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The Six Wives According to Retha Warnicke

Posted By on March 15, 2011

The Tudors Complete Series box set (US) contains a talk from historian Retha Warnicke as part of its special features. In the video, entitled “Henry’s Wives Club”, Warnicke, author of “The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn”, talks about each wife in turn. Here is what she had to say about these six women:-

Catherine of Aragon

Warnicke started by saying that although every one of Henry’s wives had an impact on history, it was Catherine of Aragon who had the most impact. Warnicke argued that if Catherine had retired to a nunnery and had not used the imperial power of her nephew over Henry, if she had just done what Henry wanted her to do, i.e. fade into the background, then, although Henry would have married Anne Boleyn and had Elizabeth I, the English Reformation would not have occurred at this time. Warnicke believes that Catherine’s refusal to step aside was the catalyst of the Reformation, not Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Interesting theory! I’m sure Catherine would be turning in her grave hearing that someone was blaming her for the English Reformation!

Warnicke talked of how it was Catherine’s concern for the future of her daughter that prevented her retiring to her nunnery. Catherine knew that an annulment would mean that Mary was declared illegitimate and so Mary would not be able to become queen. Catherine believed that Mary could and should become queen and therefore it was vital that she remain legitimate.

Anne Boleyn

In this section, Warnicke described the three theories, as she sees them, regarding Anne Boleyn’s downfall:-

  1. That Anne brought it on herself by being “too flirtatious for her own good” and enjoying courtly love exchanges.
  2. That Anne Boleyn was actually guilty – Here, Warnicke talked of how this theory now has some credence in England today, obviously referring to the work of G W Bernard.
  3. Warnicke’s own controversial theory regarding the deformed foetus – Warnicke spoke of how although she cannot prove that Anne Boleyn miscarried a deformed foetus in January 1536 the charges of adultery, which involved Anne having sexual relations with 5 men between October 1533 and December 1535, point to Henry trying to declare to the world that he was not the father of the miscarried baby. Warnicke explains that it was a great dishonour in Tudor times for a man to be cuckolded and that the only thing worse than that was for the man’s wife to give birth to a deformed baby as this was a punishment from God for “gross, illicit sexual activity”. At the time that Anne miscarried this baby, Henry had just declared himself head of the church in England so how could God be punishing him? It is Warnicke’s opinion that Henry truly believed that Anne had been involved in gross, illicit sexual acts and that the deformed baby was God’s punishment for her behaviour. Of course, Warnicke’s theory only makes sense if you believe in the whole deformed foetus story and seeing as it is only mentioned by Nicholas Sander, a recusant Catholic writing during the reign of Elizabeth I, and not backed up by any contemporary sources, I find this theory hard to believe.

I find it interesting that Warnicke made no mention of a plot against Anne being a possible reason, people wanting to remove Anne from power, when I would say that the majority of historians today believe that Anne was framed.

Jane Seymour

Warnicke talked about Jane Seymour’s death and how it was only at the end of the 19th century that orders were given for midwives and health professional to wash their hands. Warnicke believes that Jane’s midwife probably did not wash her hands and that Jane died from a uterine infection as a result of this. She pointed out that there is no truth in the story that was put about by Catholics, that Jane died after a caesarean section.

Warnicke also believes that if Jane had survived “Henry would have adored her for ever”.

Anne of Cleves

Here, Warnicke talked about why Henry was turned off by Anne of Cleves’ appearance. She believes that it was nothing to do with Holbein’s portrait as an English ambassador wrote of how it was an exact likeness, but that it was more to do with Tudor beliefs regarding virginity. Warnicke explains that as well as having an intact hymen, a virgin was also supposed to be flat chested and flat stomached. Women who were ‘rotund’ or large breasted were not seen as virginal and so when Henry saw Anne of Cleves’ body, and “the looseness of her breasts”, he questioned her virginity. In Warnicke’s words, “he got Marilyn Monroe and he wanted Audrey Hepburn”!

Catherine Howard

In this section, Warnicke spoke of how Henry VIII had been suffering with psychological impotence but, as nothing was known about it then, he believed that a witch was “zapping him” during his marriage to Anne of Cleves and preventing him from being able to consummate their marriage. When he met Catherine Howard, who was young, pretty and English, he fell in love and felt like a man again when he was with her.

