Anne of Cleves
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Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves (1515–57), 4th queen of Henry VIII. The daughter of John, 3rd duke of Cleves, Anne was suggested by Thomas Cromwell as a wife for Henry VIII to strengthen the protestant alliance. On first meeting, in December 1539, Henry was dismayed to find her ‘well and seemly … but nothing so fair as reported’, alluding to Holbein's flattering portrait. He was persuaded to go through with the marriage in January 1540. Anne spoke little English and was not well educated, not sharing Henry's passion either for dance or music. Her jovial nature was not enough and Henry found her plain and homely. After Cromwell's fall and the swing in favour of catholicism, Henry sought swiftly to extricate himself, citing grounds of non-consummation, her earlier betrothal to a son of the duke of Lorraine, and, most tellingly, that he had never inwardly consented. The annulment was declared in July 1540, according Anne a handsome settlement and residences, on condition that she remain in England and accept the status of royal sister. Not surprisingly, Anne felt that she had fared rather well. Henry quickly remarried, making Catherine Howard his fifth wife. After Catherine's execution, there were rumours that Anne was to be recalled, and even that she was pregnant, but nothing came of it. She lived at Chelsea until her death in July 1557 and was buried with considerable ceremony at Westminster abbey.
Sue Minna Cannon