The Marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves

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On the 6th of January 1540, Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves at the Queen’s Closet in Greenwich in a ceremony officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. The date also fell on the feast of the Epiphany which marked the end of the twelve days of Christmas celebrations. In spite of Henry’s earlier protests that he would not marry the Princess of Cleves because “I like her not”; Cromwell convinced him of otherwise, reminding him of his agreement with her brother, the Duke of Cleves and given the current alliance between the Emperor and the King of France, his union with Anne would prove beneficial.

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Henry VIII is a man who has been judged harshly by history, most fiction writers who portray him as a petulant child trapped in a man’s body. Henry VIII did become somewhat of a tyrant later in life, but this image is a huge contrast to the one presented to us by Lord Mountjoy, the Venetian Ambassador and finally his mentor and (once) friend, the late Sir Thomas More in his early years. On his ascension in June of 1509, these three commented that this new King was marvelous to behold because he didn’t care for jewels or any other material gain, but instead wanted to achieve immortality through his feats. Thomas Moore also commented on his scholarship, adding that his wife’s beauty and intellect also highlighted his appeal. As Henry got older he became paranoid and harder to please.

This was the Henry that Anne married, coincidentally on the same room he had married her predecessor who died days after giving birth to his only legitimate heir, Prince Edward, Jane Seymour.

Tudor Rose AOC

Anne chose for her motto “God send me well to keep” and was richly dressed as the day of her official reception at the palace three days prior.

“On her head she wore a coronet of gold set with jewels and decorated with sprigs of rosemary, a common medieval wedding custom that signified love and loyalty. With the most “demure countenance” she passed through the king’s chamber into the gallery, and closet, where she greeted her future spouse with three curtseys. His heart might not have been in it, but Henry had at least dressed the part.” (Licence)

Indeed he was. Wearing a gown of cloth of gold with silver flowers, black fur and a coat of crimson, Henry reluctantly agreed to take Anne as his wife, placing the ring on her finger which had her motto engraved on it.

Sources:

  • Six Wives and the Many Mistresses of Henry VIII by Amy Licence
  • The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser
  • Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Loades

Mary I’s Rallying Cry

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With 3,000 men flocking to his standard, Wyatt had taken Kent and more uprisings arose in Devon, the Midlands, and Wales but these failed to materialized. Mary nonetheless sprung into action and sent the Duke of Norfolk to confront the rebels in Rochester on January 29. The Duke wrote that it would be unlikely they would be defeated “they have fortified the bridge at Rochester, so it will be hard passing them.” He was already preparing to disperse his men when Mary decided that if she wanted to turn the tide in her favor, she had to take matters into her own hands.

A great precursor to her sister’s more famous and best known speech at Tilbury in 1588 on the onset of the Armada; Mary summoned her councilors to ride with her to Guildhall at London on February the 1st of 1554 where she gave the speech of her life: “I was wedded to the realm. The spousal ring whereof I wear on my finger, and it ever has, and never shall be left off.” The city then told her their worries and Mary responded in regards of her intended marriage that she would not wed Philip if her people and Parliament thought it was not best for her:

Mary I played by Sarah Bolger in "The Tudors". She was imposing, and unwavering in her courage and the way she inspected her troops, rode her horse and commanded men, was a great precursor of her sister's one glorious (and best known) speech of 1588.
Mary I played by Sarah Bolger in “The Tudors”. She was imposing, and unwavering in her courage and the way she inspected her troops, rode her horse and commanded men, was a great precursor of her sister’s one glorious (and best known) speech of 1588.


“If the subjects may be loved as a mother doth her child, then assure yourselves that I, your sovereign lady and your queen, do earnestly love and favor you.” and “On the word of a Queen I promise you that if it shall not probably appear to all the nobility and commons in the high court of parliament that this marriage shall be for the benefit and commodity of the whole realm, then I will abstain from marriage while I live.”

This shifted public opinion in her favor. When Wyatt’s forces arrived in London they met with little opposition but this soon changed and he rebellion soon faded away with those captured executed right away. As a consequence of this rebellion were the executions of Jane Grey and her husband Guildford Dudley, among others. Jane Grey wrote to her sister saying she was committed to martyrdom and that Katherine should not accept the Catholic faith or else “God will deny you and shorten your days.”
Mary had been known for her mercy. She had even used experienced Protestant soldiers to stand guard at St. James Palace but the Wyatt Rebellion had changed everything.

Sources:

  • Tudor: Passion Manipulation Murder by Leanda de Lisle
  • On This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway
  • Mary Tudor by David Loades
  • The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter