The 6 Wives of Henry VIII of England

By | March 1, 2017


Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) is one of England's most exceptional rulers, according to history. The major event during his reign was the break with the Roman Catholic Church and the formation of the Church of England. However, Henry’s regime is perhaps best known for his turbulent love life, for having six marriages and two beheadings.

Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)

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The first wife of Henry VIII was a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. She married Henry after he took over the throne in 1509. They had a daughter, the future Queen Mary I in 1516. During the mid-1520s, Henry became discontented with Catherine due to her inability to bear him a son. He then started an affair with Anne Boleyn, her lady-in-waiting. Subsequently, he began campaigning for the annulment of his marriage. Apparently, the Pope did not allow to annul his marriage to Catherine, so the King broke off with Rome. Then in 1533, he had his marriage annulled at a special court, but Catherine denied him of the annulment. She died at Kimberlyn Castle in 1536.

Anne Boleyn (1501-1536)

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The second wife of Henry VIII and became Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. She played a major role in English Reformation. Because she refused to be satisfied as the King’s mistress, she soon became an obsession for Henry. He exhausted all efforts to annul his marriage to the first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to be able to wed Anne. A secret ceremony in January 1533 was held for their marriage, then Anne was made Queen six months later. In September 1533, she gave birth to the future Elizabeth I, however Henry was embittered for again the child was not a boy. After the third miscarriage, the King gave up and had her wife investigated for high treason. Anne was found guilty and was beheaded in 1536.

Jane Seymour (c. 1508-1537)

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Jane Seymour and the King got married shortly after Anne Boleyn’s execution. She was hailed queen consort few days after marriage. However, she was never crowned perhaps due to the plague in London, but some allegedly said that Henry did not want her crowned until she delivers a male heir. Jane Seymour eventually give birth to the desired son, who became the future Edward VI in 1537, but she died within less than a fortnight due to postnatal complications. She is now buried beside Henry in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

Anne of Cleves (1515-1557)

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This noblewoman is a German who was chosen as Henry’s fourth wife based on a portrait that was brilliantly painted by artist Hans Holbein the Younger. Henry was disgruntled with her appearance when they first met and later on tried to determine a legal way to avoid the arranged marriage. However, it would endanger their alliance with the Germans, so Henry was ultimately compelled to marry Anne of Cleves in January 1540. Be as it may, the couple never consummated the marriage. Within six months, King Henry obtained annulment of the marriage. Anne did not oppose Henry's wish for annulment and in return received a generous settlement.

Catherine Howard (c. 1518/1524-1542)

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Henry got married to his fifth wife Catherine Howard less than a month after the marriage to Anne of Cleves was annulled. She was a young and attractive lady, while her husband is 30 years older, weighed around 140 kilograms and tending to a badly smelling ulcer on his leg and needs to be drained on a daily basis. Shortly after marriage, Catherine and the King’s favorite courtier Thomas Culpeper had an affair. In early 1542, the unfaithful lovers were caught, was found guilty of adultery and was executed by beheading.

Catherine Parr (1512-1548)

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Catherine Parr was the sixth and the last among the wives of Henry VIII. Just like Henry, Catherine Parr became widowed in 1543. When her second husband John Neville, Lord Latimer, passed away; Catherine started a romance with Sir Thomas Seymour, the brother of Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour. However, the King showed interest in her so she declined Seymour and accepted King Henry's marriage proposal. She outlived Henry who died in 1547, then was married to her fourth husband, Thomas Seymour after six months. She passed away in 1548, possibly from postnatal complications.

H/T HistoryLists