversation took place when it defies logic? As Warnicke says, clearly the intent was to make Anna appear so sexually naive that she would be spared discussing in her deposition her sex life.

    I’ve yet to see a single historian make reference to what Cromwell clearly writes to Henry in his “sorrowful” letter from the Tower. He says Henry disclosed a “secret” matter to him and he swears he never disclosed this secret but to one other person. Cromwell’s fear is palpable hundreds of years later that he thinks Henry believes he shared this matter of “great secrecy.” What that secret was involved Anna of Cleves we don’t know. Cromwell took it to his grave. I have my own personal notions but they would be sheer speculation.

    I completely agree that Anna’s religious inclinations were of a pragmatic one and she likely adhered to the belief of being a reformed Catholic.

    As far as her dress, Anna began to dress in the French style three days after her wedding and it was well received. She was well received in her entry to London, which Henry used to substitute for the now delayed and ultimately canceled coronation (he initially planned to crown Anna in early Feb but scrapped that after meeting her).

    As far as Anna supposedly having a child by Henry, it may not have been true but it certainly was more than a rumor reported by the Imperial ambassador.

    The state papers reveal interesting details about the investigation into whether Anna had borne a son to Henry. Actually, a “fair boy.” The investigation of Katherine Howard for adultery was stopped at times for councillors to gather details about rumors that Anna had borne Henry a son after one of her maids and a scrivener had gossiped about it. Two wound up in the Tower of London for the rumor mongering.

    But Henry didn’t dismiss the rumor of a son out of hand. He didn’t laugh it off as you expect him to do so. When he heard the rumors, he ordered a full investigation. Agnes Strickland does write about these rumors and investigation in her chapter on Anna of Cleves. Here’s a link: http://books.google.com/books?id=UgY-AAAAcAAJ&pg=PA323&lpg=PA323&dq=agnes+strickland+anne+of+cleves&source=bl&ots=ENhVjqx4pb&sig=Zql8lIwx5d_NBlbQPqF87i_qLB4&hl=en&ei=eMkKTeWBG9yfnweAoNT5Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=fair%20boy&f=false

    When Claire talks about the Imperial Ambassador’s gossip, I think there is confusion as to which New Year’s Day is referred. Much was made when Anna of Cleves came to court in Christmas 1540 after her divorce (she brought a beautiful present of two beautiful horses with her). The rumor is that when she stayed at Hampton Court that that Henry wasn’t in Katherine Howard’s royal bedchamber but crept into Anna of Cleves around New Year’s and that she gave birth to a son in the summer of 1541 when Henry was on progress and Katherine was a busy bee with Culpepper.

    One of the ironies of history is that Anna’s Duke of Lorraine wound up marrying the beautiful Duchess of Milan. And no papal dispensation was issued because other than Henry and the English apparently no one else thought Anna was still precontracted and that Duchess of Milan couldn’t marry her ex!

    There are two things about Anna of Cleves that I think say so much about her. When she was divorced, she told Henry that far worse than giving up being queen was no longer being Elizabeth’s mother. Henry allowed the two to visit. And unlike a lot of people who went with Team Mary or Team Elizabeth, Anna also was close to Mary. So close that Mary gave Anna a grand funeral and had her buried at the high alter of Westminster Abbey, truly a high honor! Also if you read her will it’s a lovely document where she names all of her servants and friends.

    Anna of Cleves wound up with Hever Castle in the divorce settlement. (btw Edward VI almost immediately after his father died stripped Anna of some of her prime properties including Richmond Palace and wouldn’t pay all her bills and give her all the money that Henry promised in the divorce settlement). I like to think that there she found Anne Boleyn’s gift from Francois I’s sister, Marguerite. Anne obviously had given Anne Boleyn her “mirror” book. Elizabeth translated this for Katherine Parr as a present. I’d like to think she used her mother’s original for the translation which Anna of Cleves found at Hever Castle and then gave to her. Yes, I’m a romantic!

    For a project I started working on this winter, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Anna of Cleves. I find her so interesting. Anne Boleyn is Henry’s most misunderstood wife. I think Anna was his least understood wife. She was queen just six months but lived another 17 years in England. Those 17 years get short shrift from historians. Her life didn’t end with her divorce and I think she deserves more scrutiny and understanding.

