Anne of Cleves 1515 – 1557

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Anne of Cleves


Father – John of Cleves
Mother – Marie von Julich
Spouse – King Henry VIII
Children – None




1515 (22nd September)
A daughter, Anne, was born to John Duke of Cleves and Marie von Julich in Dusseldorf, Cleves, Germany. She was the couple’s second daughter. Sibylle had been born in 1512.
1516 (28th July)
Anne’s brother, William, was born to John Duke of Cleves and Marie von Julich in Dusseldorf, Cleves, Germany.
1517 (17th October)
Anne’s sister, Amelia, was born to John Duke of Cleves and Marie von Julich in Dusseldorf, Cleves, Germany.
1520 (during)
Anne was not formally educated and could only speak, read and write in German. She was taught needlework and the basics of running a household but was not given music or dancing lessons.
1526 (during)
Anne’s elder sister, Sybille, married John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, head of the Protestant Confederation of Germany.
1527 (during)
Anne was betrothed to Francis, son of the Duke of Lorraine.
1535 (during)
Anne’s betrothal to Frances, son of the Duke of Lorraine was cancelled.
1537 (24th October)
Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, died.
1538 (during)
Thomas Cromwell began trying to find a bride for Henry that would seal a Protestant alliance.
1539 (6th February)
Anne’s father, John, died. Her brother William became Duke of Cleves.
1539 (March)
France and Spain had signed an alliance leaving England isolated. Henry VIII desperately needed an alliance and was persuaded by Thomas Cromwell that he should make an alliance with a Protestant country. Henry agreed that negotiations with the Duke of Cleves could begin.
1539 (23rd April)
Hans Holbein was sent to Cleves to paint the portraits of Anne and her sister Amelia so that Henry could decide which he preferred as a bride.
1539 (August)
Having seen the portraits painted by Hans Holbein, Henry decided that he would marry Anne of Cleves.
1539 (6th October)
The marriage treaty was finalised for the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves.
1539 (11th December)
Anne reached Calais. She remained in Calais waiting for settled weather to make the crossing of the English Channel.
1539 (27th December)
Anne was finally able to travel and her ship reached Dover. She stayed overnight at Dover Castle.
1539 (29th December)
Anne and her entourage rode to Canterbury and was received by the Archbishop of Canterbury. She stayed overnight at St Austin’s Palace.
1539 (30th December)
Anne and her entourage travelled to Sittingbourne.
1539 (31st December)
Anne and her entourage continued on to Rochester.
1540 (1st January)
Eager to see his bride, Henry rode to Rochester and entered her rooms in disguise. He was amazed that Anne showed little interest in him or the gift he gave her from the King. Henry left the rooms and removed his disguise and then returned to Anne’s chambers. Anne was deferent towards Henry and the two spoke for a while. After the meeting Henry told Cromwell that he felt no attraction to his new bride. Henry did not like the fact that she was tall and had strong features nor did he like her German accent.
1540 (2nd January)
Although Henry urged Cromwell to find a loophole in the marriage contract that would allow him to avoid marrying Anne, he could not afford to lose the Cleves alliance.
1540 (3rd January)
Anne officially met Henry at Blackheath, Greenwich, where a grand reception was held.
1540 (6th January)
Anne married Henry VIII at the Palace of Placentia, Greenwich. The ceremony was conducted by Thomas Cranmer. After the marriage reception the couple retired but Henry was unable to consummate the marriage. Anne, who was very naive was unaware of what consumation required and did not realise anything was wrong until one of her ladies, Eleanor Paston, Countess of Rutland later explained what consummation involved.
1540 (Spring)
Henry had fallen in love with Kathryn Howard one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting.
1540 (24th June)
Anne was sent to Richmond Palace.
1540 (6th July)
Anne was told that her marriage to Henry was being questioned due to the precontract with Francis of Lorraine. It is likely that Anne would have been very concerned as to her fate.
1540 (9th July)
Anne’s marriage to Henry VIII was annulled on the grounds of her precontract with Francis, Duke of Lorraine and non-consummation. Anne, who had not contested the annullment, was to be known as the King’s sister. She was given precedence over all ladies of the court save the Queen and the King’s daughters and she was given a very generous divorce settlement of property with an income of £3000 per year including Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, Hever Castle.
1540 (28th July)
Thomas Cromwell was executed for treason.
1540 (28th July)
Henry married Kathryn Howard at Oatlands Palace, Surrey.
1542 (February)
Kathryn Howard was found guilty of treason for committing adultery and executed by beheading.
1542 (Spring)
Anne and her brother, William, hoped that Henry would take Anne back as wife but Henry refused to consider this.
1543 (12th July)
Henry VIII married Katherine Parr.
1543 (29th August)
Anne’s mother, Maria of Julich-Berg, died.
1547 (28th January)
Henry VIII died. He was succeeded by his 10 year old son, Edward.
1547 (March)
Anne’s property of Bletchingley Palace was confiscated by Edward’s regent, the Duke of Somerset, who thought that Anne had far too much money and was a drain on the Crown’s resources. Anne was told to move to Penshurst Place instead.
1553 (6th July)
Edward VI died. On his deathbed he overturned his father’s will and nominated his second cousin, Jane Grey to succeed him.
1553 (10th July)
Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England. However, the people did not support this and rallied to Henry’s elder daughter, Mary’s, side.
1553 (19th July)
Queen Jane was deposed and Mary took the throne as Mary I.
1553 (1st October)
Anne attended Mary I’s coronation at Westminster Abbey. She walked behind Mary with Elizabeth.
1554 (21st February)
Anne’s sister, Sibylle, died.
1554 (25th July)
Mary I married Philip of Spain. Anne sent a letter of congratulation to the couple.
1557 (16th July)
Anne died at Chelsea Old Palace.
1557 (3rd August)
Anne was buried in Westminster Abbey.


Published Jan 8, 2018 @ 2:30 pm – Updated – Jun 19, 2018 @ 11:44 am


Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018). Anne of Cleves 1515 – 1557. Available: Last accessed July 11th, 2018


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