Warnicke explained how Catherine’s downfall was due to her previous sexual relationship with Francis Dereham, which was reported by one of the women who had shared a dormitory with her and who had heard what was going on in Catherine’s bed. This woman, Mary Lascelles, told her brother of Catherine’s behaviour and he reported it to the King’s council. Warnicke spoke of how nobody dared to tell the King so Archbishop Cranmer had to leave a note in the King’s pew in the chapel. Henry, who did not believe it, launched an investigation and Catherine confessed to it. Obviously the whole Culpeper affair also came to light at this time.

Warnicke said that the fact that Henry did not have anyone waiting in the wings when Catherine was executed in February 1542, and that he did not look for another wife until a year later, shows the King’s remorse and grief .

Catherine Parr

Warnicke spoke of how it was not clear how Henry actually met Catherine Parr, but that Catherine was probably a member of his daughter Mary’s household. Warnicke described Catherine as being older than Henry’s other wives and as being more interested in religious pursuits. Her greatest attribute, according to Warnicke, was that she survived, managing to outlive the King and then marry the man she had really wanted to marry. However, she died in childbirth in 1548.

I’m definitely not with Warnicke on this. To say that Catherine Parr’s greatest attribute was her survival makes a mockery of her life and her time as queen, in my eyes. What about the fact that she was a published author? What about her courage and skill in handling the plot against her? What about the way that she gave Henry a family life and helped reconcile him with his children? What about her time as regent? Also, a technicality – she did not die in childbirth, like Jane Semour she died of an infection after childbirth.

Henry’s Two Great Loves

Warnicke ended her talk by saying that out of his six wives two women stand out: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

  • Anne Boleyn – Warnicke spoke of the love letters that Henry sent to Anne and that we can still read today
  • Catherine Howard – Warnicke explained how Henry’s griefstricken reaction to Catherine’s alleged adultery, his emotional distress, a reaction which he never displayed after the divorce or death of his previous wives, shows his love for Catherine.

But what about Jane Seymour, the woman who Henry chose to be buried with and the woman he referred to as his true love? She gave him the best gift of all: a son. Also, what about Catherine of Aragon, the damsel in distress who Henry, as a handsome Renaissance prince, saved from an uncertain future and was married to for over 23 years? I rather think that Henry’s tears over Catherine Howard were more to do with the fact that she had made a fool of him and that he was faced with the fact that he was old and obese, not really with love.

What do you think?

Source

Please read my series on Henry VIII’s six wives:-

34 thoughts on “The Six Wives According to Retha Warnicke”

  1. Louise says:

    Warnicke’s theories have always been a bit off the wall, but she has always previously supported Anne’s innocence. There were great debates between her and Bernard about that. I’m really surprised at her comment that some credence can be given to it.

    1. Claire says:

      Warnicke said that credence was being given to the theory in England today, i.e. by Bernard, not that she believed in it, so I don’t think she has changed her mind. She obviously is standing by her deformed foetus theory though!

  2. Suzanne says:

    I agree with you, Claire, about Henry’s feelings concerning Catherine Howard. I don’t think she was his great love, but she outwardly obeyed him and didn’t cross him like Anne did, but secretly she was betraying him and humiliating him. As you state, I also believe that it was this fact that Henry’s tears reflected. It is hard to realize that you’ve been made a fool and your youth, strength, and male beauty are gone. I also think that Ms. Warnicke is mistaken in omitting Catherine of Aragon from that list. His feelings for Catherine of Aragon may have cooled because she did not deliver the longed-for son, but he loved her originally. She was his intellectual and royal equal and on those scores never embarassed him. I am always fascinated by his feelings for Jane. If she had not given him Edward or another son, how long do you think it would have taken him to tire of her? Getting the male heir he wanted blinded him to any of her shortcomings. Nonetheless because thier time together was limited, he stayed in love with Jane (and I contend partly because she was SO different from Anne). I think Anne and Catherine of Aragon were his great loves – he fought for both of them and much is written of how happy he and Catherine were for many years.

