Anne of Cleves: Henry VIIIs Discarded Bride by Elizabeth NortonI like her not! was the verdict of Henry VIII on meeting his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, for the first time, complaining that he had been sent a Flanders mare. Anne, having been promised the most handsome prince in Europe, was also destined to be disappointed in the elderly and corpulent king. Forced to proceed with their wedding for diplomatic reasons, Henry and Anne tried to make the best of the situation, but attempts to consummate the match were farcical. After only seven months of marriage Henry was so desperate to rid himself of Anne that he declared himself impotent in order to secure a divorce. Anne was also eager to end her marriage and, with her clever handling of Henry, obtained one of the biggest divorce settlements in English history. Following her divorce, Anne made good use of her many properties, including Richmond Palace, Hever Castle and the house at Lewes now known as Anne of Cleves House. Anne of Cleves is often portrayed as a stupid and comical figure. The real Anne was both intelligent and practical, ensuring that, whilst she was queen for the shortest period, she was the last of all Henry VIIIs wives to survive. Henrys chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, lost his head for his role in the Cleves marriage, but Annes shrewdness ensured she kept hers. Anne of Cleves led a dramatic and often dangerous life but, for all this, of Henry VIIIs six wives, she is truly the wife that survived.
Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of Henry VIII
Posted By Claire on July 16, She was only 41 but she was the last surviving wife of Henry VIII and had survived marriage to the King known for beheading two of his wives. Anne of Cleves had been ill for a few months but by the 12th July she was bedridden and drafting her will. Anne also bequeathed jewellery to her family, a ring to Catherine Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk, another ring to the Countess of Arundel and jewels to her stepdaughters, Mary and Elizabeth. In recompense for these jewels, she asked Mary to make sure that her servants were rewarded for their long service to her and she asked Elizabeth to take one of her maids into service.
But, suggests Tracy Borman, the true story is entirely different to this humiliating fiction. Anne of Cleves has gone down in history as the ugly wife. Thereafter, his poor, spurned fourth queen retreated quietly into obscurity to hide her face from the world, while Henry joyfully married the infinitely more desirable Catherine Howard. Anne, daughter of the late Duke of Juliers-Cleves, Johann III, and sister of his successor, Wilhelm, had first been mooted as a potential wife for the English king in the closing weeks of , soon after the death of his beloved third wife, Jane Seymour. This had come to nothing, leaving her free to marry elsewhere.
Henry married Anne because he believed that he needed to form a political alliance with her brother, William, duke of Cleves, who was a leader of the Protestants of western Germany. He thought the alliance was necessary because in it appeared that the two major Roman Catholic powers, France and the Holy Roman Empire , were about to join together to attack Protestant England. Five days later the wedding took place. Henry was keenly disappointed, Anne being less attractive than he had been led to expect, and he soon came to resent her lack of sophistication and her limited command of the English language. When the alliance between the Catholic powers failed to materialize, the marriage became a political embarrassment and was annulled by an Anglican convocation July 9,