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"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.


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[]


In chronological order:


See also[]

My Story characters
Main characters

Nebka | Hatshepsut "Asha" | Claudia | Bran | Tor Scaldbane | Jenkin Lloyd | Eva De Puebla
Elinor Valjean | Lady Jane Grey | Matilda "Tilly" Middleton | Catherine "Kitty" Lumsden | Thomas Hobbs
Remember "Mem" Whipple | Thomas Adamson | Alice Paynton | Susannah Makepeace | Ignatius Sancho
Euphemia Grant | Mary Wade | Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harvey | Isabelle | James Grant | Mary Prince | Bob Jenkins
Dick Maybury | Eliza Helsted | Phyllis McCormack | Lily Hicks | Michael Pope | Hanuman Singh | Clotee Henley
Will Reed | Edith Lorrimer | Jabulani | Sophia Duleep Singh | Florence Finch | Flora Bonnington | Dollie Baxter
Margaret Anne Brady | Jack Fairfax | Daphne "Daffy" Rowntree | Billy Stevens | Noor Inayat Khan
Eleanor Rhys Davies | Rebecca "Becky" Mortkowicz | Harry Woods | Princess Margaret | Sophie Ridel
Peter Rogers | Kitty Langley | Edith "Edie" Benson | Tim Jackson | Andrew "Andy" Pope | Paul Lelaud
Violet Debuchy

Supporting characters

Henry VII | Henry VIII | Catherine of Aragon | Anne Boleyn | Jane Seymour | Anne of Cleves
Catherine Howard | Catherine Parr | Edward VI | Mary I | Elizabeth II

Lists of characters by book

Pyramid of Secrets | Princess of Egypt | Pompeii | Roman Invasion | Viking Blood | Agincourt | My Tudor Queen
Anne Boleyn and Me | Lady Jane Grey | Bloody Tower | The Queen's Spies | Armada | Mayflower | Civil War
The Great Plague | Highway Girl | Ignatius Sancho | The '45 Rising | No Way Back | Transported
The Fall of the Blade | Trafalgar | Mary Prince | Waterloo | Dodger! | Mill Girl | The Hunger | The Crystal Palace
Crimea | Indian Mutiny | Slave Girl | The Sweep's Boy | Victorian Workhouse | Zulu War | Princess Sophia Duleep Singh
Factory Girl | Twentieth-Century Girl | Suffragette | Titanic | The Trenches | Flying Ace | Road to War
Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan | Berlin Olympics | Nowhere to Run | The Storm to Come | Battle of Britain
Wartime Princess | Sophie's Secret War | U-Boat Hunter | War Nurse | Blitz | Desert Danger | D-Day
Spy Smuggler | Codename Céline | London Stories

My Royal Story characters

Cleopatra VII | Beatrice Townhill | Elizabeth I | Mary, Queen of Scots | Marie Antoinette | Victoria | Anastasia

Lists of My Royal Story characters by book

Cleopatra | Henry VIII's Wives | Elizabeth | Mary, Queen of Scots | Marie Antoinette | Victoria | Anastasia

My True Story characters

Dora Thewlis | John "Jack" Cornwell | Joe Read | Susan | Vera

Lists of My True Story characters by book

Give Us the Vote! | Standing Alone | Hero at Dunkirk | What If They Find Us?

Further reading[]