  3. Esther Sorkin says:

    I think that Ms. Warnicke is partially correct about Catherine of Aragon’s refusal to agree to the annulment causing the Reformation in England … that it would make Catherine turn in her grave doesn’t alter the fact that Henry would not have needed to split from Rome if Catherine had agreed. IMO, though, the real problem was one of cultural disagreement. Catherine was the daughter of Isabella of Castile … the one female monarch of the era who kept her power, intact, after marriage … so the prospect of Mary ruling England was not at all disturbing. Henry, however, saw things with English eyes … Henry I’s attempt to give the throne to his daughter led to one horrible civil war. With another civil war (the Wars of the Roses) still alive in memory, the prospect of a female ruler was much more frightening.

    I also cannot agree with her comments about Catherine Parr. It is noteworthy, I think, that Catherine Parr’s kindness to step-daughter Mary led to Mary being one of the translators of one of Erasmus’s book …a work favored by Protestants. This was a public demonstration that kindness works better than persecution … and I cannot help but wonder what might have happened if Mary had been treated with more respect and tolerance.

  4. KM says:

    G W Bernard- I read the book and while one based on the presumption that she was guilty was interesting- he made out that Anne was unremarkable because no “evidence” exisits to say otherwise and totally downplayed the need for Henry to have a son. Enough said me thinks!

  5. Casille says:

    I have to agree with him about Catherine of Aragon. Henry was determined to get his annulment and nothing was going to stop him. If she had stepped aside and let him do it within the Catholic church he wouldn’t have needed to push to reformation, and probably never would have. Though I don’t totally agree that she only fought back for Mary, because even when it was offered that Mary would remain legitimate and in the line of succession she kept fighting. There was probably a big part of her that was still very much in love with Henry and she didn’t want to lose that.

    1. DeAnn says:

      If Henry had wanted to replace Catherine with another Spanish princess or a relative of her precious nephew Charles V she would have probably stepped aside. But she knew Henry wanted to replace her with a lowly lady in waiting, the daughter of a knight made earl, and her pride wouldn’t abide by that.

      I don’t think there is any question — at least to me — that if Catherine had put her adopted country’s needs ahead of her own circa 1522 that the English Reformation wouldn’t have happened like it did. Of course, if Henry had taken the chance on Mary marrying early and having his own Henry II then the Reformation wouldn’t have been needed either.

      1. Aud says:

        How do you know that? Catherine believed she was the rightful Queen of England, and that her daughter was the heir to the throne, even if it was her niece, her stepping aside would have changed that. And turns out she was right in the end, that England was ready for a Queen, just because she believed her daughter could rule, didn’t mean she didn’t care for her country.

  6. DeAnn says:

    I don’t understand the assumption that Catherine of Aragon accepting an annulment would have meant that Mary was illegitimate.

    Eleanor of Aquitaine got an annulment from the King of France and her two daughters were still legitimate.

    I have never read Warnicke’s writings on Anne Boleyn but I own her book on Anna of Cleves and I find it really good. Not without flaws but on the whole I find the research and writing quite good. To completely understand Henry’s reaction to Anna, we’d really need to know when Catherine Howard first caught his eye and we don’t know that.

    Re Catherine Parr, I don’t think marrying Thomas Seymour and watching a really smart woman be made a fool is an attribute!

    1. Claire says:

      Re the annulment, Warnicke says “In England, when a marriage was annulled, the child was made illegitimate” because it meant that the marriage had never taken place and she goes on to say that no illegitimate person had become King or Queen in England since the Norman Conquest. This was why Mary felt it important to legitimize herself when she became queen.

      1. Louise says:

        I thought that irrespective of whether a marriage was later annuled, in Cannon law the offspring of that marriage was still considered legitimate, because at the birth the marriage had been considered legitimate. That’s why Henry and Anne needed Mary to accept Elizabeth as heir to the throne.

        1. DeAnn says:

          The more I’ve thought about this…you have to be right…..Catherine had to know that a pope could annul the marriage but declare Mary legitimate. That was indeed what happened in the case of Eleanor and Louis of France (again she didn’t have a male heir and they weren’t compatible) Obviously the Beauforts were illlegitimate but later made legitimate by royal decree and the Tudors became king.

      2. DeAnn says:

        I’ll have to come up with some examples but I don’t think Warnicke is right here re becoming illegitimate as Louise says. But she is wrong about no illegitimate person ever becoming King ……if you believe Richard III anyway……or Margaret of Anjou’s enemies.

        Richard III & Clarence tried to claim their brother was a bastard pawned by his mother on the Duke of York until that dog wouldn’t hunt. And of course Edward V was king for three months, an uncrowned one but king.

