Eng 332 - Tudor Prose and Poetry
Welcome to our course web site! Dr. Janet Wright Starner

Contact Me

The Questions

Renaissance Links




Anne Askew and Her Execution

Here is a research paper : (works cited and more information with links will follow)

Why was Anne Askew really executed?

In his entry on Anne Askew from the Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, Paul suggests that " Had Anne been born fifty years after her actual date of birth, she would most probably have lived a quietly pious and uneventful life" (Schlueter 6). Anne was a pious woman with strong beliefs about the church and Protestantism. However, at this time period, Henry VIII reigned and power was displayed through government and religion. As a result, Henry and his council were actively pursuing reformers and imprisoning them. These acts brought fame to Anne Askew because she is known for being a martyr and heretic. History states that she was burned for her beliefs. However, I would like to suggest that she was not only burned for her beliefs, but also for her connection with Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife, and her court. The idea that Anne was born at the wrong time is seen in the quote from Schulueter. But I believe that Anne could have survived in her own time period if she had not been involved with Parr's circle. Anne might have also survived if she presented her interrogators with names of other sect members and supporters, or if she hadn't been so vocal because it was taboo for women to speak outwardly in the 16th century. However, Anne was of no use to her superiors because she would not recant her beliefs or implicate anyone else that held the same beliefs as she had. Thus, Anne would meet her death as a victim.

Marvin 2

As time went by, Anne didn't change her religious views. She wouldn't recant nor implicate anyone else. So, the use of force was used to frighten her. And a long chain of events were well on their way after her first arrest. "Anne had most likely been arrested three times, March 1545, June 1545, and June 1546" (Robinson 1). It is unclear exactly how many times Anne was arrested. The first time for Anne's arrest resulted in what is known as her first examination. Her examinations are really interrogation measures of questioning and torture. The goal of the examinations was to get Anne to recant or implicate another of her sect. Anne herself recorded what happened at each examination after she had returned to her prison cell. Her first examination was more legitimate than her later examination based on the law. For example, Askew was first questioned by a group of twelve men appointed to use inquiry. After her second examination, however, she remarks that she was condemned without a quest" (Beilin 112). The Lattre examination (second examination) gives proof that Anne was a victim. The hands of The Lord Chancellor Wrothesley and Rich torturing Anne defined this latter examination. This act in itself was unheard of: "Since the torture of a noblewoman was unheard of, as was the torture of an already condemned person, this mistreatment supports the idea that Anne's interrogators were attempting to implicate Catherine Parr and her coterie in heresy" (Schlueter 7). Torture was usually used to get answers from the tortured. There were "threats of painful and fiery death since the punishment for refusing to adhere to the official doctrine was death by burning" (Kemp 10). Fear seemed to be the vehicle by which prisoners would change their minds outwardly: "The

Marvin 3

inquisitional process works from the presumption that the fear of death will be great enough to motivate the prisoner to betray her spiritually by making a confession of faith, even if it is contrary to her existing convictions. The need to elicit an orthodox confession of faith, moreover, is presented as being so great that it motivated and justifies the official's threat of the stake " (Kemp 10). So, Anne's first examination was an attempt to retrieve information from Anne about other sect members, but as time progressed and Anne was not retracting the information, her superiors made her treatment harsher with the use of torture. Torture was used to cause fear, but this tactic didn't work well either. All of these forms of inquiry were used to make Anne confess despite her own beliefs. She could blatantly lie about her beliefs and would cease with torture but she chose not to. And in rage, the inquisitors threatened to kill her by burning, but this form of fear didn't make her waver either. The inquistional process had failed with Anne because she was not easily persuaded and she was not ashamed of who she was.

Anne was not a person that hid what she believed. "Anne broke the law and defied the rules of her society through her Protestant beliefs, seeking a divorce from her husband based upon her own interpretation of scripture, and joining other Reformers in debates" (Beilin xv). She did what she felt was right. This can be seen when she tries to divorce her husband "based upon 1 Cor. 7 If a faythfull woman have an unbelevynge husbande, whych wyll not tarrye with her she may leave hym" (Schlueter 7). "How Anne received her education is not known, but she was literate enough to know the Bible well and to dispute what the Bible said" (Glass 120). Anne takes her interpretation of the Bible

Marvin 4

one step farther by bringing the case to court. Anne's husband, Thomas Kyme, rejected Anne and her beliefs as well. This case may have triggered her first examination: "Through her actions, Anne might have came to the attention of Henry VIII's bishops and councellors who were actively pursuing reformers" ( Beilin XV). At this time, the religion of the king and Queen was the accepted religion. The religion of the time mainly depended upon who was in power because the religion changed with the changes in the throne. For Example, during Queen Mary's reign, Catholicism was the religion, but during Elizabeth's reign, it changed to Protestantism. Therefore, because Anne was Protestant and her husband was Catholic, she sought divorce. This was part of her vocalness and outright defiance towards the King's religion. She didn't care about the rules of the society. She did what she felt was right.

