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Who is your favourite wife and why?
June 20, 2009
2:38 am
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Claire
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Who is your favourite wife apart from Anne Boleyn?

I choose Catherine of Aragon – she was dignified, she defended England againsts the Scots, she was \”queenly\”, she argued her case against the annulment well, she had a strong faith and was true to it, and she had Henry's respect. She was an incredibly strong woman.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

June 20, 2009
9:42 pm
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Sabrina
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There is a tie.. Katherine of Aragon was an example of intelligence and grace…. Anne of Cleves had the sense to keep her head.  

I think how Katherine was treated was wrong. I know Henry did what did partly for Anne but he could've just let her stay with her daughter till the end of her days. She managed to defeat the Scots, and her people loved her. I think her bravery is truly an example to everyone.. 

Anne of Cleves came to England, knowing Henry's reputation for marriage. She put up with him, even though he made it plain he didn't care for her at all. But when her marriage ended, she decided that keeping her head was more important. I think she was smart in keeping her peace and living her life the way she wanted. She was a nice german girl who left her country knowing she may never come back. 

Let not my enemies sit as my jury

June 21, 2009
1:03 am
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Claire
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I was fascinated by the section on Anne of Cleves in Kelly Hart's \”The Mistresses of Henry VIII\” because it made out that Henry had such a deep friendship with Anne of C, in the end, that it was even thought that he would remarry her. They seemed to develop a real respect and affection for each other.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

July 2, 2009
10:42 am
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missisGG
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Catherine Howard, I must like the ones that got beheaded lol. No idea why I like her second, guess because she was so young and innocent. I know she had an affair but not really enough to deserve a beheading! Plus I like the fact she was a nobody and wasn't very educated compared to others or had any Queen like traits but she still got to be Queen somehow even if it was for a short time…..! Plus she must have been one vixen in bed that is enough to admire anyone

I don't really know much about Katryn Parr so I can't include her in the judgements. Hopefully the book i'm reading will give me more insight into her.

I do think Katherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were strong and dignified but they kind of had it handed to them since they were born into royal families and it provided them that protection (not as much with Anne I assume). I know Katherine struggled after Arthur died which has to be admired I suppose, must have been difficult knowing you would be Queen on England all your life then it been taken away and not sure what is going to happen to you!

July 2, 2009
11:42 am
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Claire
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What book are you reading at the moment, Gemma?

I had always thought of Catherine Parr as old but the book I'm reading on Mary I points out that she was only around 30 when she caught Henry's eye and was said to be attractive. She was lucky not to lose her head too with people conspiring against her – she was nearly arrested for heresy and only her quick thinking got her out of that fix.

All six wives are very interesting characters but the only marriage that lasted a decent amount of time was the Catherine of Aragon one – nearly 24 years. Obviously once Henry realised that he could get rid of wives he just kept doing it!

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

July 3, 2009
1:56 am
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missisGG
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David Starkey 'six wives', there seem to be a few chapters on her but not until the end obviously! His books always take me ages to read as I have to re-read things over lol

September 4, 2009
12:05 am
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Lady
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Catherine Howard. Another tragic life.

September 7, 2009
11:11 pm
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Autumn Star
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  I tend to feel alot of symathy for Catherine of Aragon, she held herself with such grace considering finding out her husband wanted to be rid of her. She stood by her morals and convictions which i also greatly admire and through it all, amazingly, she remained loyal to Henry.

  Secondly I love Anne of Cleaves…what a embarssing experience she had during her union with Henry. I bet it was hard to feel as though you arent good enough to consumate your marrige with, though she might have been glad to not have to bed the overweight king with stinking wounds on his leg. I admire her composure during the experience, expecially knowing that if the king had already tierd of her, that he wasnt past murder to get rid of her. it was prob. really scary for a sheltered girl like Anne. She stuck it out though and took what came to her with dignity and grace and the fact that she was able to become friends with Henry and live amoungst him after their seperation truly says something about her charactor.

  I would like to say i like Anne's cousin Catherine Howard, but the fact that she cheated on her husband and got caught makes it hard for me to feel sorry for her. She knew the King's temperment and the fate of her cousin who was accused of adultery, how did she figure it would work out for her? I know she was young and it was certainly hard to bed and love a older, not so attractive (anymore) man but she created the problem for herself…well with the help of Anne's ex sister inlaw…but thats a whole other story…

*Autumn*Star*
le plus heurex

September 11, 2009
7:02 pm
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flora
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Wow, I love all the wives. Katherine of Aragon was so strong and had so much dignity but also was fun earlier on in her life, Jane Seymour… Well, I don't like her as much. Anne of Cleves because she survived and ended up with the best deal of all of them – she seems nice and was certainly NOT ugly as tradition would have us believe, Katherine Howard because I can relate to her, I mean, married to a disgusting old man and in love with someone else, and who can blame her with her background? And then Katherine Parr, because she was so inspiring, the first Queen of England to write a book, and she did so well through her marriage to Henry (even if she did only have another couple of years after that).

