At last we can reveal the Tudor Times’ readers' favourite amongst the Six Wives of Henry VIII.
In the top spot, and a clear favourite, is Anne Boleyn - 39.7% of our contributors chose her. This is a not altogether surprising result, as Anne is perennially popular with modern audiences. Here are some of the comments that her supporters made that give a clue to the fascination she still exerts, and the long-lasting effect she had on our history:
‘There's just something about her that speaks to me’
‘She was a feminist before her time and an unnamed, unappreciated mother to the English Protestant movement.’
‘She was outspoken. She knew her mind and I believe she fell victim to the will of men and the hunger for power.’
‘She changed a lot, England would be a totally different place if it was not for her.’
‘Because she is a total badass’
‘Intelligence, glamour, independent, and fearless all rolled into one. What an amazing creature she must have been.’
The next most popular is Katharine of Aragon - with 29.8% of the votes cast, she is also well ahead of the other wives. Her supporters are heartfelt in their admiration, inspired by her personal characteristics:
‘Because she showed great dignity through out her ordeal and she was a truly Royal princess’
‘Love her and her daughter Mary. Both true to oneself and loved by all her country here in Spain’
‘A true queen who kept her faith and class in the midst of being humiliated by her unstable husband. Also performed well as a regent when her husband was away.’
‘She personifies resilience, commitment, duty, and queenliness.’
‘She was a true queen, beloved by people, facing her destiny with dignity, showing skills of a great leader and warrior.’
Perhaps surprisingly, third place has gone to Anne of Cleves – our readers have seen through the chauvinistic ‘Flanders Mare’ image to the woman beneath. Anne claimed 13.6% of the votes.
‘I feel she was a wise women, who given a chance would have been an excellent queen’
‘Intelligent, saw the opportunity to remove herself from an un-winnable situation, and lived a life independent of her brother and her husband. Seems like a good diplomat!’
‘She was pragmatic, intelligent and incredibly brave. She lived as a single woman after the annulment, in an age when women had to marry to have any power. She was fantastic!’
She was intelligent and had the sense to get out when the going was good and became Henry's 'sister'
Katherine Parr is fourth place with 11.9% of the vote. Her later problems definitely attract sympathy too – escaping Henry, to have Thomas Seymour betray her!
‘She knew how to handle him and survive at the same time. I'm sorry she didn't have a happier life post Henry ...’
‘She adapted to circumstances well. She managed to outlive Henry and was smart enough even in those tutor times to be a female published author. Shame she married Thomas Seymour as she would have been a formidable dowager Queen.’
‘Highly intelligent, the first queen to publish a book, a survivor who managed not to get her head cut off... And she managed to get the man she wanted in the end.’
Jane Seymour was fifth in our poll, racking up only 3.8%. Most are sympathetic to her early death.
‘He loved her the most and she died in child birth’
‘Even though she was used by her brothers, she reads as a sincere wife whose life ended too soon’
Katheryn Howard has the fewest votes – not surprisingly, given how short her life was, and how sad her end. Nevertheless, she has some fans – 1.2% chose her, feeling compassion for her plight.
‘I have always had a soft spot for Katheryn Howard. I believe she has had the most defamation, I know Anne Boleyn has well, but she's had plenty of champions to come out and defend her and tell her true story and self. I feel Katheryn was a young, kind hearted naive girl who never meant any harm to anyone, she was just desperate for love and attention. And I can personally relate to a young girl who doesn't realize the gravity of her actions until it is far too late. My heart breaks for her everyone I read about her break down and desperate plea for mercy and when I think about her young life and beautiful spirit being broken.’
Our historians, however, have a different view. Although a smaller sample size, the clear favourite was Katherine Parr with 42% of the vote, followed by Katharine of Aragon with 25%, then Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves neck and neck (!!) at 17%. No votes for Jane or Katheryn Howard though.
To read their thoughts, see here.