Ever wondered who the wives of King Henry VIII were, then you are not alone. We take a closer look at each of the famous six.
Of the many kings and queens that have ruled the British Isles over the centuries, we can probably all agree upon the fact that King Henry VIII is the most infamous and is probably the royal with the most interesting reign under their belt.
Henry VIII is a polarizing figure in history, as people either love him or loathe him. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.
If there’s one thing that King Henry VIII is famous for, however (other than the dissolution of the monasteries) it’s his six wives.
Ever wondered who were the wives of King Henry VIII, and what was their fate? Here’s a more detailed look at the six wives of King Henry VIII , the infamous Tudor king.
Catherine of Aragon
The first of the wives of King Henry VIII, is Catherine of Aragon.
In 1502, attention quickly turned to Henry VIII and his marriage, or lack thereof after his older brother, Arthur died.
Henry was now heir to the throne and it was down to him to continue the Tudor dynasty and keep the family tree going. He married Catherine of Aragon, who had originally been married to Henry’s older brother, Prince Arthur.
After Arthur died, Catherine became Henry VIII‘s spouse in 1509, when he was just 18. They knew each other before the marriage and for the first decade or so, the marriage was happy.
Henry longed for a son, and despite having one who sadly passed away, after multiple pregnancies but no male heir, Henry began questioning his marriage and struck up a love affair with another woman.
Henry had another good reason to end his marriage to Catherine, and that reason was that he had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, who became one of the wives of King Henry VIII.
In 1522, after nearly a decade in France, she returned to England, and despite not being conventionally beautiful, she captured Henry’s heart and they soon began courting.
Henry was apparently madly in love with Anne and would often write love letters and poems to her. Eventually, she agreed to marry him and in 1532, she fell pregnant. Henry was now obsessed with ending his marriage to Catherine as the new heir must be born legitimately, I.E not out of wedlock.
Eventually, the marriage was annulled and the child was born. Henry was desperate for a son, but again, it was a daughter and the King was livid.
They had a rocky relationship, but soon rumours of infidelity, mistrust, and even incest surrounding Anne Boleyn, began to emerge.
Thomas Cromwell was alleged to have unearthed evidence of Boleyn’s infidelity, incest, and conspiracy to murder the king, and she was subsequently beheaded.
Jane Seymour was the lady-in-waiting for Anne Boleyn, and the king, now aged 45 and still without the son he desperately craved, turned his attention to the 27 year old.
Less than 24 hours after Boleyn’s death, Jane became one of the wives of King Henry VIII.
Jane was apparently able to control the king and his temperamental nature. In 1537, Seymour fell pregnant and the king, now obsessed with having a son, went to great lengths to ensure that her every whim was catered for when pregnant. To satisfy her cravings, he even had quail’s eggs shipped in from France.
His bedside manner was rewarded as he finally got the son he longed for – Edward, who was born in October 1537. Henry was overjoyed and described Seymour as his ‘one true wife’.
Sadly, due to complications from the birth, Seymour died 12 days later.
Anne of Cleves
After Jane’s death, as he now had a son, Henry remained single for the next 2 years.
Without support from Rome however, England was vulnerable to attack, and a political alliance needed to be formed.
Henry was introduced to Anne of Cleves, though he found her unattractive. Henry met Anne in disguise. This was a test for Anne, as she was supposed to recognise her king instantly. When he tried to kiss her, she reportedly recoiled in horror.
This was a blow to Henry as, now much older, a great deal more out of shape, and with time against him, was forced to face the fact that he wasn’t the physical specimen that he was in his youth.
The marriage had zero chemistry, Henry was unable to consummate the union, and he already had his eyes on another woman.
Catherine Howard was the cousin of Anne Boleyn, and aged just 19, made the list of wives of King Henry VIII.
Henry, now nearly 50, set his sights on the 19-year old as she was young, fertile, and embodied everything he believed a queen should be.
Catherine made the king feel young once more, and he quickly fell for her.
Catherine apparently enjoyed living a regal life and being showered with lavish and expensive gifts from her husband.
Henry was on cloud 9, but his happiness was to be short-lived, as just 14 months after their marriage, the king was presented with evidence of Catherine’s infidelity.
On the 13th of February, 1542, Catherine Howard, whom Henry called his ‘rose without a thorn’ was beheaded.
The sixth, and final of the wives of King Henry VIII was Katherine Parr.
After the death of Catherine, the king fell into a deep depression, and as a result, his mood became more volatile by the day.
As plague broke out in London in 1543, Henry met Parr at Hampton Court Palace for the first time.
The slim and attractive 31-year old caught his eye, and having shown a keen interest in education, along with religious reform, she quickly became a big part of the king’s life and held great influence over him.
The two grew close, he held her in high regard, and her position looked unshakable. Because of her keen interest in Protestantism, this interest in a new faith soon led to accusations of heresy which would certainly have lead to her execution.
Parr was intelligent, though, and after being tipped off about these accusations, knowing she needed to get the king alone, she took to her bed and feigned a mortal illness. As the king attended to her, she reasoned with him and defended herself against these accusations, and it worked.
In 1547, after several years of obesity, binge drinking, eating, and an ulcerated leg wound from a jousting accident, King Henry VIII passed away of natural causes.
Katherine Parr outlived her husband, and four months later, would go on to marry Thomas Seymour, after initially courting Seymour before she caught the eye of Henry.