    I’d like to end this lengthy discourse with what the French ambassador, Marillac, reported to this royal masters after the news of the divorce from the daughter of Cleves broke that the English people who had received Anna so well loved her and regretted the divorce (shades of the first royal princess that Henry married) And fearing London would react badly to Catherine Howard, she didn’t have a royal entree to London like other queens did and Anna of Cleves did.

    Marillac wrote:

    “One of the most sweet, gracious and humane queens they have had and they greatly desire her to continue their queen.”

    1. Claire says:

      Hi DeAnn,
      I won’t handle all of your points here and now as I’m meant to be having some time off today but it’s a shame that you feel that I’m disinterested in Anne of Cleves as I’m certainly not, I find her fascinating and that is why I have written so many articles on her even though this site is really about Anne Boleyn. I think that Anne of Cleves was a pragmatist, a survivor and also an amazing woman to have been able to have kept a close friendly relationship with Henry and his children.

      I agree with you about the whole “Duchess” issue, some historians insert [Duchess of Saxony] and some [Duchess of Milan] and it could be read either way. There is a lack, though, of any comments regarding Anne’s supposed “ugliness” and although I don’t think she was a beauty, and particularly not in the standard English rose way, I think she was an attractive lady otherwise this would definitely have been brought to the King’s attention.

      I don’t actually agree with you about Jane Boleyn being a liar, I think history has done her a disservice and painted her as a liar and someone who was the prosecution’s star witness when there is, in fact, no evidence of this, but that’s a whole new article. Elizabeth Norton believes that the conversation between Anne, Lady Rochford and Lady Edgecombe is suspect as Anne would not have known enough English at that point to converse in that way anyway, but David Starkey points out that Anne was obviously worried about things in that she kept trying to speak to Cromwell. Starkey believes that the background to the conversation between Anne and her ladies is Cromwell giving Rutland the job of explaining the facts of life to Anne, who then passed the job on to his wife. I don’t blame him! I don’t see the conversation as gossip, I see it as Anne’s ladies trying to follow the instructions they’d been given to get Anne to make more effort with the King, to try and save the marriage and Cromwell’s head with it!

      I think that Anne WAS naive, she had not been taught the facts of life, and that this combined with Henry’s on/off impotence caused the marriage to fail. She just was not his type and she had no idea how to ‘excite’ him.

      As far as the “fair boy” is concerned, I did not say that Agnes Strickland did not mention it, I said that I could find no mention of a document proving his birth, Strickland simply reports the minutes of a meeting where this rumour is discussed. Ludovit, in my opinion, made it sound like there was a birth certificate or other type of documentary proof. Antonia Fraser believes that the rumours came about simply because Anne “came and went to the court ‘at her pleasure’ and had an ‘honest dowry’ to support her and I can believe that the general public thought that something was going on simply because Henry was treating Anne well. I don’t believe that Henry, at this point, would laugh off any scandals and rumours attached to his name and just because he ordered a full investigation into it does not mean that it was true. We will never know the truth of the situation, but I just can’t see Anne being able to keep her two children by Henry secret or Henry not doing something to recognise his illegitimate son when he was worried about only having one son and no ‘spare’. It does not make sense to me.

      1. Claire says:

        Looking through my article I can see why you feel I am disinterested. It’s been a bit of a week with launching The History Files and having to do lots of organisation for our 2 tours etc. so my passion and energy is waning and I apologise for that and for doing Anne a disservice. I’d love it, DeAnn, if you could write an article on Anne of Cleves and the research you’ve done on her, either for this site or for The History Files xx

        1. DeAnn says:

          First off, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I wish you a wonderful auspicious year!

          I don’t like that Starkey basically ends his story about Anna with her divorce in 1540. She lived another 17 years in England. There’s obviously a dearth of details but some and I had hoped that would be more explored, that’s all. I would be honored to write an article on the fascinating Anna. She was alone in England and in later years she did have to struggle after Edward VI took away her property and money but she persevered when she had no manly protection in a man’s world.

          I am no fan of the Imperial ambassador but regarding Anna’s looks when he passed along her supposed comment that she was better looking than Katherine Parr he didn’t dismiss it out of hand either. So I agree. She may not have been the Rose of Raby — Proud Cis — or Elizabeth Woodville, but she certainly had lovely enough looks.

