Monday, February 12, 2007

The Tudors Part IV - Anne of Cleves

Welcome to our 4th installment of the Tudor series, in which we have been profiling the wives of Henry the VIII. To Date we have discussed Katherine of Aragon, Anne "the Whore" Bolyne, and Poor Poor Jane Seymour.

It took Henry over two years to marry after the death of Jane Seymour. Romantics believe that is because Henry loved her so deeply he simply could not consider another woman. This type of thinking is an example of why romantics grow up to be cynical and tortured. They are generally wrong. In truth, Henry wanted to remarry and sent his advisers searching for a wife within a month of Jane's death. The other sad truth is that NO ONE wanted to marry Henry.

His ambassadors searched out all the eligible heiresses of Europe and discovered their king had a very nasty marital reputation. In fact, when Christina of Milan was told of the king's interest she replied that if she had two heads she would risk it, but she had only one; Marie de Guise, who would later wed his nephew the King of Scots, replied much the same. The tragic tale of his second queen, Anne Boleyn, had kept European gossips busy for three years now.
Further, Henry's poor and disrespectful treatment of his first wife (he was rumored to have bullied Katharine of Aragon to an unhappy death) and the quick end of his third (in his desperation for a healthy male heir, the king was rumored to have ordered Jane Seymour cut open, mangled and killed) made him rather unappealing. I supposed it would be sort of like, trying to find the right Hollywood starlet to marry OJ Simpson.

Regardless Henry was on a mission to find a spouse and insisted that he approve them himself. He had a portraits commissioned of the few women who were willing to marry the pig, and from those paintings he choose Anne of Cleves (her brother was the Duke of Cleves and believed that this would improve his position).

Upon laying eyes on his new bride to be, Henry said that that she had the face of "a Flanders mare" and fired his portrait artist. The wedding occurred but the marriage was a disaster. Communication between the two was difficult as she did not speak English and Henry know very little German so any communication had to be done between Henry and Anne's maids of honour who could act as translators. Also, the newlyweds never consummated the marriage because Henry had become impotent. He was also falling in love with one of the Queens ladies in waiting .................. Catherine Howard.

Probably fearing for her life, Anne agreed to an annulment which was granted in July 1540. She stayed in England and for whatever reason stayed on good terms with Henry who referred to her as his sister and often invited her to court. Henry already had his eye on someone else – Catherine Howard who he married less than 20 days after the annulment came through.

1 comment:

Sally Lynn MacDonald said...

I'm really enjoying your posts about the wives of Henry VIII, as I'm a Tudors fan. I have to say the best quote, and gave me quite a laugh was, "I supposed it would be sort of like, trying to find the right Hollywood starlet to marry OJ Simpson."