Anne was disappointed with her arranged marriage: "She sought refuge at the home of her brother in South Kelsey for a time, but then she came to London to seek an annulment of her marriage from the Court of Chancery" (Glass 120). When Anne reached London her fame of the New Faith quickly spread (fame of being Protestant). "Soon after her arrival, a great papist of Wickham College, called Wadloe, spied on Anne" (Glass 120). When the man was asked to report on his surveillance, he stated that Anne was " the devoutest and godliest woman that he ever knew. At midnight she beginnith to pray, and ceaseth not in many hours after" (Glass 121). The argument that Wadloe made was in Anne's favor. This was not the observation he was to report because the King hired him, but it displays a part of Anne's character. She firmly believed in God and prayer and from his observations, one can infer that she had a close relationship with God.

Marvin 5

Not only did Anne have a close relationship with God, but she also had friends and relatives at court allowing her to find acceptance in Katherine Parr's coterie. " She met privately with the queen where they prayed and heard expositions of scripture from various evangelical ministers"(Glass 121). There was obviously a reason why they had to meet privately. The reason was Henry and his followers. They did not approve of the religious beliefs. However, it was her friends who helped her during her first examination, "beginning with her cousin Christopher Brittayne. Brittayne along with the Chronicler Edward Hall and Dr. Hugh Weston, intercedes with Bishop Bonner and eventually Askew is freed." (Beilin xxx).

Anne continues to meet influential people throughout her journeys. While in London, "Anne met John Lascelles who introduced her to an assemble of pious souls in which he was, in fact, the leader." (Glass 120) Because of Anne's relationships with the more aggressive reformers in London and her outwardness, she was taken to Sadler's Hall where she was questioned about her view of the sacrament. Another example of her outwardness is seen by the fact that"Anne would not refer to herself as Kyme, but always Anne Askew with also attracted the attention of her supporters and distracters" (Beilin xix). By attracting the attention of both her supporters and distracters, she was now in the spotlight with very opposing views.

It was the attention of the distracters and court that caused Anne to endure her examinations and viewed her as a threat to the King and his power, therefore she had to be stopped or quieted. "Anne's first examination took place in March of 1545 at Sadler's Hall and was questioned by Edmund Bonner among others"(Schlueter 6). The

Marvin 6

examinations are Anne's records of what the interrogators asked her and her responses to them. "Christopher Dare, a professional inquisitor asked questions that were intended to trap her into denying the first six articles regarding the sacrament of the alter, but she wittily skirted the issues." (Glass 250). Anne was able to accomplish this by "confessing that she would rather read five lines of the Bible than to hear five masses in the temple because the one did greatly edify me and the other nothing at all." (Glass 250). "Anne represents herself as a worthy opponent of the church officials" through her speech and record of Bible knowledge. (Beilin xv). She accomplishes this by using the Bible as her frame of reference. The Bible is to be unquestioned, and, therefore, she wins some arguments but receives no verbal recognition to establish her persuasion or logical argument. An example of her interpretation of the Bible being used as an authority is seen when she outargues the bishop's chancellor. For example, when he levels at her the commonplace of Saint Paul's prohibition against women quoting scripture. Here she demonstrates her ability to interpret scripture as well if not better than a bishop does: " She corrects his inaccurate citation of scripture. Paul did not as the chancellor mistakenly claims, Forbade women to speak or to talk of the word of God, but only forbade them to speak in the congregation by way of teaching" (Kemp 11). Another words, women shouldn't publically preach and she claims that she has not done that.

However, when Anne was told to confess that "if an ill priest ministered [the sacrament], it was the devil and not God, she replied that the conditions of the minister could not hurt

Marvin 7

her faith because in spirit I received nevertheless, the body and blood of Christ." (Glass 250). Anne was sometimes bold and firm in the inquiry process. Her boldness can be seen when she refuses to answer a question. She does so with a priest to whom she answered little "because I perceived him a papist" (Glass 250). Anne also uses her interpretation of the Bible and voice to display more of her own ideas. This can be seen when Dare asked her a final question: "did she think that private masses helped departed souls? She replied that " it was great idolatry to believe more in them than in the death that Christ died for us" (Glass 250). The examination was then passed to another inquisitor who asked " After the words of consecration is it [the bread] not the Lord's body? He then asked what if a mouse eat it after the consecration? What shall become of the mouse? What sayest thou, thou foolish woman?" (Glass 250). Anne was bold in her reply. She didn't want to be incriminated and therefore she answered " What shall become of her, say you, my Lord? The Lord Mayor answered, I say that the mouse is damned! Whereupon Anne replied Alack poor mouse." (Glass 252). Many had the intention of beguiling her into denying the sacrament, but none succeeded.