          Regarding above my question about Anna being pleasant, because Henry had complained to Cromwell about her being “stubborn and willful” that’s why I thought asking her to be more pleasant could have referred to that rather than sex.

          Regarding Jane Boleyn, she was willing to lie for Katherine Howard so whether she lied about her husband or not, she certainly within a year of Anna’s divorce was an out-of-control liar.

          I could accept your argument that the women were trying to save the marriage and Cromwell’s head if it had occurred in say February or March. That would make total sense.

          But if you look at the depositions in the state papers and Warnicke’s book the women say this conversation took place on June 22 or June 23!!! That’s not trying to save the marriage. That’s knowing a divorce is about to happen and tidying up the stuff to make it look good when it comes time for the legal procedure. Anna was ordered to Richmond Palace on June 20 so the die was cast before this supposed conversation. Perhaps it did actually occur but it was a set up conversation and Anna had to know that since she had been ordered away from her husband who she knew by then was having an affair with Katherine Howard (she confronted him in June, which may have hastened the divorce).

          Cromwell was arrested on June 10. I cannot imagine that Jane Boleyn of the House of Howard would be wanting to save Cromwell’s neck on June 22, 23. I do think she knew the House of Howard was about to rise again and have the next queen and she was doing the king’s bidding to help the cause.

          However, I do believe that Lady Rutland could have tried on her own to educate Anna in February, March, April at her husband and Cromwell’s behest but not in conjunction with the two other ladies. I just don’t believe Anna would have openly discussed it with Jane Boleyn and if she did…it was after she had been sent to Richmond and the die was cast. I think Rutland’s private attempt in the spring was dressed up to be a conversation and have it involve more ladies to give it validity to justify the divorce (ie everyone knew of the consummate problem)

          Just like Henry sent for the swordsman of Calais before Anne had been convicted, he sent off word to the Continent to inform Charles and Francois he was divorcing Anna before Parliament and the church had even formally taken up the issue on June 29. Because of the travel times, they would get the notice about the time it was actually occurring. Such a considerate prince Henry was LOL

          I apologize so much for misunderstanding your comment. I thought you were saying there was no documentation regarding this rumor other than the Spanish ambassador’s dispatch. I see what you are saying. That this rumor was investigated and found to be just gossip mongering.

          I know I’m beating a dead horse but I think Anna would have fared better if 1) she hadn’t ignored Henry and focused on bear baiting 2) if her name had been Amelia or Madeline or Christina or anything but the name of the great love and passion of his life, Anne Boleyn!

          If I were Anna of Cleves and got pregnant by Henry after he divorced me, seeing how he treated Edward as a child and his girls, I would have done everything I could have to hidden the child away whether boy or girl! I would have made sure Henry never knew about it! However, I don’t think she had a child. I just don’t know how back then such a secret by someone who didn’t have great connections in England could have hidden away a child. it would be delicious irony if she did though!

          But I think Margaret Campbell Barnes and the Tudors could have it right. He did climb back into her bed when she had been banished to Richmond and Hever. And Henry knew they had had sex and that’s why he didn’t say these rumors were ridiculous and ordered the investigation. Maybe he was just protecting his name and they didn’t later have sex. It’s a fascinating thing to think about and wonder about …..(and maybe write a historical fiction book about!)

          Again, enjoy your birthday! And thanks for the kind offer, I would be honored 🙂

  27. Serena says:

    I’ve read that Henry saw Howard and fell in love with her before Ann had arrived so he gave excuses about her wanting to marry Howard but was advised to marry Ann as to keep her brother happy.

  28. Melanie says:

    I’ve noticed that Anne receives very sympathetic treatment in films; clearly, screenwriters think that she got a bad break when she was matched with Henry! In “The Private Life of Henry VIII,” she’s played by Charles Laughton’s wife Elsa Lanchester, the cabaret star and character actress. Lanchester’s comic timing steals the show from the other wives; and her Anne walks off with money, property, a nice wardrobe, AND a cute boyfriend, too! Anne was portrayed as politically astute and good-hearted in the BBC’s “Six Wives,” and last week I finally saw Joss Stone in the role–very charming and not a bad actress, either.

