The Personal Diary of
Queen Anne of Cleves, 4th Wife of King Henry VIII of England
By Dr. Pelham K. Mead III and George Schandel
Translated from Dutch into English by Ken of Bellmore
Index to Diary Entries in chronological order (each year separated)
Entry 1-The Early Years (born September 22, 1515
Entry 2- Spring 1539-The court painter-Hans Holbein arrives in Cleves
Entry 3– August 1539- Hans Holbein returns to England
Entry 4– October 6, 1539- Marriage Treaty signed and my departure to England
Entry 5-December 11, 1539-My arrival in Calais
Entry 6– December 11-26, 1539- Bad weather
Entry 7- December 27, 1539- The crossing-Landing at Deal, England
Entry 8– December 27-January 1, 1540-Traveling from Castle to Castle
Entry 9– January 1, 1540-The Stranger (His Majesty)
Entry 10– January 6, 1540-The Marriage
Entry 11-January 27, 1540- His Majesty dismisses most of my staff and sends them back to Germany
Entry 12– Feb 3, 1540- Feast in honor of my departing staff by his Majesty
Entry 13– January 1540-March- The Invisible King-Sent to Dartford Castle
Entry 14-Easter 1540-Spending Mass with his Majesty
Entry 15– March 1540- His Majesty gives Kathryn Howard a present of land
Entry 16 May Day- April 30-May 7,1540-Celebrating with his Majesty-Jousts-Open House at Durham Palace.
Entry 17- June 20, 1540- Complaints to Ambassador Harst about rumors of Katherine Howard and his Majesty.
Entry 18- June 22, and 24,1540- Bad Times, and St. John the Baptist holiday.
Entry 19-July 6, 1540 Moving from Durham Castle to Richmond castle per order of the Kings council.
Entry 20- July 9, 1540 Parliament declares marriage null and void, Annulment.
Entry 21– July 1540- My remorse and shock of not being the Queen
Entry 22-July 10, 1540 My Letter to his Majesty
Entry 23-July 1540 Lord Cromwell is executed, and his Majesty marries Kathryn Howard the same day
Entry 24-August 1540- The King’s Sister and his Majesty’s generosity settlement.
Entry 25-August 1540- A visit from his Majesty
Entry 26– The Book of Hours given to his Majesty (printed in 1533,Germany)
Entry 27-September-November 1540 at Hever Castle
Entry 28-Christmas 1540 with Mary I, Kathryn Howard, and his Majesty
Entry 29-January 1541-Kathryn Howard arrrested
Entry 30-Spring of 1541
Entry 31-Summer of 1541
Entry 32-November 1541-Sickness and Pregnancy gossip
Entry 33-Christmas 1541-Exchange of presents-sent Henry pieces of crimson and Henry sent pots and flagons
Entry 34-January-February 1542- Kathryn Howard beheaded
Entry 35-March 1542-The aftermath
Entry 36– Spring 1542-His Majesty becomes ill
Entry 37-1542-His Majesty marries Katherine Parr
Entry 38-Christmas 1543- His Majesty invites all three children to spend Christmas with him.
Entry 39– Jan 1547- Death of His Majesty King Henry VIII
Entry 40– January 28, 1547-Prince Edward VI becomes King
Entry 41– January 1547-Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, becomes the Lord Protector
Entry 42– 1547- Richmond Castle and Bletchingley confiscated from me
Entry 43– 1549- Riots and rebellions-Scotland and France.
Entry 44- 1549- John Dudley 1st Earl of Warwick and then Duke of Northumberland 1551 replaces the Duke of Somerset
Entry 45- 1549-The dark years-The King’s Step-Aunt.-salaries for staff delayed
Entry 46– February 1553- King Edward VI becomes ill and names Lady Jane Grey as his heir.
Entry 47- July 6, 1553-King Edward VI dies at age 15.
Entry 48– July 10, 1552 Lady Grey taken to the Tower of London for her protection
Entry 49– July 14, 1553- Duke of Northumberland leaves London with 3,000 troops to Cambridge. Reaches Cambridge July 15, 1553.
Entry 50– July 15, 1553- Mary I -rallies her forces at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk with 20,000 troops
Entry 51-July 19, 1553- The Privy Council realize they made a mistake in appointing Lady Jane Grey, led by the earl of Arundel and the Earl of Pembroke, proclaim Mary I as Queen.
