|| Anne of Cleves ||

|| Political Importance ||

|| Holbein portraits || / || Bruyn portraits ||

|| Written descriptions || / || Marriage negotiations ||

Anne of Cleves was born a princess, sister to a Duke who inherited the combined Duchies of Cleves, Juelich, and Berg and the Counties of Mark and Ravenstein. Her elder sister Sibylla married into the Duchy of Saxony and as such Anne’s children could expect to inherit a great deal of wealth.

As such it may not be a surprise that most of what we now about her is entirely in the context of her marriage to Henry VIII of England, especially as her marriage was to bring both wealth and the potential of another heir to the Tudor dynasty.

Over the centuries unfortunately many documents that could shed light on her life prior to the marriage no longer exist. This is in part due to dispersal of family documents from the late 16thC through to the wars of the modern era.

Frustratingly documents that did survive to the 19thC were not used by North Rhine historical societies when Anne was a subject, instead they used the same sources English historians used. This was apparently out of a desire to use impartial information, however these documents are very partial as most were either by those who wished the marriage to go ahead, those who were not friendly to the English court, or those who wished to appease an incensed monarch.

Henry’s anger has thus been scrutinised entirely based on the fragments of information we have left of Anne- two portraits, a few single line comments from courtiers before the trial, the trial documents, and a few lines by courtiers after the shift in opinion after said trial.

What is however clear is that two charges laid against Anne cannot be true. Neither Holbein and Anne herself would have survived any deception of the king especially related to the Tudor line. And both went on to live well while Henry was king.