Anne did not outwardly say, "kill me," but she did irritate her interrogators through her responses. She was sarcastic at times, which added to the interrogators fury. At one point in her first examination, she speaks about Paul. She says: "(1 Corinthians 14) that a woman ought not to speak in the congregation by way of teaching. And then I asked him (the interrogator) how many women he had seen go into the pulpit and preach. He said none. Then I said he ought to find no fault in poor women except they had offended the law" (Martin 63). This is not the only time that Anne is sarcastic. She

Marvin 8

refuses to answer some questions because "God hath given me the gift of knowledge but not of utterance. And Solomon saith that a woman of few words is a gift of god (Proverbs 19)" (Martin 67).

During this first examination, Anne is questioned by prominent men such as "Lord mayor of London, bishops Chancellor, bishop of London's chief deputy, Edmund Bonner, and John Wymesley, who charged Anne with subscribing to specific reformed beliefs" (Beilin xvi). It should also be noted that Anne was a friend with the queen and other influential people of the time. "It was Anne's cousin, Christopher Brittayn that first tried to intercede with the interrogation and other influential friends followed which enabled Anne's first release". (Beilin xvi).

Despite Anne's release," she was held for twelve days without visits" (beilin xvi).

During her first examination, she was addressed for issues of heresy. However, "Anne never faltered in her right to read and interpret the scriptures" (Beilin xvi). She states that "she would rather read the Bible than hear masses. It didn't matter to her who was preaching and their ill conditions, because she believed that it wouldn't hurt her faith. She believed that the spirit was received regardless of the ministers' condition" (Martin 62).

Anne also had a clear conscience about what she was doing. "Bishop Bonner sent a priest to examine her, and on March 25th she appeared before the bishop in prison denying all accusations against her and refusing the [OE]good counsel' he offered, affirming that her conscience was clear "in all things"(Glass 252).

Bonner then offered her confession of faith of which she said, "I believe so much thereof; as the Holy Scripture doth agree unto, wherefore I desire you that ye will

Marvin 9

add that thereunto and Bonner answered that's she should not teach him what to write." (Glass 252). This is another example of her boldness. From that point, Bonner had to think about what had just happened.


With that he went forth into his great chamber and read the same bill

before the audience, who inveigled and willed me to set to my hand saying also, that I had favour showed in me, then said the bishop, I might thank others and not myself, for the favour that I found at his hand, for he considered, he said, that I had good friends (Parr's circle) and also that I came out of a worshipful stock (family) (Glass 253)


Therefore, Bonner debated about how to release her. "It may have been that the [OE]good friends' that the bishop referred to included Katherine Parr"(Glass 253).

However, besides these smaller issues, the main issue in her examinations dealt with transubstantiation. Transubstantiation is the belief that when a person receives communion, the person is receiving the blood and body of Christ. However, Anne believed that communion was a representation of Christ and it was to be done as a remembrance of his death and resurrection. This was contrary to the Catholic belief and people were killed for this issue alone. "Under the Six Articles of 1539, anyone who publishes, preach, teach, says, affirms, declares, disputes, argues or holds any opinion against transubstantiation would be deemed a heretic and would be burned." (Beilin xxv). Only two witnesses were needed to accuse. And the Act for the Advancement of true religion reaffirmed the Act of Six articles, but changed the punishment for heresy. "For the accused would be allowed to recant their heresies twice and the sentence of burning could be ordered only after a third episode" (Beilin xxv). After this document, the Six Articles were modified. "It was now required that a presentment or statement be sworn by twelve men before any person could be arrested, imprisoned, or brought to trial for

Marvin 10

heresy." (Beilin xxvi). The belief that communion is used as a representation of Christ is common to Protestants. Katherine Parr was also Protestant and in favor of reform.

Katherine Parr was married to Henry VIII who was head of the Church of England. Parr was a Protestant who pushed for reforms. This created a conflict. Parr wrote the Lamentation of a Sinner. This piece is different from Anne's writing. I suggest that Katherine is trying to stay on good terms with Henry. Her writing acknowledges and praises Henry. For example, she says: "King Henry the Eighth, my most soverign favourable lord and husband, one through the excellent grace of God" (Martin 52). I believe she does this because Henry has killed a few of his other wives for not producing a male heir to the throne and Katherine had not produced an heir. I believe that Katherine is aware of the danger she is in. She does not try to stop the execution of Anne because she fears what will become of her if she intercedes.