Entry 52- July 24, 1553- Lord Arundel arrests the Duke of Northumberland for
Entry 53-August 22, 1553- Duke of Northumberland beheaded
Entry 54- July 10, 1553 Lady Grey, Lord Guildford Dudley, and others
Entry 55- September 30, 1553-Mary I becomes Queen of England, Coronation
Entry 56– Oct. 1-1553- Mary I- Coronation feast
Entry 57- Fall of 1553 Mary I -restores my finances
Entry 58– February 12, 1554- Lady Jane Grey beheaded in the tower of London
Entry 59– 1554 Elizabeth I, and myself
Entry 60– 1554 Troubling times for Mary I- Wyatt rebellion
Entry 61-March 18,1554-Princess Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower of London
for eight weeks.
Entry 62– Princess Elizabeth transferred from the Tower of London to
Entry 63– July 25, 1554- Queen Mary I marries Philip of Spain
Entry 64– August 1554- Queen Mary I announces she is pregnant, phantom
Entry 65– Queen Mary I returns England to Roman Catholicism and burns 300
Protestants at the stake.
Entry 66– October 16, 1555-Protestants Latimer and Ridley are burned at the
Entry 61-June-July 1557 – My Long Illness, and my final days at Chelsea Old
Manor where Catherine Parr had lived
Entry 62-July 1557 My Last will and testament
Entry 63– July 16, 1557- My last breath
Entry 1- My Youth-September 22, 1515-1539
Now that I am twelve years of age I have decided to record the events of my life.
I was born a German princess on September 22, 1515 in Dusseldorf Germany. I was the second child born to Duke John III Of the Dutchy of Cleve’s. My mutter or mother was Mary of Julich. I am told my parents were disappointed that they did not have a son. It was no matter since a year later my brother William was born, and then after him my youngest sister Amelia was born.
Cleve’s was a wonderful place to grow up. It was situated on the Rhine
River, and it bordered Hapsburg, Netherlands. Nearby was the village
of Cleves. It was a small village with many common folk. We were
brought up as strict Catholics by my mother, however my father was a Lutherans. His view of religion was to love God, and hate the Roman Catholic
Church, and the Pope. Father did not agree with mother in being Catholic.
He was more interested in reform and breaking away from the Pope and Rome in promoting Lutheranism. Mother on the other hand was a devote
Catholic, and she tried to bring us up in the Catholic tradition, but father
would not allow it. Mutter (mother) used to take us to the Rhine River often to see the boats. I loved watching the fisherman on the Rhine when I was young. Life was simple in those days.
Mutter (Mother) was always spending time with us. She trained my sisters and I how to be good wives for our future husbands, by making us skilled in
stitching. Meine My Mutter (Mother) would spend hours with me since I was
clumsy with the use of the needle. Father sent William my brother away early for formal training. We all missed William when he left, most of all mother missed her
son dearly. My sisters, and I only received domestic training as was proper in Cleves at the time. It was a German tradition to prepare women to serve their husbands. Mother was a strict Catholic, and she brought us up to fear the lord, but father always had the final word, and we were considered Lutherans according to him. My Uncle, who was a Lutheran, influenced my brother William in his religious beliefs. Father believed in the reformation, and the teachings of the great scholar Erasmus, but mother had the upper hand in what religion we children would learn when father was not around. We seldom saw father except on holidays. He was always busy with the Duties of Duke of Cleves and the court.
Music in the court of Cleve’s was frowned upon as I was growing up. It
was believed to be a frivolous waste of time. Later some of the more
strict Protestants associated music with the devil. I would have liked to have
learned how to play a flute, if I had only been given the opportunity.
Sybilla, my older sister and I were very close and often played together pretending to be Princesses. Amelia, my other sister, was a little young for us so we did not share as much with her. I was mother’s favorite; at least that is what she told me. We spent many happy hours together over the years of my youth.
