Tag Archives: Thomas Cromwell

On this day in 1515 – Anne of Cleves was born

Anne of Cleves was born 22nd September 1515 in Düsseldorf to John III, Duke of Cleves and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg. Anne grew up on the edge of Solingen.

At the age of 11 in 1527 Anne was betrothed to Francis, the 10 year old son of the Duke of Lorraine. Due to his age in 1535 the betrothal was broken off and considered unofficial.

Anne’s brother succeeded his father as the Duke of Cleves and due to his support of the Reformation and his ongoing dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor, Cleves was considered by Thomas Cromwell as a convenient ally.

Following the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII was beginning to consider remarrying for the fourth time and began to seek out his options. Hans Holbein the Younger was sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, Henry was considering either of the sisters as his wife. Holbein was instructed to be as accurate as possible in his painting and not to flatter the sisters. The paintings were brought back to Henry who chose Anne based on her portrait.

Negotiators were sent to Cleves to begin talks regarding a marriage between Anne and Henry. Thomas Cromwell oversaw the talks himself and a marriage treaty was signed on 4th October 1539. With the treaty signed Anne set off for England.

Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerAnne of Cleves

The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote about Anne’s arrival in England;

“This year on St John’s Day, 27 Dec, Lady Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves in Germany, landed at Dover at 5 o’clock at night, and there was honourably received by the Duke of Suffolk and other great lords, and so lodged in the castle. And on the following Monday she rode to Canterbury where she was honourably received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other great men, and lodged at the King’s palace at St Austin’s, and there highly feasted. On Tuesday she came to Sittingbourne.

On New Year’s Eve the Duke of Norfolk with other knights and the barons of the exchequer received her grace on the heath, two miles beyond Rochester; and so brought her to the abbey of Rochester where she stayed that night and all New Years Day. And on New Years Day in the afternoon the king’s grace with five of his privy chamber, being disguised with mottled cloaks with hoods so that they should not be recognised, came secretly to Rochester, and so went up into the chamber where the said Lady Anne was looking out of a window to see the bull-baiting which was going on in the courtyard, and suddenly he embraced and kissed her, and showed her a token which the King had sent her for New Year’s gift, and she being abashed and not knowing who it was thanked him and so he spoke with her. But she regarded him little, but always looked out the window… and when the King saw that she took so little notice of his coming he went into another chamber and took off his cloak and came in again in a coat of purple velvet. And when the lords and knights saw his grace they did reverence… and then her grace humbled herself lowly to the king’s majesty, and his grace saluted her again, and they talked together lovingly, and afterwards he took her by the hand and led her to another chamber where their graces amused themselves that night and on Friday until the afternoon.

…So she came to Greenwich that night, and was received as Queen. And the next day, being Sunday, the King’s grace kept a great court at Greenwich, where his grace with the Queen offered at mass, richly dressed. And on Twelfth Night, which was a Tuesday, the King’s majesty was married to the said Queen Anne solemnly, in her closet at Greenwich, and his grace and she went publicly in procession that day, she having a rich coronet of stone and pearls set with rosemary on her hair, and a gown of rich cloth of silver, richly hung with stones and pearls, with all her ladies and gentlewomen following her, which was a goodly sight to behold.”

Although Chapuys report shows the happy display the couple put on, away from public eyes Henry was unhappy with his new bride after she first failed to impress at their meeting in Rochester. Anne was expected to recognise her masked suitor as her new husband as per the rules of courtly love but she did not understand what was being played out in front of her. Henry urged Thomas Cromwell and his councillors to find a way out of the marriage

Despite Henry’s protestations and no solution to his request the marriage went ahead on 6th January 1540 at Greenwich Palace, presided over by Archbishop Cranmer. The couple then spent an unsuccessful wedding night together. Henry complained further about Anne in particular he described Anne as having bad odour and saggy breasts amongst other complaints, he also stated that Anne was unprepared for married life and what was expected of her on her wedding night. It was known that Henry reported to Cromwell ‘I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse’.

By 24th June 1540 Anne was commanded to leave the court and was moved to Richmond Palace, while Anne remained in the dark as to what was happening back at Greenwich Stephen Gardiner was investigating the pre-contract Anne had with the Duke of Lorraine’s son. On 6th July 1540 Anne was informed that Henry was worried that their marriage was not lawful and her consent was sought for the marriage to be investigated. Anne gave her consent probably fearful of her life if she did not.

