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Anne of Cleves has gone down in history as the ugly wife. Henry VIII was so revolted when he first clapped eyes on her that he immediately instructed his lawyers to get him out of the marriage. Thereafter, his poor, spurned fourth queen retreated quietly into obscurity to hide her face from the world, while Henry joyfully married the infinitely more desirable Catherine Howard.
Anne, daughter of the late Duke of Juliers-Cleves, Johann III, and sister of his successor, Wilhelm, had first been mooted as a potential wife for the English king Women want sex Cleves the closing weeks ofsoon after the death of his beloved third wife, Jane Seymour. This had come to nothing, leaving her free to marry elsewhere. John Hutton, ambassador to Mary of Hungary, who had originally made the suggestion, admitted he had heard no great praise of her beauty. Such a recommendation hardly motivated Henry to pursue the scheme any further, and it was not until early that the idea was resurrected.
This time Henry gave it more credence because he desperately needed new allies. In MarchHenry finally agreed that negotiations could begin. He dispatched the renowned portrait painter Hans Holbein to Cleves so that he could see what he was letting himself in for. The king was delighted with Women want sex Cleves result. The match was confirmed and a treaty was ed on 4 October A few weeks later, Anne embarked upon her journey to England.
The next day, in true chivalric tradition, Henry hastened to greet her in disguise. He was horrified with what he saw. I like her not! It seemed that Anne had been rather flattered by her portrait. To be fair to Anne, however, until Henry expressed such a strong aversion towards her, there had been no other disparaging s of her appearance. Most of the contemporary s before her marriage had been complimentary. History has thus served a great injustice on Anne, Women want sex Cleves as her betrothed could hardly have been described as an attractive prospect himself by the time of their marriage.
When he became king he had been a trim 32 inches around the waist; by the time he met Anne of Cleves it was closer to 52 inches. Thanks for ing up to receive our royal newsletter. Manage your newsletter preferences now. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra's terms and conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time.
A contemporary depiction reveals the king as a grotesque figure. His beady eyes and tiny, pursed mouth are almost lost in the layers of flesh which surround them. He appears to have no neck, and his enormous frame extends beyond the reaches of the canvas. However abhorrent his new bride might be to Henry, there was no going back. It would have caused a major diplomatic incident if he had reneged on the treaty, and England could ill-afford to lose allies. The wedding duly took place on 6 Januaryand the king now had to do his duty by consummating it.
Anne of Cleves was about the same age as her eldest stepdaughter, Mary, and the two struck up an apparently warm friendship. It is an indication of how likeable Anne was that Mary overcame her natural aversion to reformers and refused to listen to the rumours that Anne was conspiring against her when she became queen. Catherine Howard. The skittish young Catherine was among the ladies appointed to serve Anne when she arrived in England in December To show that there were no hard feelings, she even danced with Catherine after the latter had become queen.
Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell had championed Anne enthusiastically, aware that the marriage would cement his religious reforms. But it was all in vain and Henry had Cromwell executed a few days after the marriage was annulled. Elizabeth I. Perhaps the two women were initially united by a shared sense of rejection at the hands of the king, but theirs was also a meeting of minds because both were of the reformist faith.
The princess undoubtedly learned a great deal from her stepmother, particularly the art of pragmatism, which would become the keynote of her Women want sex Cleves queenship. For her part, Anne gave every appearance of joy in Women want sex Cleves new husband. Is this not enough? But it is at least equally possible that he was impotent. There had been no talk of a mistress for some time. This was not the sort of thing that he would have wished to be publicly known. Kings, even more than ordinary men, prided themselves on their sexual Women want sex Cleves it was, after all, vital for the continuation of their dynasty.
To the outside world, everything was as it should be. Anne wrote to her family, assuring them that she was very happy with her husband. Meanwhile, Henry made sure that he appeared in public with his new queen as often as could be expected. A few days after the wedding, a celebratory tournament was held in Greenwich. The contemporary chronicler Edward Hall recorded the event and praised the new queen so effusively that nobody would guess there was anything amiss. But Anne lacked the courtly refinements that her new husband was used to. The education of noble ladies in Cleves was very different to England.
