Tag Archives: Anne of Cleves

How many wives did Henry VIII have executed?

16 Jan

If Henry VIII was courting today I suspect he might have trouble finding one wife, let alone six.

I mean, look at the portraits history has left of him – ugly, unkempt and obviously way too fond of a pheasant leg. Certainly not someone who sees Eric Bana in the mirror every day.

Then, of course, there was his propensity for dispatching his wives in brutal fashion. But I wanted to know how many of them fell victim to the axe. And it turns out my history buff-ness needed a bit of a polish.

I had it in my head that the Tudor king had eight wives. Since I knew he divorced the first one and was outlived by the last, I assumed that meant six heads on the chopping block. But I was guesstimating too high on both counts.

Turns out the tally was actually six wives and two death sentences. And here they are…

* Catherine of Aragon – married in 1509, divorced in 1533
* Anne Boleyn – married in 1533, executed in 1535 on charges of treason
* Jane Seymour – married in 1536, died in 1537 from childbirth complications
* Anne of Cleves – married and divorced in 1540
* Katherine Howard – married in 1540, executed in 1542 on charges of adultery
* Katherine Parr – married in 1543 and outlived Henry, before dying in 1548

Henry himself died in 1547, having been born in 1491 and crowned monarch in 1509. 

BTW there’s a persistent rumour he wrote the song Greensleeves for future wife Anne Boleyn. However the royal family’s own website says it was “almost certainly not” one of his compositions.