The marriage between Henry and Anne was declared invalid on 9th July 1540 due to three factors; Anne’s pre-contract with the Duke of Lorriane, Henry’s lack of consent to the marriage and the lack of consummation after the wedding. In exchange for a quick and easy annulment Henry granted Anne an income of £4000 a year, houses at Richmond Palace, Bletchingley and Lewes along with jewels, furniture, hangings as well as Hever Castle, the former home of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne was also given the title of King’s sister and allowed to attend court.

Anne of Cleves signatureAnne’s signature

Although the marriage did not work out between the couple Henry and Anne would go on to have a good relationship when Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Henry visited Anne to inform her personally of the marriage. After the fall of Catherine Howard Anne’s brother, the Duke of Cleves, pushed her case for the King to remarry Anne, a suggestion that was quickly refused instead marrying Catherine Parr, a woman that Anne appeared to dislike.

After King Henry VIII’s death Anne remained in England and in March 1547 the new King Edward VI’s Privy Council asked Anne to vacate her home at Bletchingley Palace and relocate to Penshurst Palace in order for Thomas Cawarden, the new Master of Revels to live in Bletchingley.

Anne lived quietly away from court during Edward’s reign. When Edward’s eldest sister took the throne after his death Anne wrote to Mary on 4th August 1553 to congratulate her former step-daughter on her marriage to Philip of Spain. The following month on 28th September Anne accompanied Mary from St James’s Palace to Whitehall, Elizabeth also accompanied the pair.

With the country reverting back to Catholicism Anne changed her religion to please the new Queen and despite the few appearances at the beginning of Mary’s reign, including her coronation Anne remained away from court. That is until Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 when Anne’s relationship with Elizabeth caused Mary to question Anne’s motives and Mary was convinced that “the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the king of France was the prime mover.”

After falling under Mary’s suspicion Anne did not attend court again and chose to live quietly on her estates until her health began to deteriorate when Mary permitted Anne to relocate to Chelsea Old Manor, the former home of Henry’s final wife Catherine Parr. In July 1557 Anne dictated her final will, she remembers her family as well as the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and Countess of Arundel. Anne also left money for her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to find employment for them within their households.

Anne died on 16th July 1557; aged 41, the cause of death is unconfirmed. Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey, the only one of Henry’s wives that was buried there. Her tomb is opposite the shrine for Edward the Confessor.

Annes tomb Westminster AbbeyAnne of Cleves tomb in Westminster Abbey

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Book review – Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A new assessment by Sandra Vasoli.

Anne Boleyn’s final days were spent in the Tower of London after being arrested and accused of adultery. Alone and desperate to inform her husband, King Henry VIII, of her innocence on 6th May 1536 she wrote a letter to the King in the hope that he would forgive her. It read;

“Sir, your Grace’s displeasure, and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether ignorant; whereas you sent unto me (willing me to confess a Truth, and so obtain your Favour) by such a one, whom you know to be my ancient and professed Enemy; I no sooner received the Message by him, than I rightly conceived your Meaning; and if, as you say, confessing Truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all Willingness and Duty perform your Command.

But let your Grace ever imagine that your poor Wife will ever be brought to acknowledge a Fault, where not so much as Thought thereof proceeded. And to speak a truth, never Prince had Wife more Loyal in all Duty, and in all true Affection, than you have found in Anne Boleyn, with which Name and Place could willingly have contented my self, as if God, and your Grace’s Pleasure had been so pleased. Neither did I at any time so far forge my self in my Exaltation, or received Queenship, but that I always looked for such an Alteration as now I find; for the ground of my preferment being on no surer Foundation than your Grace’s Fancy, the least Alteration, I knew, was fit and sufficient to draw that Fancy to some other subject.

