Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Tudors => Topic started by: Lady_Murasaki on December 14, 2005, 10:22:00 AM

Title: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attributes
Post by: Lady_Murasaki on December 14, 2005, 10:22:00 AM
I have always wondered if Anne of Cleves really was as physically  unattractive as Henry VIII claimed or if he was allowing his wounded pride to speak for him? Or did his dislike of her manners and disdain at her lack of (Tudor) accomplishments color his view? Was the famous portrait very unlike her, or did Henry just change his mind once he met the princess? I would like to think that Anne was as pretty as any of the other wives, because I think it must be dreadful to have one's looks maligned for half a millenium.

I have always found it odd that Catherine Howard was purported to be such a beauty when she looks so dour, plain, and aged in her portraits. Jane Seymour also seems very homely plain to modern eyes, but supposedly her fair complexion made her attactive to her contemporaries.

The young Catherine of Aragon does seem very pretty and demure. Anne Boleyn had her charms, though it seems that her olive complexion and dark hair were not considered fashionable.

I'm curious to hear your opinions.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 14, 2005, 01:42:47 PM
after seeing quite a few portraits i have concluded that anne bolleyn was the most beautiful of all. at that time, though, i believe her beauty was indeed not fashionable, although i find it odd because she does indeed look beautiful. catherine of aragon was beautiful when she was young but aged pretty badly... i also liked catherine parr's looks, although she was not necessarilly very beautiful... i think she was more elegant and gracious than beautiful... catherine howard, if she looks anything like in the portraits is kind of ugly and same goes for jane seymour. i liked anne of cleves' portrait but she did seem a bit too... dreamy?...

as far as portraits go, i vote for anne bolleyn and catherine parr as most beautiful henry 8th wives :)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 14, 2005, 02:01:30 PM
It all depends on conceptions of beauty. In Tudor times, the ideal woman looked like Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk - pale skin, pale hair, demure look.

It's said that the English expected Katherine of Aragon to be a typical olive skinned Spaniard. Instead, she had a creamy complexion with rosy cheeks (supposedly a sign of good health) and hair a slightly darker shade to Henry VIII's. She was also very short.

Anne Boleyn, on the other hand, was the exact opposite - olive skinned, dark eyed and dark haired. Anne was never described as beautiful by contemporaries, I think, but she obviously had something.

I don't know much about Jane Seymour's looks. Portraits show her features to have been pretty regular, and an enduring thing said about her is that she was pale.

Anne of Cleves was described as of 'middling beauty' - the same term used to describe Catherine Parr. Anne, in fact, considered herself prettier than Catherine Parr. Apparently, Anne had a longer nose than the portrait shows.

As for Katherine Howard, I guess her main appeal was that she was young and probably nubile. Anyone know what contemporaries said about her looks?

Catherine Parr's features are more matronly than beautiful, though she was also apparetly of 'middling beauty'.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Elisabeth on December 14, 2005, 02:24:36 PM
It's true that standards of beauty have changed radically over the centuries. Judging from a twenty-first century perspective, I agree with you, Ilyala, that Anne Boleyn was the stand-out beauty of the bunch. At least if the Hever portrait (which shows her holding a rose) is any true likeness. Here her features are shown as small and perfectly symmetrical. She bears a strong resemblance to her daughter, Elizabeth, except that she has a shorter, prettier nose and much darker coloring. I suspect it was the dark coloring and the absence of much of a bosom - not to mention her commoner blood and her status as Henry's great love, supplanting Catherine of Aragon - that made snobs like the Spanish ambassador Chapuys describe her in largely unflattering terms.

Prince Lieven is right that Anne must have possessed the "It" factor, that indefinable element of pure charisma that Henry himself had. And she must have had it in spades, because she wasn't royal by birth, and being royal is half-way to being thought of as "charismatic."

Jane Seymour, judging from the Holbein portrait (and Holbein's portraits were judged extremely realistic even in his own day), was just plain weird-looking. She looks like a mildly barmy Miss Priss schoolmistress about to discipline the class. Or a nun about to do the same. I can't imagine what Henry saw in her. Maybe he felt better knowing that she wouldn't cheat on him (as he no doubt suspected Anne of doing) because no one in their right mind would find her even remotely attractive. Just kidding... sort of.

