Surprising Anne Of Cleves Facts Unveiled That You Didn't Know

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 31, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Dec 09, 2021
Anne of Cleves facts include that she was a Queen consort of England in the 16th century.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.5 Min

King Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves (1515–July 16, 1557), was Queen of England from January 6 to July 9, 1540.

When she became engaged to Francis, Duke of Bar, in 1527, the son and heir of the Duke of Lorraine, little was known about her prior to that time. Anne spent her childhood in Schloss Burg on the edge of Solingen.

King Henry considered that he needed to forge a Protestant alliance with Anne's brother, William, who was a leader of the Protestants in western Germany, in order to bolster his position against possible threats from Catholic France and the Holy Roman Empire. Thomas Cromwell, Henry's chief minister, pushed for this marriage.

The marriage of Henry VIII of England and Anne was ruled unconsummated after six months, and as a result, she was not anointed queen consort of England. She became known as the King's Beloved Sister following the annulment, and Henry awarded her a large settlement.

Outliving the rest of Henry's other wives, she survived to see both the reign of Edward VI and Mary I's coronation.

If you like reading about Anne Of Cleves, you should read further to know about her in detail. You could also check out our other facts articles on Albert Einstein facts and facts about Cuba.

When was Anne of Cleves born?

Anne of Cleves was born in Düsseldorf, on September 22, 1515 to John III and his wife, Maria. Anne's father was the Duke of Cleves. Anne was not deeply religious, even after being raised by her mother Maria, a strict catholic.

Anne was close to her mother, Maria of Julich-Berg, and their woman-heavy household—Anne had two other sisters—was a safe sanctuary for the little girl.

Anne Of Cleves Cause Of Death

On July 16, 1557, Anne of Cleves died in Chelsea Old Manor when she was 41.

The cause of Anne of Cleves' death was most likely cancer.

The beautiful funeral was held according to Catholic traditions, as Lady Anne had requested, and Mary I ordered her burial in the Abbey.

The memorial of the former queen is a low stone structure with sculptures displaying her initials with a crown, lions' heads, and skulls, and crossed bones on the south side of the High Altar (symbols of mortality).

It was most likely begun by Theodore Haveus of Cleves but never completed.

Later monuments have mostly hidden the back half of the tomb. From the south transept, the inscription on the back reads: 'Anne of Cleves Queen of England. Born 1515. Died 1557.' However, it was not until the 1970s that this was added.

Anne is by far the most lasting of Henry's wives, having outlived the other queens and the king himself.

Henry married Anne in order to forge a political alliance with William, her brother who was the Duke of Cleves and a leader of the Protestants in western Germany.

Because it appeared in 1539 that the two largest Roman Catholic countries, France and the Holy Roman Empire, were ready to join forces to invade Protestant England, he believed the alliance was vital.

That threat motivated Thomas Cromwell, Henry's senior minister, to arrange the marriage in order to strengthen links between England and the Lutheran foes of the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V.

A portrait of Anne of Cleves was made in the 1540s by Bartholom\u00e4us Bruyn the elder.

Did Anne of Cleves have children?

When it comes to Anne of Cleves' children, there is no information available that can confirm if she had any kids. It was although claimed that Anne Boleyn had no children.

She was only married to Henry VIII for a few months and never remarried following their divorce.

This was probably for the better, as women in the 1500s faced a serious risk of death during childbirth. That being said, it was a known fact that the kingdom and its people were eagerly awaiting the birth of the children of Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII at the time.

On June 24, unfortunately, Anne was ordered to leave the court, and on July 6, she learned of her husband's desire to reconsider their marriage. Witness testimonies from a number of courtiers and two physicians were taken, and they all expressed the king's displeasure. This was expressly conveyed to his courtiers and confidantes Thomas Heneage and Anthony Denny. 

Anne was asked for her agreement to an annulment shortly after these events, which she duly accepted. Cromwell, the driving force behind their marriage, was arrested for treason, although the reasons were then quite obvious (the king's displeasure and wrath). On July 9, 1540, the marriage was officially annulled due to Anne's pre-contract with Francis of Lorraine.

When did Anne of Cleves marry Henry?

On January 6, 1540, Anne married Henry VIII when she was 24-years-old and became his fourth wife at Greenwich, although the marriage was annulled later in July that year. As a result, the young woman never received the title of queen.

