Anne of Cleves
(22 September 1515â€“16 July 1557) (
) was a German noblewoman
and the fourth
of Henry VIII of England
and as such she
was Queen of England
January 1540 to 9 July 1540. The marriage was never consummated
, and she was not crowned queen consort
. Following the annulment of
their marriage, Anne was given a generous settlement by the King,
and thereafter referred to as the King's Beloved Sister
She was the second longest-lived of all of Henry's wives, after
Catherine of Aragon
Anne was the subject of two portraits by Hans Holbein the younger
painted her in 1539.
born in 1515 near DÃ¼sseldorf, the second daughter of John III, Duke of Cleves, Julich, Berg, Count of Mark and
Ravensberg (often referred to as Duke of Cleves) who died in
1538, and his wife Maria,
Duchess of Julich-Berg (1491- 1543).
Her father was
influenced by Erasmus
and followed a
moderate path within the Reformation
. He sided with the
Emperor Charles V
After John's death, Anne's brother William
of JÃ¼lich-Cleves-Berg, bearing the promising epithet "The Rich." In
1526, her elder sister Sybille
married to John
, Elector of Saxony
head of the Protestant Confederation
and considered the "Champion of the
At the age of 12 (1527), Anne was betrothed to Francis
, son and heir of the
Duke of Lorraine
was only 10, thus the betrothal was considered 'unofficial' and was
cancelled in 1535. Her brother William was a Lutheran
but the family was unaligned religiously,
with her mother, the Duchess Maria described as a "strict
Catholic." The Duke's ongoing dispute over Gelderland
with Emperor Charles V
made them suitable
allies for England's King Henry VIII in the wake of the Truce of Nice
. The match with Anne was urged
on the King by his chancellor
, Thomas Cromwell
. Both Henry and Anne were
descendants of Charlemagne
Baldwin IV, Count of Flanders.
The artist Hans Holbein the
was dispatched to paint portraits of Anne and her
younger sister, Amelia, both of whom Henry was considering as his
fourth wife. Henry required the artist to be as accurate as
possible, not to flatter the sisters. The two versions of
Holbein's portrait are in the Louvre in Paris and
the Victoria and
Albert Museum in London.
Negotiations with Cleves were in
full swing by March 1539. Cromwell oversaw the talks and a marriage
treaty was signed on 4 October that year. While Henry valued
education and cultural sophistication in women, Anne lacked these
as she had received no formal education but was skilled in
needlework, and liked playing card games. She could read and write,
but only in German. Nevertheless, Anne was considered gentle,
virtuous, and docile, qualities that made her a suitable candidate
for Henry. Anne was described by the French ambassador, Charles de
Marillac, as tall and slim, "of middling beauty, and of very
assured and resolute countenance". She was dark haired, with a
rather swarthy complexion, appeared solemn by English standards,
and she looked old for her age. Holbein painted her with high
forehead, heavy-lidded eyes and a pointed chin.
[[Image:Anne of Cleves Arms.svg|thumb|right|upright|Anne of Cleves'
arms as queen consort]]Henry was impatient to see his future bride.
He went to meet her at Rochester and was promptly disappointed. He
felt he had been misled, as everyone had praised Anne's
attractions: "She is nothing so fair as she hath been reported," he
complained. Henry urged Cromwell to find a legal way to avoid the
marriage but, by this point, doing so was impossible without
endangering the vital alliance with the Germans.
A doomed marriage
Henry's very vocal misgivings, the two were married on 6 January
1540 at the royal Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, London by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.
The phrase "God send
me well to keep" was engraved around Anneâ€™s wedding ring.
Immediately after arriving in England, Anne conformed to the
form of worship, which Henry
expected. The couple's first night as husband and wife was not a
happy one. Henry confided to Cromwell that he had not consummated
the marriage, saying, "I liked her before not well, but now I like
her much worse".
Anne was commanded to leave the Court on 24 June, and on 6 July she
was informed of her husband's decision to reconsider the marriage.
Shortly afterwards, Anne was asked for her consent to an annulment
, to which she agreed. The marriage was
annulled on 9 July 1540, on the grounds of non-consummation and her
pre-contract to Francis of Lorraine.
After the annulment
queen received a generous settlement, including Richmond
Palace, and Hever
Castle, home of Henry's former in-laws, the
Boleyns. Anne of Cleves House, in Lewes, Sussex, is just one of many properties she owned; she
never lived there.
Henry and Anne became good friendsâ€”she
was an honorary member of the King's family and was referred to as
"the King's Beloved Sister"
. She was invited to court
often and, out of gratitude for her not contesting the annulment,
Henry decreed that she would be given precedence over all women in
England save his own wife and daughters.
After Catherine Howard
beheaded, Anne and her brother, the Duke of Cleves, pushed for the
king to remarry her. The king quickly answered such suggestions
with a no.
In 1553, when Henry's daughters Mary
rode into London with Mary
as the new monarch, Anne was there to greet them. She was also
present at Mary I's coronation at Westminster. That was her last
A few months later, Anne wrote to Mary I to congratulate her on her
marriage to Philip of Spain
Nevertheless, Anne rarely visited the Court during Mary's reign and
enjoyed managing her own estates. Since her arrival as the King's
bride, Anne had never left England: both of her parents had died by
the time her marriage was annulled and her strictly Protestant
brother did not approve her adherence to Anglicanism.
When her health began to fail, Anne was allowed by Mary I to live
at Chelsea Old Manor â€” where Henry's final wife Catherine Parr
lived after her remarriage.
Here she dictated her last will in mid-July 1557. In her will, she
mentions her brother, sister, and sister-in-law, as well as the
future Queen Elizabeth, the Duchess of Norfolk and the Countess of
Arundel. She left some money to her servants and asked Mary and
Elizabeth to employ them in their households.
Anne died at Chelsea Old Manor on 16 July 1557, a few weeks before
her forty-second birthday. She was buried on 3 August in what is
described as a "somewhat hard to find tomb in Westminster
Her tomb is on the opposite site of
Edward the Confessor
and slightly above eye level for a person of average height.
She also has the distinction of being the last of Henry VIII's
wives to die (she outlived Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr
, by 9 years). However, she is
not the longest-lived, for Catherine of Aragon was 50 at the time
of her death and Anne was 41.
Elizabeth Norton, Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded
, Amberley 2009 hardback ISBN 9781848683297
, is told from the viewpoint of three prominent
women at the Tudor
court of Henry
VIII: Anne of Cleves, Catherine
and Jane Boleyn
Margaret Campbell Barnes' My Lady of Cleves
Anne's life might have been like between the time her portrait was
painted by Hans Holbein and when King Henry VIII died.
A fictionalised Anne of Cleves appears briefly in the opening
scenes of Carry On Henry
played by Patsy Rowlands
In 2009, Joss Stone
played Anne in the
third season of Showtime
's The Tudors.
She appears as a ghost in Homer's
dream in The Simpsons
"Father Knows Worst