Friday, January 6, 2012

Marriage of Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves

Marriage of Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves
      Today marks the anniversary of the 1540 marriage of Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves.  In certain respects the marriage was a success - nobody died or was executed.
      Henry, having broken with Rome, was largely cut off from potential brides sourced from those parts of Europe that remained Catholic.  Cleves, just over the border into Germany from what is today Belgium, was partly Lutheran (Anne’s brother was Lutheran even as her mother was Catholic) and the marriage was hoped (by at least Thomas Cromwell) to bring military and economic support from the protestant portions of Europe.
       Henry and Anne never met before she travelled to England, marriage negotiations having been handled through ambassadors.  Hans Holbein, the famous painter, did a portrait upon which Henry relied in deciding the marriage should go forward.
       From the first meeting Henry was put-off by Anne, thinking her to be far less attractive than he had been led (more likely than he had self-deluded himself into thinking her to be) to believe her to be.  Still, the marriage took place.  It was, however, never consummated, and by July annulled.
         Anne received a significant pension and property including Hever Castle, former home of the Boleyns.  She and Henry eventually developed a friendly relationship, she being referred to as his “beloved sister.”  She was as well close to both Mary and Elizabeth.  
        Anne outlived Henry, dying of natural causes (possibly cancer) in 1557 during Mary’s reign.

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