History

Monarchy Monday: The Wives of King Henry VIII



Today you may not have to worry about the hazards of being married to a King, but it wasn’t always that way. King Henry VIII’s wives suffered fates that would far outweigh the perks of being Queen! Here is a guide of each of six wives and their unfortunate destinies.

Catherine of Aragon

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King Henry’s first wife was the Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon. She and Henry had a daughter, but she was not able to give him the son he so desperately wanted. As the couple was Catholic and therefore, forbid to divorce, Henry broke his ties with Catholicism to leave her.

Anne Boleyn

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She captured King Henry’s heart while he was still married to Catherine. Unfortunately, she would be the first to suffer the curse of being a wife of King Henry. As her only living child was a girl, the future Elizabeth I, she was tried and found guilty of trumped-up charges of adultery and beheaded.

Jane Seymour

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The quiet, angelic like aristocrat wed Henry a mere 11 days after the death of Anne Boleyn, yet the couple was secretly engaged on May 20, 1536, the day after Boleyn was beheaded. Jane Seymour passed away 12 days after giving birth to the future Edward VI in 1537 from complications of the birth. History will never know if she would have held the respect of the King and possibly changed the future.

Anne of Cleves

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Henry went on after the death of Jane Seymour to failed love matches, up until he wed the German princess, Anne of Cleves for political gain. The couple had the marriage annulled as it was claimed the marriage was never consummated. The King gave Anne a large settlement, and so she became known as the King’s Beloved Sister.

Catherine Howard

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Married to King Henry for a short two years Catherine Howard was too flirtatious, and that would do her in. Despite being part of the powerful Howard family and King Henry’s “rose without a thorn,” Catherine was accused of indiscretions and was the second wife to be beheaded in 1542.

Catherine Parr

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Catherine Parr’s previous marriages were almost as unfortunate as Henry’s, as a widow twice over she married King Henry in 1543. Known as a patron of the arts, the couple was only married for a few years up until the king’s death in 1547. Catherine remarried only a few months later.

If you are further interested in the history of King Henry VIII and his wives, the programme, Wolf Hall, does a marvelous job of transporting viewers back to his day.

Photo Credit: Lex McKee via Flickr, Patrick Lentz via Flickr, Lisby via Flickr, Jim Forest via Flickr, Lenton Sands via Flickr, Lord Mariser via Flickr