Swan Castle, Cleve, Germany, 1515
The castle of Cleve’s (Swan Castle) was a great old castle that stood across the Rhine from a village that was often governed by the French King. My room very large and was next to Sybille’s room. Amelia’s room was down the hallway from our rooms. I could see the Rhine River from my bedroom, and the mountains beyond. Growing up was blissful, and before I knew it at age 12, (1527), father was arranging for my marriage to Francis the 10-year-old son of the Duke of Lorraine. Fortunately, this proposed marriage was cancelled. I had no desire to leave my family, and marry someone I did not know. Mother said that it was my duty to marry to form allegiances with other Princes. I guess romance was never to be considered in a marriage? I am a simple German princess with simple ideas about marriage. Living a comfortable lifestyle was most important. No princess wanted a poor marriage, especially me.
We never enjoyed playing cards as they did in the England or the French courts. My mother taught me being a good wife was skill enough for any noble woman. At Swan castle in Cleves everything was provided for me making life easy for me. I wasn’t lazy; rather my mother and father spoiled me. I had dozens of servants waiting on me everyday
Sibylle of Cleves by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526.
Entry 2- Sept. 1527
On a cold day in September of the year 1527, I am 14 years of age. My father to John Frederick the eldest son of the powerful Duke of Saxony betrothed my dear elder sister Sybilla. I told Sybilla that I did not want her to go but she had to obey father. I was told that this was an important alliance for our family. Poor Sybilla she had never known a boy or had any opportunity to be familiar with any boys. It was such a sad day for me for my older sister and best friend was leaving perhaps to never return.
Saxony was very strongly Lutheran Dutchy, and would make a strong ally, mother told me. Today Sybilla left our castle. A beautifully gilded coach was sent to pick her up along with additional coaches for her maids, and personal assistants. We all cried together at the gate as she got into the coach. Mother bid her well, and asked that she write to tell us how she was doing. She waved at us from the window of the coach, and before we knew it she was off in the distance headed for her new life. That was the last time I saw Sybilla for many years.
Things were very quiet in the castle after Sybilla left. Mother spent all her time with Amelia and I. We took long walks to the Rheine River, and spent many happy hours talking about the imaginary Princes that we would one day marry. Mother had a wonderful imagination. We spent many hours reading the Bible, and discussing what the passages meant.
Chapel was every morning early before breakfast. We attended Chapel before Sybilla left this morning. Tonight we would celebrate compline in the evening. Mutter (Mother) loved to sing at chapel, and I tried to copy her but God did not give me a strong singing voice.
Soon we heard from Sybilla that her marriage had gone according to plan. She met her future husband, and he was a handsome, and proper man, a perfect Prince. We all longed to see Sybilla again, but that was not to be. She was far away now in another Kingdom serving her husband in Saxony.
William, my brother, was away being educated away from home, and we never got to see him except on holidays. Mother was very sad, and she confided in me that she really did not want Sybilla to leave our family, but it was what father wanted and therefore, it had been done. We prayed at Mass for Sybilla and William for God to watch over them.
Entry Three- The year 1539
I have not written since Sybilla left Swan Castle.
Today is April 3 of the year 1539. News came that King Henry VIII of England by way of an envoy to inquire about my hand in marriage and my younger sister Amelia. He was a young man whose name I do not remember but he had long blond hair and related to one of the Nobles in King Henry’s Court. When he arrived he asked for an audience with my brother William the Duke of Cleves. After talking with this envoy for a while, William summoned Amelia and myself to hear the envoys description of King Henry VIII. He described King Henry VIII as a tall man, over six feet tall, with curly red hair. He said that the King was handsome, strong with light skin, but with a ruddy complexion. He went on to describe how exciting it was to be a part of the King’s court where he, the envoy, had been many times himself. This helped Amelia and I who had no picture of the King and had to imagine what he looked like in my mind. It was exciting to know that a King was interested in one of us for his bride. I was to be 24 come next September and not getting any younger.
When my father had passed away, my brother William became Duke of Cleves. He was now responsible for my betrothal and a proposed treaty with the King of England to support England in case the French tried to invade England. William also had to promise a dowry with his limited funds to King Henry VIII for him to accept me, as was the custom. I heard William talking about how he needed an alliance against the Holy Roman Empire and France. A treaty and marriage with England would create an ally with King Henry VIII that would protect my brother and his land holdings in Cleves and surrounding communities.
