Anne of Cleves (German: Anna von Kleve; 1515 – 16 July 1557) was Queen of England from 6 January to 9 July 1540 as the fourth wife of King Henry VIII. Not much is known about Anne before 1527, when she became betrothed to Francis, Duke of Bar, son and heir of Antoine, Duke of Lorraine, although their marriage did not proceed. In March 1539, negotiations for Anne's marriage to Henry began, as Henry believed that he needed to form a political alliance with her brother, William, who was a leader of the Protestants of western Germany, to strengthen his position against potential attacks from Catholic France and the Holy Roman Empire.
|Anne of Cleves|
|Queen consort of England|
|Tenure||6 January 1540 – 9 July 1540|
|Born||28 June or 22 September 1515|
Düsseldorf, Duchy of Berg, Kingdom of Germany, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||16 July 1557 (aged 41 or 42)|
Chelsea Manor, England
|Burial||3 August 1557|
(m. 1540; annulled 1540)
|Father||John III, Duke of Cleves|
|Mother||Maria of Jülich-Berg|
Anne arrived in England on 27 December 1539 and married Henry on 6 January 1540, but after six months, the marriage was declared unconsummated and, as a result, she was not crowned queen consort. Following the annulment, Henry gave her a generous settlement, and she was thereafter known as the King's Beloved Sister. Remaining in England, she lived to see the reign of Edward VI, and the coronation of Mary I, outliving the rest of Henry's wives.
Anne was born in 1515, on either 22 September, or more probably 28 June. She was born in Düsseldorf, the second daughter of John III of the House of La Marck, Duke of Jülich jure uxoris, Cleves, Berg jure uxoris, Count of Mark, also known as de la Marck and Ravensberg jure uxoris (often referred to as Duke of Cleves) who died in 1538, and his wife Maria, Duchess of Jülich-Berg (1491–1543). She grew up in Schloss Burg on the edge of Solingen.
Anne's father was influenced by Erasmus and followed a moderate path within the Reformation. He sided with the Schmalkaldic League and opposed Emperor Charles V. After John's death, Anne's brother William became Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, bearing the promising epithet "The Rich". In 1526, her elder sister Sibylle was married to John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, head of the Protestant Confederation of Germany and considered the "Champion of the Reformation."
In 1527, at the age of 11, Anne was betrothed to Francis, the 9-year-old son and heir of Antoine, Duke of Lorraine. 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". Her father's ongoing dispute over Gelderland with Charles V made the family 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 chief minister, Thomas Cromwell.
The artist Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to Düren to paint portraits of Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, each of whom Henry was considering as his fourth wife. Henry required the artist to be as accurate as possible, not to flatter the sisters. The portraits are now located in the Musée du Louvre in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Another 1539 portrait, by the school of Barthel Bruyn the Elder, is in the collection of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Negotiations to arrange the marriage were in full swing by March 1539. Thomas Cromwell oversaw the talks and a marriage treaty was signed on 4 October of that year. The King agreed to pay a dowry of 100,000 florins to the bride's brother.
Henry valued education and cultural sophistication in women, but Anne lacked these traits. She had received no formal education but was skilled in needlework and liked playing card games. She could read and write, but only in German. Nevertheless, Anne was considered gentle, virtuous and docile, which is why she was recommended as a suitable candidate for Henry.
Anne was described by French ambassador Charles de Marillac as tall and slim, "of middling beauty and of very assured and resolute countenance." She was fair-haired and was said to have had a lovely face. In the words of the chronicler Edward Hall, "Her hair hanging down, which was fair, yellow and long ... she was apparelled after the English fashion, with a French hood, which so set forth her beauty and good visage, that every creature rejoiced to behold her." She appeared rather solemn by English standards, and looked old for her age. Holbein painted her with a high forehead, heavy-lidded eyes and a pointed chin.
