The Personal Diary of Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII
The Personal Diary of Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII gave Hever Castle along with other castles to Anne of Cleves after their marriage annulment. Hever Castle was smaller and more manageable than Richmond castle and was a favorite home of Anne of Cleves, “beloved Sister of the King.”
All these stories are included in my upcoming novel, “The Personal Diary of Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of King Henry VIII of England
Letters of Anne of Cleves
Letter of Anne of Cleves to her husband, King Henry VIII 11 July 1540
Background The following letter was Anne of Cleves’s very diplomatic response to Henry VIII’s request for an annulment of their brief marriage. Though her brother pressed her to return home to the duchy of Cleves, Anne was content to remain in England. There were two reasons for this – first, Henry was so grateful for her easy submission and gracious manners, he rewarded her with a very comfortable lifestyle. She was able to live as a wealthy dowager and enjoyed a close relationship with the king (now termed her ‘brother’) and his three children. Secondly, she did not want to face an ignominious return to Cleves. After Henry’s public rejection of their union, she would not have found another husband and would have been forced to rely on her brother’s generosity.
Henry was very impressed by this letter. Its tone of respectful subservience to his wishes inspired his gratitude. Despite his reputation for tyranny, the great king could be kind and generous. Anne had little cause to think ill of him. After all, most historians focus on Henry’s feelings in this matter – but perhaps the lady from Cleves was less than enamored with her husband and was equally desperate to escape the marriage. According to all reports, she learned to love English beer and grew plump and happy in her adopted country.
My letter to his excellent majesty King Henry VIII
Pleaseth your most excellent majesty to understand that, whereas, at sundry times heretofore, I have been informed and perceived by certain lords and others your grace’s council, of the doubts and questions which have been moved and found in our marriage; and how hath petition thereupon been made to your highness by your nobles and commons, that the same might be examined and determined by the holy clergy of this realm; to testify to your highness by my writing, that which I have before promised by my word and will, that is to say, that the matter should be examined and determined by the said clergy; it may please your majesty to know that, though this case must needs be most hard and sorrowful unto me, for the great love which I bear to your most noble person, yet, having more regard to God and his truth than to any worldly affection, as it beseemed me, at the beginning, to submit me to such examination and determination of the said clergy, whom I have and do accept for judges competent in that behalf. So now being ascertained how the same clergy hath therein given their judgment and sentence, I acknowledge myself hereby to accept and approve the same, wholly and entirely putting myself, for my state and condition, to your highness’ goodness and pleasure; most humbly beseeching your majesty that, though it be determined that the pretended matrimony between us is void and of none effect, whereby I neither can nor will repute myself for your grace’s wife, considering this sentence (whereunto I stand) and your majesty’s clean and pure living with me, yet it will please you to take me for one of your humble servants, and so determine of me, as I may sometimes have the fruition of your most noble presence; which as I shall esteem for a great benefit, so, my lords and others of your majesty’s council, now being with me, have put me in comfort thereof; and that your highness will take me for your sister; for the which I most humbly thank you accordingly. Thus, most gracious prince, I beseech our Lord God to send your majesty long life and good health, to God’s glory, your own honor, and the wealth of this noble realm. From Richmond, the 11th day of July, the 32nd year of your majesty’s most noble reign. Your majesty’s most humble sister and servant, Anne the daughter of Cleves.
History records that when King Henry VIII met his wife to be Princess Anne of Cleve’s from Germany he said she was plain and ugly. From Anne of Cleaves viewpoint she had never seen a photo or painting of Henry before. She was told he was tall
,red headed, and handsome. That was twenty years before. The king planned on surprising Anne at Greenwich where she was staying on New Years Eve 1540.
The surprise backfired and Henry was taken aback that Anne did not recognize him nor did she submit to him kissing her and later forcing her to engage in oral sex. He had not been with a women in two years and he was as horny as a bull. What he may have never told his advisors was that he was to blame not Anne. Anne was a high Princess of Germany where things were done properly. Henry did not at first announce himself as the King, so Anne paid him no mind. Then he, a complete stranger, hugged her and forced a kiss. She was repulsed and afraid he was going to rape her. When he pulled his britches down and exposed himself she was afraid. Her mother never told her men like blow jobs. She never told Anne that men were filthy pigs and in bed they treated their women like whores. Anne was a 24 year old German Princess who was still no whore.
When he tied to force his penis into her mouth she gagged from the smell of his hairy penis. She had never been with a man or fooled around with any man. She was always protected from men by her mother all her life.
When Henry shouted in English “suck,suck,” she did not understand English. She cried as he tried to force himself on her. His penis was soft and would not get hard. He was impotent and he blamed it on her. She slapped his penis and he fell back in great pain holding his penis. He tried to lull his own penis to get it hard but he was embarrassed. She was shocked at did not realize that he was the King until she saw his purple robe.
She was disgusted and shocked that King Henry was an old man, obese, and impotent. Henry’s obesity interfered with his sexual functions and that was a secret he must have kept to himself? He may have had high blood pressure to go along with his obesity? Anne took the blame for Henry’s sexual shortcomings.
The language barrier was a major problem when Anne did not have her translator. In the privacy of her chambers there would be no translator. Anne was shocked when she realized the King of England wanted her to suck on his penis. She had never seen a man’s penis before.
Henry had to go through with wedding that January or risk war with her brother William the Duke of Cleve’s. After the wedding for several weeks Henry tried hard to climax. Eventually Anne learned to such his penis and hemp him gain an erection. He was 48 years old at the time with high blood pressure and severe obesity. He had a 54 inch waste and had to have his clothes resewed.
They never consumed the marriage because he was impotent. She kept his secret blowing him every night, letting him feel her breasts. She felt guilty that she was unsatisfactory in sex when really it was Henry’s sexual problem. Henry soon sent her away because he blamed Anne for his impotency. He even tried to have all sex with her which she was willing to submit too, but Henry could not penetrate her or get an erection. Henry kept this secret the rest of his life. It was a miracle that Katherine Parr his 6th wife bore him a son Prince Arthur when he was so often impotent?
In the 1500’s in England sex was seldom discussed in public or private. Shame was often attached to sex. Sex was to be to have children not just for enjoyment. Even Henry felt ashamed and guilty when he became old and obese and impotent.