ing Henry VIII has quite a controversial history, not only based on the political decision he made, but also because of the many different wives he had. Although for some cultures this may not come as very strange, for the western world (especially during that time) it was a very different story. King Henry VIII, England’s second Tudor monarch, is best remembered for his six marriages and role in the English Reformation. Henry’s marriages had a considerable impact on England’s political and religious environment, and each of his wives played an important role in shaping his reign.
Have you ever wondered what his wives would have looked like today? If so here they are in all glory. These images have been created by Becca Saladin who has always been fascinated with history. Her passion for history, along with her talent as a graphic artist, is bringing new life to centuries-old stories.
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, was Henry’s first wife. Henry and Catherine had been married for 24 years, but they had no male heir, therefore Henry sought to annul the marriage. When the Pope refused to grant the annulment, Henry split from the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England, which he designated England’s official religion.
Catherine was finally divorced and thrown into isolation for the remainder of her life. Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, was the sister of Henry’s mistress, Mary Boleyn. Anne was ambitious and politically astute, and she played an important role in advancing the English Reformation. Henry, on the other hand, grew bored of her and accused her of adultery, treason, and witchcraft. Anne was executed, and Henry married Jane Seymour, who bore him a son, Edward VI.
After Jane Seymour died shortly after giving birth, Henry married Anne of Cleves, a German princess, in order to cement an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire. However, Henry thought she was unattractive and sought an annulment, which was granted. Henry later married Catherine Howard, who was hanged for adultery, and then Catherine Parr, who outlived him.
Anne of Cleves
Two years after Jane Seymour’s death, the king’s top minister advised that Henry marry one of the sisters of Germany’s Duke of Cleves in order to benefit from a European alliance. The king commissioned portraits of the women to be painted by an artist. He chose Anne after receiving the photographs, and the marriage was set up.
When Anne arrived, Henry objected that the image did not adequately portray her and attempted to call the wedding off. Unfortunately, it was too late. Six days later, they married. It had been his shortest marriage.
She was 15, possibly 16, and a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves. He was 49. He made a proposal. She agreed. Henry lavished gifts on his young bride and referred to her as his “rose without a thorn.”
Catherine Howard restored Henry’s youth and vitality, which he had lost. After a lengthy honeymoon, they married, and she became stepmother to Henry’s three children, one of whom was significantly older than she.
The rumors of infidelity began less than a year afterward. Catherine snuck out to meet someone. Following an archbishop’s investigation, two of Catherine’s childhood instructors claimed they’d had consensual sexual relationships with her, one beginning when she was only 12 years old.
Henry’s last wife was a childhood friend of his first child, and she was named after his first wife, completing a full and creepy circle of Henry’s relationships.
Parr’s mother was a lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and called her child after her. Mary Tudor, Henry’s daughter, was only four years Parr’s junior, and the two had been childhood friends.
She was 30 years old, thrice-married and widowed, and in love with Thomas Seymour, Jane Seymour’s brother, when the King became interested in her. One does not dismiss the king casually. She agreed to his idea. He was 52. Both lived somewhat happily ever after.