No matter how affable and eager to please the new queen was, her awkwardness rendered her an embarrassment in the sophisticated world of the Tudor court. There was another reason why Henry was desperate to be rid of his fourth wife. This spurred him into action. Pressure was brought to bear on Thomas Cromwell, who had been arrested for treason and was now obliged to give evidence from the Tower in support of the annulment. On 24 June Anne was ordered by the council to remove herself from court and go to Richmond Palace.
A short while later, Anne learned that her marriage to the English king had been called into question because Henry was concerned about her prior betrothal to the Duke of Lorraine, and had therefore refrained from consummating the union.
Shocked by this sudden turn of events, Anne fainted. When she had sufficiently recovered herself, she steadfastly refused to give her consent to the inquiry. Before long, though, perhaps fearing a similar fate to Catherine of Aragon or, worse still, Anne BoleynAnne resolved to take a pragmatic approach. The marriage was duly declared illegal on 9 July, and the annulment was confirmed by parliament three days later.
Anne was to be richly rewarded for her compliance. She was given possession of Richmond Palace and Bletchingly Manor for life, together with a considerable annual income.
This was further boosted by her right to keep all of her royal jewels, plate and goods in order to furnish her new properties. Henry later granted her some additional manors, including Hever Castlethe former home of Anne Boleyn. This was to become her principal residence, and she lived very comfortably there on the fringes of public life.
Catherine was a flighty and flirtatious girl, some 32 years younger than her husband, and she soon began an illicit affair with Thomas Culpeppera gentleman of the privy chamber. When her adultery was discovered, she went to the block in February Among the potential candidates was Anne of Cleves. She had been careful to remain on good terms with Henry after their annulment, and had shown no s of resentment at being so humiliatingly rejected. She had been a regular visitor to court and had also received several visits from her former husband, which Women want sex Cleves all s had been very convivial.
But the king made no indication of wishing to revive their union, and although Anne was rumoured to be bitterly disappointed when he married his sixth and final wife, Katherine Parrthis may have been just for show. By that time, Anne was comfortably ensconced at Hever with all the riches and honours of being a queen, but none of the disadvantages of being married to the ageing, bloated and increasingly tyrannical king. She remained there for the rest of her days, outliving her estranged husband, who died in and was succeeded by Edwardhis nine-year-old son.
Forever the pragmatist, Anne resolved to make the most of the life that she had left. She established her house at Hever as a lively social centre — a kind of miniature court, where she could receive esteemed guests from across the kingdom, notably Princess Elizabethwho doted upon her. Through these guests, she kept abreast of events at court, and solicited invitations to visit it herself.
He was succeeded by his elder half-sister Marywith whom Anne was still on good terms. Anne and her younger stepdaughter were also given new dresses made from a similarly rich silver material, and in the procession to Westminster Abbey they walked together directly behind the new queen.
Their reformist religious views set them at odds with the new conservative Catholic regime, and there were soon rumours that the two women were conspiring against the queen. These were almost certainly untrue: Anne was far too sensible to take such a risk and had no grudge against Mary. Fortunately, Mary retained enough of her former affection for Anne not to act against her.
It was while staying at the latter that Anne died on 16 Julyafter a short illness. Even her dogmatic stepdaughter Mary, who sent hundreds of reformists to the flames, held Anne in such esteem that she ordered the full pomp and ceremony of a royal funeral at Westminster Abbey. It was a lesson that was not lost on her younger stepdaughter, Elizabeth: to succeed in the dangerous and volatile world of the Women want sex Cleves court, one must be guided by pragmatism, not principle.
Tracy Borman is a historian and bestselling author. To find out more, visit www. You can also follow Tracy on Twitter TracyBorman. me up! Catherine Howard The skittish young Catherine was among the ladies appointed to serve Anne when she arrived in England Women want sex Cleves December By the spring ofhe had fallen madly in love with Catherine Howard.
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