Anne of Cleves: Facts About the Fourth Wife of Henry VIII

Here are some facts about Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife.

  • Anne of Cleves was born in 1515 in Dusseldorf.
  • Henry sent Hans Holbein, a famous Tudor painter, to the court of the Duke of Cleves. Holbein was instructed to accurately paint portraits of both Anne of Cleves and her sister, Amalia of Cleves. Henry wanted to see what his potential bride looked like before he agreed to the marriage.

  • Henry liked what he saw in the portrait and a marriage treaty between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was signed in 1539.
  • Henry first met Anne in Rochester and he was apparently disappointed with her appearance. Some have said that Henry named her the ‘Mare of Flanders’.
  • The marriage between Henry and Anne took place on 6th January 1540 in Greenwich Palace.
  • Henry VIII realised he had made a mistake. Anne was ordered to leave the Royal Court on 24th June and Henry asked Anne to consent to an annulment.
  • Anne agreed and the marriage was annulled on 9th July 1540.
  • It seems that Henry VIII was very grateful to Anne for agreeing to the annulment of their marriage. She was given Richmond Palace, Hever Castle and other properties.
  • Historians have suggested that Anne and Henry became good friends. Anne was often invited to court and was referred to as ‘The King’s Beloved Sister’.
  • Anne survived Henry VIII, yet she remained in England and was still active in the Royal Court. Her last public appearance was to attend Mary I’s coronation at Westminster.
  • Anne died on 16th July 1557, aged 41. She was buried in Westminster Abbey. Anne was the last of Henry’s six wives to die.

Click here to find out more about Henry VIII’s other wives.

Jane Seymour: Facts About the Third Wife of Henry VIII

Here are some facts about Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Jane Seymour was born in about 1508 at Wulfhall, Wiltshire.

  • Her father was John Seymour and her mother was Margery Wentworth.
  • She was distantly related to Henry VIII and she shared a great-grandmother with Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
  • In 1532, Jane was maid-of-honour to Henry’s first Queen, Catherine of Aragon, and she went on to serve Anne Boleyn.
  • King Henry married Jane Seymour at the Palace of Whitehall in London. The ceremony took place on 30th May 1536 – just eleven days after the beheading of Anne Boleyn.
  • Jane formed a very close relationship with Mary Tudor (later Mary I), the daughter of Henry and his first wife, Catherine. She played a part in restoring a relationship between Henry and Mary.
  • Jane Seymour became pregnant in 1537. She gave birth to the male heir so desired by Henry. Edward (later Edward VI) was born on 12th October 1537.
  • Jane Seymour attended Edward’s christening, but died on 24th October 1537. It is thought that the cause of death was related to complications following on from the birth of Edward.
  • Jane Seymour was buried on 12th November 1537 in st George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. She was the only one of his wives to receive a Queen’s funeral, and she was the only one to be buried with the King – he was buried next to her, at his request, when he passed away in 1547.

Find out about the other wives of Henry VIII by clicking here.

Anne Boleyn: Facts About the Second Wife of Henry VIII

Here are some facts about Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

  • Very little is known about the early years of Anne Boleyn’s life. Historians can’t even agree when Anne was born. Some think she was born in 1500 or 1501, whereas others think a year of 1507 to be more likely. She was probably born at Blickling Hall in Norfolk.

  • Apparently, Anne was not particularly pretty. Contrary to legend, she probably didn’t have a sixth finger on one of her hands. She was, however, stylish, intelligent and quick-witted.
  • Anne spent time in the household of Henry’s sister, Mary Tudor, who was married to the French King, Louis XII. Anne learned to speak French fluently.
  • Anne’s sister Mary Boleyn was a mistress of Henry VIII.
  • After Henry VIII took an interest in Anne, it was thought that she too would become one of his mistresses. However, this was not the case, and from 1527 onwards, Henry sought to get his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled so he would be in a position to marry Anne.
  • In 1533 Anne and Henry were secretly married. It is thought that Anne was pregnant with Henry’s child at this point. Henry and Catherine were still officially married, but Archbishop Cranmer proclaimed the marriage to be null and void.
  • Henry’s desire to annul the marriage between himself and Catherine in order to marry Anne, led to the break with Rome.
  • Anne gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, on August 26th 1533.
  • Anne Boleyn fell pregnant again in 1534 but it either ended in miscarriage or the child being stillborn. In 1535 Anne suffered a miscarriage.
  • King Henry VIII desperately desired a male heir and he started to spend time with one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour.
  • Anne’s enemies at court, particularly Thomas Cromwell, began to plot her downfall. On May 2nd 1536, Anne was arrested at Greenwich, accused of committing adultery, incest and high treason. It was also said that she plotted to kill the King. She was taken to the Tower of London.
  • On Monday 15th Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother were put on trial. Anne was found guilty of committing adultery, despite a significant lack of evidence, and she was executed on the morning of May 19th 1536.
  • Anne’s head and body were placed in an arrow chest and buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Find out about Henry VIII’s other wives by clicking here.

