Five More Wives


Anne Boleyn (born 1507, executed 1536)

In January 1533 before he had divorced Katherine of Aragon Henry married Anne Boleyn.  On 1 June 1533, she was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey in London.

Many people hated Anne.   One man yelled out: 'God save Queen Katherine!' and another man shouted: 'Goggle-eyed monster.'  Henry and Anne's initials 'H and 'A' were on all the carpets and banners.  The crowds laughed at them, shouting 'Ha! Ha!'

In 1533 Anne had her first child, a girl 5 called Elizabeth.  Henry was furious and refused to go to the baptism.

People also noticed that Anne was becoming more aggressive every day, shouting at Henry and telling him off ?  Henry started spending time with Jane Seymour, one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting.  That made Anne more angry!

Then in 1536 Anne had a miscarriage.  She had failed to give Henry a son.  Henry told Thomas Cromwell he wanted to get rid of her.

Anne was sent to the Tower of London and put on trial.  She was accused of taking other men as lovers including the king's best friend, her musician (who confessed under torture), her brother, and `a hundred other men'.  It was claimed that she had plotted to kill Henry and take the throne.

On 19 May 1536 Anne was executed on Tower Green.  She wore a grey robe trimmed with fur. Reports said that she had a 'goodly, smiling face'.  Anne even admitted that she was guilty.  She said: 'I pray God, save the king . . . there never was a gentler, or a more merciful prince.'

Henry had brought from France an expert swordsman, who cut off her head with one blow.  But Henry did not see Anne die; he was singing love songs to Jane Seymour.  That day they announced their engagement.


Jane Seymour (born 1509, died 1537)

Ten days after Anne Boleyn's execution, Henry married Jane Seymour in her bedroom!  Jane was quiet and gentle.  Henry always said that he loved her more than any of his other wives.

In 1537 she became pregnant, but had problems having the baby. There were rumours that Henry told the doctors to 'tear the child from the womb'. 

Jane got a fever.  The doctors kept her freezing cold.  They put leeches all over her to take away 'bad blood'. 

But Henry rejoiced, for the baby was a boy.  He called the child Edward, and held a great baptism party.  Twelve days later, Henry's 'favourite wife' died while he feasted.


Anna of Cleves (born 1515, died 1557)

Within hours of Jane's death, Henry was trying to find a fourth wife.  Henry's two enemies (Charles V of Spain and Francis I of France) had joined forces to destroy him.  Henry needed an ally  a country which would be his friend. 

On Thomas Cromwell's advice, Henry chose Anna of Cleves (Cleves was a country in North Germany).  He had seen a portrait of her, painted by Hans Holbein, but when she arrived Henry did not like her. 

Anna was plain and fat.  She had a long nose.  She could not speak English and sang out of tune!  Henry married Anna in January 1540, but divorced her six months later.  Then he executed Cromwell.


Catherine Howard (born 1521, executed 1542)

By this time, Henry was having problems at home.  he people had begun to hate him. T hey were calling him 'a beast and worse than a beast'.  There were riots and plots.  Needing support, in July 1540 Henry married Catherine Howard.  She was the niece of the powerful Duke of Norfolk. 

Catherine was 19, short, plump and very attractive.  She was a good nurse and dressed the large open sores on Henry's legs. 

But Catherine found Henry boring.  She had love affairs with other men, including her secretary and one of Henry's advisers. 

When he found out, Henry burst into tears.  Then he executed her.


Catherine Parr (born 1512, died 1548)

In 1543 Henry married his last wife.

At 31, Catherine Parr was older than Henry's other wives.  She was educated and gentle.  She took care of his rotting body and ruled the country when he was too ill to cope.  She treated Mary, Elizabeth and Edward as if they were her own children.  She made them into a happy family.

On 28 January 1547, Henry died.  He asked to be buried with Jane Seymour.




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The following websites will help you research further:


Anne Boleyn:

History Learning Site     

Historian Richard Bevan looks behind the narrative story - difficult

Interpretations debate



Jane Seymour:

History Learning Site     


Anna of Cleves:

History Learning Site  

Interesting facts about Anna of Cleves

That painting


Catherine Howard:

History Learning Site  


Catherine Parr:

History Learning Site