It should be noted that Anne was carried and bound for her execution because her legs had been crippled during torture: "This mistreatment of an already condemned person and of a noblewoman was unheard of" (Schlueter 7). "It has been suggested that Anne kept the courage of other male victims up" (Blain). "On June 18th 1546, Nicholas Shaxton, Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas White, a gentleman of London, Anne askew, and John Hadlam, a tailor form Essex and an associate of Anne, were arraigned for denying the corpral presence in the sacrament"(Glass 253). It should be noted that the other four were "found guilty and sent to Newgate" (Glass 254). With the other men gone, this left Anne alone, which may have been the plan. Despite the plan, Anne still stayed strong and upheld her beliefs as seen in her second examination.

Marvin 11

Throughout the second examinations, one can still see Anne being bold. According to her own account, "Anne was first questioned about her husband, but

refused to answer only to the king alone"( Glass 254). Next, she was asked about the sacrament where she gave an answer, but "Wriothesley wanted a more direct answer which she refused to give" (Glass 254). The following day came and she was once again questioned. "This time by Lord Lisle and William Parr, knowing that these two held similar opinions as her own regarding the sacrament, she said: it was a great shame for them to counsel contrary to their knowledge" (Glass 255).

Anne was sent to Newgate prison. "There follows a confession of faith, prayers and meditations, a summary of her condemnation for heresy at the Guildhall on June 28" (Beilin xxxii). This times a fellow friend was the interrogator. "Nicholas Shaxton encouraged her to recant, but she told him that it had been good for him never to have been born"(Glass 255). From this point, Anne was moved to the Tower. "Richard Rich

and John Baker began a new line of questioning attempting to identify her contacts at court" (Glass 255). According to Glass, Anne describes the scenario as follows:


Then came Richard one of the council, charging me, upon my obedience, to show unto them if I knew man or woman of my sect. My answer was that I knew none. Then they asked me of my lady of Suffolk, my lady of Sussex, my lady of Hereford[sigma] I said that if I should pronounce anything against them, I were not able to prove it.

Then he said unto me, the king was informed that I could name, if I would, a great number of my sect. Then I answered that the king was as well deceived in that belief as dissembled with other matters.

Then commanded they me to show how I was maintained in the counter, and who willed me to stick by my opinion. I said that there was no creature that therein did strengthen me. Then they put me on the rack, because I confessed no ladies or gentlewomen to be of my opinion, and thereon they kept me a long time, and because I lay still and did not cry,

Marvin 12

my Lord Chancellor and master Rich took pains to rack me in their own hands, till I was nigh dead. (253)


"Sir Anthony Knevet was commanded to put her on the rack. When he had seen that she would not deliver the names, he wanted to release her, but Wriothesley ordered him to continue the torture. Knevet refused so Rich and Wriothesley continued"(Glass 256). Glass also asserted that Henry himself had ordered Anne to be stretched on the rack, being exasperated against her for having brought prohibited books into his palace and influencing his queen and nieces with her doctrine (256).

"Rather than compromise, Anne was burned in Smithfield for great heresy on July 16th 1545 and she also perished with her secret relations of her religious activities within the court of Queen Katherine Parr"(Glass 256).

Although there is no direct evidence to show that the Lincolnshire gentlewomen such as Anne, influenced the beliefs of Katherine and her circle " Anne was the key which Gardiner and Wriothesley (inquisitors) had intended to use to initiate a purge of reformers at court" (Glass 123). "Anne could very well have been a primary source of Katherine's understanding of the Lords Supper as a thanksgiving and through Katherine this understanding passed to Edward VI. For it was Anne's view that became the prescribed liturgy in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI" (Glass 123). And this prayer book became widely known and used among women. However, Katherine and her court were affected by Anne's theology, encouraged by her zeal, her courage, and her fidelity, as she remained faithful till the end.

Marvin 13

Whatever Henry and his court intended by allowing the execution of Anne Askew, "he could not have imagined the widespread and damaging reaction to her martyrdom" (Glass 124). It is important that "they failed to extract the information they needed to implicate the queen and her court" (Glass 124).

Because Anne did not implicate another of her sect, "All the other ladies associated with Katherine's court, and the queen herself, escaped burning. Another effect was that by the end of the Sixteenth century, most readers were ignoring mid-Tudor texts, which they considered to be crude. Although most of the works of the Reformation were forgotten, the literary traditions that they popularized lived on, centered about by faith, imputed grace, and the authority of scripture." (Glass 124).

Works Cited

Beilin,V. Elaine. The Examinations of Anne Askew. New York: Oxford UP,


Blain, Virginia., Clements, Patricia., and Isabel Grundy. The Feminist Companion to


Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to Present. New Haven & London : Yale UP, 1990


Glass, James Michael. Silent reform in Henry's court: Katherine Parr and her court and

their conrtribution to the English Reformation. Diss. Southwestern Baptist


Theological Seminary. 1991. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1991. 9213037.


