Anne of Cleves

Anne of Cleves

Infobox British Royalty|majesty|consort
name =Anne of Cleves
title =Queen consort of England

caption =Anne of Cleves: probably a copy of the portrait painted by Hans Holbein the Younger
reign =6 January 1540 - 9 July 1540
spouse =Henry VIII
royal house =
othertitles =
father =John III, Duke of Cleves
mother =Mary, Duchess of Jülich-Berg
date of birth =birth date|1515|9|22|df=y
place of birth =Düsseldorf, Cleves
date of death =death date and age|1557|7|16|1515|9|22|df=y
place of death =Hever, Kent, England


Anne of Cleves, Queen of England (22 September 1515–16 July 1557) (German: "Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg") was the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England from 6 January 1540 to 9 July 1540.

Early life

Anne was born at Düsseldorf, [At the time, the area was in the Duchy of Cleves.] the second daughter of John III, ruler of the Duchy of Cleves, who died in 1538 and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg (1491- 1543). After John's death, her brother William became Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, bearing the promising epithet "The Rich." In 1526, her elder sister Sybille was married to John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, head of the Protestant Confederation of Germany and considered the "Champion of the Reformation." At the age of 12 (1527), she was betrothed to Francis, son and heir of the Duke of Lorraine while he was only 10, thus the betrothal was considered 'unofficial' and was cancelled in 1535. Her brother William was a Lutheran but the family was unaligned religiously, with her mother, the Duchess Maria described as a "strict Catholic". [Antonia Fraser "The Wives of Henry VIII", page298] The Duke's ongoing dispute over Gelderland with Emperor Charles V made them suitable allies for England's King Henry VIII in the wake of the Truce of Nice. The match with Anne was urged on the King by his chancellor, Thomas Cromwell.

Wedding preparations

The artist Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to paint portraits of Anne and her younger sister, Amelia, whom Henry was considering for the role of his fourth wife. While it was normal for court painters to be flattering in their portrayal of important people, the only truly important person here was the King: Henry hired the artist to be as accurate as possible, not to flatter these sisters. The portrait is currently displayed in The Louvre in Paris.

Negotiations with the Cleves Court were in full swing by March 1539. Cromwell oversaw the talks and a marriage treaty was signed on 4 October of the same year. While Henry valued education and cultural sophistication in women, Anne lacked these in her upbringing; she received no formal education as a child, and instead of being taught to sing or play an instrument, she was skilled in needlework, and was quite good at card games. She had learned to read and write, but in German only. Nevertheless, Anne was considered gentle, virtuous, and docile, qualities that made her a suitable candidate for Henry.

Motivated by the flattering painting he had received, Henry was quite impatient to see his future bride. He went to meet her at the water's edge when she arrived by boat. Their first night as husband and wife was not a happy one; within a few hours he came from the room and announced: "I like her not." She was larger-boned than his previous wives, and Henry felt he had been lied to, as everyone had raved about her beauty. Henry urged Cromwell to find a legal way to avoid the marriage but, by this point, doing so was impossible without offending the Germans.Anne was described by the French ambassador, Charles de Marillac, as tall and thin, "of middling beauty, with a determined and resolute countenance." She was dark haired, with a rather swarthy complexion, appeared solemn by English standards, and she looked old for her age. She had a full face, high forehead, brown, heavy-lidded eyes, a long, slightly bulbous nose, and a pointed chin. [Antonia Fraser " The Wives of Henry VIII", page 306]

A doomed marriage

The two were married on 6 January 1540 at the royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, despite Henry's very vocal misgivings. The phrase “God send me well to keep” was engraved around Anne’s wedding ring.

Anne was commanded to leave the Court on 24 June, and on 6 July she was informed of her husband's decision to reconsider the marriage. In a short time, Anne was asked for her consent to an annulment, to which she agreed. The marriage was annulled on 9 July 1540, on the grounds both of non-consummation and of her pre-contract to Francis of Lorraine. She received a generous settlement, including Richmond Palace, Hever Castle, home of Henry's former in-laws, the Boleyns. Anne of Cleves House, in Lewes, Sussex, is just one of many properties she owned; she never lived there. Henry and Anne became good friends and he later made her a "Princess of England" and called her "the King's Beloved Sister". In 1553, when Henry's daughters Mary and Elizabeth rode side-by-side into London with Mary as Queen, Anne was there to greet them. She was also at Mary's coronation at Westminster.She also has the distinction of being the longest lived of Henry's queens. She outlived Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr, by 9 years.

Anne remained in England for the rest of her life.


