On this day in history, 22nd September 1515, Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg, or Anne of Cleves as we know her, was born near Düsseldorf. She was the second daughter of John III, Duke of Jülich, Cleves and Berg, an important German ruler, and his wife, Maria of Jülich-Berg.
In 1539, Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's chief adviser, was looking to broker an alliance between England and the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Lutheran Princes established by Anne's brother-in-law, John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony. A marriage treaty between England and Cleves was agreed upon in the autumn of 1539 and Anne of Cleves arrived in England on 27th December 1539 in preparation for marrying Henry VIII. Henry and Anne married on 6th January 1540, Epiphany, at Greenwich Palace, but the marriage was short-lived, ending in an annulment just over six months later. Henry claimed that he had been unable to consummate the marriage due to Anne's appearance. He married one of her maids-of-honour, the young Catherine Howard, shortly after the annulment had gone through.
Anne did not fight the annulment proceedings and she was rewarded for her acquiescence with grants of money, property, plate and jewels. She became a very wealthy woman. She never remarried and was able to maintain a friendly relationship with the King and his children. She outlived Henry VIII and all of his other wives, and died on 15th July 1557.
Here are some links to further resources on Anne of Cleves:
- Happy 500th Birthday, Anna! - Heather R. Darsie's article from last year.
- Anne of Cleves quiz
- Anne of Cleves video - Was she ugly?
- Anne of Cleves - Flanders Mare?
- November 1541 - Anne of Cleves rumoured to have given birth to the King's son
You can also search the "Anne of Cleves" tag.