Author Topic: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves  (Read 51545 times)

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Offline Prince_Lieven

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Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« on: January 11, 2006, 02:43:35 PM »
Hi everyone.

I was just thinking about Henry and Anna's divorce, and something struck me. Obviously the offical reason for divorcing her was the precontrat to the Duke of Lorraine, but we all know the unofficial reason was that Henry thought her too ugly. But surely in those days Henry would hardly be the first royal man - or woman - to have to marry someone whom they didn't find physically attractive? It seems an awfully weak excuse to divorce her, even given Henry's character. Could there possibly be another reason that he wanted to rid himself of her? Can anyone suggest anything?
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bell_the_cat

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2006, 02:53:12 PM »
Quote
Hi everyone.

I was just thinking about Henry and Anna's divorce, and something struck me. Obviously the offical reason for divorcing her was the precontrat to the Duke of Lorraine, but we all know the unofficial reason was that Henry thought her too ugly. But surely in those days Henry would hardly be the first royal man - or woman - to have to marry someone whom they didn't find physically attractive? It seems an awfully weak excuse to divorce her, even given Henry's character. Could there possibly be another reason that he wanted to rid himself of her? Can anyone suggest anything?



David Starkey suggests that the real reason was that Henry was a big ol' romantic (courtly love and all that), and Anne didn't respond in the correct way. He first presented himself to her in disguise. She was supposed to be bowled over by the mysterious (bulky) stranger according to the conventions of courtship.

Unfortunately she hadn't been warned about this, so she was really freaked out by this irritating guy who kept pestering her! Not a good start.

I kind of understand this version, but it still doesn't seem enough somehow!

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2006, 03:00:28 PM »
Quote

I kind of understand this version, but it still doesn't seem enough somehow!


Thanks Bell! I'm glad someone agrees with me about the whole ugly thing not really being an excuse to divorce someone.  :D I thought this thread would bomb!
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2006, 03:08:03 PM »
(Maybe we need to look at Henry's personality at this stage of his life.)
Anne was described as "She excelleth (Christina of Milan) as the golden sun outshineth the moon" or words to that effect. Also, long before he had seen any portraits of the Cleves sisters, he had already decided that one of them"was to be their Queen".
Henry had set himself up as Anne's Knight in Shining Armour and look what happened when he visited her in disguise at Rochester.....she failed to recognise him :o. What a deflation for this once golden King who was by now, turning into a smelly mass of blubber. Big black mark for Anne and it wasn't going to get any better for her.It wasn't too long after this doomed marriage that Henry had cast his eye on Catherine Howard so poor Anne didn't stand a chance
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2006, 03:18:08 PM »
So what do we reckon then ::)
1) Anne "insulted" him by not recognising him.
2) Henry, pride hurt, didnot manage to consumate the marriage (did he) although he was keen to point out to his physicians that he still had "nocturnal emissions"
3) Henry had soon met and fallen in love with Catherine Howard.
What about the politics and shenannigans going on behind the scenes?
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ilyala

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2006, 04:14:14 PM »
cleves was a minor protestant state. the alliance was suggested by cromwell in an atempt to emphasise on england's new found non-catholicism. unfortunatly, henry was never a protestant, never wanted to be one and the alliance with a protestant state, a very small one of no real use... of course except of catherine of aragon none of the other wives brought any important alliance, but we must also look at it as if cleves could not help england while england allied with cleves gave cleves and protestantism (whichw as still weak at that point) some sort of weight that henry i'm sure as soon as he was aware of, resented.

Offline Prince_Lieven

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2006, 04:34:46 PM »
Thanks for replying guys! :D

Quote
2) Henry, pride hurt, didnot manage to consumate the marriage (did he) although he was keen to point out to his physicians that he still had "nocturnal emissions"


Does anyone who has more tenchnical knowlege here know if 'nocturnal emissions' have any reflection on whether or not Henry would be able to consummate his marriage? As I see it, the 'emissions' take place while he's asleep and has no control, whereas 'bedding' his wife is a totally different matter.
"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
-Sherlock Holmes

"Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget."

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2006, 04:48:50 PM »
Well, he seemed to think it was important ;D
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2006, 04:58:45 PM »
Wasn't there something going on with the French/Holy Roman Empire alliance at this time??
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elena_maria_vidal

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2006, 07:47:04 PM »
What a great topic! I do not believe the "ugly" story. I think Henry was already in love with Katherine Howard and wanted to get Anne out of the way. Also Anne was limited in her command of languages and Henry was not happy without the witty repartee which was love play to him.

bell_the_cat

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2006, 12:56:47 AM »
Quote
cleves was a minor protestant state. the alliance was suggested by cromwell in an atempt to emphasise on england's new found non-catholicism. unfortunatly, henry was never a protestant, never wanted to be one and the alliance with a protestant state, a very small one of no real use... of course except of catherine of aragon none of the other wives brought any important alliance, but we must also look at it as if cleves could not help england while england allied with cleves gave cleves and protestantism (whichw as still weak at that point) some sort of weight that henry i'm sure as soon as he was aware of, resented.


Somehow the international situation at this particular juncture meant that Henry couldn't have backed out after meeting Anne (it took her months to get herself over to England), and so had to marry her.

I think that if it had "sparked" between Henry and Anne he would have found a way to make it work. I'm inclined to believe that he wasn't in love with Catherine Howard when he met Anne. He was genuinely hoping for the "butterflies in the stomach"!

After the disappointment at Rochester he must have been looking around for someone else - Catherine must have been close at hand.

The problem was that Henry found women attractive who found him attractive! Anne failed this test miserably.
Catherine obviously found the old goat exciting, or at least was able to simulate the attraction (being more experienced in these things than Anne). So Anne's good though unexceptional looks were not the issue. He seems to have had no problem consummating the marriage with Catherine.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by bell_the_cat »

elena_maria_vidal

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2006, 07:49:31 AM »
Wasn't Katherine Howard one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting?

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2006, 08:53:57 AM »
Yes, she was- and also a niece of the Duke of Norfolk
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ilyala

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2006, 12:54:42 PM »
i'm sure that henry would have made the alliance work, had he found anne attractive. but i am also sure that had she brought an important alliance with the marriage, he wouldn't have gotten rid of her so soon... i think the political climate eased the divorce... she was practically a nobody... even more so a nobody that emphasised on a protestant alliance that henry was not very keen of... i'm sure that must have contributed somehow...

Lady_Murasaki

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Re: Henry VIII & Anna of Cleves
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2006, 05:30:42 PM »
I tend to believe that Henry's pride was wounded by her disinterest.

The idea that she was too ugly for him is odd. If she had possessed some hideous flaw it surely would have been mentioned to this man who prized beauty before the marriage was suggested. She may have been plain, but ugly strains credulity.

There are some intangibles that probably affected the perception of beauty. The fact that she was unsophisticated, lacking glibness and grace, not at all flirtaceous, and unfashionable must have made her seem awkward indeed.

I suppose it is true that the marraige was unconsummated, judging by her comments to her ladies-in-waiting. Is it possible Henry was impotent? Is it possible that none of his later marriages were consummated? He had no further issue.