Anne died at Hever Castle on 16 July 1557, a year before Mary herself died. According to her wishes, she was buried in what is described as a "somewhat hard to find tomb in Westminster Abbey". Her tomb is on the opposite site of Edward the Confessor's shrine, and slightly above eye level for a human being of average height.

In fiction

Philippa Gregory's novel, "The Boleyn Inheritance", is told from the viewpoint of three prominent women at the Tudor court of Henry VIII: Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Jane Boleyn.

Margaret Campbell Barnes' "My Lady of Cleves" describes what Anne's life might have been like between the time her portrait was painted by Hans Holbein and when King Henry VIII died.

Joss Stone will play Anne in the third season of Showtime's "The Tudors.


Sir Horace Walpole, writing in the 18th century, resurrected the myth which described Anne as "The Flanders Mare" — a monument to ugliness. This view persisted, and it is still a popular stereotype. Most modern historians, however, disagree with it, and the Holbein portrait certainly contradicts it. Another theory is that Anne found Henry repulsive because of his obesity, and set out to make him dislike her. [Lindsey, Karen. Divorced, Beheaded, Survived Da Capo Press (May 2, 1996) p146.]

Another theory suggests that they agreed that they simply did not get on well with each other — Anne had been raised in the small provincial court at Düsseldorf and shared none of the musical and humanistic literary tastes of Henry's court. Another theory suggests that shifts in a threatened Catholic French-Spanish alliance removed any diplomatic motivations for their union. In any event, Henry and Anne split on amicable terms and became close friends. Henry even made her "Princess of England".

Finally, there is the theory that the marriage was politically inconvenient because of the growing hostility between Henry and the Duke of Cleves. [ [ Biography Channel] ]


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1= 1. Anne of Cleves (1515-1557)
2= 2. John III, Duke of Cleves (1490-1538/9)
3= 3. Maria of Jülich-Berg (1491-1543)
4= 4. John II, Duke of Cleves (1458-1521)Citation | last = Lundy | first = Darryl | title = thePeerage
accessdate = 2007-10-27
5= 5. Matilda of Hesse (1473-1524)Citation | last = Lundy | first = Darryl | title = thePeerage
accessdate = 2007-10-27
6= 6. William VIII, Duke of Jülich (1455-1524)Citation | last = Lundy | first = Darryl | title = thePeerage
accessdate = 2007-10-27
7= 7. Sybille of Brandenburg (1467-1524)
8= 8. John I, Duke of Cleves (1419-1481)
9= 9. Elizabeth of Nevers (1439-1483)
10= 10. Henry III, Landgrave of Hesse-Marburg (1440-1483)Citation | last = Lundy | first = Darryl | title = thePeerage
accessdate = 2007-10-27
11= 11. Anna von Katzenelnbogen (1443-1494)
12= 12. Gerhard VII, Duke of Jülich (?-1475)Citation | last = Lundy | first = Darryl | title = thePeerage
accessdate = 2007-10-27
13= 13. Sophie of Saxe-Lauenburg (before 1428-1473)
14= 14. Albert III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg (1414-1486)Citation | last = Lundy | first = Darryl | title = thePeerage
accessdate = 2007-10-27
15= 15. Anna of Saxony (1436-1512)
16= 16. Adolph I, Duke of Cleves (1373-1448)
17= 17. Mary of Burgundy (c. 1393-1473)
18= 18. John II, Count of Nevers, Comte de Nevers et de Rethel (1415-1491)
19= 19. Jacqueline d'Ailly (?-1470)
20= 20. Louis I, Landgrave of Hesse (1402-1458)
21= 21. Anne of Saxony
22= 22. Philip Count von Katzenelnbogen (c. 1402-1479)
23= 23. Anne of Wurttemberg (c. 1408-1471)
24= 24. Wilhelm of Jülich (c. 1382-c. 1428)
25= 25. Adelheid von Tecklenburg (before 1400-?)
26= 26. Bernhard I, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg (?-1463)
27= 27. Adelheid of Pomerania
28= 28. Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg (1371-1440)
29= 29. Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut (c. 1383-1442)
30= 30. Frederick II, Elector of Saxony (1412-1464)
31= 31. Margaret of Austria (1416-1486)


External links

* [ A quick overview of Anne's life] , including a very good portrait gallery
* [ A more in-depth examination of Anne's political career]
* [ More information on Anne's life after her annulment]
* [ A Google Earth biography tour] of the Six Wives of Henry VIII on the Google Earth Community
* [ A biography on her life]

NAME=Anne of Cleves
DATE OF BIRTH=22 September 1515
PLACE OF BIRTH=Düsseldorf, Duchy of Cleves (now Germany)
DATE OF DEATH=16 July 1557
PLACE OF DEATH=London, England

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