You can also check out more of our Tudor resources by visiting this page.

Catherine of Aragon: Facts About the First Wife of Henry VIII

Here some of the key facts about Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII.

  • Catherine of Aragon was born in Madrid, Spain in 1485. Her father was Ferdinand II of Aragon and her mother was Isabella I of Castille.

  • Catherine was married to Arthur Tudor, Henry VIII’s older brother. When Arthur died and Henry VIII became King of England, Henry and Catherine married.
  • Catherine was thought to have long red hair and blue eyes. She was apparently very beautiful.
  • Catherine was 23 when she married Henry VIII. Henry was nearly 18.
  • During her marriage to Henry VIII, Catherine was pregnant six times. Unfortunately, only one of these pregnancies resulted in a child  who survived beyond infancy (Mary I).
  • Henry VIII became attracted to Anne Boleyn, one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting. He set about trying to get the marriage annulled. The Pope refused to annul the marriage and this led to the break from the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Cranmer ruled the marriage between Henry and Catherine to be null and void in 1533.
  • Catherine was sent away from the Royal Court. Her rooms were given to Anne Boleyn, and Catherine lived out the rest of her life in The More castle and then Kimbolton Castle.
  • Catherine died on 7th January 1536. She was buried in Peterborough Cathederal. Henry VIII did not attend and their daughter, Mary (later Mary I) was prevented from attending.

Find out more about Henry VIII other wives by following this link.

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The Six Wives of King Henry VIII

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

You are probably familiar with this phrase which has been learnt by school children for many years to help them to remember what happened to Henry VIII’s six wives. It’s a bit inaccurate, however, because Henry didn’t divorce Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, he had his marriages to them annulled (which means that, in the eyes of the law, the marriage never took place at all).

Here are the six wives of Henry VIII.

Click on their names to learn more about them (coming soon).

Catherine of Aragon (marriage annulled)

Anne Boleyn (executed)

Jane Seymour (died tweleve days after giving birth to Henry’s heir, Edward)

Anne of Cleves (marriage annulled)

Catherine Howard (executed)

Catherine Parr (widowed)

Henry was a distant relative of all six of his wives. They were all ancestors of the English King, Edward I.

Here is a rhyme about Henry’s wives:

King Henry the Eighth,

To six wives he was wedded.

One died, one survived,

Two divorced, two beheaded.

Facts About Henry VIII

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 to 1547. He is probably most well-known for having six wives and for being very over-weight towards the end of his reign, but there’s much more to the man than that. Although we will look at particular parts of his reign and life in more detail in other articles, this post will focus on some of the key general facts and information associated with Henry VIII.

Henry VIII Fact File

Born: 28th June 1491 at Greenwich Palace. His father was Henry Tudor (Henry VII) and his mother was Elizabeth of York.

Died: 28th January 1547 at the Palace of Whitehall in London. Henry was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Reign: 21st April 1509 to 28th January 1547.

Facts About Henry VIII’s Early Life

  • Henry received an excellent education from some of the best tutors in Europe.
  • He was fluent in Latin and French and he could speak some Ancient Greek and Spanish.
  • Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, died when he was eleven years old.
  • Henry wasn’t expected to become King of England, but when his brother Arthur died in 1502 at the age of 15, Henry was next in line for the throne.

Other Facts About Henry VIII

  • Henry enjoyed music and he could play the lute and the organ.
  • He had a good singing voice and he could read and compose music.
  • In his youth, Henry VIII was a keen sportsman. He loved jousting, hunting and playing real tennis.
  • Henry was over 6 feet tall and was strong and athletic.
  • In 1536, Henry was unhorsed in a jousting tournament. He was very badly hurt and it seems that the leg injury he sustained may have contributed to his obesity and mood swings that characterised the latter part of his reign.
  • Henry VIII had six wives – Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. You can read more about them by clicking here.
  • Henry VIII separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, using the Act of Supremacy to declare himself the head of the Church of England. Click here to read more about the Break with Rome. (coming soon!)

Click here to see the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Henry VIII.

Visit the Primary Facts resources page for The Tudors.

