The six queen consorts who were married to Henry VIII between 1509 and his death in 1547 are referred to as his wives in common usage. Legally speaking, King Henry VIII of England only had three wives since the Church of England had three of his marriages annulled. He requested an annulment from the Pope for his first marriage, Catherine of Aragon, but never received one. Unlike divorces, which end a married couple’s relationship, annulments state that a true marriage never existed. Henry had multiple girlfriends in addition to his six marriages.
Beheaded, divorced, died, beheaded, divorced, survived. It’s a mnemonic trick that many of us picked up in school to help us remember what happened to the six women who, between 1509 and 1547, rose to power as Henry VIII’s queens: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Katherine Parr. But who were these women and what did it exactly take to grab a king’s attention?
One of history’s most well-known kings was Henry VIII (1509–1547). The Tudor era was altered by his extreme political and theological upheavals. His six marriages and lifelong quest for a male heir have made him most known. Even today, there is still a lot of curiosity and conjecture around the lives of his six wives.
Six Wives of Henry VIII Names
- Catherine of Aragon.
- Anne Boleyn.
- Jane Seymour.
- Anne of Cleves.
- Catherine Howard.
- Catherine Parr.
Six Wives of Henry VIII rhyme
While Henry focused on forging and preserving significant political ties, his six marriages show his steadfast desire for a male heir.
It can be challenging to recall what happened to each of Henry’s wives, though. This well-known rhyme describes how Henry VIII’s six wives turned out:
Queen Elizabeth II,
They were married to six wives.
One passed away, one lived, two were divorced, and two were decapitated.
Another well-liked mnemonic is:
Beheaded, divorced, and dead; divorced, beheaded, and alive
Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Katherine Parr are shown here, respectively.
Six Wives of Henry VIII in Order
- First: Catherine of Aragon.
- Second: Anne Boleyn.
- Third: Jane Seymour.
- Fourth: Anne of Cleves.
- Fifth: Catherine Howard.
- Sixth: Catherine Parr.
Six Wives of Henry VIII Wiki
Six Wives of Henry VIII : Catherine of Aragon
On December 16, 1485, Catherine of Aragon was born. She was from Spain. She was Henry’s initial spouse. Although she signed and spelt her name with a “K,” which was a recognised spelling in England at the time, it is most frequently written Catherine in contemporary sources.
Arthur, Henry’s older brother, and Catherine were already wed. She was permitted by the pope to marry Henry when he passed away in 1502, but they did not wed until after he ascended to the crown in 1509.
In 1510, Catherine fell pregnant, but the child was stillborn. In 1511, she got pregnant once more, giving birth to Henry, Duke of Cornwall, who passed away over two months later. In 1513, a child was stillborn, and in 1515, another boy was born but passed away shortly after. Mary, a healthy daughter, was finally born to her in 1516. Before she became pregnant again two years later, the first child was a premature girl.
Many times, Henry professed his love for Catherine of Aragon, therefore it is believed that he really did. But Henry started to worry that he wouldn’t have a son to carry on the Tudor dynasty.
Throughout this marriage, Henry had relationships with a number of mistresses, including Mary Boleyn, the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, the English ambassador to France. Later, Henry focused on Anne Boleyn, her younger sister, and appointed her as Catherine’s lady-in-waiting. Anne, unlike her sister, resisted becoming his mistress. Henry frequently wrote Anne love letters. It was obvious by the end of the 1520s that Catherine, who was by this time in her mid-40s, would not have any more children, and Henry, who was growing increasingly eager for a legitimate son, had plans to wed Anne.
Because Catherine had previously been his brother’s wife, Henry, who was a practising Catholic at the time, requested the Pope’s blessing for an annulment. He quoted Leviticus Chapter 20 Verse 21: “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is an impurity; he has exposed his brother’s nakedness; they shall remain childless.” Henry and Catherine divorced in 1531 despite the Pope’s refusal to nullify the union. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest-ranking church official in England, was instructed to call a court. Cranmer declared the marriage to Catherine to be invalid on May 23, 1533. He declared the King and Anne to be legally wed on May 28, 1533. (with whom Henry had already secretly exchanged wedding vows). As a result, England separated itself from the Roman Catholic Church and founded the Church of England.
