The Tudor Society

The Cousins of Cleves by Heather R. Darsie

anne_of_clevesbarthelbruynAnna von Kleve, from the line of von der Marck (Germanic) or LaMarck (Francophone), fourth wife of Henry VIII and most commonly known as Anne of Cleves, is known to have shared the lineage of King Edward I of England with Henry’s other five wives. While an interesting anecdote, Edward I, or Edward Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots, died in 1307. In 1539, when Anna came to England to be Henry’s queen, she had many well-known powerful relations, distant though they were. Below, we will go through the genealogy of some of Anna’s royal connections.

Henry VIII first became related to the Cleves family through the marriage in 1503 of his elder sister Margaret to James IV of Scotland. Catherine of Cleves, the same Catherine of Cleves whose gorgeous illuminated Book of Hours is still extant, became mother to Mary of Guelders in 1434. Mary of Guelders became queen consort of Scotland’s James II in 1449, and gave birth to the future James III. Margaret Tudor continued this Cleves connection through her marriage to James IV, and the subsequent birth of James V of Scotland. Mary of Guelders was Anna’s great-great aunt on her father’s side.

Later, in October of 1514, Henry VIII again became related to the Cleves family through the marriage of his beloved younger sister Mary to Louis XII of France. Louis XII’s mother was Marie of Cleves, Anna’s great-great aunt on her father’s side, and sister to the afore-mentioned Catherine of Cleves.

Anna could also claim the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as a relative. Agnes of Burgundy, Duchess of Bourbon, was born to John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria in 1407 and became sister-in-law to Adolf of Cleves. Adolf of Cleves was the father of Catherine and Marie of Cleves, and of Anna’s great-grandfather John I of Cleves. In short, Agnes was the grandmother of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. Maximilian I was a friend of Henry VIII, even giving Henry a fine suit of jousting armour.

Maximilian IMaximilian I was father to Philip I of Castile. Philip I was the first Hapsburg to become a King of Spain, which he accomplished through his marriage to Juana of Castile. As husband to Juana of Castile, Philip I was Henry VIII’s brother-in-law because Juana was Catherine of Aragon’s elder sister. Philip I, also known as Philip the Handsome, and Juana of Castile became parents to the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In short, John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria were the three-greats-ago grandparents to both Charles V and Anna von Kleve. Is your head spinning, yet?

Also, as Charles V was father to Philip II of Spain, Henry VIII would have been related to Anna’s family through his son-in-law. Henry’s daughter, Mary I of England, married Philip II of Spain in 1554. Another interesting connection between the House of von der Marck and the House of Tudor!

To turn back to Anna’s French and Scottish relations, Anna was also related to Marie of Guise. Mary of Guelders, grandmother to Margaret Tudor’s husband, James IV, was the sister of Adolf of Egmond. Adolf was Mary of Guise’s grandfather. Mary of Guise married James V of Scotland; both Mary and James V shared Catherine of Cleves as their great-great grandmother. This means that Mary, Queen of Scots, born in 1542, was a cousin of Cleves on both her mother and father’s sides. Mary, Queen of Scots, went on to give birth to James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England upon the death of Elizabeth I of England in 1603.

It is an interesting footnote to history that Anna von Kleve, the oft-overlooked or under-credited fourth wife of Henry VIII, was related to some of the most prominent figures in Europe at the time. Two Holy Roman Emperors, both of Henry’s sisters through their marriages, the ill-fated Queen of Scots, and James I, who inherited the throne from the Tudor dynasty when Elizabeth I shuffled off her mortal coil.

Heather R. Darsie lives in the United States with her family and three parrots. She works in the legal field, with a focus on children. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Languages and Literature, then a Juris Doctorate in American jurisprudence, and studied abroad in Costa Rica and France. Heather has always loved history. She first became acquainted with Elizabeth I when she was in middle school and chose to write a book report about her. Since then, she has always held an interest in the Renaissance and its numerous enigmatic citizens, with particular focus on the history of England and Italy. She is currently working on a book on the heraldry of Tudor women and is also researching Anne of Cleves.

Pictures: 1) Anne of Cleves, from the workshop of Barthel Bruyn the Elder 2) Maximilian I by Albrecht Dürer.

There are 4 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    Very interesting, much excellent research and hardwork, very good article. Thanks.

  2. S

    This is a very good article. What interests me is the family tree of Anne of Cleves that allowed her to marry Henry VIII. The bloodline being passed down through all of these people can’t be accidental since marriages were arranged, but these marriages cover so much time and so many people that I would think it impossible to purposely keep the line intact over that much time. Anyone care to reply? Thank you in advance.

  3. H

    Certainly, Sandra! Could you clarify your question, so I may give the best answer? Thank you!

  4. r

    Anne is the impressive queen for even her limited time. I read English history and she is the hard one to find the detail Yes she lasted the longest. Impressive. Thank you for the information. On another note, as my family came from that area in Germany in the early 1800’s it is interesting to learn more. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

The Cousins of Cleves by Heather R. Darsie