Visual History of the World




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Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Early Modern Period

16th - 18th century


The smooth transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World," which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas, Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.

Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca. 1490)
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.



The Rise of England



Henry VIII and his wives



Wives of Henry VIII

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

King Henry VIII of England had a total of six wives who became, upon their marriage to the king, his queens consort.

The six wives (queens consort) of King Henry VIII were, in order: Catherine of Aragon (annulled), Anne Boleyn (annulled then beheaded), Jane Seymour (died, childbirth fever), Anne of Cleves (annulled), Catherine Howard (annulled then beheaded), and Catherine Parr. Because annulment legally voids a marriage, technically speaking Henry would have said he only had only 2 "wives", but his marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon was found to be legal and valid during the reign of his daughter Queen Mary I. It is often noted that Catherine Parr "survived him"; in fact Anne of Cleves also survived the king and was the last of his queens to die. Of the six queens, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour each gave Henry one child who survived infancy — two daughters and one son, all three of whom would eventually accede to the throne. They were Queen Mary I, Queen Elizabeth I, and King Edward VI.

Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon (16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536; Spanish: Catalina de Aragón) was Henry's first wife. After the death of Arthur, her first husband and Henry's brother, a papal dispensation was obtained to enable her to marry Henry, though the marriage did not take place until after he came to the throne in 1509. Catherine bore him a daughter in 1516, Mary I, but no sons who survived past infancy since they were miscarriages and stillborn.

Henry, at the time a Roman Catholic, sought the Pope's approval for an annulment on the grounds that his marriage was invalid because Catherine had first been his brother's wife. Henry had begun an affair with Anne Boleyn, who is said to have refused to become his mistress (Henry had already consummated an affair with and then dismissed Anne's sister, Mary Boleyn, and Anne wanted to avoid the same treatment). Despite the pope's refusal, Henry separated from Catherine in 1531. In the face of the Pope's continuing refusal to annul his marriage to Catherine, Henry ordered the highest church official in England, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury to convene a court to rule on the status of his marriage to Catherine. On 23 May 1533 Cranmer ruled the marriage to Catherine null and void. On 28 May 1533 he pronounced the King legally married to Anne Boleyn (with whom Henry had already secretly exchanged wedding vows , probably in late January 1533). This led to the break from the Roman Catholic Church and the later establishment of the Church of England.

Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn (1501/1507–19 May 1536) was the second wife of Henry VIII of England and the mother of Elizabeth I of England. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation. The daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (born Lady Elizabeth Howard), Anne was of nobler birth than either Jane Seymour or Catherine Parr, two of Henry's later wives. She was educated in Europe, largely as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude of France. She returned to England in 1522.

Anne resisted the King's attempts to seduce her and she refused to become his mistress, as her sister, Mary Boleyn, had done. It soon became the one absorbing object of the King's desires to secure a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne. When it became clear that Pope Clement VII was unlikely to give the king an annulment, the breaking of the power of the Roman Catholic Church in England began.

Henry had Thomas Wolsey dismissed from public office and later had the Boleyn family's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer, appointed archbishop of Canterbury. In 1533, Henry and Anne went through a secret wedding service . She soon became pregnant and there was a second wedding service, which took place in London on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and void. Five days later, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be good and valid. Soon after, the pope launched sentences of excommunication against the King and the Archbishop. As a result of Anne's marriage to the King, the Church of England was forced to break with Rome and was brought under the king's control. Anne was crowned Queen Consort of England on 1 June 1533. Later that year, on 7 September, Anne gave birth to a baby girl who would one day reign as Queen Elizabeth. When Anne failed to quickly produce a male heir, her only son being stillborn, the King grew tired of her and a plot was hatched by Thomas Cromwell to do away with her.

Although the evidence against her was unconvincing, Anne was beheaded on charges of adultery, incest, and high treason on 19 May 1536. Following the coronation of her daughter Elizabeth as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe. Over the centuries, Anne has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works. Due to this fact, she has remained in the popular memory and Anne has been called "the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had."

Jane Seymour.
Jane Seymour (c. mid-1508– 24 October 1537) was Henry's third wife. He first became attracted to her while she was one of Anne Boleyn's ladies-in-waiting and it is popularly believed she is the reason he disposed of Anne. After their marriage in 1536, she gave him his only male heir, later Edward VI, but she died shortly after his birth of puerperal fever.

Anne of Cleves.
Anne of Cleves (22 September 1515 – 16 July 1557; German: Anna von Jülich-Kleve-Berg) was Henry's fourth wife, for only six months in 1540, from 6 January to 9 July. Anne of Cleves was a German princess. She has become known as "The Flanders Mare" because the king is said to have disliked her appearance. Her pre-contract of marriage with Francis I, Duke of Lorraine, was cited as grounds for an annulment. Anne agreed to this, claiming that the marriage had not been consummated, and she was given a generous settlement, including Hever Castle, former home of Henry's former in-laws, the Boleyns. She was given the name "The King's Sister", and became a friend to him and his children. She outlived both the King and his last two wives.

Catherine Howard.
Catherine Howard (1520/1525? – 13 February 1542) was Henry's fifth wife 1540–1542, sometimes known as "the rose without a thorn". Henry was informed of her alleged adultery on 1 November 1541. After being deprived of the title of Queen, she was beheaded at the Tower of London. The night before, Catherine spent hours practicing how to lay her head upon the block, and her last words were for mercy for her family and prayers for her soul. She was buried next to her cousin Anne Boleyn.

Catherine Parr.
Catherine Parr (about 1512 – 7 September 1548), also spelled Katharine, was the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII 1543–1547. She has a special place in history as the most married queen of England, having had four husbands in all; Henry was her third spouse. She had been widowed three times in rapid succession. After Henry's death, she married Thomas Seymour, uncle of Edward VI, to whom she had formed an attachment prior to her marriage with Henry. She had one child by Seymour, Mary, and died in childbirth. Mary's history is unknown, but she is believed to have died as a toddler.