Kemp, Theresa D. "Translating (Anne) Askew: The textual remains of a sixteenth-

century heretic and saint." Renaissance Quarterly 52.4 (1999): 1021-1045.

Martin, Randall. Ed. Women Writers in Renaissance England. New York and London:

Longman, 1997.

Sclueter, Paul, and June Schlueter. An Encyclopedia of British Women Writers, New

York & London: Garland Publishing Inc., 1988.


Information about Henry VIII and his wives:


Henry VIII was born on June 28, 1491. His father and mother, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, were loving parents, although they saw little of their children. Henry, their second son, was styled the Duke of York. He had his own servants and minstrels, and a fool named John Goose. He even had a whipping boy who was punished when Henry did something wrong.

Henry VII loved entertainers, and the court attracted acrobats, jesters, magicians and musicians. Prince Henry enjoyed music and grew up to be an accomplished musician (although he did not write "Greensleeves," as legend suggests). At the age of 10 he could play many instruments, including the fife, harp, viola and drums.

Henry's older brother Arthur married a Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon, when he was fifteen. Prince Arthur danced at his wedding and seemed to be in good health, but within a few months he was dead. Some historians think Arthur had tuberculosis. Or he may have had plague or sweating sickness.

Young Henry was now heir to the throne. He was guarded at all times and allowed to see few people. Henry was a very tall, athletic, handsome teenager. He kept his exuberant personality under control on public occasions because he feared his father's temper. He received little training for his future role as king, and would rely heavily on his counselors in the early years of his reign.

In 1509 Henry VII died of tuberculosis and his son became King Henry VIII. He was 17.

Although most people today think of Henry VIII as a fat tyrant, in his youth he was admired for his intelligence, good looks, good nature and athletic ability. One of his contemporaries wrote that he was "one of the goodliest men that lived in his time, in manners more than a man, most amiable, courteous and benign in gesture unto all persons."

But of course, Henry is remembered today for just one thing - well, six things. Six wives, to be exact.

Wife #1 - Catherine of Aragon

It may surprise you to learn that Henry VIII was married to his first wife for over 20 years, and for a long time they were happy together. Catherine (the widow of Henry's brother Arthur) was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and had received an excellent education at their court. She had long red-gold hair and blue eyes, and in her youth was considered pretty.

As a young man Henry enjoyed dancing, gambling, hunting, hawking, horseback riding, jousting, tennis, archery, wrestling, writing and composing music, dancing, masques and pageants. Catherine was five years older and much more sedate. She was interested in politics and Henry often turned to her for advice. In 1513 she ruled as regent while Henry was campaigning in France.

Although Catherine was pregnant many times, only one of her children, Princess Mary, survived. Henry was a doting father and didn't seem to blame Catherine for her failure to bear healthy sons. Henry is only known to have had two mistresses during his marriage to Catherine, which made him a reasonably faithful husband by the standards of the time. Catherine knew of his affairs but kept silent.

Then Henry met the woman who was to be his second wife. . .

Wife #2 - Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was probably born in 1500 or 1501. Her father was an English diplomat and her mother was the daughter of an earl. When Anne was around 12 she became a maid of honor to Margaret of Austria, the regent of the Netherlands. A year and a half later she moved to the French court, where she served Henry VIII's sister Mary, who had married the king of France. King Louis soon died and Mary returned to England, but Anne stayed in France as maid of honor to the new queen, Claude.

In 1522 Anne returned to England and went to live at King Henry's court as a member of Queen Catherine's household. There she became secretly betrothed to a young courtier, Henry Percy - secretly because Percy was already promised to another woman, and his family would not approve of his marrying the less aristocratic Anne Boleyn. But the lord chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, heard of the engagement and alerted the king, who told Wolsey to end the relationship. Wolsey did just that, lecturing Percy for becoming involved with a "foolish girl" and summoning Percy's father, who forbade him to see Anne again. Percy was forced to marry the bride his father had chosen for him, and Anne never forgave Wolsey.

Anne was banished from the royal court after the abrupt ending of her romance with Percy and did not return until 1524 or 1525. In 1526 Henry began to pursue Anne openly. But Anne refused to become his mistress, saying, "I would rather lose my life than my honesty."

Bewitched by Anne's sparkling black eyes, long dark hair and vivacious personality, the king began scheming to end his marriage to Catherine. He claimed that it had never really been a marriage because she had been his brother's wife. Catherine insisted that her first marriage didn't count because it hadn't been consummated, and church authorities agreed. For years Henry struggled unsuccessfully to have his marriage annulled. In the end, determined to have his way, he broke free of the Catholic Church, established the Church of England, banished Catherine from court, had his first marriage declared invalid, and married Anne Boleyn.