I think that I would have to say (and this doesn't narrow it down much) Katherine of Aragon, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Parr, because I admire clever people and those three were all extremely clever in different ways.

September 17, 2009
9:18 pm
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ProudtobeCatholic
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My favorite wife will always be Katharine of Aragon.  She was brave, strong, and intelligent.  She remained faithful and obedient to Heny in spiteof everything he put her through.  She even forgave him!  She handled her suffering with grace and dignity.  No matter what happened, she always cunducted herself as a queen.  I also admire her unwavering faith.

I also like Jane Seymour mainly because she kind and gentle.  I think Jane Seymour was brave in her own right.  After all, she tried to restore Mary to the sucession, and she tried to obtain pardons for the participants of the Pilgrimage of Grace.  I think she would've done more if she had lived longer.  She may not have been educated, but she had common sense.  She had enough sense not to challenge Henry all the time.  When she did challenge him, she knew when to back off.  I don't think history gives Jane Seymour enough credit.

I like all of Henry's wives, but Katharine of Aragon and Jane Seymour are my favorites.

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

September 20, 2009
9:41 am
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Claire
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I now have to admit to loving them all, apart from Jane Seymour. The more I find out about them, the more they fascinate me!

Katherine of Aragon – What dignity and what queenly behaviour. She was an incredibly strong woman who would not give up and who held her own against the tyrant and bully that Henry was.

Anne Boleyn – Another strong woman who was Henry's equal in intelligence and temperament. She did so much to change the course of English history for ever, in such a short time, and also stood up against convention and the norms of queenly behaviour. She also faced her death with dignity, courage and a very strong faith, and was worried about the men involved and particularly Mark Smeaton's soul.

Jane Seymour – I just can't warm to her. I don't think she was kind or meek and mild, I actually think she was quite scheming and used what had worked for Anne to bring Anne down. While I think Anne held on to her virtue for her own religious and moral reasons, and did love Henry, I think Jane used her virtue as bait because she had seen it work for Anne. Perhaps I am too harsh but I can't see her as an innocent bystander that simply got used by her family. Sorry, Jane, if I am misjudging you!!

Anne of Cleves – I had always thought of her as an ugly, boring wife, but my research has completely changed my mind. She must have been a wonderful woman in that she managed to be good friends with Mary, who was a strict Catholic and would have opposed Anne's religious views. She also had a deep and long-lasting friendship with Elizabeth and I love the way that Tracy Borman credits Anne for Elizabeth's pragmatism. It is interesting that Anne managed to get out of her marriage to Henry with her head and neck completely intact, with a title and with 5 mansions. She got to stay in England and have her own life, away from her domineering brother, and she later became such good friends with Henry that it was even rumoured that they were going to remarry and that she had had a child by him!

Catherine Howard – Who can't feel sorry for this wife?! She was just a child looking for love wasn't she and was definitely a tool used by her family. Her downfall was that she wasn't the virgin portrayed by her family and she thought she could have it all, be queen and have the man she truly loved – oh dear. I think she was quite naive. I love Alisa Libby's novel about her, I know it's fiction but it really brings this girl to life.

Catherine Parr – She is always depicted as the older woman who nursed Henry, yet she was anything but. I said it in a blog post the other day, and I really do think that she had the dignity and common sense of Catherine of Aragon mixed with the spirit of Anne Boleyn. Henry could once again have religious debates and spirited arguments with a wife, and I think he must have enjoyed that. I think we also need to give Catherine credit for being a person in her own right (she was a published author) and for being the wife who managed to escape the conspiracy against her by knowing how to deal with Henry. She also was a good stepmother to all three children.

Aren't they all fascinating women?!

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

September 20, 2009
8:03 pm
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Rochie
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Reading your summary, Claire, just brings it all into focus – how very different they all were to one another! Not only in religion and political persuasion, but in personality and in their individual needs and ambitions. It is really an inexhaustible area of study, isn't it!

I have a clear favourite, I have to admit (and I realise we are not supposed to include Anne in this) but it has to be Anne every time because of the momentous changes that came with her life – changes which we are all still working through today.