Henry met her privately on New Year's Day 1540 at Rochester Abbey in Rochester on her journey from Dover. Henry and some of his courtiers, following a courtly-love tradition, went disguised into the room where Anne was staying. Eustace Chapuys reported:
[The King] so went up into the chamber where the said Lady Anne was looking out of a window to see the bull-baiting which was going on in the courtyard, and suddenly he embraced and kissed her, and showed her a token which the king had sent her for New Year’s gift, and she being abashed and not knowing who it was thanked him, and so he spoke with her. But she regarded him little, but always looked out the window .... and when the king saw that she took so little notice of his coming he went into another chamber and took off his cloak and came in again in a coat of purple velvet. And when the lords and knights saw his grace they did him reverence.
According to the testimony of Henry's companions, he was disappointed with Anne, feeling that she was not as described. According to the chronicler Charles Wriothesley, Anne "regarded him little", though it is unknown whether she knew this was the king. Henry then revealed his true identity to Anne, although he is said to have been put off the marriage from then on. Henry and Anne then met officially on 3 January on Blackheath outside the gates of Greenwich Park, where a grand reception was laid out.
Most historians believe that Henry's misgivings about the marriage were blamed on Anne's alleged unsatisfactory appearance and her failure to inspire him to consummate the marriage. He felt that he had been misled after his advisors had praised Anne's beauty: "She is nothing so fair as she hath been reported", he complained. Cromwell received some blame for the Holbein portrait, which Henry believed had not been an accurate representation of Anne, and for some of the exaggerated reports of her beauty. When the king finally met Anne, he was reportedly shocked by her plain appearance, and the marriage was never consummated.
Henry urged Cromwell to find a legal way to avoid the marriage but, by this point, doing so was impossible without endangering the vital alliance with the Germans. In his anger and frustration, the King turned on Cromwell, to his subsequent regret.
Despite Henry's very vocal misgivings, the two were married on 6 January 1540 at the royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London, by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The phrase "God send me well to keep" was engraved around Anne's wedding ring. Immediately after arriving in England, Anne conformed to the Anglican form of worship, which Henry expected. The couple's first night as husband and wife was not a successful one. Henry confided to Cromwell that he had not consummated the marriage, saying, "I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse."
In February 1540, speaking to the Countess of Rutland, Anne praised the King as a kind husband, saying: "When he comes to bed he kisseth me, and he taketh me by the hand, and biddeth me 'Good night, sweetheart'; and in the morning kisseth me and biddeth 'Farewell, darling.'" Lady Rutland responded: "Madam, there must be more than this, or it will be long ere we have a duke of York, which all this realm most desireth."
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. Witness statements were taken from a number of courtiers and two physicians which register the king's disappointment at her appearance. Henry had also commented to Thomas Heneage and Anthony Denny that he could not believe she was a virgin.
Shortly afterwards, Anne was asked for her consent to an annulment, to which she agreed. Cromwell, the moving force behind the marriage, was attainted for treason. The marriage was annulled on 9 July 1540, on the grounds of non-consummation and her pre-contract to Francis of Lorraine. Henry VIII's physician stated that after the wedding night, Henry said he was not impotent because he experienced "duas pollutiones nocturnas in somno" (two nocturnal pollutions while in sleep).
After the annulmentEdit
The former queen received a generous settlement, including Richmond Palace, and Hever Castle, home of Henry's former in-laws, the Boleyns. Anne of Cleves House, in Lewes, East Sussex, is just one of many properties she owned; she never lived there. Henry and Anne became good friends—she was an honorary member of the king's family and was referred to as "the King's Beloved Sister". She was invited to court often and, out of gratitude for her not contesting the annulment, Henry decreed that she would be given precedence over all women in England save his own wife and daughters.
After Catherine Howard was beheaded, Anne and her brother, William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, pressed the king to remarry Anne. Henry quickly refused to do so. She seems to have disliked Catherine Parr, and reportedly reacted to the news of Henry's sixth marriage with the remark "Madam Parr is taking a great burden on herself."
In March 1547, Edward VI's Privy Council asked her to move out of Bletchingley Palace, her usual residence, to Penshurst Place to make way for Thomas Cawarden, Master of Revels. They pointed out that Penshurst was nearer to Hever and the move had been Henry VIII's will.