Queen Anne was crowned in June of 1533. Later that year she gave birth to her only surviving child, Elizabeth. The years of waiting had been hard on Anne. She was in her thirties now, moody and sharp tongued, and Henry was falling out of love with her. She had friends at court, but also many enemies. She had brought about the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, who died in 1530, and she also plotted against Catherine of Aragon and her daughter Mary.

Catherine died on January 7, 1536, and Anne rejoiced. She was pregnant again, and if she gave birth to a healthy son her position as queen would be secure. But on the day of Catherine's funeral Anne found the king with one of her maids of honor, Jane Seymour, sitting on his knee. She became hysterical and had a miscarriage. "She has miscarried of her savior," the Spanish ambassador wrote.

In May Anne was arrested and charged with having affairs with five men, including her own brother George. The charges were false, but Anne and all of the men were convicted and sentenced to death. On May 19, 1536, Anne Boleyn was beheaded. And on May 30 Henry VIII married his third wife . . .

Wife #3 - Jane Seymour

The Seymours were an old and noble family. Jane, who was probably born between 1507 and 1509, had been maid of honor to both Queen Catherine and Queen Anne. As Henry grew tired of Anne's tantrums he was drawn to Jane's gentle, modest ways. Jane sympathized with Catherine and was apparently happy to help bring about Queen Anne's downfall. Like Anne before her, Jane virtuously rejected the king's advances, and once again Henry fell in love with the woman he could not have.

After their marriage Jane remained quietly obedient to Henry. Once she fell on her knees in public and begged the king to change one of his policies. This did not go over well with the king, and Jane never tried it again.

In October of 1537 Jane gave birth to a son, Edward. Twelve days later she died. Henry grieved for her, but he also began looking for a new wife. This time he wanted to make a politically advantageous marriage. The royal women of Europe were understandably reluctant to marry him, and it was two years before Henry VIII became betrothed to his fourth wife . . .

Wife #4 - Anne of Cleves

Cleves was a dukedom in modern day Germany and Anne was the sister of its ruler, Duke William. Born in 1515, she was given a sheltered upbringing, and was less educated and worldly than Henry's previous wives. Henry approved of her portrait, so in 1539 a marriage treaty was signed and Anne set sail for England.

When she arrived Henry was so eager to see her that he raced to where she was staying and burst in upon her unannounced. Anne didn't speak English, didn't know who this fat stranger was, and was busy watching something out the window, so she more or less ignored Henry. The king's pride was wounded. "I like her not!" he told all and sundry. He found her ugly - downright repulsive - and the last thing he wanted to do was marry her.

But Henry couldn't wriggle out of his treaty with Cleves. The wedding took place on January 6, 1540 with the groom protesting every step of the way. At first Anne had no idea that her husband was displeased with her. She told her ladies, "Why, when he comes to bed he kisseth me, and taketh me by the hand, and biddeth me 'Good night, sweetheart.'" Her ladies had to tell her that this wasn't enough to cause a pregnancy.

Eventually Anne learned that her husband wished to be rid of her. She was shrewd enough to realize that her life was in danger. To Henry's amazement, she cooperated with his desire to have the marriage annulled. Relieved, he gave her money and property and treated her very well. Anne remained in England, and never remarried. Henry called her his sister and often invited her to court. She outlived Henry and was certainly the most fortunate of his wives.

Less than twenty days after his marriage to Anne of Cleves ended, Henry married his fifth wife. . .

Wife #5 - Katherine Howard

Katherine Howard, a first cousin of Anne Boleyn, was fifteen or sixteen when she married Henry. She was lively, pretty and kind, and Henry saw her as perfect and unspoiled, a "rose without a thorn."

But Katherine had secrets. Several years earlier she'd had an affair with a man named Francis Dereham and promised to marry him. This alone made her ineligible to marry the king. She had also been involved with her music teacher, Thomas Culpepper, and as queen she resumed her relationship with him. In time, of course, her infidelity was discovered and she was arrested.

In December of 1541 Dereham and Culpepper were executed. Katherine Howard was beheaded in February 1542. Henry was horrified and heartbroken, but he had not given up on matrimony. The following year he married his sixth and final wife. . .

Wife #6 - Katherine Parr

Katherine Parr was born around 1512. In her teens she married a man named Lord Borough, who was in his sixties. He soon died and Katherine married another older man, Lord Latimer. Katherine and her second husband frequently visited the royal court, and Henry became fond of the auburn-haired Lady Latimer.

Lord Latimer died in March 1543 and Henry quickly began courting Katherine. She was in love with Jane Seymour's handsome brother Thomas, but she didn't dare refuse the king. On July 12, 1543, Henry and Katherine were married.