        1. Aud says:

          And look what happened with the Beauforts and the Wars of the Roses. And just because a Pope could declared offspring legitimate, didn’t mean that they could. Matter of fact for me is, that KOA didn’t want her daughter just to be legitimate (and who would believe Henry VIII?) she believed she was the rightful heir.

        2. Banditqueen says:

          Richard iii didn’t claim his brother was illegitimate, Clarence did. If you read the actual sources they say Edward referring to Edward V at Saint Paul’s in 1483 and refer directly to Edward iv in 1474, but this was only Clarence. Richard doubted his oldest brother’s marriage, not his legitimacy. The accusations that Cecily claimed her son was illegitimate is made by firstly someone who didn’t speak English and by a later Tudor source. The original statement, verified in the Regis specifically says Edward V is illegitimate, not Edward the King’s brother. A mistranslation is responsible for the now well and truly discredited accusations that Richard believed his mother an adultress or that any breach occurred. This was a slur made by an inaccurate source, now well and truly debunked by modern scholarship.

  7. Rose says:

    Hmm. She didn’t give Katherine Parr much thought really! I agree with anyone who thinks that her ‘theories’ are rather imaginative…

  8. Tudorrose says:

    I have never ever read anything by Retha Warnicke apart from little quotations but obviously even though some of you have your doubts about some of what was written and acceptance as well as agreeable with some of her statements also that is her theory just like we all do, we all have our own theories as to what to what to happened, when and how whether we agree or not. When the facts are so limited and there is nothing else out there all we can do is fill those gaps in the best we can or at least try to where the spaces are blank.

  9. Julia says:

    I have to disagree with her about Catherine of Aragon. If she thinks that Catherine giving in would still have resulted in Elizabeth I she is mistaken. Yes Henry and Anne may have married and they may have had a daughter named Elizabeth, but she would not automatically have become the same person we know as the Virgin Queen. She could have been born years earlier and/or had a brother who would have been more important in everyone’s eyes at the time. I also disagree with some of her other observations and agree with you that Henry was upset because Catherine Howard made a fool of him not because he loved her more than his other wives.

  10. Sharon says:

    I go back and forth on whether Henry loved any of his wives. Today, I don’t think he did.
    You are right claire, KOA would be spinning in her grave if she for one second believed she was responsible for the reformation. If she had just done what Henry wanted her to do she would have been betraying her beliefs.
    Anne’s guilt: Being flirtatious is one thing. Committing adultery with 4 men and incest with your brother is something entirely different. These were hateful, false charges. If the worse thing that could happen to a man in Henry’s time was to be cuckholded, Henry should have thought about that when he cuckholded William Carey. Still not buying the deformed fetus thing. No timely proof of that.
    Jane Seymour: She gave him a son and then she died. I think he called her his true wife because of Edward. Had she lived, the rest of these wives would have been spared Henry. Would he have adored her? He would have cheated on her in a NYminute.
    Anne of Cleves: I’m a little confused about this virginity thing and Henry. Women had to be flat chested and flat stomached in order to be virgins? I still say Henry didn’t know the difference between a virgin and a non-virgin. He said that about Anne because she had displeased him. Better to insult Anne than to be insulted for being unable to do the deed.
    Catherine Howard: Henry was made a fool of by a young girl. It was a blow to his pride when Catherin’s affair was made public. That’s why he cried. She took him completely by surprise. Poor fella.
    Catherine Parr:I agree with Claire. She had many attributes. If I had to pick one, I would say it was her ability to bring Henry and his children together. She created a loving, family atmosphere for Henry at the end of his life.

  11. Michelle says:

    That was certainly interesting! I’m not quite sure about her theory that Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were Henry’s great loves. I don’t think Henry knew who his great love was. Yes, he mourned and was buried with Jane Seymour. Yes, he “saved” Catherine of Aragon from poverty. However, he was a fickle man. Given time he would have tired of Jane even though she gave him the son he wanted. He certainly didn’t go out of his way for Henry Fitzroy’s mother. Granted she was a mistress, but she did give him a son!

    Henry was mercurial at best, and, violent at worst. Personally I feel he grieved not for love lost, but for poor, pitiful Henry who just couldn’t catch a break. His love life was a massive mess, he spent years trying to have a son and heir, and consequently he felt sorry for himself, not his wives and the pain and humiliation they suffered.