    1. Tina Bennett says:

      I was just about ready to mention “The Private Life of Henry VIII” and you are SO right. Elsa steals the movie — and is shown as falling in love with Holbein when he comes to paint her portrait. She gets MUCH MORE screen time than the others as well: Katherine of Aragon doesn’t even make an apperance; Merle Oberon’s Anne Boleyn is a blip; the actress playing Jane Seymour (with a 1930’s bob) is barely there; Katherine Parr gets about 5 minutes if that and comes off as a nag. Only Binnie Barnes’ way too old Catherine Howard gets about as much time as Elsa, but it’s Elsa that is the stand-out. I also liked Elvi Hale opposite Keith Michell and Joss Stone was sympathetic. But Elsa I think nearly tops them all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgnXg0QUebo&feature=related. (Anne’s acting that way because she doesn’t want to marry Henry! She wants to be with Holbein :-)).

  29. DeAnn says:

    One more thought then I must dash because late for an appt!

    Wish I could quote exactly (see above) but I love how Marillac after the divorce talks about how better looking Anna has gotten (food/drink filled out her curves in a way the French appreciated apparently) how happy she was and how she had a new pretty dress every day!

    Perhaps post CH, she wanted to return to be Queen of England with all its glory and being a stepmother. Or perhaps she knew Henry’s history. He wanted what he couldn’t have and once he could have it he didn’t want it.

    I wonder if Henry became intrigued by this “new” Anna” and she was fearful of him making a play…knowing him and his history…..she let it be known that she wanted him to take him back (The Flanders Fox as someone said) purposefully to kill his ardor and leave her alone.

  30. Bess Chilver says:

    Thanks for this information Claire.

    Looks like I will be playing Anne of Cleves at Blickling Hall no less in June!

    Bess.

  31. Juanita says:

    I believe Anne of Cleves was that naive about sex. My grandmother, the night before her wedding aged 20, was only told by her mother: “Men have certain needs….it’s an unpleasant duty you must accede to”. And that is all she was told. I can well imagine Anne of Cleves not even being told this much. I feel really sorry for her, coming to a strange country to marry a strange man who obviously didn’t care for her. But yes, she ended up being the luckiest of them all. I just hope she had a secret lover and got to experience the joy that could bring.

  32. lisaannejane says:

    I always thought that she had a sweet face and got away with the best deal that she could. I can not imagine going to Germany and marrying someone who did not speak any English. I think Henry disliked her because of their first meeting and just could not get over being humiliated. He really was such a child with his dressing up and acting like Robin Hood. Especially if you did not know that your future husband played games. I think he made up all the junk about her appearance because his fragile ego could not deal with rejection. I feel sorry for her because she was stuck with this so called pre-contract and had to live with all that gossip. I hope she found some enjoyment in living in England but I doubt it would have been the life she would have chosen for herself. I doubt that she heard much praise for living her own life at that time.

  33. Bess Chilver says:

    BTW
    I found Ludovic Bialon’s website. He had put in a long comment on the Mary Tudor Blogspot about his being a descendant of Anne of Cleves and had left his website.

    Its interesting. That’s all I shall say.

  34. Sherri says:

    It amazes me that for the exception of two of Henry’s wives, Catharine Howard and maybe Jane Seymour – that all seemed to have in common the fact that they were independent women and feminist as well as very religious in their own beliefs. Most of them were also highly educated or self taught.

    KOA, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Katharine Parr were the four that had this in common.

    I have taken very little interest in Anne of Cleves. After reading about her and getting to know her a bit more it was a same that Henry discarded her so quickly. He would have found her personality to be entertaining and joyful as well as her quick and intelligent mind.

    Anne must have been an extremely quick study as she learned the politics quickly in England and played by the rules but kept herself out of danger. Anne turned the situation of her marriage into a positive for herself and also Henry, giving him what he wanted.

    Anne of Cleves has actually surprised me and made me respect and admire her for survival skills.

