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Least favorite wife?
August 13, 2010
5:04 pm
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Bella44
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Poor Jane Seymour – she doesn't get a lot of fans does she?!

Though I have to say she's my least favourite too, but that's probably because she came after Anne rather than anything else!  I've always wondered though if she hadn't given birth to Edward if Henry wouldn't have found some way to be rid of her in the end….

August 13, 2010
6:05 pm
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Boleynfan
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I agree with you, AnneTheQueene, Catherine Howard is probably my second-least-favorite, if that makes sense. I really admire Catherine of Aragon and Katherine Parr, and on a lower level Anne of Cleves. Still, I think Catherine was young, and though very foolish, she was being married against her will to an old man who had executed her cousin. I have to have sympathy for her, even though I don't like or admire her.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

August 14, 2010
1:15 pm
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Melissa
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This is probably going to be an unpopular position, but after Jane Seymour, my least favorite wife is Catherine of Aragon.  She meant well, she really did, but her intractable attitude completely backfired on her and lead to worse treatment for her daughter.  There was plenty of precedent for royal wives retiring to convents or otherwise allowing “divorce.”  I've been reading a lot about the Middle Ages lately and it seems that this kind of thing was extremely common.  Catherine basically cut off her nose to spite her face in the divorce situation.  If she had quietly retired and relinquished the queenship, England may have remained Catholic (certainly a goal she would've endorsed), Mary would've either stayed a princess or been removed from the succession entirely, meaning there wouldn't have been a “Bloody Mary” to prejudice the country against Catholicism and Mary could've married and had children.  Instead, her story is tragic, her tragic story lead to Mary's tragic story, led to Lady Jane Grey's tragic story, lead to a Protestant England.  I'm not arguing that a Protestant England is bad-I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth I.  But Catherine of Aragon wouldn't have seen it that way.  Unfortunately, her own actions lead to the very things she would've decried even more than a simple divorce.

Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne.

August 14, 2010
4:01 pm
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Boleynfan
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I see your point, Melissa. True, the things Catherine of Aragon did could definitely be perceived as foolish, but personally I admire her for this. She did it all to stand up for her daughter, and I think she must have been extremely courageous, strong in her faith, and a very loving mother. But I can see your point of view: after all, in the end Catherine of Aragon's actions made further trouble for her daughter Mary, so if she had cooperated, maybe Mary would have been treated better.

Also, most reports say that Catherine was very pious and a good person, but there are some reports–albeit most are by her enemies–that say she was a wily snake with a sweet facade. If this is true, though I doubt it, I especially understand what you're saying, Melissa!

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

August 15, 2010
1:12 am
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Claire
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Interesting point, Melissa! Perhaps some of Catherine's behaviour was due to who she was, a Spanish princess and daughter of the famous Ferdinand and Isabella, both mighty rulers. I think her pride and determination that no woman of her standing should be ignored and passed over, had a lot to do with her behaviour. Perhaps also she was just trying to do the right thing by Mary, trying to protect her legacy and keep Mary in the succession. Catherine knew that women could rule just as well as men and wanted Mary to have her chance and so that's another reason why she fought against the divorce.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

August 15, 2010
4:06 pm
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Marquess_of_Pembroke
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Jane Seymore and nothing I have read has done anything to improve my opinion of her. I don't buy into the notion of her being the mild mannered maiden that she is painted to be at times. Anne goes down in history for being very calculated in her role in taking the throne. Jane clearly adopted Anne's attitude of keeping Henry at arms length where the bedroom was concerned in order to get what she wanted and I don't for a minute believe it stopped there. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. Alison Weir's book the Lady in the Tower is a very good read on the subject.

August 21, 2010
7:11 am
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Boleynfan
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I agree with you completely, Marquess_of_Pembroke. I believe that Jane was calculated and wily, and just had a sweet and demure facade. I do not have the respect for “plain Jane” that I have for Anne because she covered up her true character, which I would venture to say could be worse than Anne's. Anne, however, was a woman before her time, and showed it.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

August 24, 2010
4:22 am
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LTree
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Mine is also Jane Seymour. Just because she came to throne causing the death of another queen.

August 24, 2010
7:05 am
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Boleynfan
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But here's a question, LTree: Didn't Anne do the same thing? (But don't get riled up, it's just a question; I adore Anne, of course, and her taking Catherine of Aragon's throne does not change that!!)