The Holbein portrait of Anne of Cleves is indeed ravishing but if you actually look at the features of the dreamy model princess they're not all that exceptional, in fact they would be rather plain in another, less opulent setting. But I think it was Anne of Cleves' lack of knowledge of the courtly arts that really turned Henry off. She didn't recognize him at their first meeting, when he had gone to so much trouble to disguise himself as a dashing, handsome stranger, and she didn't know anything about music or dancing either. She was a provincial, in Henry's mind a country bumpkin and an insult to his intelligence (not to mention his vanity).

Catherine Howard's portraits are singularly unflattering. All I can say is, she must have had an exceptional complexion and a really voluptuous body, not to mention her own dose of the famed Howard charisma, for Henry to have fallen for her as hard as he did.

Katherine Parr seems to me completely average in looks, but I think Henry was attracted to her for other, less superficial reasons - her intellectual interest in religion, and her reputation as a nursemaid-wife of ailing old men.  
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 14, 2005, 02:40:10 PM
I whole heartedly agree with Elisabeth about the Hever portrait and Anne Boleyn had that indefinable sexual allure. Jane Seymour has always looked to me as if she is chewing a wasp ;) Are there actually any verified portraits of Catherine Howard?
The miniature of Anne of Cleves is sublime, while not a "stunner" there is a dreamy,limpid-eyed look about her which is very attractive. Holbein was very clever IMHO  in regards of the choice of the beautiful blue background.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 14, 2005, 02:41:16 PM
Sorry, Lady Murasaki, welcome to this wonderful thread ;)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 14, 2005, 02:42:48 PM
Yep, I'd like to echo that - welcome.  ;)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Lady_Murasaki on December 14, 2005, 03:34:34 PM
Thanks for the welcome and the replies.

I find it interesting how subjective beauty can be. I have always wondered what was so alluring about Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard. I also found it somewhat strange that Anne of Cleves could *really* have been so homely that Henry could not consummate the marriage.

The chewing on a wasp comment made me laugh, Kimberly. That is a very apt way to describe her expression.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 14, 2005, 03:51:34 PM
Why thank you Lady M. I always speak as I find  ;)
(As for *homely* thats me)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ferngully on December 15, 2005, 02:28:26 AM
beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;D however henry must have been completely blind to notice any beauty about his last wives, parr was only there to be his nursemaid was she not? ;D
selina                                     xxxxxxxxxxxx
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: umigon on December 15, 2005, 02:52:36 AM
Well, Parr's marriage to Henry was consummated so... maybe a bit more than a nurse and a stepmother for his orphaned children...
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 02:54:01 AM
katherine parr:

(http://www.geocities.com/anoria_j/Medieval_images/Katherine_Parr_1535.jpg)

does she really look ugly to you? i find she looks much better than jane seymour and catherine howard, for example.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 02:57:52 AM
for comparisson:

catherine howard:

(http://www.britannia.com/bios/images/khoward.jpg)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 02:59:52 AM
jane seymour:

(http://www.wga.hu/art/h/holbein/hans_y/1535h/02seymou.jpg)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 03:01:10 AM
anne of cleves:

(http://www.marileecody.com/cleves1.jpg)

i find her kind of dull looking. that look in her eyes looks like she's been sedated. pretty, but not much more
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 03:05:21 AM
catherine of aragon:

young:

(http://www.britannia.com/bios/images/caragon.jpg)

old:

(http://ukclipart.allinfo-about.co.uk/graphics/famous_faces/Catherine_Aragon4.jpg)

Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 03:07:04 AM
...and finally....

anne boleyn.

(http://www.nellgavin.com/boleyn_facts/AnneBoleyn.jpg)

drop dead gorgeous if you ask me :P
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: umigon on December 15, 2005, 03:09:38 AM
Well, in Catherine of Aragon's portraits there is something that happens to me with every one of them: I would love to protect her. I don't know, maybe I have a special sympathy for her because she was Spanish, as I am, but still I think she was a good woman and all of her portraits inspire protective feelings in me. Specially the Michael Sittow portrait.


About Anne Boleyn, I must recognise, although I don't think very kindly of her, that she must have been the most attractive of Henry's wives. Even now, when I see her portraits (except for those in which she appears really ugly) I feel her attraction.


Jane Seymour, well, I think that in her portraits she doesn't seem kind and quiet, but simply boring. However, I have much sympathy for her because of her treatment of Mary Tudor (you know I'm committed to the Catherine and Mary fanlisting club!).

Anne of Cleves: I don't think she is beautiful, in that, I am with Henry, although he thought the painting of Holbein was attractive, I can't see a real beauty there. She has like a faraway look. But I must admit that I think she was much more attractive and intelligent as many think. I don't think her marriage to Henry wasn't consummated... Henry knew how to get things done, why was he going to be sincere this time.


Catherine Howard: Is the Holbein portrait, identified as her, still identified as being hers? If it is, then Catherine Howard is not so ugly. If we can just judge by the famous miniature, then I wouldn't have liked her as a wife! ;)


Catherine Parr: She must have been attractive, with so much knowledge and such a good character. Her portrait, and those identified as hers, show us a woman that held to her attributes (both mental and physical) until the end.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ferngully on December 15, 2005, 04:16:46 AM
well henry liked a change i suppose ;)
katherine of aragon was married to his brother first so i wouldn't expect much attraction there. she does seem to be pretty when she was young, but as she was disposed of in some cold draughty house when she died, i guess her health wavered quite bit.
anne boleyn relied too much on her unusual good looks i think.
jane seymour was just a dutiful wife, nothing more, not pretty or intelligent, just a carrier for the son as far as i know.
anne of cleves must have had something abou her but i think henry was very disapointed that she wasn't what he expected, he ignored her.
i think catherine howard was just young, nothing more.
catherine parr would have been more intelligent than pretty, but it served its purpose.
thats what i've gathered.
selina                             xxxxxxxx

Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 15, 2005, 06:55:18 AM
Does anyone else think Jane looks somehow very 'puritan'? Those pursed lips . . . she looks pretty shrewd to me.

I think Catherine of Aragon was very pretty when young. As she got older, years of childbearing affected her figure - always damning for a short person. Of course, we must remember she was 6 years Henry's senior.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: bell_the_cat on December 15, 2005, 07:54:03 AM
Quote
Does anyone else think Jane looks somehow very 'puritan'? Those pursed lips . . . she looks pretty shrewd to me.

I think Catherine of Aragon was very pretty when young. As she got older, years of childbearing affected her figure - always damning for a short person. Of course, we must remember she was 6 years Henry's senior.


I didn't know C of A was short.

Does anyone know which of the wives was the tallest?
How tall was Henry?
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 15, 2005, 07:56:05 AM
I think Henry was about 6 foot. Fraser states definitely that Catherine was a tiny women - not a dwarf, but short, and this made people surprised to here her quite deep voice. I think Catherine Parr was tall, but I can't remember why I think that.  ::)

Notice how the high hairline seemed to be fashionable back then. All the wives except AB and KH had it.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ferngully on December 15, 2005, 08:05:55 AM
Quote
Does anyone else think Jane looks somehow very 'puritan'? Those pursed lips . . . she looks pretty shrewd to me.



i think she was catholic and disaproved of henry's protestant ohase. i actually thought she was protestant at first becuase of that expression on her face :P
selina                    xxxxxxx
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 08:20:32 AM
what we must remember is that catherine of aragon and henry were married for a very long time and that there was some attachment there. lots of it actually, before anne boleyn came up. after anne boleyn it was much easier for him to change a wife, i think it was more of a mood thing.  catherine howard was a pawn in the hands of her family who simply placed her in henry's face and let him do the rest.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Lady_Murasaki on December 15, 2005, 08:30:53 AM
Quote

I didn't know C of A was short.

Does anyone know which of the wives was the tallest?
How tall was Henry?


I'm not sure. I thought Ann Boleyn was small as well as Catherine of Aragon.

Somewhere in my spotty memory, I seem to recall something about Anne of Cleves being considered big or ungainly. Was she tall? Does anyone know?

