A blog based on my most favourtie of interests The wives of Henry VIII
Henry's first marriage had been a foreign alliance of sorts, although it is almost certain that the two were truly in love for some time. His next two brides were love matches and Henry could have had little or no monetary or political gain from them.
It was infact Thomas Cromwell who proposed the idea of a foreign marriage (and alliance) as the split from Rome had left england very much isolated. It was these circumstances that led henry to direct his minsiters to look at the possibility of a foreign bride, much to Cromwells delight.
Henry did also want to be sure he was getting a desirable bride, so he had agents in foreign courts report to him on the appearance and other qualities of various candidates. He also sent painters to bring him images of these women.
Hans Holbein, the most famous of the Tudor court painters, was sent to the court of the Duke of Cleves, who had two sisters: Amelia and Anne. When Holbein went in 1539, Cleves was seen as an important potential ally in the event France and the Holy Roman Empire (who had somewhat made a truce in their long history of conflict) decided to move against the countries who had thrown off the Papal authority. England then sought alliances with countries who had been supporting the reformation of the church. Several of the Duchys and principalities along the Rhine were Lutheran. Holbein painted the sisters of the Duke of Cleves and Henry decided to have a contract drawn up for his marriage to Anne.
Although the King of France and the Emperor had gone back to their usual state of animosity, Henry proceeded with the match. The marriage took place on January 6, 1540. By then, Henry was already looking for ways to get out of the marriage, as their was beleived to have been a disasterous meeting between them just days before the intended date on which Henry surprised Anne in her chamber, surprising her in disguise. She was mortified and screamed aloud in German, this too horrified the king, but what was worse for Henry was when he laid eyes on the woman he was to marry.
His very words "I like her not"
Anne of cleves was reffered to as "the flanders mare"
Both Cromwell and Holbein were scolded for allowing this and promoting anne of cleves as she appeared in Holbeins portrait, quite attractive.
Anne was ill-suited for life at the English court. Her upbringing in Cleves had concentrated on domestic skills and not the music and literature so popular at Henry's court.
In addition to his personal feelings for wanting to end the marriage, there were now political ones as well. Tension between the Duke of Cleves and the Empire was increasing towards war and Henry had no desire to become involved. Last but not least, at some point (beleived to be around The new year season of 1540 Henry had become attracted to young Kathryn Howard. lady in waitng to the New Queen Anne
Anne was most likely informed by her ambassador that she would only be making trouble for herself if she raised any obstacles to Henry's attempts to annul the marriage. She testified that the match had not been consummated and that her previous engagement to the son of the Duke of Lorraine had not been properly broken.
After the marriage had been dissolved, Anne accepted the honorary title as the 'King's Sister'. She was given property, including Hever Castle, formerly the home of Anne Boleyn. Anne was also present at the Twelfth night festivites in 1541 during Henrys happy period of marriage to Kathryn Howard. Anne was beleived to have befreinded Mary Tudor, the kings eldest Daughter, and was a kind towards Elizabeth and little Edward.
Anne lived away from court quietly in the countryside until 1557 and attended the coronation of her former step-daughter, Mary I.
She is buried in a somewhat hard to find tomb in Westminster Abbey.
Thomas Cromwell was executed in 1540, as the king was not only angry at Cromwell for insisting on this marriage for his own gain (Anne of cleves was heavily influenced by her brother the Duke of cleves, to sway the king to things Protestant as was Martin Luthers influence in Germany vastly spreading.) The king had also become aware of Thomas Cromwells "Secret" plans for a supposed "Reformation", The king listened to Cromwells enemies on this particular occasion as he did when he was swayed into dislike for people who were once so influencial in the realm, IE Thomas Wolesy.
when Cromwell was executed it was beleived to have taken several attempts from the rather inept Executioner to severe his head. The death would have been a very painful experience.
