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The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Catherine of Aragon Anne Boleyn Jane Seymour Anne of Cleves Catherine Howard Catherine Parr
Meet the Wives Find a Wife Portrait of a King Tudor Times
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I
nitial reports on the 23-year-old daughter of John, Duke of Cleves had urged caution: "I hear no great praise neither of her parentage nor her beauty," an English envoy wrote. But Henry VIII's marriage broker, Lord Chancellor Thomas Cromwell, was not inclined to listen. Instead, he advised the king that Anne was "above all other ladies excellent." It was a mistake that would cost Cromwell his head.

The lack of similarity between Anne of Cleves and her portrait by Hans Holbein was immense. Not only was she "nothing fair," she was tall and thin, and gave off "evil smells."

Her reported gentleness and humility would alone hold true. Less like the beheaded Anne Boleyn, more like the beloved Jane Seymour. It was, perhaps, a calculated strategy. But in Anne's future with the irascible Henry VIII, they were traits that would serve her well.

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Top: Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein
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Intro Background Why choose this wife? Role as queen King vs. queen Love Life Children Ultimate fate