I believe Henry was six feet tall. I remember seeing a suit of armor that belonged to him at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on December 15, 2005, 08:33:53 AM
henry was indeed huge, from the start, as far as height was concerned. and he got huge in the other aspects too when he got old :P

for some reason (i can't back this up, it's just an impression) i thought that anne boleyn was tall. catherine howard and jane seymour were small, and so was catherine of aragon...
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 15, 2005, 03:43:16 PM

I can't back this up Ilyala, but I have read somewhere that the wives were all less than 5'5" except Anne of Cleves who was taller :-/
Also that portrait of catherine Howard is not her is it? It is disputed now I thought?
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: stacey on December 21, 2005, 04:27:35 AM
I'm not sure about the heights of most of them. I do recall hearing that Katherine of Aragon was short, and that Anne Boleyn was of "middling" height, I guess meaning "average"--whatever the average height was for women back then--probably not much!!

Henry on the other hand was very tall for a man of his time--at least six feet, possibly more.

About their looks:
I think Katherine of Aragon was very pretty as a young girl. Childbearing and stress and age didn't do her any favor as far as her looks and figure went, over the years. She's still someone I admire a lot, while she may not have kept her youthful looks I think she had great spiritual beauty and strength. And Henry went and broke her heart.

Anne Boleyn--I agree, the beauty of the whole crowd. True, her brunette coloring was unpopular then, but she was very attractive and clearly had an enormous sexual allure and great personal charm and grace. She had a definite "movie star" quality.

Jane Seymour--What can I say?? If Henry couldn't bring himself to sleep with Anne of Cleves (supposedly due to her looks or rather the lack thereof) how in the WORLD did he manage to sire a child with this woman?? Homely doesn't BEGIN to describe Jane--and yes, she does look like she just bit down on something particularly sour! That face could curdle milk. Sheesh!!

Anne of Cleves--I think it's a shame she couldn't sue Henry for defamation of character--or rather, looks. I see a very pretty young woman in her portrait. I never understood this song-and-dance about poor Henry being forced to marry this "great Flanders mare". I think she was pretty, if not very accomplished, and if we're gonna compare people to Flanders mares, see Jane Seymour above.

Katherine Howard--If that IS a portrait of her, then I'm stunned. Henry found Anne of Cleves ugly and thought that THIS was a perfect English rose?? English, yes, but--I hope that at least she had a luscious figure and lovely youthful complexion, as has been mentioned. Because otherwise--how would you ever get past that NOSE, never mind the rest?!?

Katherine Parr--Agreed, not a stunning beauty, but I find her quite pretty. She also had apparently an appealing manner and was a kind and gentle person. Altogether I think a very attractive lady.

So there you have it---my opinions, for what they're worth!! ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: PssMarieAmelie on December 21, 2005, 04:29:21 AM
Quote
I'm not sure about the heights of most of them. I do recall hearing that Katherine of Aragon was short, and that Anne Boleyn was of "middling" height, I guess meaning "average"--whatever the average height was for women back then--probably not much!!

Henry on the other hand was very tall for a man of his time--at least six feet, possibly more.

About their looks:
I think Katherine of Aragon was very pretty as a young girl. Childbearing and stress and age didn't do her any favor as far as her looks and figure went, over the years. She's still someone I admire a lot, while she may not have kept her youthful looks I think she had great spiritual beauty and strength. And Henry went and broke her heart.

Anne Boleyn--I agree, the beauty of the whole crowd. True, her brunette coloring was unpopular then, but she was very attractive and clearly had an enormous sexual allure and great personal charm and grace. She had a definite "movie star" quality.

Jane Seymour--What can I say?? If Henry couldn't bring himself to sleep with Anne of Cleves (supposedly due to her looks or rather the lack thereof) how in the WORLD did he manage to sire a child with this woman?? Homely doesn't BEGIN to describe Jane--and yes, she does look like she just bit down on something particularly sour! That face could curdle milk. Sheesh!!

Anne of Cleves--I think it's a shame she couldn't sue Henry for defamation of character--or rather, looks. I see a very pretty young woman in her portrait. I never understood this song-and-dance about poor Henry being forced to marry this "great Flanders mare". I think she was pretty, if not very accomplished, and if we're gonna compare people to Flanders mares, see Jane Seymour above.

Katherine Howard--If that IS a portrait of her, then I'm stunned. Henry found Anne of Cleves ugly and thought that THIS was a perfect English rose?? English, yes, but--I hope that at least she had a luscious figure and lovely youthful complexion, as has been mentioned. Because otherwise--how would you ever get past that NOSE, never mind the rest?!?

Katherine Parr--Agreed, not a stunning beauty, but I find her quite pretty. She also had apparently an appealing manner and was a kind and gentle person. Altogether I think a very attractive lady.

So there you have it---my opinions, for what they're worth!! ;D



Ouch! But I agree with most of it, though. ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 21, 2005, 04:34:45 AM
Just to nip in with something here - I think a BIG part of Jane Seymour's attraction was the 'very modest behaviour' that Henry praised. In both looks and her behaviour, she was a complete and total contrast to Anne Boleyn. Henry didn't want a women who reminded him of Anne. Jane, with her obvious lack of 'sex appeal' and her fair colouring, combined with her 'Bound to obey and serve' creed, was the ideal choice.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: stacey on December 21, 2005, 04:42:12 AM
Sorry, Grand Duchess Kira, I guess I went a little beyond honest to maybe, well--BRUTALLY honest?? ;D But I have always wondered at Henry's taste in women! Exactly what DID constitute feminine beauty, in his eyes?? I would like to think that maybe he chose some of his wives on the basis of things like character, or personality, or similarity of interests, or something like that, and that maybe he wasn't fixated on beauty. But I have my doubts. Yes, other things did factor in, such as political considerations, but all in all Henry demanded beauty in a wife. It just amazes me what he considered beautiful!! I just HOPE that is NOT a picture of poor little Katherine Howard--surely she was prettier than that! Anyway I do feel sorry for her, she was extremely young and I think she got a raw deal all the way around. Yes, she was kind of flighty--okay, maybe a LOT flighty--and apparently she did carry on right under Henry's nose, which was extremely unwise to say the least--but I do feel great sympathy for her. She certainly didn't deserve to die. I think that was Henry's ego at work again. BUT as for Jane Seymour--oh my heavens--THAT FACE!!!!!!! :o ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 21, 2005, 04:45:47 AM
Oh dear.  ;D ;D

Well, I don't think Henry was totally looks obssessed. Katherine of Aragon was someone he had known since he was a child, and probably had affection and respect for when he married her, if he wasn't in love with her.

As for Anne Boleyn, we must remember that even though we consider her pretty, at the time, she was NEVER called pretty. It was more likely her provocative and - for want of a better word - sexy attitude that attracted Henry, as well as her witty conversation. ;)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: stacey on December 21, 2005, 04:46:47 AM
Hi again, Prince! Yes, I think you're exactly right about Jane's main attraction for Henry. He had clearly had it--at least for the moment--with attractive, sexy, dramatic, alluring, volatile, intelligent females. So he picked Jane. But I gotta say, if Jane had been any more colorless, she would have been invisible!! ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: PssMarieAmelie on December 21, 2005, 04:52:33 AM
Quote
Hi again, Prince! Yes, I think you're exactly right about Jane's main attraction for Henry. He had clearly had it--at least for the moment--with attractive, sexy, dramatic, alluring, volatile, intelligent females. So he picked Jane. But I gotta say, if Jane had been any more colorless, she would have been invisible!! ;D



haha ;D I think Jane attracted him because of her demure-ness. IMO she was pretty ugly. The poor thing..



IMO Anna von Cleves was the prettiest.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 21, 2005, 04:54:43 AM
Quote
But I gotta say, if Jane had been any more colorless, she would have been invisible!! ;D


;D ;D ;DLol, Yes, I have to agree, Jane looks about exciting as natural yoghurt.  :P ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 21, 2005, 05:07:35 AM
And son or no son, Henry would have been tired and bored to death with mousy and IMO crafty, Jane within a few years. He wouldn't have consigned her to the scrap heap, but I think he would have found himself a glittering beauty (perhaps not unlike Anne Boleyn) to entertain and scintillate/stimulate him.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: PssMarieAmelie on December 21, 2005, 05:10:19 AM
Quote
And son or no son, Henry would have been tired and bored to death with mousy and IMO crafty, Jane within a few years. He wouldn't have consigned her to the scrap heap, but I think he would have found himself a glittering beauty (perhaps not unlike Anne Boleyn) to entertain and scintillate/stimulate him.



I agree there. IMO he would've gotten "out of it" as soon as he could within a few years.



Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 21, 2005, 05:14:59 AM
I don't think he would have "dumped" or divorced Jane, rather he would have kept her as the good little wife who would have re-produced every couple of years until she wore out.......sheesh, what a thought :-/
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on December 21, 2005, 05:16:07 AM
What a man he was!!!  ;D ;D :P
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on December 21, 2005, 05:25:29 AM
< sigh> ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ferngully on December 23, 2005, 11:34:40 AM
something called a mistress........many of them. not a concept that was unknown to him ;D
selina                   xxxxxxxxx
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on January 13, 2006, 06:32:03 PM
a somewhat prettier picture of jane :)

(http://tudorhistory.org/seymour/janesey.jpg)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on January 20, 2006, 05:48:07 AM
while older men can father children, it's still harder than younger men... that and the fact that i'm sure the consummation happened very often ;)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on January 20, 2006, 07:47:32 AM
Was she though? While she may have been quite free with her favours before marriage to Henry, Starkey has transcribed the abstract of Culpepper's interrogation. Guess what, they never had sex. They shared sexual banter rather than anything physical.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on January 20, 2006, 09:32:41 AM
I think Antonia Fraser also mentions that Katherine H. knew 'how to please a man' without getting pregnant.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on January 20, 2006, 10:06:43 AM
cook him a nice dinner ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on January 20, 2006, 10:10:47 AM
That's certainly one way.  ;D ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: bell_the_cat on January 20, 2006, 10:27:45 AM
Quote
That's certainly one way.  ;D ;D


.....and let him fall asleep watching the sport while you tidy up in the kitchen!

I believe this is what Antonia herself does.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Lorelei_Lee on January 20, 2006, 04:54:04 PM
Quote
I don't think he would have "dumped" or divorced Jane, rather he would have kept her as the good little wife who would have re-produced every couple of years until she wore out.......sheesh, what a thought  


I agree.  He'd never have divorced Katherine of Aragon if she'd given him a son who'd lived.  Anne would have had to settle for being Henry's mistress.  I think Henry had been toying with the notion of divorcing Katherine even before he fell in love with Anne ... IIRC Wolsey was in favor of the idea but wanted him to marry a French princess.  Katherine had an early-ish menopause, I think, and that didn't help matters, because of course once she'd been through "the change" there was no longer even the possibility of her producing a male heir.  

And speaking of "female matters" ... if Katherine Howard was really only 15 or 16 when she married Henry, she likely wasn't menstruating when she was fooling around with Francis Dereham.  I've read that in the sixteenth century girls tended to mature a bit later than they do now because of the difference in diet.  Obviously it would vary from woman to woman, and there certainly WERE women who became mature sexually while still in their early teens, but poor little Katherine Howard may not have been one of them, precocious though she seems to have been in other ways (ahem!)

Lookswise, I think the French ambassador described Katherine as a lady of only "moderate beauty but surpassing grace."  Henry would have appreciated her graceful dancing, just as he appreciated Anne's musical talent.  He liked his ladies to be accomplished.  

Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on January 20, 2006, 05:01:08 PM
I agree with all of the above.  ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: imperial angel on March 15, 2006, 10:41:55 AM
As for Henry VIII's wives physical attributes, we have to remember that standards of beauty have really changed. And what they might have considered beautiful is far from what we would see as such. And we don't know how accurate portaits were, nor how much the style of the day might make someone who was pretty look much less so. These are all the factors. But if we consider someone attractive from her portrait, then she no doubt was, given all the above. Katherine of Aragon was a beauty by anyone's standards in youth, but she lost her looks later with all that child bearing and stress. That is not very surprising. As for Anne Boleyn, she was a beauty in our eyes, if not then, and she was defintely sexy. She would be considered very attractive today, as would Katherine of Aragon in youth, although slightly less so. Jane Seymour was an epitome of Tudor beauty, pale skin, and all that. Today, it is hard to say how attractive she would be considered. Perhaps with a better hair style and outfi she would look better.