Katherine Parr’s first marriage was to Edward Borough, the son of Thomas, third Baron Borough of Gainsborough in 1529 when she was 17 years old. Edward died only a few years later, in early 1533. It was during this marriage that Katherine’s mother Maud died, in December 1531. Katherine’s second marriage was to John Neville, third Baron Latimer of Snape Castle in Yorkshire, whom she married in the summer of 1534 when he was 41 and she was 22. Latimer had two children from his previous marriages so Katherine also became a stepmother for the first time. During the Pilgrimage of Grace a rebel mob forced Latimer to join them and later took Katherine and her stepchildren hostage at the castle. Latimer was able to eventually secure their freedom and managed to escape arrest for his associations with the rebellion after it was finally put down.
Katherine’s ailing husband died in March 1543, leaving her a widow for the second time, now at the age of 31.Katherine was known as "Lady Latimer" It was not long after that Katherine was noticed by not only the King, but also Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour. Katherine expressed her desire to marry Thomas Seymour after Latimer’s death, but the King’s request for her hand was one that Katherine felt it was her duty to accept. Thomas Seymour had never been married and was living as a "Bachelor" at court. Katherine had her reservations toward the rather brash Seymour, but was attracted to what appeared to be the opposite characteristics that she displayed herself. None the less Henry asked for the gentle lady Kate's hand in marriage. The marriage was not only for the kings gain as he had expressed no desire to marry again after the ill fated Kathryn Howard, this was said to be for the Children Elizabeth and Edward whom Katherine took and tended to. Henry was impressed with Katherines closeness with his son and heir Edward.
Katherine and Henry VIII were married on July 12th in the Queen’s closet at Hampton Court Palace in a small ceremony attended by about 20 people.
Katherine was interested in the reformed faith, making her enemies with the conservatives of Henry’s court. The king beleived that she was so pious it was though "his Kate" had married the lord as her bridegroom as oppsed to him.
It was Katherine’s influence with the King and the Henry’s failing health that led to a plot against her in 1546 by the conservative faction. Katherine and her ladies were known to have had banned books which was grounds for arrest and execution on charges of heresy. To gain evidence against the Queen, Anne Askew, a well-known and active Protestant, was questioned and tortured, but refused recant her faith or give evidence against Katherine and her ladies. However, there was enough other evidence against the Queen to issue a warrant for her arrest. The warrant was accidentally dropped and someone loyal to the Queen saw it and then quickly told her about it. This is a well-documented incident that has made its way into many historical fiction accounts.
In this case its as though the history itself is the best drama!
After learning of the arrest warrant, Katherine was said to be very ill, either as a ruse to stall or from a genuine panic attack. Henry went to see her and chastised her for her outspokenness about the reformed religion and his feeling that she was forgetting her place by instructing him on such matters. Katherine’s response in her defense was that she was only arguing with him on these issues so she could be instructed by him, and to take his mind off other troubles. Playing to Henry’s ego helped and Katherine was forgiven. Her faith in God was what Katherine beleived had protected her in her most fearful time.
Katherine was close with all three of her stepchildren as Henry’s wife and was personally involved in the educational program of the younger two, Elizabeth and Edward. She was also a patron of the arts and music. Katherine’s own learning and academic achievements, as alluded to previously, were impressive, and in 1545, her book “Prayers or Meditations” became the first work published by an English Queen under her own name. Another book, “The Lamentation of a Sinner”, was published after Henry VIII’s death.
Katherine was a kind and gentle woman who's only downfall was being true to what she beleived in which was the reformation and the Protestant faith.
There is also a theory that Katherine was a virgin when she married Henry VIII as her previous husbands had been too old and ill to connsumate with her. Whether Henry and Kate had marital relations is a misty subject. This could indeed be why Katherine had not became pregnant until her Marriage of love to Thomas Seymour in 1547.