On 4 August 1553, Anne wrote to Mary I to congratulate her on her marriage to Philip of Spain. On 28 September 1553, when Mary left St James's Palace for Whitehall, she was accompanied by her sister Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves. Anne also took part in Mary I's coronation procession, and may have been present at her coronation at Westminster Abbey. These were her last public appearances. As the new queen was a strict Catholic, Anne yet again changed religion, now becoming a Roman Catholic.
After a brief return to prominence, she lost royal favour in 1554, following Wyatt's rebellion. According to Simon Renard, the imperial ambassador, Anne's close association with Elizabeth had convinced the Queen that "the Lady [Anne] of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the king of France was the prime mover". There is no evidence that Anne was invited back to court after 1554. She was compelled to live a quiet and obscure life on her estates. After her arrival as the King's bride, Anne never left England. Despite occasional feelings of homesickness, Anne was generally content in England and was described by Holinshed as "a ladie of right commendable regards, courteous, gentle, a good housekeeper and verie bountifull to her servants."
When Anne's health began to fail, Mary allowed her to live at Chelsea Old Manor, where Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr, had lived after her remarriage. Here, in the middle of July 1557, Anne dictated her last will. In it, she mentions her brother, sister, and sister-in-law, as well as the future Queen Elizabeth, the Duchess of Suffolk, and the Countess of Arundel. She left some money to her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to employ them in their households. She was remembered by everyone who served her as a particularly generous and easy-going mistress.
Anne died at Chelsea Old Manor on 16 July 1557. The most likely cause of her death was cancer. She was buried in Westminster Abbey, on 3 August, in what has been described as a "somewhat hard-to-find tomb" on the opposite side of Edward the Confessor's shrine and slightly above eye level for a person of average height.
She also has the distinction of being the last of Henry VIII's wives to die, as she outlived Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr, by nine years. She was not the longest-lived, however, since Catherine of Aragon was 50 at the time of her death.
Anne is the subject of several biographies: Julia Hamilton's Anne of Cleves (1972), and Mary Saaler's Anne of Cleves: Fourth Wife of Henry VIII (1995), Elizabeth Norton's Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride (2009), and Heather Darsie's Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King's Beloved Sister (2019). Retha Warnicke has written an academic study on Anne's marriage called The Marrying of Anne of Cleves. Royal Protocol in Early Modern England (2000).
Anne of Cleves appears as a character in many historical novels about Henry's reign.
In film, television, and theatreEdit
The role of Anne of Cleves was played by:
- Elsa Lanchester in The Private Life of Henry VIII, which was released in 1933. Lanchester's husband Charles Laughton played Henry VIII and won an Academy Award for his portrayal.
- Elvi Hale in the episode Anne of Cleves in the 1971 television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
- Pia Girard in the 2003 ITV series Henry VIII.
- Joss Stone in the Showtime cable television series The Tudors.
- Genesis Lynea originated the role of Cleves in the musical Six.
- Weir 2009, p. 155.
- Sanders, Kevin (22 September 2017). "Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves: journey to a doomed marriage?". English Heritage Blog.
- Norton 2010, p. 108.
- Warnicke 2000, p. 252.
- Norton 2010, p. 165.
- Norton 2010, p. 7.
- Darsie, Heather (15 April 2019). Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King's Beloved Sister. Amberley Publishing. pp. 17–20. ISBN 9781445677101.
- At the time, the area was in the Duchy of Berg.
- Norton 2010, pp. 12–13.
- Fraser 1992, p. 364.
- "Trinity College, University of Cambridge". BBC Your Paintings. Archived from the original on 19 November 2014.
- "Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 14 Part 2, August-December 1539". British History Online. HMSO. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
- Norton 2010, pp. 10–11.
- Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII 15: 1540 no. 22.
- Hall 1809, pp. 836–837.
- Warnicke 2000, p. 138.
- "Anne of Cleves – Not Love at First Sight" The History Jar retrieved February 6, 2017
- Wriothesley 1875, pp. 109–110.
- Warnicke 2000, p. 132.
- Warnicke 2000, p. 146.
- Schofield 2011, p. 361.
- Elton 1991, p. 157.
- Warnicke 2000, p. 77.
- Lehmberg 1977, p. 127.
- Weir 2007, p. 412.
- Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII: Jan.-Aug. 1540. H.M. Stationery Office. 1896. p. 391.