You have chosen me, from a low Estate, to be your Queen and Companion, far beyond my Desert or Desire. If then you found me worthy of such Honour, Good your Grace, let not any light Fancy, or bad Counsel of mine Enemies, withdraw your Princely Favour from me; neither let that Stain of a Disloyal Heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a Blot on your most Dutiful Wife, and the Infant Princess your Daughter:

Try me, good King, but let me have a Lawful Trial, and let not my sworn Enemies sit as my Accusers and Judges; yes, let me receive an open Trial, for my Truth shall fear no open shame; then shall you see, either mine Innocency cleared, your Suspicion and Conscience satisfied, the Igominy and Slander of the World stopped, or my Guilt openly declared. So that whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your Grace may be freed from an open Censure; and mine Offence being so lawfully proved, your Grace is at liberty, both before God and Man, not only to execute worthy Punishment on me as an unlawful Wife, but to follow your Affection already settled on that party, for whose sake I am now as I am, whose Name I could some good while since have pointed unto: Your Grace being not ignorant of my Suspicion therein.

But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my Death but an Infamous Slander must bring you the enjoying of your desired Happiness; then I desire of God, that he will pardon your great Sin therein, and likewise mine Enemies, the Instruments thereof; that he will not call you o a strict Account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me, at his General Judgement-Seat, where both of you and my self must shortly appear, and in whose Judgement, I doubt not, (whatsoever the World may think of me) mine Innocence shall be openly known, and sufficiently cleared.

My last and only Request shall be, That my self may only bear the Burthen of your Grace’s Displeasure, and that it may not touch the Innocent Souls of those poor Gentlemen, who (as I understand) are likewise in strait Imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your Sight; if ever the Name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing to your Ears, then let me obtain this Request; and I will so leave to trouble your Grace any further, with mine earnest Prayers to the Trinity to have your Grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your Actions.

Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Bullen

From my doleful Prison the Tower, this 6th of May.”

anne-boleyns-final-letter

The origins of this one letter has been discussed and debated for years. Did Anne Boleyn really write this? Why was it found amongst the papers of Thomas Cromwell after his execution? Did King Henry VIII ever read the letter or even regret sending Anne to her death? Well Sandra Vasoli has sent about re-examining the letter and found some compelling new evidence that could potentially answer the question of whether Henry regretted his actions or not.

Sandra begins by taking us through a brief history of Anne’s relationship with Henry and the breakdown of their marriage which resulted in Anne’s imprisonment in the Tower of London. We also see the rivalry between Anne and Thomas Cromwell.

Sandra also provides what happened to the letter after Anne had written it and how it ended up in the possession of Robert Bruce Cotton and eventually the British Library. The story of the letter’s journey is incredible and Cotton’s collection also included the letters from to Thomas Cromwell from William Kingston regarding Anne’s behaviour during her time in the Tower.

The author of this letter has long been disputed with many arguing that Anne did not write it at all, however, Sandra believes that Anne may have dictated the letter to someone who put the words onto paper. Sandra also provides an analysis as to the contents of the letter. It is fascinating to see just what was going through Anne’s mind as she attempted one last time to appeal to her husband to save her life.

There is a clear timeline of events in Sandra’s book which reaches its pinnacle with Sandra’s discovery of Henry’s regret, it was said he spoke his regret as he approached his death. This discovery is fascinating and really made me look at the way I view King Henry VIII and the events that surrounded May 1536.

Anne Boleyn’s letter from the Tower is a great book that explains one particular event in the life of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. I for one hope that this latest discovery shines a new light on an event that has been discussed throughout time. Sandra has done a tremendous job in giving a greater understanding in the history of Anne’s letter and I for one hope this discovery of Henry’s regret begins to change how we view why Henry reached the decision to execute the wife he tore the country apart for.

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Sandra recently took part in a book tour and visited Tudor Chronicles to talk about how she came to see the Book of Hours that Henry and Anne wrote notes to each other. You can read it here https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/sandra-vasolis-book-tour-anne-boleyns-letter-from-the-tower/

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: A new assessment is available now from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Boleyns-Letter-Tower-Assessment-ebook/dp/B014R7227A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442843088&sr=8-1&keywords=anne+boleyn%27s+letter+from+the+tower

On this day in 1538 – Geoffrey Pole was arrested

On 29th August 1538 Geoffrey Pole was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Pole was the son of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury and therefore had a claim to the throne.

Geoffrey Pole was present at Anne Boleyn’s coronation but his loyalty, along with the rest of the family, lay with Katherine of Aragon and her daughter, Princess Mary. Pole had a private meeting with the Imperial Ambassador Eustace Chapuys and Pole told Chapuys that if the Holy Roman Emperor was to invade England to avenge the wrongs that had been done to his aunt, Katherine, then the English people would support him.

The conversation, which was supposed to be private, reached King Henry VIII’s ears and Pole was instantly arrested. He would stay in the Tower of London for the next two months until in October when he was called for interrogation. Pole was questioned about conversations and letters that had been sent and received to his brother, Cardinal Pole, from his family. These letters were not approved by the King or Council and so suspicion fell on the Pole family.

Pole’s wife, Constance, was also questioned about Pole’s activity but she was not imprisoned and so attempted to contact Pole’s mother and brother, Lord Montagu to warn them that Geoffrey was facing the rack and that they could be implicated. By the time word reached his family Geoffrey had attempted suicide and had caused some injury to himself.

After further interrogation Pole broke and gave all the evidence the King would need against the Pole family. Henry had Lord Montagu and Henry Courtenay arrested and imprisoned in the Tower on 4th November 1538.

Geoffrey along with his brother and Henry Courtenay were tried, they entered a plea of guilty and was originally condemned to death until he was pardoned on 4th January 1539. Thomas Cromwell wrote that he had received the pardon because he was so ill he was already as good as dead.

A_Torture_RackA typical torture rack

On this day in 1550 – Thomas Wriothesley died

Thomas Wriothesley was born 21st December 1505 in London to William Wriothesley and Agnes Drayton. Thomas was the eldest of four and had two younger sisters, Elizabeth and Anne and a younger brother, Edward.

Wriothesley received his education at St Paul’s School, London before going to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1522 to study civil law although he did not complete his degree instead at the age of 19 he entered into the service of Thomas Cromwell and began a life at court. Within a few short years Wriothesley was appointed joint clerk of the signet, a position under Henry’s VIII’s secretary, Stephen Gardiner. A position he would hold for the next decade whilst also working for Cromwell.

Wriothesley married Jane Cheney, niece of Stephen Gardiner. They would go on to have eight children in total, three sons and five daughters. Two of their sons died at a young age leaving Henry Wriothesley as the heir to family estates.

His loyalty to Cromwell was rewarded during the dissolution of the monasteries when he was granted land between Southampton and Winchester. Henry also appointed Wriothesley as his ambassador in Brussels until 1540 when he was made one of the King’s principal secretaries alongside Sir Ralph Sadler. Also in 1540 Wriothesley was knighted and despite the fact his patron and master, Thomas Cromwell, had been arrested and later executed he continued to grow in the King’s favour and was created Baron Wriothesley in 1544.

In 1544 after having acted as Lord Privy Seal for a few months he was appointed as Lord Chancellor in 1544 and within his first two years took part in the torture of Anne Askew, who had been accused of heresy. Kingston, who was originally operating the rack refused to take part any further and Wriothesley, stepped in and operated the rack in the hope that Anne would talk; instead he turned the rack so much that her shoulders and hips were pulled from their sockets.

When King Henry VIII died on 28th January 1547 Wriothesley was one of the executors of the King’s will and on 16th February 1547 was created the Earl of Southampton at the wishes of the late King. After the King’s death and the creation of a new council for the young King Wriothesley appointed four people to help him in his duties and the new Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, used this to his advantage and Wriothesley was relieved of his duty in March 1547 as well as being excluded from the Privy Council.

In Wriothesley’s will that was created just days before his death he left his collar of garters to King Edward VI and a cup each to Mary and Elizabeth. He also provided for his wife and children before remembering his friends and family.

Wriothesley died on 30th July 1550 at Lincoln House in Holborn and was buried in St Andrew’s Church, Holborn before he was later moved to Titchfield. His funeral was presided over by Bishop Hooper of Gloucester.

Thomas_Wriothesley,_1st_Earl_of_Southampton_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerThomas Wriothesley by Hans Holbein the Younger

On this day in 1540 – Thomas Cromwell was executed

On 28th July 1540 Thomas Cromwell made his way towards Tower Hill where he was face the fate that had been passed down to him by King Henry VIII. Cromwell had been arrested on 10th June 1540 at a Council meeting accused of treason after his failure to achieve a divorce for Henry VIII and his fourth wife Anne of Cleves. His failure allowed Cromwell to fall from the King’s grace and his enemies led by the Duke of Norfolk were able to rise up against him.

An Act of Attainder was passed against Thomas Cromwell and he was sentenced to death without a trial, however, he was kept alive long enough for the King to obtain his longed for divorce from Anne of Cleves. With the divorce achieved Cromwell met his fate and was executed on Tower Hill.

The chronicler Edward Hall recorded Cromwell’s scaffold speech:

I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should do so, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I have had yeres of discrecion, I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And it is not unknowne to many of you, that I have been a great traveler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came thereunto, I have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me. O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe, not doubtyng in any article of my faith, no nor doubtyng in any Sacrament of the Churche.* Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have been a bearer, of suche as hath mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe of the holy Churche. And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long live with you, maie long reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe.

 

And then made he his praier, whiche was long, but not so long, as bothe Godly and learned, and after committed his soule, into the handes of God, and so paciently suffered the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and Boocherly miser, whiche very ungoodly perfourmed the Office.”

 

As Thomas Cromwell was being executed Henry VIII was marrying his fifth wife Catherine Parr. Henry is recorded to have regretted ordering Cromwell’s execution and called him his most faithful servant and later accused his council of engineering Cromwell’s downfall.

Thomas CromwellThomas Cromwell

On this day in 1557 – Anne of Cleves died

Anne of Cleves was born 22nd September 1515 in Düsseldorf to John III, Duke of Cleves and his wife Maria, Duchess of Julich-Berg. Anne grew up on the edge of Solingen.

At the age of 11 in 1527 Anne was betrothed to Francis, the 10 year old son of the Duke of Lorraine. Due to his age in 1535 the betrothal was broken off and considered unofficial.

Anne’s brother succeeded his father as the Duke of Cleves and due to his support of the Reformation and his ongoing dispute with the Holy Roman Emperor, Cleves was considered by Thomas Cromwell as a convenient ally.

Following the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII was beginning to consider remarrying for the fourth time and began to seek out his options. Hans Holbein the Younger was sent to Cleves to paint both Anne and her younger sister, Amalia, Henry was considering either of the sisters as his wife. Holbein was instructed to be as accurate as possible in his painting and not to flatter the sisters. The paintings were brought back to Henry who chose Anne based on her portrait.Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger

Anne of Cleves portrait painted by Hans Holbein the younger

Negotiators were sent to Cleves to begin talks regarding a marriage between Anne and Henry. Thomas Cromwell oversaw the talks himself and a marriage treaty was signed on 4th October 1539. With the treaty signed Anne set off for England.

The Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys wrote about Anne’s arrival in England;

“This year on St John’s Day, 27 Dec, Lady Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves in Germany, landed at Dover at 5 o’clock at night, and there was honourably received by the Duke of Suffolk and other great lords, and so lodged in the castle. And on the following Monday she rode to Canterbury where she was honourably received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other great men, and lodged at the King’s palace at St Austin’s, and there highly feasted. On Tuesday she came to Sittingbourne.

On New Year’s Eve the Duke of Norfolk with other knights and the barons of the exchequer received her grace on the heath, two miles beyond Rochester; and so brought her to the abbey of Rochester where she stayed that night and all New Years Day. And on New Years Day in the afternoon the king’s grace with five of his privy chamber, being disguised with mottled cloaks with hoods so that they should not be recognised, came secretly to Rochester, and so went up into the chamber where the said Lady Anne was looking out of a window to see the bull-baiting which was going on in the courtyard, and suddenly he embraced and kissed her, and showed her a token which the King had sent her for New Year’s gift, and she being abashed and not knowing who it was thanked him and so he spoke with her. But she regarded him little, but always looked out the window… and when the King saw that she took so little notice of his coming he went into another chamber and took off his cloak and came in again in a coat of purple velvet. And when the lords and knights saw his grace they did reverence… and then her grace humbled herself lowly to the king’s majesty, and his grace saluted her again, and they talked together lovingly, and afterwards he took her by the hand and led her to another chamber where their graces amused themselves that night and on Friday until the afternoon.

