Anne of Cleves

Anne of Cleves
De Agostini Picture Library / DEA / J. E. BULLOZ / Getty Images
  • Dates: born September 22, 1515 (?), died July 16, 1557
    Married Henry VIII of England on January 6, 1540, divorced (annulled) July 9, 1540
  • Known for: safely divorcing from Henry and surviving
  • Also known as: Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg


Like each of the wives of Henry VIII, as well as Henry himself, Anne could claim descent from England's King Edward I.

  • Father: John III "the Peaceful," Duke of Cleves (died 1538) (he was a descendant of "John the Fearless," Duke of Burgundy)
  • Mother: Maria of Jülich-Berg
  • Brother: William "the Rich," Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg
  • Sister: Sybille, married to John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, "Champion of the Reformation"

Anne was, as a young child, unofficially betrothed to Francis, heir to the Duke of Lorraine.

About Anne of Cleves

Jane Seymour, Henry VIII's beloved third wife, had died. France and the Holy Roman Empire were forging an alliance. Though Jane Seymour had given birth to a son, Henry knew that he needed more sons to ensure the succession. His attention turned towards a small German state, Cleves, which might prove a solid Protestant ally. Henry sent his court painter Hans Holbein to paint the portraits of the princesses Anne and Amelia. Henry selected Anne as his next wife.

Soon after the wedding, if not before, Henry was looking once again for a divorce. He was attracted to Catherine Howard, the political basis for the match was no longer as strong a motivation since France and the Holy Roman Empire were no longer allies, and he found Anne both uncultured and unattractive -- he is said to have called her "Mare of Flanders."

Anne, fully aware of Henry's marital history, cooperated in an annulment, and retired from court with the title "King's Sister." Henry gave her Hever Castle, where he had wooed Anne Boleyn, as her home. Her position and fortune made her a powerful independent woman, though there was little opportunity to exercise such power in any public sphere.

Anne befriended Henry's children, riding in the coronation of Mary with Elizabeth.


  • Anne of Cleves: Fourth Wife of Henry VIII, Mary Saaler, 1995. This book covers Anne's years after her divorce, as one of the most powerful and wealthy women in the world.
  • The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England, Retha Warnike. 2000.
  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII, by Alison Weir, 1993.
  • The Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser, 1993.
  • Letters of the Queens of England 1100-1547, Anne Crawford, editor, 1997. Includes Anne of Cleves.
  • Holbein and the Court of Henry VIII: Drawings and Miniatures from the Royal Library Windsor Castle, Reto Niggl and Jane Roberts, 1997.

Religion: Protestant (Lutheran)

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Anne of Cleves." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, August 26). Anne of Cleves. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Anne of Cleves." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).