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"If I do not please ze King... vill he kill me?"- Anne of Cleves to Lady Margaret Bryan after marrying King Henry.

Anne of Cleves (German: Anna von Kleve) is the fourth wife of king Henry VIII and the fourth woman to become Queen Consort of England during Henry's reign. A German princess, she is the second of his wives after Catherine of Aragon to be born outside England and to be married for the sake of an alliance.

At first, Henry is very reluctant to marry Anne, yelling that she looks like a horse, but he eventually weds her and even sleeps with her. Their marriage takes place three years after Jane Seymour's death, as Henry is still recovering from the death of his favourite consort. Katherine Howard catches Henry's eye when he is still with his fourth queen (Anne of Cleves) and eventually divorcing her, Henry marries Katherine Howard, but he and Anne of Cleves later become good friends.

Anne of Cleves is portrayed by English actress and pop star Joss Stone; she appears in the last three episodes of Season 3 and two episodes of Season 4.

Season 3[]

Henry and Anne at Anne's presentation to the English court.

Three years after Jane Seymour's death, Henry is looking to wed again in episode 3.06. Thomas Cromwell, in a bid to steer the King towards the Protestant Reformation, advises him to marry princess Anne, who is sister of the wealthy Duke Wilhelm (William) of Cleves, ruler of a small German state near Holland. Since Catholic France and the Holy Roman Empire appear to be mustering for war against England, an alliance with the wealthy Protestant League which Cleves belongs to would be beneficial both for defense and the finalization of England's separatism from the Catholic Church. Henry is now (somewhat) over being widowed from Jane Seymour, and has some interest in remarriage. Although Jane had given him the coveted baby boy to become his Crown Prince, Henry figures siring more sons can do no harm, ergo "the Heir and the Spare" attitude of kings towards multiple sons.

More interested in a bride who will renew his youth and sexual vigor than in an alliance, Henry sends his courtiers to negotiate with the Duke and meet his sisters, and asks for portraits of them; Cromwell, determined to have the alliance with Cleves, orders the court painter Hans Holbein to make sure the portrait will draw Henry's interest. The match is finally agreed on and Duke Charles Brandon is sent to fetch her; she asks him to teach her about English mannerisms and how to please the King. Despite not supporting the match (due to his hatred for Cromwell) Charles makes friends with Anne and teaches her how to play cards, feeling sorry for her because of Henry's history with wives.

Anne in her wedding dress.

Viewing the portrait, Henry believes Anne is beautiful but upon finally seeing her in person in Episode 3.07, finds her not to his taste, more so for her meek personality. After arriving without announcement and catching her off-guard, he abruptly becomes put off from her for unexplained reasons; he has one of his characteristic temper tantrums later, screaming, "She looks like a horse!". Famously declaring "I like her not!", Henry orders Cromwell to call off the marriage, but Cromwell warns him that Spain and France are still gearing up for an invasion of England, and angering Duke Wilhelm could alienate a potential ally at the least, anger him into joining forces with Emperor Charles and King Francis at the worst. Reluctantly, Henry buckles under the pressure and goes through with the marriage; however, it remains unconsummated (due to a combination of Anne's revulsion at Henry's infected leg and Henry's unexplained repulsion at her figure, which fails to arouse him like Jane and Anne Boleyn's figure did). Anne, for her part, is mindful of Henry's reputation with previous wives, and desperately tries to please her new husband, to no avail; despite being urged on by Cromwell and Lady Margaret Bryan, she tells them that Henry is failing to consummate the marriage just as much as she is.

Anne of Cleves' reaction to news of her annulment.

By the time it is clear that England is safe from invasion (Spain and France being at war with each other once again) Katherine Howard catches Henry's eye when Sir Francis Bryan brings her to court in the Season finale, and he quickly dispatches Anne of Cleves and marries Katherine just six months after the wedding, with Edward Seymour delivering the news of the annulment to her. Although she seems somewhat relieved, Anne is visibly hurt by the rejection, and many, including her fellow Lutheran Lady Jane Rochford, sympathize with her. Due to her willingness to agree to a divorce, Henry does not threaten Anne with beheading, and grants her a generous settlement (which includes lands, the title of the "king's beloved sister" and Hever Castle) it is Cromwell who really suffers from the annulment, however, the nobility band together and accuse him of setting the failed match up for his own political machinations, accusing him of treason and eventually sentencing him to death, without a trial.

