Why did Henry have so many wives?
The usual answer was that he wanted a son to be his heir. But actually he had plenty of sons, sadly most of them died
but one survived, born to his third wife so why did he have another three wives after that?
Although he had one son, children died very easily in Tudor times, so he really needed a second one to make sure.
Plus maybe he just fell in love easily and he was extremely spoilt and used to having what ever he wanted. He wouldn't
let anything stand in his way.
To find out what happened to them, move your pointer
over the pictures below!!
Catherine of Aragon
First she married Arthur, Henry's older brother. But after six months, he
died, and Catherine was engaged to Henry instead.
She was 17 and Henry was only 12!
They were married when he became King in 1509. She was older and wiser
than him and often gave him advice on how to rule.
She was a good and faithful wife for over twenty years. She had many children, but
only one survived, Mary, who would later become Queen.
Henry fell in love with Anne when she was a servant in the Queens
Household in 1522. By 1526 he was trying to get divorced from Catherine
so that he could marry her.
The head of the Catholic church, the Pope, wouldn't allow it, so eventually
Henry broke away from the church in Rome, and declared himself the head
of a new Church of England. He granted himself a divorce.
He married Anne in 1533, and later that year she gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth who
would grow up to be a strong Queen for England.
Henry soon got fed up with Anne, (apparently she was really grumpy!) so he accused
her of meeting other men.
There is a letter from Anne begging Henry to believe in her
innocence but he didn't and in 1536 she was beheaded. Henry played tennis whilst she
had her head chopped off!
11 days later Henry married this third wife.
Jane was from an old and noble family. She was gentle and modest and not
grumpy like Anne. She gave birth to a son in 1537, Edward, who would
become King after his father.
Sadly 12 days later she died. It is said that Henry loved Jane the best of all
his wives and...
Henry waited two years before marrying again.
Anne of Cleves
Henry wanted to make a 'good' marriage this time and decided to look all over
Europe for a bride. He sent painters to paint any eligible brides so he could
see what they looked like.
A picture was shown to him of Anne of Cleves and he agreed to marry her
without ever having met her!
When she arrived in England, Henry was very keen to meet her but she didn't speak any
english and didn't know who he was. She was rather rude to the fat man that came to see
her (Henry) and ignored him.
Henry stormed out shouting 'I like her not!'
He is said to have found her repulsively ugly, and called her a horse! He couldn't break his
promise to marry her but it only lasted six months.
20 days after his second divorce, Henry married his fifth wife.
Katherine was a cousin of Anne Boleyn and was only about 16 when
she came to court. No-one knows her actual birthdate, but she was still
a teenager when they married. (He was 49!)
She was lively, pretty,kind and a bit of a 'bird brain' but Henry thought
she was perfect.
However she was previously, secretly engaged to one man and possibly a second
one too. When the King found out he chopped both the men's heads off, followed
by Katherine's in 1542.
The following year he married for the last time.
Kathryn had already been married twice before, but both her husbands
had died. She was really in love with Thomas Seymour (Jane Seymour's
brother) but she was too scared to refuse the King (which was probably
Henry was very very fat and ill by now and Kathryn was as much a nurse as
a wife. She was a kind woman and was the first wife to bring all three of his children
to live together under one roof.
When Henry died in 1547, Kathryn quickly married Thomas Seymour (her fourth
husband). Sadly he didn't love her as much as she did him and she was very
unhappy. She died in childbirth a year later in 1548.
Contrary to popular opinion, Henry actually had many children. Unfortunately as was very common in Tudor times,
most of them died when they were babies. Only three survived to be adults.
He actually had 11 children from three of his wives. Catherine of Aragon must have been a very strong woman as
she had six babies in eight years.
1510 Unnamed Daughter - died of natural causes
1511 Henry Tudor - Son - died aged 53 days of natural causes
1513 Unnamed Son - died on day of birth of natural causes
1514 Unnamed Son - died on day of birth of natural causes
1516 Mary - survived
1518 Unnamed Daughter - died of natural causes
1533 Elizabeth - survived
1534 Henry Tudor - Son - died on day of birth of natural causes
1535 unknown - died on day of birth of natural causes
1536 Unnamed Son - died of natural causes
1537 Edward - survived
Tudors Home page
~ Henry’s wives ~
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The Romans in Britain!
Letter from Anne