My name is Anne of Cleves, and I was the 4th wife of Henry VIII of England.
After Henry's third wife (Jane Seymour) died, he started looking for a new bride
so he could have another son. His advisor, Thomas Cromwell, suggested that he
marry a princess from Germany so that England and Germany could work together.
Since King Henry did not want to marry anyone he had never seen, he paid an
artist (Hans Holbein) to come to Germany to paint my portrait. The portrait was
very nice (the artist made me look prettier than I really was). When Henry saw
the painting, he agreed to the wedding.
A little while later, I went to England and met King Henry. He did not
think I was pretty and he wanted to cancel the wedding. I did not speak English
and he did not speak German, so we had a hard time communicating. Thomas
Cromwell knew that if the wedding was called off, the royalty in Germany would
not be happy. Finally, King Henry agreed to go ahead with the wedding.
But we did not live happily ever after. After the wedding ceremony,
King Henry went directly to his chambers and sent me to a different bedroom. I realized that
we would never have a child.
It did not take very long for Henry to punish his minister, Thomas Cromwell.
Two weeks after our wedding, I found out that Henry ordered Cromwell
to be hanged. Then he sent for me and demanded a divorce. I
was smart enough to realize that if I refused I might end up like Cromwell. I
agreed to the divorce and Henry told me that I would be able to live in a castle
the rest of my life. He also said he would pay for my maids and other expenses.
I actually lived longer than Henry by ten years. I saw him marry twice more
after our divorce. When King Henry died in 1547 (at the age
of 56) he left orders that his third wife, Jane Seymour, was to have her bones
placed in his casket. Of all his wives she was his favorite. But he never went
back on his word when it came to supporting me. I lived a very happy life in
England and even learned to speak English. Henry never bothered to learn German.
Map of United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland).