27 Comments

  1. Banditqueen

    Although Anna may have been pressured into the wording of this letter, no it didn’t save her life, her life was never in danger.
    Henry wanted out of the marriage because of the dangerous political situation he was finding himself in as the months went by as well as his apparent failure to consummate it. Everything about his dissatisfaction with Anna, her appearance and even the first meeting was invented by Cromwell on the orders of the King and his Council to get this annulment done. His libido wasn’t affected during the first few months with Kathryn Howard.

  2. Germaine England

    I loved reading this! Finally, someone expressed the notions I felt after reading about Anne. I felt Henry would never have executed her because she was a foreign princess. She was wise to sign, though I dont believe her was fluent enough in English to compose such a letter. Too bad she didnt remain queen. Knowing Henrys luck, Anne could have been the queen to given him many sons

    • Tudors Dynasty

      All stuff that Henry VIII fabricated to say why he couldn’t consummate the relationship. It’s been reported at this time that he was also most likely impotent. This was referenced in the trial of George Boleyn. What it comes down to was the fact that he just wasn’t attracted to her and would say anything to cover up his impotence, even going to far as having his doctor report that he has “wet dreams” so it must have been Anne.

      • Banditqueen

        I agree Henry probably did have some impotency but the earlier reference to it during the trial of George Boleyn isn’t evidence of anything. That Anne told her brother or sister in law this is meaningless. She probably said it after one of the many arguments with him and there is no other evidence for it back in 1536. By 1540,_however, Henry’s weight and ill health was causing many problems and he probably was partially impotent. He doesn’t seem to have continued to be so during the first months of marriage to Kathryn Howard. I agree he made everything else up so as he could get out of this marriage but there was also the political crisis in Europe which played a big part in the timing of the annulment as well as his affair with Kathryn Howard.

  3. Amy Grant

    Where did these letters come from? How did any letters from that century and earlier survive? Were they found in castles? Put away with other correspondences from said person, passed down by family? It’s amazing how much history we get just from letters. And imagine all the letters we didn’t get to see, all the homes and castles destroyed that maybe held something important… I think about this a lot and often wish I had a time machine to be a fly on the wall during this time period. Imagine what we don’t know… Gives me chills.

  4. It would have been better for Katherine of Aragon to have accepted divorce from Henry as Anne of Ceves did. Its a shame that her religion and the political situation with her nephew prevented it. She wouldnt have died such a sad and lonely woman

  5. Maureen

    That letter has to stand as one of the cleverest ever written by a wife. A wife to a man whose volatile personality made the said wife’s future by no means certain. Anne of Cleves knew this and, in a brilliant letter, both clever, humble and flattering, she managed to acquire for herself, as the king’s dear sister, a fine independent and prosperous life in England. I cannot imagine her wishing to return to Cleves to become just another female with few rights in the court of her brother. She was clever political and had a healthy sense of self preservation in a very dangerous time. Good for Anne.

  6. Lynn Sabin

    This is a wonderful, informative article. I do have one comment.

    Raphael Holinshed was three years old when Henry VIII died, and his description of Anne came 30 years after Henry’s death. Holinshed, as far as I’ve been able to determine, was also the first to describe Anne as “the Flanders Mare.” Holinshed would not have known Anne personally, and there’s no evidence any former members of Henry’s court availed themselves as primary sources, nor have I found referenced in Holinshed’s writings citations from their journals, letters, or diaries. For information about Anne’s appearance, disposition, and practices I think we need to look elsewhere; and, thankfully, private dispassionate correspondences about Anne are extant.

  7. Louise

    She was not pleased to be divorced by Henry, and later she apparently hoped he would remarry her after katherine Howard was executed.

      • Charlene

        There was no political entity called “Germany” at the time. There were instead dozens of little independent duchies (like Cleves) and principalities, some nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire, some not.

        Germany came into existence politically centuries later.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      It does not appear so. She could have left and returned home but chose to stay in England as the king’s sister.

    • Lynn Sabin

      I don’t believe it’s correct to assume that Anne wanted to return to Cleves.

      First, there exists correspondence indicating she was somewhat fearful about how she’d be received by her brother.

      Second, and this is speculative, in England, Anne was remarkably independent and certainly one of the wealthiest women of the time. Had she returned to her brother, she’d have lost all autonomy.

      • robyn news

        Indeed I agree, she had a measure of independence in England. Had she returned home her brother may well have arranged another political marriage for her. Clever lady indeed!

  8. Mike

    Can we have a translation of her letter into “modern” english ? Unless you can understand the language of the time it’s *very* hard to understand what she’s saying in the letter.

    • Hannah

      She is essentially saying that she is happy to allow a clerical conclave to decide on the validity of her marriage, and although she loves Henry will readily accept that their marriage is not legal given that it wasn’t consumated. She is happy to be one of his subjects, and happy to accept the title of ‘sister’ to him. Basically, the complete opposite to what Katherine of Aragon did; she will not argue with Henry.

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