    Thanks for the article Claire!

  12. Anne says:

    I agree partially on some of her theories….On Katherine of Aragone,I believe she is right…To say that it was solely Anne’s marriage that brought the entire Reformation is an exaggeration…There were many factors and I believe it was equal parts ,as a factor,from both women that gave Henry that idea..Katherine and Anne,if you put the facts simply down,had the same motives to act the way they did…Honour,pride and their children’s fate and rights(Anne’s then future children)…On Anne,I have many disagreements since it is important to her story the fact that she was framed….I believe her theory of Anne being too flirtatious perhaps means to showcase the difference of the previous Queen(Katherine) with Anne who was a younger and more vivacious woman and had a different upbringing.I think an important fact to note is that Anne was ignored as a Consort by the majority of Europe and had many enemies at Court….On Jane,I think one should invest more for I believe she is the most mysterious of the six.I want to read more on her than the fact she gave Henry a son and was his sweet wife…I liked the most her part for Katherine Howard

  13. Anne says:

    As for Henry,loving his wifes….I think he did fell in love with most of them but for one,he had first to love his duties(and himself of course) and secondly,his character and love were fickle….If you put the facts down and perhaps leave your own thoughts to mingle,you’ll see that he did love some of them but in different ways and always the way that it suited him…Also,another thing I believe for Henry is that he was kind of shallow,falling in love based on the image he had for someone,what he fantasized of them…Also he had two obsessions…To birth a strong dunasty(sons mainly) and eternal youth….I don’t know if I make any sense…When he became King he was still young,impressionable and spoiled…Katherine was the perfect wife for him…Young,beautifull,of great heritage and perhaps he wanted her because she was Arthur’s “prize”…He sort of made her in his mind the perfect bride for his dunasty but years and the pains they suffered show him the reality that disillusioned him…Then Anne…Although,even now we have this seductive image of Anne in our minds,it is clear that Anne was actually the opposite….Anne appeared at the time when Henry’s disillusionment began and the need for an heir became desperate…She was Henry’s ideal…Young,pretty,cultivated,strong,virginal and moral…And the fact that he couldn’t have her easily as a mistress or wife made her his strongest passion…But life happened to them,strains,losses which lessen Anne in his eyes as the ideal…Now Anne was no longer young enough to have his son,no more virginal but she was a mother,a wife,a stressed woman who had demands of him,a wife…Here comes Jane,who had almost the same “package” Anne had and here she becomes the ideal wife….The fact that she gave him the longed for son and died before “disillusionment” is what gave her his “love”…After her death and the way she died,not only she fitted Henry’s illusions but also gave him the chance to mold her memory to a perfect example,to love her the way he wanted her to be and not for who she actually was!Even in Anne of Cleves,we have the same “love”…He fell in love with a portrait,the picture of a woman and upon seeing the reality he fell out “love”…Poor Katherine Howard was also victim of Henry’s obsession with youth and image…Once again he molded the perfect virginal bride in his mind(the way he did with Anne and Jane) but only this time his disillusionment came harsher since it also crashed his illusion that he was still young….Perhaps only Catherine Parr was his most realistic match,the one that he had not made an image of her…..

    My point with all these is that Henry loved his wives but not for who they were but for who he wanted them to be!He had an obsession with the image of a beautifull,virtuous and virginal woman for him,an obsession with perfection but worse,he had a twisted sence of romance..He loved with expectations and “romantic” hopes,with no realism.

  14. Anne Barnhill says:

    Interesting article as always! Hmm, do I agree? Well, no. I don’t think Henry loved Catherine Howard–I do think he was besotted with this young girl who made him believe he was young again–but it was more like a mid-life crisis and that explains his grief–not for lost love but for lost youth and lost hope. He had to face himself, an old, grumpy, stinky man who, in his heart, was still eighteen—like all of us.
    I believe he loved Catherine of Aragon for a long time–he respected her. Then, Anne Boleyn shook him to his bones and he really loved her. Anne of Cleves? Not what he expected and her lack of warm reception when he surprised her when she first arrived in England soured their relationship from the beginning.
    Catherine Parr, his good nurse, was a solace to him–but she did not excite his passion the way Anne B did. I’m glad she got her fool, though it did her little good. She had a few months of happiness perhaps. Maybe that’s all anyone gets.