The Battle of Boswoth Field: Facts and Information

The Battle of Bosworth Field was pretty much the last conflict of the Wars of the Roses, between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. It was fought on 22nd August 1485 and saw the Lancastrian leader, Henry Tudor (Henry VII), defeat the Yorkist forces and kill Richard III.

  • The exact site of the battlefield is still unknown.
  • Richard III tried to charge Henry, knowing that killing him would effectively bring an end to the battle. Richard managed to kill Henry’s standard-bearer, Sir William Brandon, but he failed to get close enough to Henry.

  • Richard III’s horse got stuck in the boggy ground of the battlefield. It is said that he was offered other horses by his men so that he could escape, but Richard refused. He fought on by foot until he was overwhelmed by the Lancastrian forces.
  • Richard III was the last Yorkist King, and the last English monarch to die on the battlefield.
  • After the battle, Richard III’s crown was found on the battlefield and Henry was crowned at the top of Crown Hill, near Stoke Golding. According to legend, the crown was found in a hawthorn bush by Lord Stanley.

King Henry VII: Facts About the First Tudor Monarch

Henry VII Fact File

Born: 28th January 1457. His father was Edmund Tudor and his mother was Lady Margaret Beaufort.

Died: 21st April 1509. Henry died of tuberculosis at Richmond Palace. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Reign: 1485 to 1509.

Children: Four of Henry VII’s children survived beyond infancy. They were: Arthur Tudor, Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII and Mary Tudor.

How Did Henry Tudor Become King of England?

Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was one of the great-granddaughters of John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. This gave Henry Tudor a claim to the English throne, but quite a poor one. Others alive in the 1480s could demonstrate a stronger claim, but Henry made all of this somewhat irrelevant when he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

The Battle of Bosworth Field

On 22nd August 1485 the Wars of the Roses (a conflict between the House of York and the House of Lancaster) was effectively brought to a close on a battlefield by the small town of Market Bosworth. The Yorkist army, led by King Richard III, was defeated by the Lancastrian forces, led by Henry Tudor. Richard III was killed in the battle, and Henry Tudor was crowned as King Henry VII.

Click here to find out more about the Battle of Bosworth Field.

How Did Henry Make His Reign More Secure?

Because he had quite a weak claim to the throne, Henry VII quickly set about making it more secure. He did several things to achieve this:

  • Henry VII married Elizabeth of York – uniting the Houses of York and Lancaster. This is symbolised by the red and white Tudor Rose.
  • Henry declared that his reign started the day before the Battle of Bosworth Field. This meant that anyone who fought against Henry in the battle could be found guilty of treason. A useful threat to have up your sleeve!
  • Henry overcame several rebellions during his reign, defeating those who tried to claim that they had a claim to the throne.

Other Facts About Henry VII

  • Despite winning his throne in battle, King Henry VII was not a military man. His policy was to keep the peace and build up the wealth of England.
  • He used marriages to strengthen the relationship between England and other European kingdoms. His eldest son, Arthur, married Catherine of Aragon from Spain. His daughter, Margaret, was married to King James IV of Scotland.
  • Arthur Tudor (Henry VII’s eldest son) died suddenly in 1502. This meant that Henry – the King’s second eldest son – was now next in line.
  • Henry VII died on 21st April 1509, and he was succeeded by Henry VIII, his second son.

Click here to find out more about the Tudors.

The Life of a Tudor Sailor: Facts and Information

Here is some information about the conditions on board a ship during a Tudor voyage of exploration. Some of the facts you’ll probably know already, but hopefully you will also learn something new.

  • The ships most often used for long distance voyages in Tudor times were called caravels. These were small, light, fast and easy to steer. They weren’t often used for trade as they couldn’t carry enough cargo. They had a crew of about 30, and most of the men had to sleep on deck – the space below deck was used to store provisions.

  • The sailors usually had one hot meal a day, but food supplies often ran out. Some fresh food was taken on a voyage, but when it was used up, a sailor’s diet mainly consisted of salted fish and meat and ship’s biscuits (a hard baked biscuit which could be kept for a long time).
  • Rats, maggots and weevils often got to the food before the sailors did.
  • Barrels of water and wine were taken on board – the water often went bad and the wine tasted sour.
  • Sailors didn’t have a chance to wash or change their clothes – it was hard to keep clean on board. The crew were often infested with lice.
  • Diseases spread rapidly in the cramped conditions. Some voyages had a doctor as part of the crew, but there was often little to be done to ease the suffering of the sailors.
  • One of the most common conditions was scurvy. Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C (although this wasn’t known by the Tudors). It is really unpleasant, causing the sufferer’s gums to bleed and sores to appear on their body. It could result in fever and then death.
  • The crew was divided into groups called watches. The watches worked in shifts for about four hours at a time. The work included: pumping water out of the ship (even the best wooden ships took on some water), changing and repairing the sails, mending holes in the ship and keeping watch for storms, enemies and land.

