Medieval Times

Anne of Cleves The Wife King Henry Loved Most?

When discussing the six wives of King Henry VIII, one name that often gets overlooked is Anne of Cleves. Despite being married to the king

When discussing the six wives of King Henry VIII, one name that often gets overlooked is Anne of Cleves. Despite being married to the king for only a short period of time, she has become known as the “unattractive” wife and is often considered the least successful of his marriages. However, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in Anne and her relationship with King Henry. Could it be possible that she was actually the wife he loved most? In this article, we will delve into the life of Anne of Cleves and explore the possibility that she may have been more than just a failed marriage for King Henry.

Beginning with the Basics: Who was Anne of Cleves?

Anne of Cleves The Wife King Henry Loved Most?

Anne of Cleves was born on September 22, 1515, in Düsseldorf, Germany. She was the daughter of John III, Duke of Cleves, and Maria of Jülich-Berg. At the age of 11, she was betrothed to Francis, son of the Duke of Lorraine, but the engagement was later broken off. In 1539, negotiations began for Anne to marry King Henry VIII of England, who was seeking a new wife after the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour.

At the time, King Henry was desperate for a male heir and saw Anne as a potential candidate due to her young age and good health. After seeing a portrait of Anne by Hans Holbein the Younger, King Henry agreed to the marriage without ever meeting her in person. This would prove to be a crucial mistake.

Was Anne Of Cleves “The Ugly One?”

Anne of Cleves The Wife King Henry Loved Most?

One of the most common misconceptions about Anne of Cleves is that she was unattractive. This belief stems from King Henry’s reaction upon meeting her for the first time. According to historical accounts, King Henry was disappointed with Anne’s appearance and referred to her as a “Flanders mare.” He even went as far as to say that he could not consummate the marriage due to her unattractiveness.

However, it is important to note that King Henry was already in his mid-forties at the time of their marriage and had gained a significant amount of weight. This may have affected his ability to perform sexually, rather than Anne’s appearance being the issue. Additionally, there is evidence that suggests King Henry may have been misled about Anne’s appearance by her portrait, which was likely altered to make her look more attractive.

Anne Of Cleves: Reasons She Could Have Been a Favorite

Anne of Cleves The Wife King Henry Loved Most?

Despite the initial disappointment, there are several reasons why Anne of Cleves could have been a favorite of King Henry. Firstly, she was well-educated and spoke multiple languages, making her an ideal companion for the king. She also had a kind and gentle nature, which was a stark contrast to King Henry’s previous wives who were known for their strong personalities.

Furthermore, Anne was able to adapt to her new role as queen with ease. She quickly learned English and embraced the customs and traditions of the country. This made her popular among the people, who saw her as a breath of fresh air compared to the previous queen, Anne Boleyn, who was disliked by many.

Anne Of Cleves: The Wife Who Lived

Anne of Cleves The Wife King Henry Loved Most?

One of the main reasons why Anne of Cleves is often overlooked is because her marriage to King Henry was annulled after only six months. However, unlike his other wives, Anne was able to walk away from the marriage with her life and reputation intact. She was given the title of “King’s Beloved Sister” and was granted several properties and a generous income for the rest of her life.

This was a stark contrast to King Henry’s other wives, who either met a tragic end or were left with nothing after their marriages ended. Anne was also able to maintain a good relationship with King Henry, who continued to refer to her as his “sister” and even invited her to court on several occasions.

Anne Of Cleves: The Wife King Henry Loved Most?

The question remains, was Anne of Cleves the wife that King Henry loved most? While there is no definitive answer, there are several factors that suggest she may have held a special place in his heart. Firstly, he never spoke ill of her publicly, unlike his other wives whom he often slandered after their marriages ended.

Additionally, King Henry’s will, which was written shortly before his death, included a provision for Anne to be given a generous pension and to be treated with respect and kindness. This suggests that he still cared for her and wanted to ensure her well-being even after his passing.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that King Henry did not remarry after his marriage to Anne was annulled. This could be seen as a sign that he was content with her as his wife and did not feel the need to seek out another marriage.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while Anne of Cleves may not have been the most successful of King Henry VIII’s wives, she certainly deserves more credit than she has been given. She was a kind and intelligent woman who adapted to her new role as queen with grace and dignity. Despite the short duration of their marriage, there is evidence to suggest that she may have been the wife that King Henry loved most. Perhaps it is time to re-examine the story of Anne of Cleves and give her the recognition she deserves as a significant figure in Tudor history.

young writer Olivia on Greco-civilization
Olivia Reyes
Dr. Olivia Reyes specializes in Medieval European Literature. She holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Oxford. Formerly a high school teacher, she now works as a freelance writer and editor. In her free time, Sophie enjoys playing the violin and composing music.

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