As for the last three, it is said that that portrait of Anne of Cleves is unaccurate, which could be true. She seems in the portrait to be pretty, although rather dour. She seems slightly less ravishing than his first two wives, but prettier than Jane. Catherine Howard is hard to pinpoint as having an accurate portrait. It seems that she was a typical Tudor beauty, with her skin, and she was no dount young and nubile, which is always attractive. Today she might be regarded as having a bit of a mannish look. Katherine Parr seems normal and pleasant in looks, as she was in personality. She was pretty, but not in a ravishing way, just in a ordinary way.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: nelly on March 15, 2006, 04:42:18 PM
I seem to remember seeing another portrait of Anne of Cleves showing her profile.   According to that picture, she really had a lonnnnnng nose and looked rather schoolmarmish.  Holbein was quite clever in posing her head-on, minimising that nose ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on March 16, 2006, 09:04:21 PM
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I seem to remember seeing another portrait of Anne of Cleves showing her profile.   According to that picture, she really had a lonnnnnng nose and looked rather schoolmarmish.  Holbein was quite clever in posing her head-on, minimising that nose ;D


And some of the nose was even painted over... What a honker it must have been.

Henry, interestingly, never developed a certain type of woman to pursue (for example, some men prefer dogging leggy blondes, other short brunettes with green eyes etc.).  His tastes fluxuated throughout his reign when it came to queens, although admittedly he chose strong, smart and vivacious women who could (when they wanted to) play house to perfection.  What did Bessie Blount and Madge Shelton look like?  Other mistresses?  I cannot find any information on their appearances.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 17, 2006, 07:04:15 AM
Bessie is usually said to have been beautiful, though no further details are given. Perhaps Madge resembled her cousin Mary Boleyn, and that's what attracted the King.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on March 17, 2006, 08:57:56 AM
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Bessie is usually said to have been beautiful, though no further details are given. Perhaps Madge resembled her cousin Mary Boleyn, and that's what attracted the King.


That's true, I never thought about that.  

For a man who was so oversexed and interested in women, Henry was remarkably discreet.  I have never seen a description of his wives that he personally wrote (well, except for his blustering about Anna of Cleves).  But I have seen some opinions of his about their intellectual traits.  And I can't figure it out.  Henry seems, on the surface, to be a man who would revel in his beautiful conquests (despite being a prude) and would have left a more complete record.  
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: imperial angel on March 17, 2006, 10:15:18 AM
Given that portraits were more touched up, as it were, it is likely that Anne of Cleves was not a great beauty, although they were other reasons that King Henry called her what he did. Certainly, he did not seem to have a physical type, but it is hard to tell from all those old portaits. Perhaps he did, but it is hard to see. And with so many wives, perhaps it was hard to have a physical type. ;)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on March 20, 2006, 01:49:40 AM
a little personal point of view here: i have a personal physical style however the guys i liked during my life don't look much like each other. because my physical style referrs to smiles, looks, eyes, gestures... it's still a physical appreciation of the person, but not necessairilly hair colour, eye colour, length of feet... maybe henry had a simmilar thing...
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Tsarina_Liz on March 20, 2006, 08:10:08 AM
Quote
a little personal point of view here: i have a personal physical style however the guys i liked during my life don't look much like each other. because my physical style referrs to smiles, looks, eyes, gestures... it's still a physical appreciation of the person, but not necessairilly hair colour, eye colour, length of feet... maybe henry had a simmilar thing...


He could have.  I think, underneath it all he was looking for an intelligent, headstrong woman who could put up a fight when she wanted to and could match him wit for wit but also a woman who knew how to act like a real wife and coddle and appease him.  He liked to be controlled, to be challenged, but not to know it.  Me thinks he may also have been looking for a mommy, but that's just speculation.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 20, 2006, 02:26:15 PM
In short, his standards were ridiculously high.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on March 20, 2006, 03:04:36 PM
Well, my hubby has no complaints ;D ;D ;D
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Lorelei_Lee on March 20, 2006, 06:49:37 PM
When Henry was considering Christina of Denmark as a bride, one of his diplomats (I forget which) commented in a letter that Christina looked very much like Madge Shelton.   So, assuming the Holbein portrait of Christina is an accurate likeness, it would seem that Madge was very pretty.  Certainly she seems to have been popular with the men!
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: ilyala on March 21, 2006, 01:51:03 AM
can anyone please post the portrait? i would be looking for christina of denmark on google but i think there's more than one...  :-/
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 21, 2006, 10:05:45 AM
This is the famous one, I think.

