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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Why choose this wife?

H
enry VIII was quite clear about why he needed a fourth wife: sons. In an age when infant mortality rates were high, both an heir (the toddler Prince Edward) and a "spare" were needed to reinforce the Tudor dynasty.

What finally pushed Henry VIII in the direction of Anne of Cleves, however, was not her status as a nubile virgin, but the urgings of his chancellor,


Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell saw considerable advantage to England in an alliance with the German duchy of Cleves. Positioned in Germany's north, Cleves controlled territory that effectively acted as a buffer to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who controlled the Netherlands. At the same time, Cleves' family ties to the Schmalkaldic League of Protestant German princes gave England yet another chance to trounce Charles V's territorial ambitions. At a time when England was wary of an invasion in response to its break with Rome, an alliance with a Protestant league could prove a considerable comfort.

Match point, England. Or so it appeared.

Who could Henry VIII also have married? Find out
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Intro Background Why choose this wife? Role as queen King vs. queen Love Life Children Ultimate fate