Anne of Cleves. I look at her, and she looks good. Whatever, Henry VIII.
I sat down and learned the six wives of Henry the VIII the other day. He only executed two of them, though his rep is that he killed them all, like Bluebeard.
My favorite is Anne of Cleves, wife number four. To recap, marriage to wife number one, Catherine of Aragon, ended in divorce when she didn’t produce a son. Wife number two, Anne Boleyn, fell victim to conspiracy at court and was executed with a baseless (probably) charge of incest on her poor (beheaded) head. Wife number three, Jane Seymour, was a love match who died after giving birth to Henry’s first and only male heir, Edward VI. Some say that it was a botched, hurried Caesarean section that killed her. Others say that Jane Seymour was the only wife Henry really loved. Perhaps both are true.
Anne was only married to Henry for six short months in 1540. She was a duchess from the Holy Roman Empire which made her a savvy political marriage choice. And truly, after what happened to Anne Boleyn, Henry didn’t have so many marriage options amongst European nobility.
But try explaining “beggars” and “choosers” to Hank. “Make sure she’s hot. Really hot,” he said. “I need to see a picture. Actually, get me pictures of both sisters and I’ll marry the hotter one.” Hans Holbein painted the portrait at right, and Henry selected Anne as the lucky new Queen of England.
Once Anne arrived at court, like so many online daters and craigslist shoppers, Henry found the “item not as described.” Everyone—including Henry (especially Henry)—thought Anne was a frumpy downer.
Our girl Annie was no fool. She crafted an easy out in her annulment testimony. “This marriage was never consummated. And technically I’m still engaged to someone else,” she said. “We were 10 and 12 when it happened, so you know. Not really engaged. Childhood engaged. It’s a legal thing. We don’t need to get into it.
“So I think we’re good here! Cheerio, as you say. Heh heh.” She touched her neck. “Just touching my neck. Right here on my shoulders. Where it’s going to stay.”
A grateful Henry gave her a castle and a generous stipend. She lived a quiet, independent life in the English countryside, indulging her two pet vices of beer and gambling. She never remarried. Fuck yes, Anne of Cleves.