Anne has a pleasant and dignified personality that the English people in general approve, although she retains a strong German accent and does not always understand English customs (though she tries hard to learn them) she occasionally lapses back into German if she becomes very emotional. She is not very well-educated, but understands the world of royal politics and is eager to please her new countrymen and husband. Although she does not have as close a relationship with her stepdaughter Mary Tudor as Jane Seymour did (mainly because she is from a Lutheran family and Mary is a fundamentalist Catholic) they develop a growing respect for one another, especially when she introduces Mary to her cousin, the handsome and charming Duke Philip of Bavaria. She also has a very pleasant relationship with Mary's younger half-sister Elizabeth, viewing her as a daughter-like figure. Her reign as Queen Consort only lasts six months, by far the shortest of Henry's six wives.

Season 4[]

Anne attempts to make friends with Lady Mary Tudor.

Despite being a dowager princess, Anne of Cleves is provided for generously since she does not protest the annulment; she continues to live a comfortable and dignified life in England. She spends most of her time living quietly at Hever- interestingly, the ancestral residence of one of her predecessors, Anne Boleyn. She often invites Mary and Elizabeth to visit her. Henry is pleased that she continues to maintain a strong friendship with both his daughters and shows her gratitude for her estates.  

Lady Anne of Cleves (left) drinks with Queen Katherine Howard (right).

Anne and Henry become very good friends and he even invites her to the palace for Christmas, although he only loves her platonically this time. However, in the third episode of season 4, he sleeps with her, although he does not take her back as his wife. In the final episode, Henry's last flashback includes a pleasant memory of him and Anne playing cards.

In real life, Anne does not approve much of the king's fifth and sixth wives, although in the series she presents herself to Katherine Howard pleasantly enough. However, Katherine is initially jealous of her - not because of looks, but because of her previous marriage to Henry and because Henry's children respect Anne far more than her. However, once she and Anne spend sometime together, they become friends. That is; until Katherine is executed. Anne is phased out as a character early in Season 4 (with Joss Stone leaving the series) although in reality she was the last of Henry's six wives to die and remained in England to the end of her life; she died in her early forties during the reign of her step-daughter Mary Tudor.


Anne of Cleves was born on 22 September 1515 at the town of Düsseldorf, she was the second daughter of John III, Duke of Cleves. Her relatives had different religious beliefs, her father believed in the theology of Desiderius Erasmus, her mother, Maria of Jülich-Berg was a devout catholic, her brother William was a Lutheran. It's unknown what exactly her beliefswere; Historian Elizabeth Norton wrote in her book, that Anne's education was her mother's responsibility, who was a pious catholic, so it's possible Anne was a tolerant catholic or a reformist catholic, that is a catholic who supports translation of the Holy Bible and Prayer Books into other languages and favored to get rid of superstition and corruption. Anne's education was very limited, she could only read and write in German, she didn't speak any other languages, didn't play any musical instruments, couldn't sing or dance. She left her home of Schwanenburg Castle in Cleves in the winter of 1539-40 aged 24, when she arrived in England she stayed at Rochester Castle, she met Henry on January 1st 1540. The meeting was a disaster.

Anne converted to the Church of England on marrying Henry. However, she was soon removed from court when it became clear Henry was failing to consummate the marriage. She was stripped of her title as Queen six months later when Henry annulled the marriage, but did not protest and received a generous settlement. Anne lived out her days quietly and became good friends with Henry and his children, although she disliked Catherine Parr, Henry's final wife.

Anne was the only one of Henry's wives still alive during the reign of Mary Tudor, his devotedly Catholic eldest daughter; she willingly converted to Catholicism, was present at Mary's coronation and congratulated her on her marriage to King Phillip of Spain. However, Anne lost Mary's favor after a Protestant rebellion by Thomas Wyatt the Younger; Mary's Protestant sister Elizabeth was incorrectly suspected of being behind the rebellion, and Mary distrusted Anne because Elizabeth had been closest to her of Henry's three children. Nonetheless, she allowed Anne to keep her property and continue living in the countryside. Anne died at age 41, not living long enough to see Elizabeth take the throne.


  • (to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk) "Your Grace, I remember zat you vonce taught me to play cards.  I am very grateful; as a result of your tuition, I have von a fortune!"
  • "Lady Elizabeth is like a daughter to me... to have had her as a daughter, I tink, vould have been a greater honor zan ever having been Queen."
  • "Your Majesty should be very proud of your daughters, both of zem. Zey do you a great credit. The Lady Mary is... very serious and religious, but she is very clever. Like some vomen, she likes to hide her intelligence... but the Lady Elizabeth, she cannot hide her intelligence! She vill be a great lady, I tink... if God so vills it."