(http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e392/princelieven/Tudors/ChristinaofDenmark.jpg)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: imperial angel on March 21, 2006, 10:35:40 AM
It could be that his physical type as it were wasn't overt. It might have been in the little things that he found his type, things we can't tell from old portraits, but that would have been apparent then. I agree that it might not have hair colour, eye colour, and other physical chracteristics easily seen. It could have been other things, perhaps even personality a bit, which would have been rather advanced. ;)
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Kimberly on March 21, 2006, 03:12:33 PM
What a babe ;D Wasn't she the one who said that if she had two heads she would gladly let Henry have one?
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Prince_Lieven on March 21, 2006, 03:28:56 PM
That was her, one of Charles V's many nieces. She was the daughter of his sister Isabella and Christian II (I think) of Denmark, and had been married and widowed as a young woman to the Duke of Milan. I think she later married a Duke of Lorraine.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: Lorelei_Lee on March 21, 2006, 05:38:35 PM
Right you are, Prince Lieven.  She was only sixteen, I believe, when that portrait was painted.  She was in mourning for her first husband the Duke of Milan; hence the sober attire.  I think Christina was widowed for the second time when she was only 23.  Perhaps it's just as well for Henry's sake that he didn't marry her, as her husbands seem not to have had a long life expectancy!

Interestingly, there is at least a suggestion in the historical record that Henry may have been considering a marriage with either his old flame Madge or one of her sisters in the same time frame as he was courting Christina of Denmark, Anne of Cleves, and Marie of Guise.  There's a cryptic reference in a courtier's letter to Henry making "an election" for his "comfort" between "Mistress Shelton" and "Mistress Skipworth."   Possibly he meant merely to take a mistress, but since he was a widower at the time and wasn't exactly averse to marrying his subjects he may have been considering marriage to one or the other of these ladies.  

Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attribut
Post by: nelly on March 21, 2006, 05:57:34 PM
--and, of course, Marie of Guise is the lady who, when told that, since she was a tall women for the time, she was perfect for Henry, replied "ah, but my neck is small."  She then went on to marry James V of Scotland and became the mother of Mary Queen of Scots--
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attributes
Post by: Selencia on October 06, 2013, 06:44:24 PM
This is the famous one, I think.

(http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e392/princelieven/Tudors/ChristinaofDenmark.jpg)

Bumping the thread.
I feel Christina is rather unattractive in that one portrait of her. Maybe she needs hair to distract from her face.
As for Henry's wives
Katharine- rather plain IMO but one of the better looking wives
Anne Boleyn-so many portraits of her and while they do have similarities, they change the facial features frequently and she ranges from average to quite pretty. Elizabeth does resemble her
Jane Seymour- the most unattractive of them all. Good gawd Henry must have been blind to choose this one. A double chin that sticks out a huge nose beady eyes and mouth that is too small for such a big face.
Anne of Cleves- based on Holbein's painting she was the most beautiful.
Catherine Howard- based on one portrait, that has been posted in here, she is quite pretty, based on another one where she is wearing a long black velvet dress trimmed with gold, she resembles a man.
Katherine Parr- one of the better looking wives, nothing to write home about, like Mary Boleyn or Elizabeth Woodville, but she is very pretty and with nice pale skin.
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attributes
Post by: Kimberly on October 12, 2013, 08:07:44 AM
she had hair :-) modesty demanded that it be covered for the most part.
Your assessment of the various wives and their beauty (or not) had me giggling Selencia. Jane's ( who, it is on record, is not my favourite!!) portrait is probably the most unappealing I agree. But standards of beauty were very diferent then. The ideal was fair (white to the point of transparency) complexion with preferably blue eyes and blonde hair, oh and not forgetting the rosebud mouth. The height of fashion was a high forehead ( with the hair regularly plucked away to accentuate this) and extremely plucked eyebrows almost to the point of invisibility. Somewhat different to the "scouse brow" that is so of the moment amongst some ( here in the UK ).
By the by, Katherine Parr had very pretty darkish blonde hair, there is a lock of it in Sudeley Castle......along with a tooth!
Title: Re: Henry VIII's wives and their physical attributes
Post by: Kimberly on October 12, 2013, 01:43:11 PM
Off topic I know but further to above, Glenda Jackson had her head shaved for the role of Elizabeth R.