Several months after the envoy’s visit on a sunny day in August of 1539, I was in the garden with mother tending to the flowers that were blooming. One of our house servants came running into the garden looking for my brother William the Duke of Cleves. The servant said that some envoys from King Henry VIII of England had arrived at the front gate. The King’s envoys Nicholas Wotton and Robert Barnes came to Cleves to assured William, Amelia and I, that the King was a kind and generous man, and that our marriage would be something made in heaven. They portrayed King Henry VIII as a just man who was a bit of a romantic that only wanted to have more than one male heir. I must admit I was intrigued at the image of the King they portrayed. William was not so impressed. All he wanted was a treaty to protect his lands.
Recently a painter from the royal court of King Henry VIII named Hans Holbien (the Younger) arrived to paint a picture of Amelia and myself. The portraits of my sister Amelia and myself he would show to the King so that he could decide whom he wished to marry. It was difficult sitting still for such a long time for Hans. We talked about his wife, and his life at the English court. He was a very engaging speaker. I wore one of my best German princess dresses with jewelry for the painting. Amelia also wore one of her best dresses for her painting. I hoped that the King would find our portraits acceptable and the long process of negotiations would come to an end.
I was told that Edward his young son by his third wife Jane Seymour was his only heir, and Queen Jane had died in childbirth leaving a saddened King without a Queen. Perhaps this would be my imaginary Prince from a foreign land? I also heard rumors that his second wife, Ann was beheaded, and he divorced his first wife, and disowned her daughter Mary. It seemed the King had problems with his wives and I am fearful of his reputation. I had nightmares last night of having my head cut off because I did something to anger the King. I could not sleep and sat up in my bed most of the night.
After many negotiations my brother William decided to allow me to marry King Henry VIII, and to provide the King with a small dowry in accepting me as his fourth wife. Plans were made around November of 1539 to have me and my entourages accompany me to England to be married to King Henry VIII. My brother William did not have any funds for my dowry, so King Henry VIII agreed to accept me as his bride, without a dowry, in last minute negotiations.
I had heard from my brother William that travel by the north sea was too dangerous and that he requested that King Henry ask Mary of Hungry for safe passage for myself and my retinue. King Henry VIII received permission from Mary of Hungry in place of Charles I of the Holy Roman Empire for my safe passage through the Lowlands to Calais, an English controlled port on the English Channel. My preparations were going slowly with mother and Amelia helping me with my many different dresses. We left in my chariot on a cloudy cold day in November 1539, with my retinue of 263 people. We traveled slowly each day over the bumpy frozen roads. Mistress Gilmyn traveled with me on the long journey, and we talked all the way to keep busy. I was wrapped warmly in furs to withstand the winter cold. Lady Keteler, and twelve other of my ladies followed us in separate carriages. Personally I was very excited to be treated like a true German Princess. It was the most attention I had since my first communion.
We traveled only five miles each day on cold and icy roads. Finally, we arrived at Antwerp on December 3, 1539. We settled in for the night after a wonderful reception and a most inviting banquet in my honor. I was very excited about all the fanfare. It was the first time I drank wine other than communion. Mistress Gilmyn talked about our fantasy princes and what life might be like in mysterious England during dinner. We left Antwerp the next day traveling until we arrived at Bruges on Dec. 7th. Next, we traveled to Dambrugh, Newport, and then Dunkirk. I was beginning to feel sick from bouncing around in the carriage.
Finally we reached Gravelines on Dec. 10th, just a few miles outside Calais. The winter scenery was beautiful at this time of the year with frozen fields, grape orchards, and many cattle roaming around barren fields.
A reception committee from Calais met us that day on a Friday. The nobles Lord Lisle Lord deputy of Calais, and Gregory Cromwell along with other nobles were happy to meet us outside of Calais. The Nobles from England had been waiting for our arrival for several days. Later, as we approached Calais, the Earl of Southhampton, High Admiral of England, along with thirteen other nobles met us. The very generous Mayor of Calais presented me with one hundred marks in gold as a gift when we arrived in the town of Calais. The following day the High Admiral showed me the many ships from England in the harbor. They were all decorated with purple cloth to celebrate the occasion. I was surprised to see so many ships. It was the first time I had ever seen the ocean. The ocean stretched as far as I could see to the horizon. I could smell the salt in the air from the ocean. It was a wondrous smell. The sea gulls flew in circles above her screeching their loud cries. It was a wonderful scene that day that will always be etched in my mind.