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

August 25, 2010
12:21 am
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LTree
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I know what you mean. But in fact, Anne didn't kill Catherine, she just banished her from court Laugh So it was much more humane, wasn't it? 🙂

August 25, 2010
6:55 am
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Boleynfan
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LOL. But yes, you're right (well unless you believe the poison rumors surrounding Catherine's death. But I don't, ever!!!). I think the difference is this: Anne wanted to be Queen. Jane wanted to take the Boleyns down, and if she could become Queen in the process, great.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

October 11, 2010
11:24 pm
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Kim
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I can’t honestly say. I think they all have their good and bad points (including our dear Anne!). 

Part of me does want to say Jane Seymour, but I don’t feel like I know enough about her to say that I truly dislike her. She did to Anne what Anne did to Katherine, so it is difficult for me to get up on my pedestal and start bashing Jane. I also don’t think the demure, docile front that she presented is something that women of today can as easily relate to. At the of the day, I think she was a shrewd and cunning operator who learned from her predecessors mistakes.

I would probably have to say Catherine Parr. It is nothing against her really. She was obviously a very smart,  very accomplished woman. However, I think it is also difficult to get a real feel for her.  KoA, Anne, Jane, AoC and KH, I can all find something in all of  them that I can empathise with, and I can “get a feel” of all of them. Catherine Parr, not so much.  I think I may have to look into her a bit more and see if that feeling changes.

November 22, 2010
10:23 pm
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MegC
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A few weeks ago, I would have said Jane Seymour, hands down, but…

Katherine Howard.  What a complete ninny!  Say what you want about her being manipulated into the position of queen, anyone who commits adultery on King Henry VIII knowing his temperament and history and thinks that she's going to get away with it must be the biggest moron in the living world–indeed, in history.  And I have zero patience for idiots.  The only defense I can think of for her is that she must have had the typical teenage case of “I'm invincible–nothing can harm me”-itis.

Jane Seymour might have been a homewrecker (and I tend to think she was by anyone's standards), but at least she wasn't an imbecile.

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

November 23, 2010
4:17 pm
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Boleynfan
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I definitely get what you're saying about Katherine Howard, MegC! She and Jane Seymour are my 2 top contenders for least favorite wife, and Katherine, well…yeah, a ninny. But I feel bad being so harsh on her only because she was pretty young, and this might seem unimportant but Henry was near fifty and she in her late teens. If she really loved Thomas Culpepper (the previous loves probably just teenage flings, I write Katherine off as utterly foolish and immature for that) I have to say she should be given the slightest lenience because, well, she was put in a rather horrid position. Being Queen doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with happiness, as shown by most of Henry's other wives…okay, I'll correct that, all of them…

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

November 26, 2010
9:23 pm
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MegC
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I don't know.  I teach high school and my sympathy for teenagers only extends so far…even 16th century teenagers.  I empathize with her if she truly loved Culpepper and was trapped in a loveless marriage, but–really??  How do we know that her fling with Culpepper wasn't anything more than that?  A fling?  Made all the more adventurous by the illicitness of it, which really makes it more of a high school romance than a real relationship.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure being a young, vivacious teenager married to a man more than twice your age is far from fun, and I'm sure that having sex with the man was even more disgusting.  And I'm sure that Katherine wasn't given any choice in the matter–we all know the Howards were power-hungry.  However, she DID have control over her actions when it came to the Culpepper affair.  I have no doubt in my mind that she went to her death believing that she loved Culpepper, even if it was really nothing more than lust.  Let's be honest, though…Henry wanted to be first in everyone's hearts–the hearts of his wives, his friends, and his subjects.  When that didn't happen, things tended to go badly.  No way was he going to let something like his young queen having an affair go with just a slap on the wrist.

Perhaps Katherine's biggest problem was that she didn't really know Henry at all.

"We mustn't let our passions destroy our dreams…"

November 27, 2010
7:16 am
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Boleynfan
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Perhaps it was, MegC. Also, as you say this, I try to give Katherine the benefit of the doubt because she was young but, as you said, it's more likely that her relationship with Culpeper was a fling than true love. But if her love for Culpeper was real, I completely sympathize with her. I think that's the true question; unfortunately I see her most as a foolish girl going off with a guy in her teens because she doesn't really understand the consequences. So I feel sorry for her, but only to an extent, because she had to have known (her own cousin Anne was beheaded by Henry after all!) what was in store for her. My guess is that she had the typical teenager “I'm untouchable, nothing can hurt me” attitude. Unfortunately for her, the stakes were much to high, and of course she fell.

