On January 6, 1540, King Henry VIII of England marries Anne of Cleves at the royal palace of Placentia in Greenich, London. Anne was the fourth wife of King Henry VIII; it was a very brief marriage, to the astonishment of all observers but the relief of both spouses. Henry infamously referred to his bride as a 'Flanders mare' and told courtiers and ambassadors that he could not perform his husbandly duties because of Anne's appearance. Anne's reaction to Henry's physical charms was not recorded, but she agreed to an annulment very quickly and remained in England for the rest of her life. Henry was grateful for her cooperation and granted her a generous income and several homes, including Hever Castle. Anne enjoyed an independent lifestyle denied most women, often visiting Henry's court as an honored guest. Her fondness for English ale and gambling were her only vices. Along with her successor as Henry's wife, Catherine Howard, Anne remains a mysterious figure about who too little is known. Had she and Henry remained married and had children, the course of English history might have changed dramatically. But the mysteries of physical attraction denied Anne her place on the throne, ended the brilliant career of Thomas Cromwell, and thrust the king into the arms of his ill-fated fifth queen, Catherine Howard. Anne died at Chelsea Old Manor on July 16, 1557, eight weeks before her forty-second birthday. The cause of her death was most likely to have been cancer. She was buried in Westminster Abbey on August 3rd, in what has been described as a "somewhat hard to find tomb" on the opposite side of Edward the Confessor’s shrine and slightly above eye level for a person of average height. She is the only wife of Henry VIII to be buried in the Abbey. She also has the distinction of being the last of Henry VIII's wives to die (she outlived Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr, by 9 years).
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Royal Tombs: A Guide to the Lives and Burial Places of British Monarchs. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
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