Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait by Alison Weir

annaofkleve

In Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait, readers are introduced to Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anna von Kleve, commonly referred to as Anne of Cleves. Following the loss of his third wife, Jane Seymour—who died less than two weeks after the birth of Henry’s longed-for male heir, Prince Edward—it was decided Henry’s next wife should be the means of forming a political alliance, in case England was attacked by France and the Holy Roman Empire. Thomas Cromwell (Henry’s Principle Secretary and Chief Minister) suggested Anna, so the King sent Hans Holbien to paint a portrait of Anna and her younger sister, Amalia. Henry would use the portraits to decide which sister to marry. Pleased with Anna’s portrait, Henry chose her to be his wife.

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Katherine of Aragón, The True Queen by Alison Weir

katherineofaragon

Katherine, the daughter of the King and Queen of Spain, came to England and married Arthur, the Prince of Wales, only to be widowed after six months. Political intrigues following her subsequent betrothal to Henry nearly prevented her marriage to the future King, but they were wed following the death of Henry VII, and Katherine became Queen of England at last. She had no way of knowing the man she loved so deeply would eventually become the source of her greatest sorrow.

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Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

janeseymour

This next book in the Six Tudor Queens series tells the story of Jane Seymour, third wife of King Henry VIII. This fictionalized tale of Jane’s life begins at her childhood home of Wulfhall and, in time, we see how Jane came to serve as a maid-of-honor for the Queen—Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. When she arrives, the King’s pursuit of Anne Boleyn, another of Katherine’s maid’s-of-honor, is already well underway. Jane remains fiercely loyal to her beloved Queen Katherine, even after she is forced to leave her and serve Anne, instead. When Anne is unable to provide a son for the King, he sets his sights on Jane, and marries her eleven days after Anne’s beheading. Jane was able to give Henry the son he so greatly desired, but died shortly thereafter.

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Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

anneboleyn

I think it’s safe to say that if you have a love of history, as well as a keen interest in royalty, there is a strong probability you’re fascinated with King Henry VIII, and his many wives. It’s also likely you remember the order of his wives thanks to this mnemonic device: Divorced (Katherine of Aragon), beheaded (Anne Boleyn), died (Jane Seymour), divorced (Anne of Cleves), beheaded (Catherine Howard), survived (Catherine Parr). Such is the case with me… my fascination with Henry VIII and his wives took root as soon as I first learned about him.

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