23 Comments

  1. Mike

    Can we have a translation of her letter into “modern” english ? Unless you can understand the language of the time it’s *very* hard to understand what she’s saying in the letter.

    • Hannah

      She is essentially saying that she is happy to allow a clerical conclave to decide on the validity of her marriage, and although she loves Henry will readily accept that their marriage is not legal given that it wasn’t consumated. She is happy to be one of his subjects, and happy to accept the title of ‘sister’ to him. Basically, the complete opposite to what Katherine of Aragon did; she will not argue with Henry.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      It does not appear so. She could have left and returned home but chose to stay in England as the king’s sister.

    • Lynn Sabin

      I don’t believe it’s correct to assume that Anne wanted to return to Cleves.

      First, there exists correspondence indicating she was somewhat fearful about how she’d be received by her brother.

      Second, and this is speculative, in England, Anne was remarkably independent and certainly one of the wealthiest women of the time. Had she returned to her brother, she’d have lost all autonomy.

      • robyn news

        Indeed I agree, she had a measure of independence in England. Had she returned home her brother may well have arranged another political marriage for her. Clever lady indeed!

      • Charlene

        There was no political entity called “Germany” at the time. There were instead dozens of little independent duchies (like Cleves) and principalities, some nominally part of the Holy Roman Empire, some not.

        Germany came into existence politically centuries later.

  2. Louise

    She was not pleased to be divorced by Henry, and later she apparently hoped he would remarry her after katherine Howard was executed.

  3. Lynn Sabin

    This is a wonderful, informative article. I do have one comment.

    Raphael Holinshed was three years old when Henry VIII died, and his description of Anne came 30 years after Henry’s death. Holinshed, as far as I’ve been able to determine, was also the first to describe Anne as “the Flanders Mare.” Holinshed would not have known Anne personally, and there’s no evidence any former members of Henry’s court availed themselves as primary sources, nor have I found referenced in Holinshed’s writings citations from their journals, letters, or diaries. For information about Anne’s appearance, disposition, and practices I think we need to look elsewhere; and, thankfully, private dispassionate correspondences about Anne are extant.

  4. Maureen

    That letter has to stand as one of the cleverest ever written by a wife. A wife to a man whose volatile personality made the said wife’s future by no means certain. Anne of Cleves knew this and, in a brilliant letter, both clever, humble and flattering, she managed to acquire for herself, as the king’s dear sister, a fine independent and prosperous life in England. I cannot imagine her wishing to return to Cleves to become just another female with few rights in the court of her brother. She was clever political and had a healthy sense of self preservation in a very dangerous time. Good for Anne.

  5. It would have been better for Katherine of Aragon to have accepted divorce from Henry as Anne of Ceves did. Its a shame that her religion and the political situation with her nephew prevented it. She wouldnt have died such a sad and lonely woman

  6. Amy Grant

    Where did these letters come from? How did any letters from that century and earlier survive? Were they found in castles? Put away with other correspondences from said person, passed down by family? It’s amazing how much history we get just from letters. And imagine all the letters we didn’t get to see, all the homes and castles destroyed that maybe held something important… I think about this a lot and often wish I had a time machine to be a fly on the wall during this time period. Imagine what we don’t know… Gives me chills.

    • Tudors Dynasty

      All stuff that Henry VIII fabricated to say why he couldn’t consummate the relationship. It’s been reported at this time that he was also most likely impotent. This was referenced in the trial of George Boleyn. What it comes down to was the fact that he just wasn’t attracted to her and would say anything to cover up his impotence, even going to far as having his doctor report that he has “wet dreams” so it must have been Anne.

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