Sir Francis Drake: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the English sea captain, Sir Francis Drake. I’ve divided the information into sections to make it more useful and easier to read.

Facts about the Early Life of Francis Drake

  • Francis Drake was born in Devon in about 1540, but he didn’t live there long as his family moved to Kent.

  • His family live for a while on a boat on the River Medway in Kent.
  • When he was very young (about nine or ten), Francis went to sea. He worked for a pilot who guided ships on the River Medway and River Thames. He also got to sail along the English coast, transporting fish from Yarmouth to London, and he sailed to France, trading for wine, cheese and brandy.
  • In 1561, the pilot who Drake worked with, died and left his ships to Drake.
  • Drake decided to sell them and join the Hawkins family in Plymouth. The Hawkins family were making their money by trading and privateering (attacking ships of an enemy country and taking their valuable goods).

Francis Drake’s First Caribbean Trading Voyages

  • In 1566, Drake wen this first trading voyage for the Hawkins family to the Caribbean. It didn’t end very well as the Spanish colonies refused to buy the slaves being offered to them.
  • In 1567 another expedition set out with Drake captaining one of the ships. When they reached the Caribbean, the Spanish colonists once again refused to trade with the English. John Hawkins, who was in command of the voyage, attacked the town and forced a trade. He also demanded that the Spanish pay him money to leave. He used this tactic several times. The English sailors took a Spanish settlement called San Juan de Ulhoa, but were attacked themselves by a massive Spanish fleet. A battle took place.
  • Francis Drake wrongly assumed he was the last surviving ship. When night fell he escaped and sailed back to England.
  • Unfortunately, Drake had been mistaken. He had actually abandoned John Hawkins and one hundred of his men. Luckily, John Hawkins survived the battle, and on his return to England he accused Drake of deserting him.
  • John Hawkins forgave Drake in the end, but Drake never worked for the Hawkins family again. He did, however, undertake voyages for other merchants.

Francis Drake Returns to the Caribbean

  • By the earlier 1570s, Drake had earned enough money to fund his own Caribbean privateering voyage.
  • In 1571 he sailed the coastline of Spanish owned Panama. He his supplies in a sheltered bay in preparation for his return.
  • In 1573 Drake returned to Panama with the intention of raiding the Spanish treasure house at Nombre de Dios.
  • Things did not go well to begin with. The treasure house was found to be empty and Drake was wounded in the attack.
  • In the end, Drake’s luck improved. He captured over £300,000 worth of gold and silver.

Facts about Francis Drake’s Voyage Around the World

  • In 1577 Queen Elizabeth gave Francis Drake her consent to undertake another voyage. It is unclear whether Drake told her he was intending to sail around the world. He didn’t tell his crew.
  • Things did not start well. Drake was forced to leave three ships in South America – they weren’t seaworthy – and he also had to contend with a mutiny. He did this by executing the leader, Thomas Doughty.
  • Three of Drake’s ships made it to the Pacific Ocean. One of these was lost in a storm and the other was blown off course. Only Drake’s ship called the Pelican (which he later renamed the Golden Hinde) remained.
  • Drake returned to England in 1580. Not only had a succeeded in sailing around the world, but he had also managed to capture lots of Spanish gold, set up trade with Ternate (one of the Spice Islands) and claim California for Queen Elizabeth.
  • Drake was famous, rich and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
  • Drake was elected Mayor of Plymouth and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth.

Facts about Francis Drake’s Role in Defeating the Spanish Armada

  • In 1587 Sir Francis Drake sailed to Spain to fight the Spanish as it was thought that they were preparing a to invade England with a massive fleet.
  • Drake captured six warships and sunk another 31. He also plundered over £100,000 of gold, silk and spices.
  • Drake was one of commanders in the English fleet which defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The Latter Part of Sir Francis Drake’s Life

  • Drake launched another attack on Spain in 1589. This was a massive failure. Many men and ships were lost, and Elizabeth I blamed Drake.
  • Elizabeth I refused to let him set sail again.
  • In 1595, Elizabeth I granted Drake permission to undertake one last voyage. Accompanied by John Hawkins, Drake set sail for the Caribbean. Hawkins died of a fever early in the voyage. Drake went on and he captured the Spanish settlements of Rio de la Hancha and Nombre de Dios.
  • On 28th June 1595, Sir Francis Drake died of fever. He was buried at sea in the Bay of Nombre de Dios.