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Henry 8th, King of England, and his six wives.

By Edited Jan 7, 2016 0 0

King Henry VIII
Credit: By Follower of Hans Holbein the Younger (philipmould.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Catherine of Aragon

Wife No 1

Henry 8th , was  King of England from 1509   to 1547    . He is well remembered for his collection of wives, six in total, some of whom did not die natural deaths.

Henry’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon, who had also been married to his elder brother, Arthur who died without leaving a son. Arthur was a sickly young man and there was some doubt if the marriage was ever consummated. Catherine herself at the time of her divorce proclaimed that the marriage had not been consummated and that she had entered King Henry's bed with her maiden hood still intact. Catherine gave him one child, a girl; the future Queen Mary, not the lusty son that he craved. Henry divorced Catherine in 1532   in order to marry his second wife.

 

Catherine was married to Henry on 11th June 1509 and the marriage was finally dissolved in 1533.

Catherine of Aragon(131401)
Credit: Michael Sittow (circa 1469-1525) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Anne Boleyn

Wife No2

Anne   Boleyn was some years younger than the King whom she had met at court as part of the Queens ladies. She had  a fierce almost shrewish character often attacking rather than encouraging or fawning on the King. Initially tolerant of this attitude Henry's tolerance decreased as she suffered a number of miscarriages and   gave birth to only one living child, a girl, the future Queen Elizabeth. The victim of plots made against her, Anne was charged with Treason and along with her brother and other supposed lovers she was executed. King Henry had ordered his own wife to die and whilst he did so was looking for another wife.

 

Anne was married to Henry  on 25th January 1533 and was executed on 19th May 1536.

Anne Boleyn(131402)
Credit: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jane Seymour

Wife No3

The King’s third wife was Jane Seymour but their marriage was to last less than one year. Jane was pregnant when she married the King and gave birth to the son that he so desired. Although Jane seemed to recover from the birth she soon became ill and died from the poor hygiene of the age. At this time many women died after child birth, even Queen’s.  The King valued his wife's role in the production of his heir, so much so, that he was buried with her when he died , at St George's Chapel in Windsor. Their son, Edward became King after his fathers death, but sickly from birth his reign was not long.

 

Jane was married to King Henry on 30th May 1536  and died 24th October of the same year.

Jane Seymour
Credit: Hans Holbein the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Anne of Cleves

Wife No 4

For his fourth wife, Henry eschewed marrying for love but chose to marry for International Diplomacy.Emissaries were sent to Cleves now in Germany to arrange  The match with Anne of Cleves  and Henry relied on portraits of his future wife Anne to ascertain her beauty. The marriage  was not a success, there was no chemistry between the royal couple, Anne was heavy featured and I think did not really fit in with the English court.   When Henry fell in love again and commanded that the marriage be annulled, she offered no opposition.  Given his track record and with the knowledge that he had already executed one of his wives she probably thought that this was the wisest course to enjoy her own personal safety. Unsurprisingly the couple did not have any children

 

It is believed that the portrait below by Hans Holbein the younger was used by Henry to choose Anne as his wife. Holbein had painted Queen Jane and was a trusted artist. It may be that physically she was acceptable but that she simply had no chemistry and was quiet and dull.

 

Anne was married to Henry on 6th January 1540 and the marriage was dissolved in July of the same year.

Anne of Cleves
Credit: Hans Holbein the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Katherine Howard

Wife No 5

. Henry fell in love with a young girl aged 19 years, Katherine Howard, and married her as soon as he could get his marriage to Anne annulled.. A young girl and an older sick man of gross physical dimensions, it is no wonder that Katherine needed   romance  in her life. She had friendships with other men, though it is believed that she probably stopped short of physical relations. The King was told of these relations  and his love faded at once leading to the execution of his fifth wife and her so called lovers. There were no children born of this marriage. At this point in his life there is some doubt if the King could have fathered any more children.

 

Katherine was married on the 28th July 1540 and was executed  on 13th February 1542

Katherine Howard
Credit: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Catherine Parr

Wife No 6

Wife Number six was a widow, Catherine Parr who had survived two husbands and looked like she might survive the third. Six months before the Kings’ death Catherine was nearly arrested because of her strong protestant faith, but by supplicating herself in front of the King she managed to save her own life and outlive the King. The marriage produced no children probably because of the Ill health of the King.

After the King's death Catherine married again for the fourth time and gave birth to a daughter , she herself suffered the same fate as Queen Jane and died shortly after the birth of her only child.

My own view is that he never set out to marry so many women, he was just driven, initially by the need for a son, but then to find someone whom he could he trust and love- a difficult demand in the Tudor court that he had created.

 

Catherine and Henry were married on 12th July 1543 and she was widowed folowing the King's death on 28th January 1547

Catherine Parr
Credit: By Lucas Horenbout (1490/95?-1544) (http://englishhistory.net/tudor/monarchs/parr.html) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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