Facts About King Henry VIII's Wives: Anne of Cleves

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Facts about King Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves

King Henry VIII is the best-known of the English Kings, a man who turned from a talented and admired renaissance prince to an autocratic, fat, tyrant. He is also well-known for being the only King with more wives than mistresses, marrying an astonishing 6 times.

So who were the women King Henry VIII married? Read on to find out the crucial facts about Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, who was married to Henry for only a few months before he divorced her, and she became his “sister”.

Name: Anne of Cleves, Anna of Cleves

Parents: John III, Duke of Cleves and Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg

Birth: Anne was born in Dusseldorf, in September 1515.

Siblings: Anne was the second of four surviving children.

Sybille, born in 1512, married John Frederick I, who was the Elector of Saxony. She had 4 children before dying aged 42.

William, born in 1516, inherited the Dukedom of Cleves from his father, and the Dukedom of Julich-Berg from his mother. He married Maria of Austria, who was the daughter of the Holy Roman Empreror, and they had five children. William lived until the age of 76.

Amalia, born in 1517, was the youngest child. King Henry VIII saw portraits of both Amalia of Cleves and her sister Anne, before deciding to marry the latter. Amalia never married, and died aged 68.

Appearance: Anne's appearance was controversial. King Henry VIII took great exception to the way she looked, when he first met her. He did not think that the portrait by Hans Holbein was accurate. Anne of Cleves was tall and slim, dark-haired, with lidded dark eyes and possibly a large-ish nose.

Religion: Anne's brother, William, was a leading German Lutheran, and Anne's sister, Sybille, married the Elector of Saxony, head of the German protestant territories. Anne herself appears not to have had strong views on religion, but the marriage was arranged by Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, because Cleves was a protestant Duchy and allies were needed in Europe against the Catholic France and Spain. Thomas Cromwell paid for the failed marriage with his head.

Anne became a member of the Church of England when she married Henry, and converted to Catholicism when Queen Mary I came to the throne in 1553.

Marriages: Anne was betrothed to Francis, later Duke of Lorraine, from 1527 to 1535.

Negotiations for the Cleves marriage started in March 1539. Anne arrived in England, and Henry VIII took against her, both because of her appearance, and because she did not speak English and was poorly-educated. The marriage nevertheless took place in January 1540.

 Children: No children. The marriage between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was probably never consummated.

Marriage end: On 6th July 1540, Anne was asked to consent to the marriage being annulled. She did so, and the marriage ended on 9th July 1540, because of non-consummation. She was given the title of the King's “beloved sister”, and several houses and palaces, including Hever Castle and Richmond Palace.

Death: Anne of Cleves was the last of King Henry's wives to die. She died at the age of 41, in July 1557.

Sources:

Photos and images relating to Anne of Cleves - http://tudorhistory.org/cleves/gallery.html

Death and terror: executions at the Tower of London - http://www.webhistoryofengland.com/?p=86

Henry VIII's six wives - love, marriage, and children - http://hubpages.com/hub/King-Henry-VIII-and-his-six-wives—love–marriage–and-children

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Amanda Jones

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