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The majority of the following article contains the fictional portrayal of one or more historical figures. Details in this article may differ from real world facts. For more information on the historical figure(s), consult the links provided within or at the bottom of the article.

"Nobody ever asks a bride why she has agreed to marriage, but Anne of Cleves could have had her own reasons. She must have realized that marriage to the English monarch would mean she would leave Germany and say goodbye to her brother, probably forever. If that is what she wanted, she has done well. She does not even have to cope with the unpredictable King. I think she may be a very clever woman."
Beatrice Townhill[4]

Anne of Cleves (1515 – 1557) was the fourth wife of King Henry VIII of England. She married Henry in January 1540, after travelling a long way from her homeland in Germany. Henry was unhappy with the marriage and obtained an annulment within six months. Anne decided to remain in England and eventually became goods friends with Henry. She was the last of his wives to die.

Biography[]

Early life[]

Anne was born in 1515[1] and grew up in Düsseldorf.[5] She was the daughter of the Duke of Cleves and had at least two siblings, a brother, William, and a sister, Amelia.

1539 – 1540[]

After the death of his third wife, King Henry VIII of England was looking for a wife among the European nobility. His adviser, Thomas Cromwell, convinced him to consider the Duke of Cleves' daughters. The reason being that Germany was a Protestant country. Ambassadors were sent to Düsseldorf to look at the princesses. By this time, Anne's father had died and her brother was now Duke of Cleves. William was purposefully difficult with the envoys. He eventually agreed to Henry marrying Anne if he accepted her with no dowry. Henry consented and Hans Holbein was sent to paint Anne. The King was quite pleased with her portrait. Their marriage contract was signed on 4 September 1539.

In December, Anne reached Calais, France, where Henry sent a large party to greet her. She crossed the channel and Henry went to meet her before she reached London. Their first meeting did not go well, but Anne seemingly did not notice due to Henry's politeness. They were married on 6 January 1540. The marriage remained unconsummated, a fact Anne was only aware of when Lady Edgecombe explained how babies were made. Henry soon sought an annulment, which she consented to. Their marriage was officially annulled on 9 July 1540. Anne was permitted to call herself the "King's sister" and Henry gave her three homes of her own along with an allowance of four thousand pounds a year.

Later life[]

Anne was allowed to visit court whenever she wished, and enjoyed a friendship with King Henry in his later years. She was also friendly with Henry's children, Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward, and Henry's last two wives, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. In 1553, Anne attended the coronation of Henry's eldest daughter, Mary. Anne passed away in 1557 and was the last of Henry's wives to pass away.

Physical appearance[]

Anne was deemed "better looking" than her sister and thus chosen as Henry's betrothed.[6] After meeting her, Henry apparently did not find her attractive.

Personality and traits[]

Anne of Cleves was not highly educated, but was still considered intelligent. She spoke only High Dutch, a form of German, when she first arrived in England.[5] Anne gradually learned English, but spoke with a thick accent.[7] She also could not play an instrument or dance, since these pastimes were considered "ungodly" in Germany. Unfortunately, they were some of Henry's favorite activities.[5]

Anne was characterized as earnest and naive person. She was genuine in her betrothal to Henry. Thus, she felt humiliated when her ladies-in-waiting explained consummation. Anne realized that Henry was fooling her and that "her marriage was a farce." She went through the rest of her marriage and divorce in a dignified manner. Ultimately, it was suggested that Anne was happy just being away from her controlling brother.

Behind the scenes[]

Appearances[]

In chronological order:

References[]

See also[]



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Further reading[]

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