This day in Tudor history, 22nd September 1515, is the traditional birthdate of Anne of Cleves (Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg), Henry VIII’s fourth wife.
Anne of Cleves was, of course, only married to the king for six months, but she outlived him and his other wives, and went on to live a good life in England.
Find out more about Anne of Cleves and how she came to be Henry VIII’s fourth wife…
This day in Tudor history, 22nd September 1515, is the traditional birthdate of King Henry VIII’s fourth wife and queen consort, Anna von (Yurlick)Jülich-Kleve-Berg (or Anne of Cleves as she is usually known) near Düsseldorf. However, recently, author Heather R. Darsie has noted a source that states that Anne was born the day before the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, so puts forward a date of 28th June.
Anne was the second daughter of John III, Duke of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, an important German ruler, and his wife, Maria of Jülich-Berg. Anne had an older sister, Sybille, who married John Frederick, Elector of Saxony; a younger brother, William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, who married Maria, Archduchess of Austria, and a younger sister called Amalia.
Like Henry VIII and his other wives, Anne was descended from King Edward I, but historian Elizabeth Norton also notes that on her father’s side, Anne was closely related to King Louis XII of France and the Duke of Burgundy.
In 1527, Anne’s father arranged for Anne to marry Francis, the heir of the Duke of Lorraine. This betrothal was broken when Anne’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.
The Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran Princes established by Anne’s brother-in-law, John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, had been trying to establish a relationship with England in the late 1520s, and in 1531 sent ambassadors to Henry VIII. Anne’s father had also been involved with marriage negotiations with England in 1530, although Henry was more interested in marrying Anne Boleyn. These marriage negotiations were resurrected in January 1539 when Henry was looking for a fourth wife, following the death of Jane Seymour. Henry’s chief advisor, Thomas Cromwell, was keen to build links with the Schmalkaldic League, and when Henry saw that Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, were becoming friendly, he too looked towards Germany for support.
By the end of September 1539, a marriage treaty between England and Cleves had been agreed upon, and preparations were made for Anne to travel to Calais and then on to England. Anne arrived in England on the 27th December 1539, and the royal couple were married on the 6th January 1540, at Greenwich Palace. It was not to be a happy marriage, and just over 6 months later the marriage was annulled, and Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Anne became known as the King’s sister, and was rewarded for her acquiescence with £4,000 per year and houses at Richmond, Bletchingley and Lewes. She was also granted the lease of Hever Castle, former family home of Anne Boleyn, and given jewels, plate, hangings and furniture. She kept her head and became a wealthy woman.
Anne of Cleves outlived Henry VIII and all of his other wives, dying on 15th July 1557, aged 41.