Sunday, August 2, 2015

Did Henry VIII Love Any or All of His Wives? Wife #4: Anne of Cleves

The One He Rejected: Anne of Cleves 

She was a political bride, pure and simple. 
The marriage between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was brokered by the King's go-to fixer, Thomas Cromwell.
Because the bride-to-be lived in Germany, she and Henry VIII didn't meet 'IRL' until after the paperwork was signed, the dowry arranged, and the bride sailed over to her new homeland.
Henry VIII agreed to, and signed that contract of marriage based on choosing her from a portrait painted by Hans Holbein - who was famous for capturing the personality of the person sitting for their portrait - from several potential brides.
Oh, hi there, Henry. How do you like me so far? 

So far, so good.
Until . . . 
Henry VIII, deluding himself that he was still the lean, hot guy he'd been twenty or thirty years earlier, decided to surprise his bride by disguising himself. 
(Okaaaaayyyyyy. . . ) 
Sure that she'd recognize him, and even surer that she'd be delighted by every bit of him, Henry anticipated a romantic start to his fourth marriage.
Uh, not so much.

Anne of Cleves not only did not recognize him, she freaked out when after a few hours on English soil after bouncing around on the sea in a boat, this old guy got fresh with her.
Henry, humiliated and pissed off, knew she'd called him out on his delusion that he was still a hot guy, and so their marriage didn't get off to a very good start.
He went on the offensive immediately.
Who can forget the yummy Jonathan Rhys-Meyers on Showtime's 
"The Tudors"
thundering at Cromwell, "She pleases me not. SHE PLEASES ME NOT!" ?
Pretty much how it went down.
The Tudors ♦Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Henry VIII, eat your heart out, dude. 
After their disastrous (and unconsummated) wedding night, the marriage was broken because ‘he-said she smelled and had bad tits’ and ‘she-said he smelled, and had equally bad, if not worse, tits.’ 
Ahem. 
Anne of Cleves may have been young and an ESL bride, but she was also quick enough on the uptake to realize Henry VIII’s wives past their sell-by date had a shortish history thenceforward.
Quickly, she took the blame entirely for all her shortcomings, many and varied as the King insisted they were.
Understatement, to say the least. 
By putting forth that she loved Henry VIII so, so dearly – AS A BROTHER – (get it? A BROTHER) it would be impossible for her to be the romantic wife he deserved.
She invented board games for the two of them to play.
By tickling Henry's brain a little and flattering him a lot, Anne did become something like a sister to Henry.
She loved children (although never married or had any of her own) and as a step-parent (or beloved Auntie) to Mary, Elizabeth and Edward, she provided the royal kiddies with a consistent, cheerful presence in their lives. 

And that is how Anne of Cleves ended up outliving Henry VIII, his next two wives, and his son, Edward VI. 
Because she agreed to be the smelly, bad-tits and flabby-bellied fall guy, she spent the rest of her lie larking about Hever Castle (which came to her through the King)and died in her own bed, a happy old lady of 42.

She'd outfoxed that old rascally red-fox king.

Anne of Cleves for the win!