  35. LilQueenBeth says:

    As ever, I’m always happy to see anything about Anne of Cleves. There’s something about her that strikes me that she was so much more than almost everyone gives her credit for…and here, you’ve done just that. You’ve given her the credit she deserves, and the attention, as well.
    There isn’t much I could say that hasn’t already been said of her or the article. I see her as a brave soul, someone who ended up with the short end of the deal, thanks to Henry’s rather childish approach to their first meeting and his attitude afterward. She had to have been scared to death, being so different from everyone else, in dress, speech, and culture, and indeed, I think all this had a lot to do with what kept the marriage from having any hope of success.
    In the end, she managed as best she could, and she survived. Again, as has been said, no small feat! What gets me in all this is some of the ridiculous ideas some people have about her! Like others, I’m laughing over them! Half human, half horse?! And the whole idea that she might have had a lesbian affair with Catherine Howard just because a novel said so… What some people will believe just because they turn a few pages. I could go on about that for eons, but…I won’t. The snark would have people choking.
    All I can say is…I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and would love to see more about Anne of Cleves in the future. I think, aside from Anne Boleyn, she’s probably my favorite of Henry’s wives. Or… Maybe Catherine of Aragon. Well, could be– Anyway…

  36. mrs m. h. says:

    Love the insights. I study history and the spirits of the queens have come to me at times.
    It has been wonderful. You should hear some of Anne of Cleves comments. She was
    very very intelligent, a virgo. Her humor and witt would have you on the floor in tears.
    She was doing all she could to win. She had many bad memories of dealings with men ,
    her brother was well no piece of cake. She however loved food, company, yes wealth and
    she not only was fearful for life, she knew Henry’s moods were extreme. Of course she
    wanted to be Queen. But she knew winning meant learning from before and as you say
    what a tea kettle of fish to sort out. She was proud of herself. She felt her brother betrayed
    her by this marriage. Who wouldn’t? She also liked her OWN COMPANY a lot. AS to the
    rumors she just jokes in broken german coyly as to my secrets. She was a great JEWEL!

  37. mrs m. h. says:

    PS. MY FAVORITE MEMORIES of Anne of Cleves, she loved the Kitchen, and when
    she would show up after a showing of her and Henry she would make comments in

    german about Henry. Hilarious. She would say there is NO PLEASING THAT MAN!!!!!!
    period!!!!!!!
    He would often frustrate and anger her but she dare not express it. So she go in kitchen
    and eat, drink and talk in German. You have to love her. But being the political genius she
    is to this day she doesn’t want me to repeat what she said about Henry. She was loyal
    even when wasn’t deserved . A true Virgo. Yes, ironically just like Elizabeth, the other
    Virgin Queen……..If you don’t want to die in poverty and poison like wife1 and you don’t
    want to lose your head due unfaithful threats no boychild, and you don’t want to die in
    childbirth…..well……how could anyone come up plan to survive all that? But she did!
    So to say she was intelligent is a major understatement. Also the fact that her brother
    had all these lawyer papers drawn up BEFORE THE WEDDING, told you they all
    expected nothing but problems even before the wedding!!!!! They knew WHO THEY WERE DEALING WITH!!!!!! Germans knew their business!!!! Yet don’t forget Anne
    was proud, and she knew she deserved more and better. She LOVED her life and
    wanted to be happy regardless of the well as she puts it DOINGS OF MEN!!!!!
    She says thank you too for your love and kindesses, she knows she is and was very
    loved as a true heart and sweet spirit. thank you from Anne. I believe it is DUNCA.

  38. I’ve never believed that Anne of Cleves was totally ignorant of the facts of life before she married. Surely her older female relatives would have told her something. Besides, at some point Anne would likely have seen dogs, or horses, or other animals doing the deed. It’s impossible to live around a lot of animals and not learn a few things.

    I also think it entirely possible that Anne and Henry even had sex a few times. It would have been impossible for a guy as macho as Henry, and one as determined to have an heir, not to give it a really good try.

    BUT, I think Anne was very intelligent. She was well aware that Henry would go to extreme lengths to discard a wife. It was better to pave the way for dissolving the marriage on the grounds of nonconsummation, than to be executed.

  39. Oh yes, as to whether Anne was pretty:

    I think Henry was determined, always, to marry for love. The kinds of love he had for his different wives varied, but unlike most royalty (and nobility) he was unwilling to accept a marriage of pure convenience. Anne of Cleves was the only wife he did not know before marriage. He reconciled himself to a political marriage with her by building up a romantic fantasy of what she was like. Then, not surprisingly, her appearance and personality turned out to be quite unlike his fantasy. Henry always wanted to blame other people for his problems and in this case, he blamed Anne and the people who had encouraged him to marry her rather than his own self-deception.

    Anne WAS willing to make a marriage of convenience, even when she discovered that Henry wasn’t very attractive. She was brought up to do that. She knew before she married Henry that he’d divorced one wife and executed another, which is even less of a recommendation in a husband. By period standards it didn’t matter if Anne found Henry attractive–her duty was submit to his attentions and bear his children. Although, it might have been off-putting if Anne failed to conceal revulsion.