    Perhaps there are ways in which we can love different people, finding the one lovely quality and begin attracted to it for a while. Henry didn’t have the temperment for marriage, I fear. He enjoyed the hunt too much!

  15. La Belle Creole says:

    Hello, everyone.

    Hmmm… I don’t see Catherine of Aragon’s insistence upon upholding her rights and her daughter’s rights as a cause of the Reformation. Rather I see Henry VIII’s refusal to uphold his wife’s rights and their daughter’s rights as a cause of the Reformation.

    Could Anne Boleyn have been guilty of infidelity during her marriage? I’m willing to give her benefit of the doubt and say no. Royalty lived so publicly at the time it seems to me someone (or several someones) would have been aware of her indiscretions. I do recognize one possible motive for Anne to seek extramarital affairs; her concern with childbirth. Perhaps she doubted Henry could sire a healthy male child and hoped to conceive with a different partner. To me, though, there’s something wrong with the picture of Anne carrying on multiple affairs even toward that purpose. I think she would have selected one candidate and arranged things very carefully.

    Regarding Henry’s unhappiness concerning Catherine Howard’s “crimes…” I agree wholeheartedly with all the posters alleging Henry’s tears and tempers were self-pity, the realization that a pretty young girl was no longer “easy prey” to his “charms.” I think Catherine Howard represented hope for Henry. He had a sweet young feckless beauty to flirt with him and warm his bed, and he likely hoped a young, healthy girl might conceive more children for him.

    It’s ironic that Henry VIII didn’t flinch at alleged sexual misconduct of his other wives. Catherine of Aragon allegedly consummated with Arthur, Anne B. allegedly involved with musicians, courtiers, and her own brother, and Anne of Cleves was supposedly not a virgin because of her “unmaidenly” figure. But it was young, nubile, maidenly Catherine Howard who cuckholded him for real.

  16. nicky thomas says:

    I find the last quote really interesting and I had never considered this before. The reason why Henry was so distraught about Catherine Howard is because he KNEW she was guilty. He had been humilliated. In Anne’s case however, he made a show of being outraged but it was not genuine because he and every one else, including most of the ruling heads of Europe, knew that Anne had been framed. His speedy bethrothal and marriage to Jane Seymour compounds this theory. Later references by those outside of the country ie the Duchess of Milan to Henry’s propensity to murder his wives pre date the execution of Catherine Howard.

    1. La Belle Creole says:

      Per Francis I (letter to Henry VIII): “The Queen (Catherine Howard) hath done wondrous naughty!”

      Per La Belle Creole: “And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.”

  17. Catherine says:

    I think that Henry loved all of his wifes in his own way since he accually was married to Catherine of Aragon (ohh pretty name…) for 23 years. He was obsessed with Anne Boleyn for ten years, giving her gifts and titles and… well lots of other things (and then he had her beheaded but thats another story…). He was buried next to Jane Seymour and called her “the love of his life”. Anne of Cleves he I guess liked as a friend, after all, he could have gotten her executed as well (luckily he didn’t)! He loved Catherine Howard because she made him feel young again ( he also beheaded her..). And last but not least Catherine Parr, She was kind, loving and intelligent whats there no to love?

    But still I think that Anne Boleyn was his passion…

    1. La Belle Creole says:

      I believe Henry VIII’s grand passion was a legitimate son — preferably several legitimate sons. He may have temporarily transferred that passion to various women he presumed capable of fulfilling that desire, but the moment he was convinced those women couldn’t fulfill him, his devaluation of them came, swift and shocking.

      My two cents: I suspect Henry’s two most genuine loves were Catherine of Aragon and Catherine Parr.

      Henry waited for Catherine of Aragon just as surely as Catherine of Aragon waited for him (to reach his majority so they might wed.) He remained married to her, long after it seemed unlikely they’d have a son.

      While I believe Henry did entertain extreme attraction for Anne, that love was wrapped up in the idea Anne could give him his heart’s desire — healthy, legitimate male children. The moment he believed that impossible, he trashed her without apology.

      Henry wed Catherine Parr, fully aware she’d been twice married already and had no children. I suspect his choice of Catherine Parr signified Henry’s acceptance his dreams for a royal nursery full of sons were unlikely to occur. If that was the cae, it could be argued he entertained strong affection for Catherine Parr without the condition she delivered him a son.

