Anne of Cleves

Life Story

Anne of Cleves was the daughter of the Duke of Cleves-Jülich-Berg, who held an agglomeration of territories within the Holy Roman Empire. A future as Queen of England could never have been imagined for her at the time of her birth, but by the late 1530s, European politics were becoming polarised between Lutherans and Catholics.  Cleves, whilst still Catholic, had, like Henry VIII of England, abandoned allegiance to the pope, and maintained good relations with Lutheran states – this made Anne the ideal choice for an England searching for allies against the combined forces of France and Spain.

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Following in the Footsteps

Anne spent her childhood in the ducal castles of Cleves, including the romantically-named Swan Castle, from which she took her personal badge. She travelled overland to Calais, before sailing to England, where she spent most of her time in the palaces that bordered London to the south. 

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Find out more about Anne of Cleves

The most burning question about Anne, is, of course, why did Henry not like her? Was it her appearance or her character?  What have fact and fiction writers made of Anne?  And why was the alliance with Cleves so important?  

But of course, there was more to Anne’s life than Henry’s opinion, and a recent discovery by Dr Sarah Morris of The Tudor Travel Guide gives us an insight into her taste and interest in the decorative arts.

Book Reviews

Anne has been the subject of two biographies in recent years, Elizabeth Norton’s ‘Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride’, and the latest, ‘Anna, Duchess of Cleves: the King’s Beloved Sister’ by Heather Darsie. The fourth novel in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series, ‘Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets’ was published in May 2019. In a somewhat controversial approach, Alison uses material from original sources that hints at a different Anne and creates an alternative storyline for her.