King Henry VIII’s Last 3 Wives: Anne of Cleeves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“On January 1, 1540, King Henry VIII introduced himself to his 4th wife, Anne of Cleves, (pronounced “cleeves”) a person who he had yet to meet until that day. After the death of Jane Seymour who died just 12 days after giving birth to a son named Edward, Henry VIII’s advisors recommended he find a new queen to ensure the structural rigidity of the dynasty started by his father only one generation prior.
Politically speaking, Henry VIII had isolated himself, breaking apart from the Catholic Church and confining himself severely because of this whilst creating powerful enemies. Fortunately for Henry VIII, other leaders existed in Europe who also rejected the authority of the papacy which meant that a strategic marriage could lead to protection for both Henry VIII and a likeminded ally against any possible retribution by the Catholic Church.
The main issue Henry VIII faced was that his reputation as a husband was bleak having gone through 3 wives in a relatively short period of time. One perspective bride stated that she would marry Henry VIII but only if she had 2 heads. By this point, the once strikingly handsome monarch was obese and appeared older than his chronological age with an ulcerous wound upon his left leg acquired after falling during a jousting tournament in 1527, which refused to heal. Henry VIII’s advisors scoured Europe in search of a Nobel family who was willing to provide their daughter, a search which took 2 agonizing years.
In 1539, the scouting crew ran across German noblewoman Anne from the town of Cleves (pronounced “cleeve”) in western Germany. Although Anne is still famous in Germany history, British history has overtly dismissed Anne as Henry VIII’s ugly wife, and referred to her as the “Flanders Mare”. A gift for diplomacy and an instinct for survival make Anne the most successful of all Henry VIII’s wives. Anne was raised and educated at the Castle of Schwanenburg (pronounced “shvaan-en-berg”) as she was the daughter of the Duke of Cleves, a powerful noble family who had also rejected the authority of the papacy in Rome. Henry VIII was interested but wanted to know what Anne looked like so he sent his top portrait painter, Hans Holbein, (pronounced “hole-bine”) to Cleves to create a portrait. Anne was 24 years old at this point and”