July 28, 1540: King Henry VIII of England, Lord of Ireland marries his fifth wife, Catherine Howard

European Royal History

King Henry VIII considered the matter of the need for a politically aligned marriage. As a new Protestant nation England needed Protestant allies. Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell suggested Anne, the 25-year-old sister of the Duke Wilhelm I-V of Jülich-Cleves-Berg who was seen as an important ally in case of a Roman Catholic attack on England, for the duke fell between Lutheranism and Catholicism.

Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to Cleves to paint a portrait of Anne for the king. Despite speculation that Holbein painted her in an overly flattering light, it is more likely that the portrait was accurate; Holbein remained in favour at court.

Henry VIII, King of England and Lord of Ireland

After seeing Holbein’s portrait, and urged on by the complimentary description of Anne given by his courtiers, the 49-year-old king agreed to wed Anne. However, it was not long before Henry wished to annul the marriage…

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