  40. Rhodri Powell says:

    Very interesting article, Claire. The whole bizarre business makes more sense now. I hadn’t appreciated the significance of Henry’s visit to Anne when she was in Rochester – and I expect she did smell – of rank terror. Which quite possibly continued during some of her subsequent encounters with the King.

    One of the things that intrigued me about Anne of Cleves was how much she was loved by the general public, by her staff and by just about everyone she encountered. Anne Boleyn certainly wasn’t, and Jane Seymour, so far as I can tell, inspired indifference at best.

    I recently read two books about Thomas Cromwell, a key figure in the time I am trying to research. The first, by Hutchinson, is highly readable and gives a good overall picture of events. One reviewer rather aptly described it as ‘tabloid’ – the author starts off heavily biased against Cromwell, and ends up rather liking him. John Schofield’s book looks very meticulously at the evidence, but you can get bogged down in the detail. Neither really examines the reasons for Cromwell’s refusal to provide Henry with a divorce from Anne, a refusal that ultimately cost him his head.

    Cromwell, during this period, was Henry’s trusted confidant. He was a dab hand at providing legal vehicles for giving the King what he wanted. If, as Cromwell’s written accounts said, the marriage was never consummated, there was no legal or religious difficulty in obtaining an annulment – which Bishop Gardiner promptly did as soon as Cromwell was safely out of the way.

    The question is, why did Cromwell choose this particular sticking point? The authors suggest that it was all about diplomacy etc., but I’m not convinced. I cannot help wondering, in the light of the above comments, that maybe there was something Cromwell knew that he didn’t commit to writing. If he knew that Henry had had sex with Anne, he would not in all conscience have been able to call for an annulment, and it was pretty clear that there were no other grounds for divorce. This might also explain why Gardiner, a religious conservative, was on this occasion quite happy to oblige Henry.

    Well, just an idea. But it also explains Chapuys’ report about Anne being ‘heavy with child’. Though an enthusiastic retailer of gossip, his reports are seen as perceptive and generally accurate.

  41. Carly says:

    It is also described in “The Tutor Wife” by Emily Purdy, the affair between Anne and Catherine.

    1. Dawn says:

      The Boleyn Wife, Vengeance is Mine and The Tudor Wife are all the same book written by an author sometimes called Brandy sometimes Emma Purdy! I haven’t read it but judging from the reviews on Amazon I won’t bother either.

  42. Daniel says:

    “Now, I have no problems with people’s chosen sexuality, but just because Anne did not sleep with Henry it does not mean that she [..]”

    Sexuality is not a choice. 🙂

    1. Baroness Von Reis says:

      Daniel, there were problems with both Henry and Anne,the King was very obesse and he had a wound that never heald, and it was foul smelling,so she was’nt all that crazy about bedding with Henry ,also he was’nt that clean,do the math. I would’nt sleep with him ,I’d have a migrrian every night.

  43. HollyDolly says:

    I guess henry pictured Anne of Cleves as having been educated like Anne Boleyn, Christina of Milan,and many of the famous women of that time.Speaking several languages,riding, hunting,enjoying and composing music,etc. And even if a virgin, these women certainly had been told what to expect and knew a little something about the subject of sex, just by watching the ways the ladies and gentlemen of the court interacted,and they surely would have heard court gossip as well.

    IF,and a big if, Henry did ever sleep with Anne at Rochester,and they had a child,henry would have acknowledge that son or daughter as he did his son by Bessie Blount..
    I’m no more descened from Ann than that gentleman who posted that he’s descended from Henry and Ann of Cleves.
    I might as well say Mad Ludwig of Bavaria was some cousin of mine. Well, that might not be too far off, since one of the cousins in the 1690s had been a steward to the King.
    And they were landholders and military men, mainly officers, and burgermeisters and such.But I can’t get to Nuremberg to see our family history book to say so one way or the other. If they did have a child, it would have been all over the courts of europe.
    I don’t think Catherine Howard and Anne of Cleves had any sort of affair,even briefly.
    Where people come up with these ideas i don’t know.