- Strype I(II) 1822, pp. 450–463.
- Strype I(II) 1822, p. 461.
- "Holbein en Angleterre". Amateur d'Art, par Lunettes Rouge (in French). La Vie–Le Monde Group. 29 November 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2014..
- Boutell 1863, p. 243.
- Farquhar 2001, p. 77.
- Weir 2007, p. 498.
- Acts of the Privy Council 2, pp. 82–83, 471–472.
- Ellis 1817, pp. 131–132.
- Norton 2010, p. 153.
- Whitelock 2010, p. 192.
- Norton 2010, pp. 144–145.
- Porter 2007, pp. 256, 260–261.
- Porter 2007, p. 260 According to Antoine de Noailles, Elizabeth and Anne followed Mary into the Abbey.
- Norton 2010, p. 146.
- Weir 2007, p. 388.
- Norton 2010, p. 151.
- Norton 2010, p. 154.
- Fraser 1992, p. 504.
- Norton 2010, pp. 158–161.
- Norton 2010, p. 161.
- Machyn 1968, pp. 145–146.
- Google Images
- The Private Life of Henry VIII at AllMovie
- "Six Wives of Henry VII, The". Encyclopedia of Television. Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- "Anne of Cleves". WGBH. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- "Anne of Cleves Played by Joss Stone". The Tudors. Showtime. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- "New musical about Henry VIII's wives finds its West End cast | WhatsOnStage". www.whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
- Boutell, Charles (1863). A Manual of Heraldry, Historical and Popular. London: Winsor and Newton.
- Darsie, Heather (2019). Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King's 'Beloved Sister'. Stroud: Amberley. ISBN 978-1-4456-7710-1.
- Dasent, John Roche, ed. (1890). "Acts of the Privy Council". British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Ellis, Henry (1817). "Extracts from the Proceedings of Privy Council from the Year 1545 to the Year 1558". Archaeologia: or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity. XVIII. London: Society of Antiquaries of London.
- Elton, G. R. (1991). England Under the Tudors. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781136786600.
- Farquhar, Michael (2001). A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History's Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors (hardback). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-7394-2025-9.
- Fraser, Antonia (2002). The Wives of Henry VIII. London: Phoenix. ISBN 9781842126332.
- Hall, Edward (1809). Hall's chronicle; containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry the Eighth, in which are particularly described the manners and customs of those periods. London: Printed for J. Johnson; F. C. and J. Rivington; T. Payne; Wilkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Cadell and Davies; and J. Mawman.
- "Henry VIII: January 1540, 1–10". Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII. 15: 1540. British-history.ac.uk. 1896. pp. 1–19. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- Lehmberg, Stanford E. (1977). The Later Parliaments of Henry VIII: 1536–1547. London, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
- Machyn, Henry (1968). Nichols, John Gough (ed.). The Diary of Henry Machyn, Citizen and Merchant-Taylor of London, from A.D. 1550 to A.D. 1563. Camden Society. Series I. 42. New York; London: AMS Press.
- Norton, Elizabeth (2010). Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride. Stroud: Amberley. ISBN 9781445601830.
- Porter, Linda (2007). Mary Tudor: The First Queen. London: Piatkus. ISBN 978-0-7499-0982-6.
- Schofield, John (2011). The Rise & Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant. Stroud: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-5866-3.
- Strype, John (1822). Ecclesiastical Memorials, Relating Chiefly to Religion and the Reformation of it, and the Emergencies of the Church of England, under King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I. I. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Warnicke, Retha M. (2000). The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England (hardback). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521770378.
- Weir, Alison (2009). Britain's Royal Families:The Complete Genealogy. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099539735.
- Weir, Alison (2007). The Six Wives of Henry VIII. London: Vintage. ISBN 9780099523628.
- Whitelock, Anna (2010). Mary Tudor: England's First Queen. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 9781400066094.
- Wriothesley, Charles (1875). Hamilton, William Douglas (ed.). "A Chronicle Of England During The Reigns Of The Tudors: From A.D. 1485 To 1559". Camden Society. New Series. London: Camden Society.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article "Anne of Cleves".|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anne of Cleves.|