"Grumble all you like, this is how it's going to be"

January 2, 2011
6:41 am
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bethany.x
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I think Starkey get it right in describing the wives:

Katherine of Aragon- Queen- She made an excellent Queen for controlling Henry to a certain extent. And was daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. And if you think of Isabella, Katherine was just being her mother's daughter.

Anne Boleyn- Lover- It can be agreed that Henry loved Anne most. I think he only gave the title to Jane because she gave him a son. No more reasons. I think it's just so ironic how love turned to hate so very fast.

Jane Seymour- Mother- The 'favourite' because she gave Henry his son and died in the soon after. In Henry's eyes, she'd given everything he wanted to him and paid with her life.

Anne of Cleves- Outcast- I think more intelligent than she is given credit for. She was wise enough not to resist like Katherine, but then again, there was no real need to fight for her rights like Katherine had. And Henry was far too fussy whining about her appearance.

Katherine Howard- Victim- She couldn't help her past, and anyway, Henry surely had one to match up… I don't think that it even passedd her mind that one day she might be Queen, nor the people around her until she caught Henry's eye. The Howards had a habbit of using the women of the family as pawns…

Katherine Parr- Survivor- She had the wit to turn around the plot about her and live. And a great influence on Elizabeth of course.

My least favourite person in the story of the six wives? Henry. He was spoilt and selfish (not quite his fault, but an attempt to act like a proper king would be nice) and just plain greedy. Quite scary how the 'Golden Prince' turned into the fat, tyrannical monster so fast. His favourite people were the people who gave him everything he wanted, and if they failed, they'd suffer. He loved Katherine of Aragon until it became apparent that she'd never have a son. He did everything in his power to have Anne Boleyn, but when there was no son, she was on the scaffold. He adored Jane because she gave him the thing he wanted most at the time. Then he took three more wives and didn't really care much about what happened to those either… Who did he think he was? He seemed to think himself some sort of God… I admire all of the wives just for putting up with him!

I wish to confess to you and tell you my secret, which is that I am no angel. -Queen Elizabeth I

January 2, 2011
9:54 pm
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Anyanka
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I can't say I actually dislike any of H8's wives. Each of them had a quality which was admired at the time.Some of thier qualities lasted until now to enchanted a modern audience.

 

I've felt sorry for KH since I was 17( 1981!)…marrying a man who wanted you less for yourself than for the image built around you. Even at that age I was a cynic…

It's always bunnies.

January 15, 2011
8:24 am
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Kelly
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I would have to say, Jane Seymour, to me she is the least favorite. I do not believe she was the miss goody 2 shoes, i have to say in her defense that it is not easy as third wive after two queens like Catherine of Aragon ( i respect her for not giving in, she was a daughter of one of the most powerfull queens at that time. She really loved Henry and wanted her daughter as heir to the throne and let's be honest, would you go to a nunnery because your husband loved another without a fight? I certainly would not. after all her misscariages and stillborns i can only respect this woman for what she did. she was fighting for her beliefs, for henry's soul and her daughters right).

Anne is just a fascinating woman, who intriques me a lot and who can only be admired. So offcourse she is favorite, other wise i would not be here… Anne of Cleves, i find her intelligent, i do not know a lot about her, only from what the bios tells us, that is why i want to read a bio on her, but i think she was clever, i do not believe she was a flander's Mer, but a intelligent woman, i find the story of her and Henry amusing. Katerhine Howard, she was so young, i think she was naive to think that she could get away with the acusations against her. Katherine Parr, is not to me fascinating, but he, she did a lot for Elizabeth and she escaped death as well, so i applaud her for that.

So my point of vieuw, Jane has the least interesting story. Maybe if i learn more from her, i will change my mind.

 

I have to say the story would not be complete without her, and if history changed it course, would it still be interesting to us?

January 15, 2011
6:51 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Kelly said:

I have to say the story would not be complete without her, and if history changed its course, would it still be interesting to us?


Maybe even more so, depending on what changed. If Jane had lived, would she be even more reviled today for having replaced Anne and thrived? And presumably, having some Catholic influence on her husband, son and court. Would Jane living have slowed the pace of Reformation in England?

If she had died giving birth to a stillborn son or another daughter, would she be a footnote, as overlooked as Anne of Cleves? Or if she failed to give Henry a son and was replaced herself, would we have more sympathy for her? Especially if she were herself executed; would there be sympathy or scorn for her copying Anne Boleyn's tactics without expecting the same results?

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          Ring the bell and run. He hates that."    

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