The Story Behind The Six Wives Of King Henry VIII
For 36 years, King Henry VIII ruled England, ushering in the English Renaissance and Protestant Reformation. On the other hand, the monarch’s troubled romantic life has consistently kept him in the spotlight. In his desperate search for political unity and a healthy male heir, the monarch annulled two marriages and beheaded two wives. His tumultuous love life threw his succession into disarray, had ramifications for foreign policy, and even led to a split with the Catholic Church. Below is the timeline of King Henry VIII’s wives:
Catherine of Aragon (1509-1533)
Henry was obsessed with continuing the Tudor lineage from the moment he married Catherine. Unfortunately, Mary I was the only child to survive a number of pregnancies. Catherine stayed at Henry’s side for 23 years and is regarded as the king’s one true love. Henry’s breach with Rome was sparked by Pope Clement VII’s reluctance to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine, which led to the English Reformation.
Anne Boleyn (1533-1536)
They only have one living child, Elizabeth I. After a string of stillborn children, King Henry lost interest in his wife and got himself a mistress. Anne was infuriated and was soon accused of infidelity and treason. Their marriage was annulled and Anne was beheaded on Mary 1536. However, many historians believe Henry made up Anne’s accusations.
Jane Seymour (1536-1537)
Following Catherine and Anne, Jane became a lady-in-waiting. She is Anne’s first cousin. Jane gave birth to Edward VI on October 12, 1937, but she died a few weeks later due to difficulties giving birth. At the age of 15, their son died.
Anne of Cleves (1540-1540)
Henry remained a bachelor for two years until his chief minister proposed that he seek a European alliance by marrying one of the sisters of the Duke of Cleves. After he saw a portrait of the two sisters, he chose Anne as the more flattering one. When Anne came to England, Henry was taken aback by the fact that she didn’t resemble the painting at all. He attempted to stop the wedding but it was too late. Six months later, Anne – the so-called “ugly wife”, accepted the divorce.
Catherine Howard (1540-1542)
Henry was so enamored with his boisterous new wife that he lavished her with gifts. However, suspicions of adultery surfaced less than a year into their marriage. Catherine was executed for adultery and treason at Tower Green in 1942 with adequate evidence.
Catherine Parr (1543-1547)
A vivacious and well-educated widow. When she was detained by Henry for expressing interest in Protestanism, she avoided the fate of her forefathers, bringing stability and harmony to the court. She also persuaded Henry to reinstate his daughters to their rightful places in the line of succession, and she served as Regent when Henry went to war with France. She died a year after Henry died.