Henry was old and ill now, and Katherine was as much a nurse to him as a wife. She was good to his children and helped him reconcile with Catherine of Aragon's daughter Mary. But Katherine's keen intellect and radical religious views placed her in danger. She argued with Henry about religion and he angrily ordered her arrest. Learning of this, Katherine took to her bed crying, which so distressed Henry that he cancelled the arrest warrant. After that Katherine took care not to dispute with the king.

Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547. Within months Katherine had married her true love, Thomas Seymour. But Seymour soon betrayed her by trying to seduce her stepdaughter, Henry's daughter Elizabeth. Henry VIII's last unfortunate wife died from complications of childbirth on September 7, 1548.



Recommended Reading


These books are for sale through Amazon.com at up to 40% off regular prices. Amazon.com will ship books anywhere in the world! Click on the titles below for more information.

Books about Henry VIII


Great Harry: The Extravagant Life of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson is a historical biography.



http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1566491991/theworldofroyaltThe Life and Times of Henry VIII. A book about Henry VIII, his court and his world, with an introduction by historian Antonia Fraser.


Henry VIII & His Queens by David Loades.


Henry VIII by J. J. Scarisbrick and J. J. Scalapino. An excellent biography.


Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty by Lacey B. Smith. This is by far the best book I've read about Henry VIII. It explains his personality and actions in the context of his times. If you've never read a biography of Henry VIII, I wouldn't start with this book, but if you're already familiar with his life story, this is definitely worth reading.


The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George. A well-researched, entertaining novel. Highly recommended.


King Henry VIII by William Shakespeare. This play was written during the reign of Henry's daughter Elizabeth I.


Henry VIII is a documentary from the A&E "Biography" series.


Character Sketches: Henry VIII and His Court by David Starkey, published by National Portrait Gallery Publications.


Henry VIII: Images of a Tudor King by Christopher Lloyd, Simon Thurley, and Hampton Court. Portraits of Henry.


All the King's Cooks: The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace by Brears.


Inventory of King Henry VIII: Transcript of the Inventory edited by David Starey.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII


The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. My favorite book about his wives. It's fascinating, fun to read, and contains much information not available in other recent books about Henry's wives.


The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. An absorbing look at Henry's six unfortunate wives.


Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII by Karen Lindsey. This book will definitely make you look at Henry's wives in a different light. The details Lindsey provides about Katherine Howard are particularly interesting.


The Six Wives of Henry VIII (video set). The famous six-part BBC series. Accurate and highly enjoyable.


Letters of the Queens of England 1100-1547, edited by Anne Crawford, includes letters written by all of Henry's wives.

Catherine of Aragon


Catherine of Aragon by Garrett Mattingly is a classic biography of Henry's first wife.

Anne Boleyn


Mistress Anne by Carolly Erickson. A biography of Henry's second doomed wife.


The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn by Retha M. Warnicke is a scholarly look at family politics at the court of Henry VIII.


Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret C. Barnes. Novel about Anne Boleyn.


The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell. A novel told from Queen Anne's viewpoint.


Anne of the Thousand Days. This movie about Anne Boleyn is wildly inaccurate, but fun to watch. Stars Genevieve Bujold as Anne and Richard Burton as Henry VIII.

Jane Seymour


Jane, the Quene, Third Consort of King Henry VIII by Pamela M. Gross illuminates the life of Henry's most mysterious queen.

Anne of Cleves


Ann Of Cleves: Fourth Wife of Henry VIII by Mary Saaler. Biography.


The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England by Retha M. Warnicke.

Katherine Howard


The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford. Acclaimed novel in which Katherine Howard is portrayed as an intelligent woman battling for social change.


The Rose Without a Thorn by Jean Plaidy. Novel about Katherine Howard. Large print.

Katherine Parr


Kateryn Parr: The Making of a Queen by Susan E. James. A biography of Henry's last tragic queen.

Other People Who Lived During the Reign of Henry VIII


The Sisters of Henry VIII by Maria Perry. The fascinating lives of Henry's sisters Margaret, who became the queen of Scotland, and Mary, who became the queen of France (and later defied Henry by marrying his best friend).


The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune by David M. Head is a biography of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk, a brother-in-law of Henry VII, was the uncle of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. He assisted in the rise and downfall of both women.


Thorns and Thistles by C. Patrick Hotle deals with diplomacy between Henry VIII and James V of Scotland (husband of Henry's sister Margaret).


When Knighthood Was in Flower: Or, the Love Story of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor, the King's Sister by Charles Major. Novel about Henry's sister Mary, who bravely defied the king by marrying his best friend, Charles Brandon.


Henry VIII's Conservative Scholar by Andrew A. Chibi is about Bishop John Stokesley and the divorce, royal supremacy and doctrinal reform.


Cardinal Wolsey: Church, State and Art by S. J. Gunn, edited P.G. Lindley. A biography.