      Another possibility: Catherine Parr’s childlessness may have “raised her value” to Henry if he worried about potential rivals for Edward. I’ve often wondered if Anne of Cleves and Henry had produced children, would English nobility be more likely to support these “higher born” children than Henry’s son with his commoner wife (Jane had no coronation.)

      I think each wife Henry married while he entertained obsessions of a huge Tudor dynasty never enjoyed his “love” because the love he offered was too conditional.

  18. Sarah says:

    I take Warnicke with a grain of salt, her theories are so off the wall you can’t even give them credit!

  19. Sherri says:

    I don’t care much for Retha Warnicke and her theories. She seems to always look for proof of the dark and negative side of Henry’s wives. She digs very deeply and theorizes the negative. I find her very complex and complicated to read.

    I think that she was much too critical about AB. I’ve often thought that maybe Anne was as disappointed in Henry as he was in her. Even though he gave her many things such as titles and lands and did much for her family the one thing that was missing was his loyalty and fidelity to her once they were married. Henry betrayed Anne. If Anne did love Henry imagine that feeling of betrayal, hurt, confusion etc., Imagine for one minute that you did not love this man in the beginning but came to love him and realize that you are being discarded and devalued – what pain. Must have broke her heart. No wonder she was ready to die, she was already dead. Anne was targeted by Henry and he built her up to be a saint on a pedestal (as he did with all his wives) and when she fell he got rid of her. Henry went from the idealism of the Madonna to the idealism of the whore.

    The only one that Retha Warnicke had any insight into was COA. I do not for a moment think that COA would have gone into a nunnery. Her mother was a Queen in her own right. COA was brought up to be Queen of England. This was her right and entitlement and nobody was going to take it away from her. Would anything that COA would have done or not done prevented the outcome ? No, I don’t think so, Henry was broke – he needed the money from the religious houses and he felt that no one person was going to tell him what to do. So, he was also power hungry and wanted all the power to rule.
    Nothing or nobody would have changed what Henry wanted.

    Retha also paints Catharine Parr as boring, She was anything but. Catharine outfoxed, outmaneuvered and outplayed some of the greatest political players. Henry would have never picked someone boring.

    Henry was in love with love. When the bloom was off the rose then Henry devalued and discarded. Pure and simple – Henry had a narcissist personality disorder.

    Henry also went from the Madonna image with all his wives except Catharine Parr and Jane Seymour (not enough time) to the image of the whore. COA was a Madonna then she was a whore who had slept with two brothers. AB was a Madonna then she was a whore. Anne of Cleves was a Madonna in her picture then the actual person was presented she was a whore. Catharine Howard was the epitome of virginal then she was a whore.

  20. lisaannejane says:

    I think Sarah makes a valid point: take Warnicke’s theories with a grain of salt. I am not impressed with any theory that lacks any proof (like the deformed baby). If she was the only historian who made comments on the series, then I am glad I did not get it. There needs to be more balance and to show another historian’s point of view and how historians can arrive at different conclusions about what happened based on the evidence they believe is valid and let the viewer decide what they think is the more accurate view. Sorry, my wording is not good but I hope I got my idea across. I wish Eric Ives had been interviewed instead and maybe David Starkey for another viewpoint. Retha would not have been on my list of historians to do any commentary because I think that there are many more historians who could have helped the viewer understand the events in Henry]s life and have more sources to back up their ideas with. Bernard is another one who would not make my list either. Of course my opinions are only my opinions and I do have a bias against Warnicke because it does bother me that she believes in a theory that has no good evidence. It also bothers me because the people of the time must have seem deformed baby animals before and i found it doubtful that these animals were viewed as being born that way because of who owned them. But that is just my view.

  21. RA says:

    Quite honestly I think that almost all of the Kings wives were at one point the “love” of his life. He was very fickle in the way he fell in love. I’d definitely say that he seemed more passionate about some wives than others but it’s hard to determine who was really the love of his life. I do agree that had Jane not given him a son that he probably would have grown tired of her, just like all of his other loves.

  22. Juanita Richards says:

    I think Henry VIII had narcissistic personality disorder and that he never loved anyone in life except himself. Everything was to do with his ego, especially having a son, as well as carrying on the dynasty. If Jane Seymour had not died after the birth of Edward he would have become bored and got rid of her sooner or later. He was unfaithful to her after all.

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