He dubbed her a 'Flanders mare' because she wasn't as pretty as her portrait represented, although she initially sparked the king's interest. She received a generous divorce settlement from King Henry VIII, including Richmond Palace and Hever Castle, and she was friendly with the new Queen Elizabeth I.

Henry dispatched his court painter Hans Holbein on a sinister mission in the late 1530s. Still undecided between the two sisters, he instructed him to paint both Anne and Amalia so he could choose which one he preferred. He also gave Holbein extremely explicit instructions: paint the girls realistically and without flattering them, as he required a beautiful queen.

Anne's reaction was much different as she seemed to have disliked Catherine Parr, Henry's sixth wife. Young Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry, was divorced and executed for adultery, and Anne requested Henry to be queen again, which was denied.

It is said that before marrying Lady Anne, Henry VIII had met his future wife, Catherine Howard, with whom he was smitten.

She had no male authority other than the king and the king's family, and Henry VIII chose not to bother her. Rumors about her lifestyle followed her for the remainder of her life.

Anne, for one, was content and contented, and she had few reasons to be otherwise. She made her final public appearance in 1553, riding behind Princess Elizabeth at Mary Tudor's coronation.

Did You Know...

No alliances were formed in the year 1538. Henry planned to utilize his fourth marriage as a counterbalance to the Hapsburg empire. Cleves' marriage lasted only six months. She only reigned as queen for four months and was never crowned.

Anne left a bit of money for her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to hire them.

Hans Holbein the Younger painted the famous portrait of Anne of Cleves with watercolor on vellum.

Hans Holbein the Younger, one of the well-renowned painters of England, was sent to paint both Anne and her sister Amelia. Henry considered Anne's younger sister to be his fourth wife too.

Anne and her brother, William, Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, persuaded the king to remarry Anne after Catherine Howard was beheaded. Henry was adamant about not doing so. She reportedly reacted to the news of Henry's sixth marriage with the statement, "Madam Parr is placing a heavy load on herself," and she seemed to loathe Catherine Parr. 

Edward VI's Privy Council ordered her to relocate from Bletchingley Palace to Penshurst Place in March 1547 to make place for Thomas Cawarden, Master of Revels. They pointed out that Penshurst was closer to Hever and that Henry VIII had ordered the shift.

Anne wrote to Mary I on August 4, 1553, to congratulate her on her marriage to Philip of Spain.

Mary was accompanied by her sister Elizabeth and Anne when she left St James's Palace for Whitehall on September 28, 1553. Anne was also a participant in Mary I's coronation procession and may have attended her crowning at Westminster Abbey.

Her last public appearances were on these dates. Because the new queen was a devout Catholic, Anne converted once more, this time to Roman Catholicism.

After a brief resurgence, she fell out of favor with the King of England in 1554, following Wyatt's insurrection.

Anne's intimate relationship with Elizabeth had persuaded the Queen that "the Lady [Anne] of Cleves was of the scheme and engaged with the Duke of Cleves to seek support for Elizabeth: affairs in which the king of France was the chief mover," according to Simon Renard, the imperial ambassador.

After 1554, there is no record that Anne was summoned to court again.

On her estates, she was forced to live a secluded and hidden life.

Anne never left England after becoming the King's bride. Despite occasional homesickness, Anne was happy in England, and Holinshed praised her as 'a lady of proper respectable esteem, courteous, mild, a good housekeeper, and very bountiful to her servants'.

King Henry made an alliance with the House of Cleves in order to get the political support and authority he desired throughout Europe. In addition, he required a 'spare' for his heir, Prince Edward. The original political purpose for the union had faded by the time Anne arrived in England.

The Anne of Cleves portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger is now in the Louvre Museum.

The Anne of Cleves personality is said to be warm, gracious, and kind. Even as a new bride on her wedding night, she spread her charm to everybody.

Jane Seymour was the third queen of Henry VIII. After her death, Henry wore black for three whole months, marriage negotiations for Anne of Cleves had begun.

During this widowerhood, he was immensely sad and as a result, he began to overeat. He put on a lot of weight and became obese, and contracted diabetes as well.

Many state that Jane Seymour was possibly his most favorite of all wives, including Marie de Guise, because she was able to give him a male heir who could descend the throne when the time came.

Her death affected him the most. After that, Henry declared his marriage to Anne of Cleves and married her soon after.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Anne of Cleves facts then why not take a look at Barack Obama facts or Babe Ruth facts.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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