Henry exiled Catherine soon after he wed Anne Boleyn. Mary, their daughter, and Henry were not seen by her again.
Catherine was referred to be “the queen of earthly queens” by William Shakespeare in the play Henry VIII.
Six Wives of Henry VIII : Anne Boleyn
Elizabeth I’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was Henry’s second wife. She played a significant role in the political and theological unrest at the outset of the English Reformation as a result of Henry’s marriage to Anne and her execution. She was of higher birth than Henry’s second wife, Jane Seymour, being the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Boleyn. She had black hair, lovely features, and a bubbly personality. She received her education there. She spent time there while studying and living the French language. She primarily served as Queen Claude of France’s lady in waiting.
The king tried to lure Anne through letters, but she refused to follow in her sister Mary Boleyn’s footsteps and become his mistress. The King’s ambition to obtain a divorce from his wife Catherine of Aragon so that he may wed Anne quickly became his single, all-consuming goal. He expressed his admiration for her “beautiful duckies” in a letter that shows some degree of familiarity between them (breasts). After it became apparent that Pope Clement VII was unlikely to grant the king an annulment, Henry started to usurp the Catholic Church’s authority in England because of his present preoccupation with Anne Boleyn.
Thomas Wolsey was removed from office by Henry, who then nominated Thomas Cranmer, a chaplain to the Boleyn household, as Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry and Anne were married in secret in the year 1533. She became pregnant shortly after, and on January 25, 1533, there was a second, public wedding ceremony in London. Henry and Catherine’s marriage was pronounced unlawful by Cranmer on May 23, 1533. Cranmer pronounced Henry and Anne’s marriage to be legal and good five days later. Soon after, the King and the Archbishop received excommunication orders from the Pope. The Church of England was compelled to sever ties with Rome as a result of Anne’s marriage to the King and was placed under the king’s rule. Elizabeth, Henry’s second daughter, was born on September 7, 1533, the same day that Anne was crowned Queen Consort of England. Her lone son was stillborn, hence she was unable to create a male successor. Henry became weary of Anne and yearned for a son that she was unable to have. Their union was dissolved by Henry. While Thomas Cromwell hatched a scheme to have Mary put to death, Henry searched for another mistress.
She was executed for adultery, incest, and high treason on May 19, 1536, notwithstanding the weak evidence used to convict her of having intercourse with her brother, George Boleyn. Due in large part to the writings of John Foxe, Anne was hailed as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation upon the crowning of her daughter, Elizabeth I. She has influenced various works of art and culture over the ages, or she has been mentioned in them.
Six Wives of Henry VIII : Jane Seymour
Henry’s third wife was Jane Seymour (about 1508–24 Oct. 1537). She was one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting and served as Catherine of Aragon’s maid of honour.
Although West Bower Manor in Somerset has also been proposed, Jane, the daughter of Sir John Seymour, a knight, and Margery Wentworth, was most likely born in Wulfhall, Wiltshire. It is unknown when she was born. She was less educated than the majority of Henry’s wives and had limited reading and writing skills, but she excelled at needlework and home management, which were valued at the time as being far more essential.
The day following Anne Boleyn’s execution, on May 20, 1536, Jane wed Henry VIII at the Palace of Whitehall in Whitehall, London. Jane gave birth to a male heir, Edward, almost a year and a half after their wedding, but she passed away twelve days later from complications following childbirth. Only Jane was given a befitting burial fit for a queen. Henry designated her as his true wife and decided to be buried next to her in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after he passed away.
Six Wives of Henry VIII : Anne of Cleves
German princess Anne of Cleves served as Henry’s fourth wife and queen consort of England for only six months in 1540, from 6 January to 12 July, depending on which date is more accurate (28 June or 22 September 1515–16 July 1557). She may have been referred to by Henry as “A Flanders mare,” and the description has persisted. Hans Holbein created a portrait of Anne of Cleves that was delivered to King Henry for him to consider as his future wife. Her photo captured Henry’s heart, and he requested that she be sent to him. Henry wasn’t impressed when she showed up. Henry bemoaned the fact that she didn’t resemble her portrait. Despite the fact that their marriage did not take place, the pre-contract she had with Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, was used as justification for an annulment. Hever Castle, the former residence of the Boleyns, Henry’s former in-laws, was included in the large settlement awarded to Anne for her lack of resistance to the annulment and her allegation that the marriage had not been consummated. She was referred to as “The King’s Sister” and had known him and his children for their whole lives. She passed away at Chelsea Old Manor on July 16, 1557, having outlived the King and all of his wives. Cancer was the most likely factor in her demise. On August 3, she was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.
Six Wives of Henry VIII : Catherine Howard
Between 1540 and 1542, Henry Howard’s fifth wife was Catherine Howard (c. 1521–13 February 1542), also known as Katherine. She was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and Joyce Culpeper, the second cousin of Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour and the niece of Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, and Anne Boleyn, his second wife. She was brought up in the home of Agnes Tilney, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, her step grandmother. Catherine drew the King’s attention when living with Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, in whose household she was placed by her uncle Thomas Howard, a major politician at Henry’s court. Only 19 days after his marriage to Anne was declared null and void, she wed him at Oatlands Palace in Surrey on July 28, 1540. She was still a teen, perhaps around 18, and he was 49.
Her alleged adultery with Francis Dereham, a former boyfriend from her teenage years, Thomas Culpeper, a distant relative who had taught her music privately while she stayed with her step-grandmother, and Henry Mannox was revealed to Henry on November 1st, 1541. On the grounds of treason for engaging in adultery, Catherine was deposed as queen in November 1541 and executed as a result in February 1542.
Six Wives of Henry VIII : Catherine Parr
Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife from 1543 to 1547 was Catherine Parr, often written Kateryn (1512–5 September 1548). She was the daughter of Kendal residents Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green. Catherine was a direct descendant of King Edward III’s son John of Gaunt through her father. She was Henry’s third cousin, once removed, via John of Gaunt’s daughter Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmoreland (his great-great-grandmother). The two were also fourth cousins once removed because Henry descended paternally from John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, another child of John of Gaunt.
Catherine demonstrated her ability to make Henry’s court a comfortable place for his kids to live. In order to counter Henry’s objections, she was determined to portray the royal family as a close-knit one. Henry’s passing of an act that confirmed Mary’s and Elizabeth’s line in succession for the throne—despite the fact that both had been rendered illegitimate by divorce or remarriage—may have been Catherine’s greatest accomplishment. Henry had such faith in Catherine that he appointed her to serve as Regent while he attended to the French war, and in the unusual event that he passed away, she was to act as Regent until the age of nine-year-old Edward.
The most married queen of England
With a total of four husbands—Henry being her third—Catherine has a unique place in history as the most wed monarch of England. Before marrying Henry, she had had two divorces. After Henry passed away, she wed Thomas Seymour, Edward VI of England’s uncle, with whom she had been close before becoming married to Henry. Mary was her only child by Seymour, and she passed away soon after giving birth. Although Lady Mary’s past is unknown, it is thought that she did not make it past childhood.
What happened to Six Wives of Henry VIII ?
Catherine of Aragon
Henry VIII and Catherine were wed in a secret ceremony in the Observant Friars church outside Greenwich Palace in 1509. King Henry was a few days away from turning 18 years old, and she was 23.
Together, Catherine and Henry had three children: Mary and two sons named Henry who both passed away in infancy.
Because their marriage was “blighted” by the lack of a male heir, Henry divorced Catherine in 1533.
In a private ceremony held at Whitehall Palace in January 1533, King Henry VIII wed Anne Boleyn, his second wife. The future queen Elizabeth I was born six months after the wedding when Anne was still pregnant.
In May 1536, Anne was executed for treason, inceste, and adultery.
Just 11 days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, Henry VIII wed Jane Seymour. The future King Edward VI was the only child Henry’s wives were able to deliver to him.
Jane passed away from what are thought to have been postpartum problems 12 days after the birth of her baby.
Anne of Cleves
In January 1540, Henry VIII wed Anne of Cleves for political reasons. Six months later, the marriage was deemed to be void because it was never actually consummated.
The monarch generously compensated Anne and for the rest of her life referred to her as the “King’s Beloved Sister.”
In July 1540, Henry VIII wed Katherine Howard. She was Henry’s youngest wife at the time because she was only 19 years old.
On account of her alleged adultery, Katherine was executed in February 1542.
In July 1543, Catherine Parr became Henry VIII’s wife. His sixth and last wife, she was.
After the death of the king, Catherine, who had outlived Henry, wed Thomas Seymour.
Henry VIII’s royal mistresses
The king’s royal bed was shared by more than only his legally wed spouses.
Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount, a lady-in-waiting of Catherine of Aragon, was Henry’s favourite mistress. The relationship started in 1514, and it’s even been said that Henry thought about divorcing Catherine to wed her. Henry Fitzroy, the king’s son, was born to Bessie in 1519. At the age of six, Fitzroy was appointed Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset. Henry was even rumoured to have considered having Fitzroy wed to his legitimate daughter, Mary, in order to bolster the young boy’s claim to the throne. Fitzroy may have been Henry’s successor at some point, but Fitzroy died of disease in 1536 at the age of 17.
Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister, was another of Henry’s well-known mistresses. Mary, like other royal servants, performed a series of airs at the French court, including one with King Francis I. Mary was known as “The English Mare” and eventually “The Great Prostitute” because of her promiscuity. Her five-year relationship with Henry, which started in around 1521, may have given birth to two children. However, when asked if he had “meddled both with the mother and the sister,” he is claimed to have murmured, “Never with the mother,” there is even a suggestion that Henry had an affair with Elizabeth, the mother of Anne and Mary.
Six Wives of Henry VIII Drama
Portraits created for parliament of Henry VIII’s six wives
Each of Henry’s wives appears in the pop-rock musical Six. The show’s central premise is that women should tell their own tales and that there is much more to them than just how their relationships with Henry turned out. Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss wrote the lyrics for the musical. It began in Edinburgh in 2017, and in January 2019 it moved to the West End. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater hosted the North American premiere of Six in May 2019, and in March 2020, it headed to Broadway. the programme “Beheaded. Divorced. LIVE at an event! “, which alludes to the rhyme outlining the fates of the queens.
Six Wives of Henry VIII TV Series
The second episode of Season 1 of the BBC One television programme Horrible Histories featured a comedy sketch involving Henry VIII and the song “Divorced, Beheaded, and Died.”
6 Wives of Henry VIII songs
The six ladies served as the conceptual basis for Rick Wakeman’s solo album The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Six tracks on the CD bear the names of different wives of Henry VIII. The order of the songs does not correspond to the nuptials’ chronological chronology.
FAQs on Six Wives Of Henry VIII
Why did Henry VIII have six wives?
One could be excused for thinking that Henry’s marriages were notoriously unlucky, but in reality, his desire for a son and potential Tudor dynasty heir was what guided the majority of his choices. Henry wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn because of this, along with his obsession with her.
Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, and Anne Boleyn.
In addition to beheading Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard for treason and adultery, Henry would divorce two of his wives. He undoubtedly would have continued to be married to Jane Seymour, his third wife, had she not passed away during delivery while delivering his son and heir.
In the end, only two wives – Anne of Cleves, who he divorced years prior, and his final wife, Katherine Parr – would outlive him.
How many wives did Henry VIII have?
Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr were the six wives that Henry VIII had. He beheaded two of his wives (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard), divorced two of them (Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn), and one of them (Jane Seymour) passed away soon after giving birth. Catherine Parr, his final spouse, outlived him.
How many of Henry VIII wives were Executed?
Henry VIII executed two of his wives – Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. Anne Boleyn was charged with adultery, treason, and incest, while Katherine Howard was charged with adultery.
What happened to Henry VIII Wives?
He beheaded two of his wives (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard), divorced two of them (Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn), and one of them (Jane Seymour) passed away soon after giving birth. Catherine Parr, his final spouse, outlived him. Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived is an easy rhyme to remember.
Why did Henry VIII kill his wives?
Henry VIII executed Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, two of his six wives. He accused Anne of infidelity, and on May 19, 1536, she was found guilty and executed. However, Henry’s main reason for having her executed was the fact that she had not produced a male heir. Charges of treason were brought against Catherine after Henry claimed she had affairs prior to their marriage and committed adultery. On February 13, 1542, she was put to death.