On this day in 1540 – the marriage between King Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was declared annulled.

On 9th July 1540 King Henry VIII’s fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves was declared null and void. The marriage never got off to the best of starts when Henry first met Anne she did not recognise him and as a result Henry took it as an insult, things got no better from there and the despite going through with the marriage Henry never consummated the union, he was under the belief that Anne was not a virgin and therefore could not be his wife.

Shortly after their marriage Anne was sent to live at Richmond Palace where she was out of the way. During this time Bishop Gardiner had begun investigating the possibility of a pre-contract being in place between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine. On 6th July 1540 a court messenger was sent to Anne to inform her that her new husband was having trouble believing that their marriage was legitimate and wished for her consent for a church investigation. Anne agreed to the investigation, after all she had heard what had happened to Anne Boleyn and she did not want to end up in the Tower of London.

On 7th July a convocation of the clergy was held and they agreed that the marriage was in fact invalid and they put forward three reasons for it the first was the alleged pre-contract between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine, the second that Henry did not consent to the marriage in the first place and finally the union was not consummated.

With this news Anne was approached by messengers, acting on behalf of the convocation and the King, for her agreement for the marriage to be annulled. It was reported that Anne was so overcome with fright at the outcome that she fainted, after coming around Anne agreed to the annulment and signed herself no longer as Anne the Queen but Anne the daughter of Cleves.

Henry rewarded Anne for her cooperation in the annulment and along with addressing her as his ‘beloved sister’ he also awarded her £4000 per year, along with homes at Richmond and Bletchingley. She also received jewels, furniture and hangings alongside a house in Lewes and Hever Castle, the former home of Anne Boleyn.

Anne and Henry would go on to have a good relationship with Henry taking time to visit and invite Anne to court, which is more that can be said about Thomas Cromwell who lost his head for his part in the marriage negotiations.

Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerAnne of Cleves painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.

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