Thomas Cranmer: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Don't confuse Thomas Cranmer with Thomas More. Cranmer made Henry VIII's divorce from Anne Boleyn happen, More lost his head over it. Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer, More was the author of Utopia. And it was More who was canonized a saint, while Cranmer was executed by "Bloody" Mary for his fiendish plotting on behalf of Lady Jane Grey. In this highly readable biography we get the first new treatment of Cranmer in three decades.


The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. A cohesive and impeccably researched book. Weir, an expert in the period and author of a book on Henry's VIII wives, focuses on the children of Henry VIII who reigned after his death: Edward VI, Mary I ("Bloody Mary") and Elizabeth I. The three shared little - living in separate homes - except for a familial legacy of blood and terror. This is exciting history and fascinating reading.


Books about Edward VI, Jane Grey, and Mary I


Books about Elizabeth I

Thomas More


The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd. More was Henry's good friend -- until he refused to endorse the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn. This biography traces the life, from baptism to beheading, of the lawyer who became a saint.


The King's Good Servant but God's First: The Life and Writings of Saint Thomas More by James Monti.


Thomas More (Great Christian Thinkers) by Anne Murphy and Peter Vardy. An examination of More's religious beliefs and writings.


Utopia by Thomas More. More's most famous work, in which he describes his idea of the perfect world. First published in 1516.


A Man for All Seasons. A wonderful 1966 movie about Thomas More and Henry VIII. Paul Scofield won an Oscar for his portrayal of More. The movie also won Oscars for best director, best picture, best screenplay, best cinematography, and best costumes. Robert Shaw plays Henry VIII, and Orson Wells appears as Cardinal Wolsey. Highly recommended!


A Man for All Seasons: A Play in Two Acts by Robert Bolt. The script of the play on which the movie was based.

Henry's Reign


Henry VIII: In History, Historiography and Literature edited by Uwe Baumann


War, Taxation and Rebellion in Early Tudor England by G.W. Bernard is about Henry VIII, Wolsey, and the Amicable Grant of 1525.


Reign of Henry Eighth from His Accession to the Death of Wolsey by John S. Brewer, edited by James Gairdner.


Dangerous Talk and Strange Behavior by Sharon L. Jansen is about women and popular resistance to the reforms of Henry VIII.


Courtly Letters in the Age of Henry VIII by Seth Lerer is about Tudor literary culture and the arts of deceit.


The Reign of Henry VIII: Politics, Policy and Piety edited by Diarmaid MacCulloch.


Henry VIII and the Conforming Catholics by Paul O'Grady.


Henry VIII: A European Court in England edited by David Starkey.


More Books about the Tudor era

Children's Books about Henry VIII

NEW! Henry the VIII and His Chopping Block (Famous Dead People) by Alan MacDonald, illustrated by Philip Reeve. For children ages 9-12. Published August 2000.


Henry VIII by Frank Dwyer and Arthur M. Schlesinger. A biography for children ages 9-12.


King Henry VIII by Robert Green. Another biography for kids ages 9-12.


Henry VIII and His Wives is a coloring book!


Henry VIII and His Wives Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney.



Related Topics

Founders of the Tudor Dynasty: Owen Tudor and Henry VII


The Middle Tudor Monarchs: Edward VI, Jane Grey, and Mary I


The Last Tudor: Queen Elizabeth I


Other Websites

Hampton Court History
Hever Castle
The Mary Rose
The Six Wives of Henry VIII: A New (I Hope) Perspective
The Six Wives of Henry VIII: Portraits


Information about Katherine Parr:



For  information about how to get books on Anne Askew at Amazon books and the books available:



Other Book sources

"Memorial of Baptist Martyrs" by J. Newton Brown

"Book of Martyrs" by John foxe

"A history of the Baptists" by Thomas Armitage


Journal sources:

Translating Anne Askew: The textual Remains of a 16thc Heretic and Saint. By Kemp, Theresa D., Renaissance Quarterly, Winter 1999 Vol 51 Issue 4 page 1021, 25 pages in all

Of the manner in which Anne askew noised it

By Berry Boyd M. Journal of English and Germanic Philology April 1997 Vol. 96 Issue 2 page 182, 22 pages in all


Book Reviews:

Robinson, William B, 16th C Journal Winter 97 Vol 28 Issue 4 page 1424, 3pages in all

Raitt, Jill; Church history, Dec 98 Vol 67 Issue 4, page789, 2 pages

Ryrie, Alec; Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Jan 99 Vol 50 Issue 1, page 163.

copyright Tonya Marvin 2000

Last update: Wednesday, December 13, 2000 at 9:32:37 AM.
Dr. Janet Wright Starner || Writing Center Director || Assistant Professor/English || Wilkes University