    1. BanditQueen says:

      Brady Purdy I am afraid is obsessed with this idea of a lesbian affair and the scene in her book with Catherine and Anne of Cleves is repeated in all of her books: all of which are rubbish and just revamps of each other. There is no evidence for it: some people just want to promote their own obsessions.
      The idea that she slept with Henry and had a child goes back to rumours in 1541 that showed that Henry had withdrawn from Catherine’s bed with depression and his sore leg. He visited Anne of Cleves; that is clear; but he saw her as a friend and a sister and rumours came about in March 1541 that he was going to leave Catherine Howard and return to Anne of Cleves. Rumour cirulated that she was pregnant and Henry moved at once to silence them and they were quickly denied. There is no evidence that she ever bore Henry a child, but after the execution of Catherine Howard, Anne hoped Henry would indeed return to her and was disappointed when he married Katherine Parr.

  44. BanditQueen says:

    I have already stated that Anne of Cleves regarded herself as the lawful wife of King Henry and was treated well in his lifetime as his honoured sister. The Flanders Mare was never said by Henry VIII; that is a 17th century invention and tradition. I agree that it is possible that the poor impression from the first meeting on New Years Day may have put Henry off but he did not behave correctly towards this stranger in his country. He was too forward by her standards and kissed her in a manner that took her aback. He was also put off that she did not recognise him. Well that is his stupid problem not hers!

    Henry did try to make the best of things but it is clear that he had found many faults and she may not have looked as her portrait shows her. But look very closely at the original portrait and it is a blank canvas. There are no features that are distinctive and it is with more or less a white full on face. You cannot see her profile. The face had no expression and Henry must have placed his own high and unrealistic expectations onto the portrait. He fell in love with an idea not with a real person. He heard the reports about how beautiful she was, knew the reputation of her sister Sybilla who was a known beauty. She was also gracious and the people had taken to her. Reports of her gentle nature had reached him, but he felt that it was her beauty in her face and bdy that was most important and she obviously lacked these somewhat.

    I disagree that she was ugly and I think we have Hollywood to blame for this idea. She could have had some body odour or her perfume may have been bad. She may have had poor breathe: we cannot be sure. Something put the King off and I think she was put off by his leg as well and complained about his leg. It is obvious the woman of 24 was a virgin: she led a sheltered life. She was also covered with a headdress that hid her face when the English Ambassador was presented to her and Amelia at Swan Castle. So few people knew what she really looked like before she came to court. It may also have been that she did not know what to do and this would not have helped with relations on the wedding night. Henry complained that her breasts were not firm, which is not likely in a 24 year old woman. He also said that her lower parts were not moist and he did not have the desire to go any further. In other words he was not turned on.

    Whatever was wrong with Anne we can take it that Henry greatly exaggerated and that many myths have come down to us. Henry found her good enough company and she was also found of his two daughters. She was praised by the people so she must have had a really good manner about her. She seems to have been charitable and charming. She thanked Henry often for his good treatment of her so he treated her well when with her and moaned when he was not. Did he feel compelled into a marriage that he did not want and just made excuses to get out of it?

    The final thing of course is the pre-contract with Lorraine which her relatives had sworn was long broken and in fact was dissolved years before hand. Anne of Cleves was free to marry, but her brother did not want to give up the territory of the Lorraine allance and this held up the paperwork. Henry revisited the pre-contract to add weight to his annulment of his fourth marriage. Anne even asked to see the documents, so she must have been aware of the complex nature of her earlier alliance, and she used it to attempt to hold onto her marriage to Henry. But it was not to be: it was useless to fight the will of King Henry of England and to please him and for her own sanity she gave him the divorce that he asked for.

    Was Anne a Catholic or a Protestant? Her brother had gone over to the Protestant cause as he wanted to rule an independent kingdom but their mother was a Roman Catholic and there is no definative evidence that Anne was to follow her brother. She was happy enough to attend Mass in England and may have just been someone who was not too bothered either way. She was happy to go with the flow as many of Henry’s subjects had been. Elizabeth Norton is convinced that Anne was a devout Catholic and that the funeral that Mary provided for her was very much in the Catholic tradition. We have to remember that Mary was a pious Catholic and Anne attended Mass during her rule: but Mary would have given her a Catholic funeral having reconciled the country to Rome three years earlier. I do not believe Anne was a Lutheran as her country di d not like this brand of Protestantism. But whether she was a devout Catholic or a conforming Catholic: I do not believe the evidenc points either way: may-be she was just an accepting one.