…So she came to Greenwich that night, and was received as Queen. And the next day, being Sunday, the King’s grace kept a great court at Greenwich, where his grace with the Queen offered at mass, richly dressed. And on Twelfth Night, which was a Tuesday, the King’s majesty was married to the said Queen Anne solemnly, in her closet at Greenwich, and his grace and she went publicly in procession that day, she having a rich coronet of stone and pearls set with rosemary on her hair, and a gown of rich cloth of silver, richly hung with stones and pearls, with all her ladies and gentlewomen following her, which was a goodly sight to behold.”

Although Chapuys report shows the happy display the couple put on, away from public eyes Henry was unhappy with his new bride after she first failed to impress at their meeting in Rochester. Anne was expected to recognise her masked suitor as her new husband as per the rules of courtly love but she did not understand what was being played out in front of her. Henry urged Thomas Cromwell and his councillors to find a way out of the marriage

Despite Henry’s protestations and no solution to his request the marriage went ahead on 6th January 1540 at Greenwich Palace, presided over by Archbishop Cranmer. The couple then spent an unsuccessful wedding night together. Henry complained further about Anne in particular he described Anne as having bad odour and saggy breasts amongst other complaints, he also stated that Anne was unprepared for married life and what was expected of her on her wedding night. It was known that Henry reported to Cromwell ‘I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse’.

By 24th June 1540 Anne was commanded to leave the court and was moved to Richmond Palace, while Anne remained in the dark as to what was happening back at Greenwich Stephen Gardiner was investigating the pre-contract Anne had with the Duke of Lorraine’s son. On 6th July 1540 Anne was informed that Henry was worried that their marriage was not lawful and her consent was sought for the marriage to be investigated. Anne gave her consent probably fearful of her life if she did not.

The marriage between Henry and Anne was declared invalid on 9th July 1540 due to three factors; Anne’s pre-contract with the Duke of Lorriane, Henry’s lack of consent to the marriage and the lack of consummation after the wedding. In exchange for a quick and easy annulment Henry granted Anne an income of £4000 a year, houses at Richmond Palace, Bletchingley and Lewes along with jewels, furniture, hangings as well as Hever Castle, the former home of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne was also given the title of King’s sister and allowed to attend court.

Although the marriage did not work out between the couple Henry and Anne would go on to have a good relationship when Henry married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, Henry visited Anne to inform her personally of the marriage. After the fall of Catherine Howard Anne’s brother, the Duke of Cleves, pushed her case for the King to remarry Anne, a suggestion that was quickly refused instead marrying Catherine Parr, a woman that Anne appeared to dislike.

After King Henry VIII’s death Anne remained in England and in March 1547 the new King Edward VI’s Privy Council asked Anne to vacate her home at Bletchingley Palace and relocate to Penshurst Palace in order for Thomas Cawarden, the new Master of Revels to live in Bletchingley.

Anne lived quietly away from court during Edward’s reign. When Edward’s eldest sister took the throne after his death Anne wrote to Mary on 4th August 1553 to congratulate her former step-daughter on her marriage to Philip of Spain. The following month on 28th September Anne accompanied Mary from St James’s Palace to Whitehall, Elizabeth also accompanied the pair.

With the country reverting back to Catholicism Anne changed her religion to please the new Queen and despite the few appearances at the beginning of Mary’s reign, including her coronation Anne remained away from court. That is until Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 when Anne’s relationship with Elizabeth caused Mary to question Anne’s motives and Mary was convinced that “the Lady (Anne) of Cleves was of the plot and intrigued with the Duke of Cleves to obtain help for Elizabeth: matters in which the king of France was the prime mover.”

After falling under Mary’s suspicion Anne did not attend court again and chose to live quietly on her estates until her health began to deteriorate when Mary permitted Anne to relocate to Chelsea Old Manor, the former home of Henry’s final wife Catherine Parr. In July 1557 Anne dictated her final will, she remembers her family as well as the Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Suffolk and Countess of Arundel. Anne also left money for her servants and asked Mary and Elizabeth to find employment for them within their households.

Anne died on 16th July 1557; aged 41, the cause of death is unconfirmed. Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey, the only one of Henry’s wives that was buried there. Her tomb is opposite the shrine for Edward the Confessor.

Annes tomb Westminster AbbeyAnne of Cleves tomb in Westminster Abbey

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.