September 21, 2009
10:51 pm
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Melissa
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I have to agree-I hate Jane Seymour.  There was a comment on Amazon.com of the new biographry of her and some girl commented how Jane was her favorite wife because she was so nice.  Blech!  I don't think trying on wedding dresses while you're fiance's wife is about to be murdered is nice.

Anne of Cleves is pretty cool for all the reasons mentioned, but I heard she was not actually a Protestant but a Catholic whose country had close ties to the Protestant League.  I can't back that up though.  David Starkey said she was devastated when Henry broke up with her and seemed to want to get back together with him for years.  Well, probably until she saw what happened to Katherine Howard.

Katherine Parr seems to have been one awesome lady, and it's a shame history doesn't really remember her as such.  She not only was a published author, but her writings were Reformist and potentially dangerous. She was like Anne Boleyn in her Reformist sympathies and her love of verbal sparring and religious debate with the king.  Henry was going to have her killed (probably. arrested at least) but she was able to convince him not to.  As someone here mentioned, it makes you wonder what might have happened had Anne Boleyn or Katherine Howard had the opportunity to speak to the king.  Actually, now that I'm reasoning it out, Anne did try to reverse the tide that was turning against her by begging the king with Elizabeth in her arms and it didn't work.  He was determined to be rid of her.

Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne.

December 10, 2009
4:56 pm
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Hannah
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I respect and admire all of Henry`s wives, for many different reasons. So this is going to be a pretty hard choice, but i`ll go with Katherine Parr. She`s usually written off as nothing more than Henry`s nurse maid, when in actual fact, her chambers at court became known as a center of learning and religious debate. Another thing that stands out, is that it was a center of learning for women (a rare thing indeed). Two of the finest minds in England, Jane Gray and Elizabeth I were regulars in the chambers of Katherine Parr and both flourished under her guidance. Its` a crying shame that after Chancellor Wriothesley`s failed attempt to overthrow Katherine Parr meant that she had to cease the religious debates and fall into line with Henry. She was a truly remarkable woman, not to mention brave (I`d have fallen to bits if i`d found myself at the center of that infamous plot!). I guess it was also through Katherine`s influence that Henry was reunited with all of his children, and no matter how cruel you`ve been in life, I believe all deserve a bit of happiness at the end (with a few exceptions). On top of all that Katherine Parr owned 42 pairs of shoes!

Be daly prove you shalle me fynde,nTo be to you bothe lovyng and kynde,

February 11, 2010
4:43 pm
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Anne fan
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I couldn't believe it when I found out that Katherine Parr was caught up in the Pilgrimage of Grace – she and her stepchildren were held hostage while her husband was forced to go to London. She was also in love with Thomas Seymour when she married Henry.

If David Starkey is right, then Catherine Howard was also innocent of adultery, although Tom Culpepper said he intended to sleep with her, he hadn't done so. She had slept with Dereham before marriage and they'd referred to each other as husband and wife, which in 16th century terms meant she was married to him and not Henry. Sadly, she also appears to have had some sort of belief that as king and therefore God's representative on earth, Henry had Godly powers and knew everything.

Although Anne of Cleves escaped lightly, there is also a sad note to her story. The terms of the annulment effectively meant she couldn't marry again. I do think she'd have made a good mother.

I can never quite make up my mind about Catherine of Aragon. On the one hand she was as stubborn as a mule, on the other she fought tooth and nail for her daughter's rights. She also had the advantage over all the others in that she was brought up as a royal princess (although her education didn't contain much about the courts of love and chivalry, which was Henry's passion) and was betrothed to Arthur when she was three – so was brought up secure in the belief that she would be queen of England.

Jane is probably my least favourite – she just comes across as colourless. Although having followed on from two such strong characters as Anne and Catherine, it's fair to say it might be quite difficult to make an impact. She was certainly strict about her ladies' clothing!

Louise

March 1, 2010
1:47 pm
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Sharon
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You really have to love them all.  Anne is my favorite and I find it hard to pick number 2. 

I think, because she got away clean, I'd have to pick Ann of Cleves.  When I say she got away clean, I mean not only did she escape the wrath of Henry, but she also escaped having to go back to that brother of hers.  She became an English Lady and loved it.  What I have read leads me to believe she was witty, charming and friendly.  She was very happy to be Henry's sister rather than his wife.

Katherine of Aragon:  She lived her life with dignity and grace right to the very end.  She loved her daughter and she loved her faith in God.  She even loved Henry until the day she died.  That is so difficult to comprehend.