A cannon salute was given in my honor with loud booming sounds heard around the harbor. My ears were ringing from the loud sound of the cannons. Truly England had a most impressive fleet of ships.
Afterward, we returned to another banquet and a display of jousting. I retired to my bed very tired that evening, but excited at the entire fan fare. I longed to see the handsome King. I had some difficulty speaking English with the Nobles, but they were most patient with me even though none of them could speak German or high Dutch as some referred to my language. I had to do a lot of gestures with my hands because I did could not speak English. My mother had trained me as best she could in simple English expressions like “Good Day,” and “I am glad to meet you.” It was not enough to understand the English who spoke their language so fast that I could not understand what they were saying.
On a misty morning of the day Dec. 13, 1539, we were supposed to sail to England but the thick fog and rain made that impossible. Having heard that the King likes to play card games I begged the Earl of Southhampton if he would show me a card game. My interpreter helped me in speaking English to the Earl. He was most obliging and took time to sit down and showed me how to play cards. He taught me the game of “cent,” which was very popular at the time in England.
Each player receives 12 cards from a 32-card pack ranking 1 through 8 in each suit. They discard some of their cards and draw new cards from the deck of eight. The purpose of this is to improve the hand, so that it will produce and score for certain card combinations and subsequently win a majority of twelve tricks played at no trump. The Earl was most patient showing me and explaining English words like “trump” I learned how points are scored throughout until 100 is reached.
We played all day while the rain continued, until I was able to successfully win some points. I was grateful for the Earl for showing me this wonderful card game. I invited him and some of the Noble men to dinner with me that night. He was a little shy at first as my interpreter explained this was not the normal protocol for a Queen to be inviting men to dinner. I dismissed that stupidity and insisted they come for dinner so that I can learn more about English customs.
I spent fifteen days at Calais waiting for the weather to improve. Finally, on the morning of December 27th, the weather cleared and we set sail for England. This was the first time I had ever stepped foot aboard a ship. It was wonderful and scary at the same time. The admiral welcomed me aboard his ship. The sails puffed up quickly, and we were crossing the English Channel with ease. Fifty ships made sail that day bring all of my German ladies, lords, and servants, as well as my clothing.
After fifteen minutes the French coast faded into the mist, and we were finally on our way. A few hours later we landed at a city called Deal in Kent England around five o’clock in the afternoon. Sir Thomas Cheyne met me, and my ladies, and took us to rest at the newly built Deal castle. I was able to refresh myself, and my ladies, and change clothes to meet the King’s nobles. The Duke of Suffolk and his young beautiful wife Catherine Willoughby came to meet us soon after. The Bishop of Chichester also came to welcome us. We were then escorted to Dover castle a short distance down the English coast. It was late at night around 11:00 pm that we arrived at Dover castle. I was exhausted and my ladies and I went to our apartments and retired for the evening. I dreamt all night of the rocking of the ship on the ocean and all the fanfare I had experienced in the last few weeks.
The rain continued again but Sir Thomas and the Duke of Suffolk thought it wise to press on despite the bad weather so that we would not be forced to stay at less convenient places. The wagons bumped and spun through the mud and rocks and the journey was most unpleasant, but my ladies and I were in good spirits. My retinue of 263 nobles, ladies and servants continued on the muddy road for miles. Our next stop was to be at another English city called Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Thomas Cranmer was to meet us when we arrived at Canterbury. The Archbishop looked much like a Catholic Bishop with his red robes with gold sewn designs on the collar and sleeves. He looked very distinguishing when I first met him.
We entered the town and proceeded to the St. Augustine’s Abbey just outside the city walls. I was here we were to stay for the night. I was pleasantly surprised to see about 40 English gentlewomen in velvet bonnets awaiting me at the Abbey. I was introduced to all the English ladies whom King Henry had appointed to be my staff in England. My own ladies had to share some apartments since so many staff of mine was in attendance.
We had a feast that night and I forgot all about the terrible rain we experienced all daylong. I got to meet the Archbishop and other bishops as well as English Nobles and their ladies. It was all a wonderful experience at the feast. Everyone was joyful and made my ladies and me feel very welcome. The English made excellent beer and I took a liking to at the banquet. I began to wonder when I would meet the King and what he would look like?