  45. jerome says:

    anne HAD children. one of her descendants is a ballet teacher near washington , DC . she has a dayghter who attended national cathedral school who is her namesake. ironically her second husbands last name is marks which brings to mind the houose of la mark that an of cleves stems from. this woman and her daughter’s name is barbara cleves now barbara marks. the husband is a descendant of thomas jeferson. so there must be something to the rumor of children, because i know this woman personally . to look at her is like looking at the portrait of anne of cleves and from what they say of her personality. kind easy going a bit naive maybe and even her looks .. it just reminds me of the very classy lady who taught me ballet as a teenager . the graceful woman with the aristocratic air who would share stories with me on the rise home from the studio. some secrets must be kept . after all she would have been queen of england now if anne of cleves children were not hidden away.

    1. I.B. says:

      You’re an idiot. A gullible idiot.

  46. I find Anne of Cleves to be a very intellegent person who probably had a good sense of humour. She would be perfectly aware that the King and herself had not sonsummated the marriage and it had to be because the king was unable to do so. However to spread the truth would have been very dangerous and so when asked replied tongue in cheek that the marriage had been consummated because they kissed each other good night every night making out her nievity, rather than it being the King’s fault. In the same way when Edward became King she followed the protestant religioun and when Mary became Queen became Catholic. Anne is certainly an interesting woman with I suspect humanist tendancies.

  47. Rachel says:

    Very interesting! She is one of the more intriguing wives to me, and there are really so many questions to be had.

    1. Henry was a control freak, and had chosen most of his other wives himself. Was he simply upset that this was a match he felt pressured to accept by his advisors, thus souring him on the idea before the poor woman ever had a chance?

    2. Anne of Cleves, it seems to be agreed upon, was not well-versed in English customs, or necessarily the language at first, so when she didn’t swoon all over the King or in any other way behave like a smitten girl, did he just take that as a slam to his manhood/ego in typical Henry form?

    3. Henry was still human. He’d just gone through the loss of Jane Seymour, whom he appears to have loved, so was Anne of Cleves the unfortunate ‘rebound’ relationship?
    Realizing that romantic feeling played a larger role in Henry’s marriages than perhaps other Kings of his day, I feel this could have been a great part of why he was so set on not liking Anne very well. Was he comparing her to Jane Seymour? to Anne Boleyn? Perhaps even, to Catherine of Aragon?

    4. And did he reallly not like her, or as usual, was he just besotted by her young maid, Catherine Howard and not thinking with the head that wore the crown?

    It appears he was very grateful to Anne of Cleves for agreeing to the annulment without much fuss or difficulty, and so he rewarded her. Maybe he even felt guilty for his dislike of her, or any rudeness he’d been guilty of, and realized none of it had been her fault. She was simply a pawn to her family as he’d been to his advisors in the name of alliances and other benefits of such marriages.

    A very interesting chapter in the Tudor book!

  48. Jaron says:

    I appreciate the article. However, people do not choose their sexuality- they are born with it.

    1. Claire says:

      I didn’t mean “chosen” in that sense, Jaron, but thank you for alerting me to something that could cause confusion.

  49. Teresa says:

    Anne of Cleves will always be for me the cleverest of Henry VII ‘s wives. She kept her head and lived a life of opulence. She was a practical thinker and did what she needed to survive…so for me she was certainly most intriguing.

  50. Gail Marion says:

    More than once I’ve asked myself, of Henry’s 6 wives, who would I choose to be friends with and it’s a toss up between Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr. Anne comes across as a person who tended to her own business, created no controversy after her divorce from Henry, was non-judgmental and fun to be around. Also like to take a drink so we’re told.

  51. Carol Hornby says:

    I have always thought she was quite pretty. She has a sweet face.
    I read somewhere she smelled of garlic which put Henry off.
    Anyone know why or how she died young at 41.

  52. Contemporary portraits show that the Holbein portrait is accurate. It may be that she is more attractive by 21st century taste than Henry VIII. She was a practical woman who would have probably been a good queen. She has always been my favorite of Henry’s wives.

  53. i thought she chose not to have children. couldn’t she leave england and get re-married? or stay in england and marry someone as well? maybe paranoid henry would’ve allowed her to only a servant like a musician.

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