Henry VIII died in January 1547 and Katherine had expected to play some role in the regency for the new nine-year-old king, Edward VI, but this was not to be. Only a few months after Henry’s death, Katherine secretly married Thomas Seymour, but the quickness and secret nature of the union caused a scandal. Katherine was still able to take guardianship of Princess Elizabeth and Seymour purchased the wardship of the king’s cousin, Lady Jane Grey. It was during this time that the rumors of a relationship between Elizabeth and Seymour arose and Elizabeth was sent to another household in the spring of 1548. Again these were all rumour and hear say.
After three previous marriages and at the age of 37, Katherine was pregnant for the first time and in June 1548, she moved to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire to await the birth of her child. On August 30th she gave birth to a daughter named Mary. Katherine soon fell ill with puerperal fever, which was to claim her life in the morning hours of September 5th. Katherine was buried, with Lady Jane Grey as the chief mourner, in the chapel at Sudeley Castle, where the tomb can still be visited today.
Katherine parr, may she be in eternal peace.
Mary was beleived to have died sometime after her Father Thomas Seymours Execution in 1548. Catherine Brandon, formerly Willoughby was Kates best friend and confidant, who is beleived to have taken care of the infant as she had two sons of her own and was to raise a daughter in great joy. Little is known on the exact date of death for Mary Seymour.
Anne blamed the fatal pregnancy on the awful news of Henrys jousting accident which occured sometime in between her last pregnancy and the baby being born. Anne was also fully aware of the Kings new favourite at court, one of her slow ready to please ladies in waiting, the blonde and somewhat silly, Jane Seymour who was beleived to have read to henry when he cried aloud in pain after his accident had left him with an ulcerated leg which never healed and caused him great discomfort. Henry also sad that he would never joust again, began to worry if what was being said about anne was true.
On April 30, 1536, Anne's musician and friend for several years, Mark Smeaton, was arrested and most likely tortured into making 'revelations' about the Queen. Next, Sir Henry Norris was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. Then the Queen's own brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford was arrested.
On May 2, the Queen herself was arrested at Greenwich and was informed of the charges against her: adultery, incest and plotting to murder the King. She was then taken to the Tower by barge along the same path she had traveled to prepare for her coronation just three years earlier. In fact, she was lodged in the same rooms she had held on that occasion. How very ironic indeed.
There were several more arrests. Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton were charged with adultery with the Queen. Sir Thomas Wyatt was also arrested, but later released. They were put on trial with Smeaton and Norris at Westminster Hall on May 12, 1536. The men were not allowed to defend themselves, as was the case in charges of treason. They were found guilty and received the required punishment: they were to be hanged at Tyburn, cut down while still living and then disemboweled and quartered.
On Monday the 15th, the Queen and her brother were put on trial at the Great Hall of the Tower of London. It is estimated that some 2000 people attended. Anne conducted herself in a calm and dignified manner, denying all the charges against her. Her brother was tried next, with his own wife Jane Boleyn, lady rochford testifying against him Even though the evidence against them was barely passable as evidence at all , they were both found guilty, with the sentence being read by their uncle, Thomas Howard , the Duke of Norfolk. They were to be either burnt at the stake (which was the punishment for incest) or beheaded, at the discretion of the King.
At the sympathy (or in the real case GUILT) of the King, Anne and George were sent to their death by beheading, Anne would even have an executioner from France with a specially made blade to cut her delicate little neck. The other males were not treated to this priveledge and on the 17th may George Boleyn and the other four men condemened were beheaded in front of a live cheering crowd with the english execution style axe, Mark, Francis, william and Henry's sentences had been reduced to death by beheading as apposed to the awful punishment they were to receive, hung, disemboweled and burnt.
In later years Anne Boleyn was seen as a Martyr, dying for un just reasons and her stance against the catholic church and in favour of the reformation was followed by many who mourned her death.
Anne was not the crazy sour faced "Wench" with withcy powers and boils that some have made her out to be. Anne was merely a woman living in a mans world, good for nothing for her Father and uncles own selfish desires to rise them higher. Sir Thomas boleyn kept his earldom and was grateful to attain that.