Katherine Parr:  Intelligent. A reformist in her own right.  She escaped Henry by outliving him.  She also guided Elizabeth and Jane in their studies.  The thing I don't get about her was her complete and utter blindness as far as Thomas Seymour was concerned.  Unbelievable.

Catherine Howard: This one is a real shame.  All she wanted was to have fun.  I cannot imagine what it must have been like for a young girl like her to be married to a fat, putrid smelling old man like Henry.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how she made it through a night with him.  Whether she had an affair or not… I have to say 'more power to ya, Catherine.' Too bad she got caught.  Obviously not the smartest thing to do, but she was so young.  And then there is Lady Jane…again… bringing down another Queen.

Jane Seymour: Do not like this woman at all!

March 31, 2010
8:04 pm
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HannahL
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If I had to pick, I'd say Catherine Parr.  She was very strong and intelligent and figured out how to survive marriage to Henry and keep him happy, which was obviously a hard thing to do!

March 31, 2010
8:42 pm
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Bella44
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My favourites Katherine Parr too.  I particularly admire the way she developed real relationships with all her step-children who all seemed to have the utmost respect and admiration for her.  Definitely the most settled as a family they'd ever been.

She also did an amazing job being regent whilst Henry was away in France, thereby providing a real ideal of Queenship to Elizabeth whom she had with her at the time.  A very progressive and far-sighted woman in her own way!

April 1, 2010
7:10 pm
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HannahL
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I agree Bella.  I think that Henry's sixth wife is often overlooked as a doting nursemaid who somehow kept a grumpy old king in a decent mood! Laugh

April 10, 2010
11:56 pm
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miladyblue
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Leaving aside Anne – I'm facing the fact that I'm an Anne fan! – I would say I liked ALL of Henry's wives, except for Jane Seymour.

Katharine of Aragon – a genuinely strong, intelligent, decent and interesting woman. She did NOT deserve to be crapped on as Henry did to her. She had been, in her own words, “a true, humble and obedient wife” and turned a blind eye to his infidelities. LOL, if only Henry could have been hauled up on charges of adultery, huh? What if the double standard did not exist, and men had to answer for charges of adultery or fornication? Katharine could have held that over his head in a modern divorce case, and taken him to the cleaners for alimony and child support.

Anne of Cleves – ah, the Flanders Mare. I think the Holbein portrait is that of a genuinely beautiful woman. Apparently Henry thought so, since he married her because of it. We'll perhaps never know what happened to make him take the “Flanders Mare” view of her. What I really liked about her was not her apparent meekness, giving in to Henry and agreeing to the divorce. That was pure genius, because she KNEW what had happened to Katharine and Anne Boleyn. She was probably relieved the marriage was never consummated, because the fate of Jane Seymour would also have been unpalatable. What was really great about her was how she genuinely cared about the people around her – her stepchildren, Kathyn Howard, even Henry himself, once she became his “sister” rather than his wife. There is one story mentioned in Karen Lindsay's “Divorced, Beheaded, Survived,” that in her wedding procession, in a small chariot, were her three washerwomen – she was kind enough to give them the treat of watching a royal wedding, as a reward for their services. Not many servants could lay claim to that, I'm sure.

Kathryn Howard – One view I read about her, and I don't remember if it was an earlier version of Alison Weir's book, or Antonia Fraser's, was that she was a rather sheltered young lady, who probably did not know what was wrong with fornication or adultery – it was not considered important enough to give her much of an education, and she probably did not receive any kind of real instruction with regards to morality. Karen Lindsay (I love her book) states bitterly of Henry, “the old man taking a moment to wipe away his self pitying tears, grab a pen and sign his young wife's death warrant.” Like her cousin, Anne Boleyn, there are a LOT of questions about Kathryn Howard that will probably never be answered satisfactorily.

Catherine Parr – This is a lady who has not had as much of a fuss made about her, yet is deserving of that fuss. I would argue that she was as interesting as Katharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and perhaps as influential in her own quiet way. She managed to keep her head, both figuratively and literally, telling Henry what he wanted to hear with regards to their argument – that she was just pretending to argue with him to take his mind off his pain. Very smart lady! She was progressive in a way that Katharine and Anne could not be – she was actually a published author, managed to keep peace in the royal household while Henry was alive, including making sure her stepchildren were well treated, and after his death, was fairly influential in the ongoing reformation efforts of the Church of England. A pity her true love Thomas Seymour was such as waste of flesh.

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