A mnemonic for the fates of Henry's wives is "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived". An alternate version is "King Henry the Eighth, to six wives he was wedded: One died, one survived, two divorced, two beheaded." Some may dub these as misleading doggerel, and that Henry was never technically divorced from any of his wives, rather that his marriages to them were annulled. Likewise four marriages — not two — "ended" in annulments.


- Henry sixth wife, Catherine Parr, was probably named after his first wife Catherine of Aragon, as her mother worked in Queen Catherine's service. - All of Henry’s six wives were related to each other in some way, the closest relation being first cousins (Catherine Howard and Anne Boleyn)

- Several of his wives worked in at least one another of his wives' service, Anne Boleyn worked in Catherine of Aragon's service, Jane Seymour worked in Catherine of Aragon's and Anne Boleyn's service, Catherine Howard worked in Anne of Cleves's service.


Henry VIII and his mistresses

Henry VIII also had several mistresses during his marriages. While married to Catherine of Aragon, he had a relationship with 1 Bessie Blount, which lasted around eight years, his friend's wife, 2 Elizabeth Carew, Etiennette de la Baume, 3 Anne Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, 4 Elizabeth Amadas and most famously with 5 Mary Boleyn, the sister of his second wife Anne. During his marriage to Anne, he had a relationship with an unnamed lady, followed by a six-month affair with the Queen's cousin, 6 Mary Shelton before starting a relationship with Jane Seymour. There were also rumours about his relationships with several other women, including the notorious 7 Elizabeth Wyatt, Anne Bassett, 8 Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk and his own son's widow, 9 Mary Howard, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset.

1 Elizabeth Blount (c. 1502 - 1539/1540)[1], who was better known by her nickname of "Bessie", was a mistress of Henry VIII of England.
2 Elizabeth, Lady Carew (born around 1500) was an English courtier during the reign of Henry VIII. Her husband was Henry VIII's close friend Sir Nicholas Carew, an influential statesman who was eventually executed for criticising the king. She was possibly a mistress of Henry VIII.
3 Anne Hastings née Stafford (c. 1483 – 1544) was the youngest daughter of Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and his wife Catherine Woodville. In 1510, her affair with King Henry VIII was the subject of a scandal at court.[
4 Elizabeth Amadas (died 1532) was a lady at the royal court of King Henry VIII of England who was accused of treason, and who claimed to have been a mistress of the King's.
5 Mary Boleyn (c. 1499/1500–19 July 1543) was a member of the English Boleyn family, which enjoyed considerable influence during the reign of King Henry VIII of England.
6 Margaret (Madge) Shelton and Mary Shelton (died 1560) were two sisters in Tudor England, one of whom may have been a mistress of Henry VIII of England.
7 Elizabeth Brooke was the wife of Thomas Wyatt, the poet, and the mother of Thomas Wyatt the younger who led Wyatt's Rebellion against Mary I. She was the sister of George Brooke, 9th Baron Cobham and was considered a possible candidate for the sixth wife of Henry VIII of England.[1]
8 Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, suo jure 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby (22 March 1519 - 19 September 1580), was a noblewoman living at the English courts of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and later, Queen Elizabeth I. An outspoken adherent of the reformed Protestant religion, she fled abroad to Wesel and later Poland during the reign of Queen Mary I.
9 Mary FitzRoy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset (1519- 7 December 1557), formerly Lady Mary Howard, was an English duchess of the Tudor period.

Portrait of Anne Hastings née Stafford (c. 1483 – 1544), c. 1535, by Ambrosius Benson
Drawing of Mary, Lady Heveningham, (Margaret Shelton and Mary Shelton, died 1560) by
Hans Holbein the younger
Catherine Willoughby, drawing by
Hans Holbein the younger
Sketch of the Mary FitzRoy, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset by
Hans Holbein the younger



Catherine of Aragon
queen of England

born Dec. 16, 1485, Alcalá de Henares, Spain
died Jan. 7, 1536, Kimbolton, Huntingdon, Eng.

first wife of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47). The refusal of Pope Clement VII to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine triggered the break between Henry and Rome and led to the English Reformation.

Catherine was the youngest daughter of the Spanish rulers Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. In 1501 she married Prince Arthur, eldest son of King Henry VII of England. Arthur died the following year, and shortly afterward she was betrothed to Prince Henry, the second son of Henry VII. But subsequent rivalry between England and Spain and Ferdinand’s refusal to pay the full dowry prevented the marriage from taking place until her fiancé assumed the throne as Henry VIII in 1509. For some years the couple lived happily. Catherine matched the breadth of her husband’s intellectual interests, and she was a competent regent while he was campaigning against the French (1512–14).

Between 1510 and 1518 Catherine gave birth to six children, including two sons, but all except Mary (later queen of England, 1553–58) either were stillborn or died in early infancy. Henry’s desire for a legitimate male heir prompted him in 1527 to appeal to Rome for an annulment on the grounds that the marriage had violated the biblical prohibition against a union between a man and his brother’s widow. Catherine appealed to Pope Clement VII, contending that her marriage to Henry was valid because the previous marriage to Arthur had never been consummated.

For seven years the Pope avoided issuing the annulment because he could not alienate Catherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman emperor Charles V. Finally Henry separated from Catherine in July 1531. On May 23, 1533—five months after he married Anne Boleyn—he had his own archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, annul the marriage to Catherine. Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy repudiating all papal jurisdiction in England and making the king head of the English church. Although Catherine had always been loved by the English people, Henry forced her to spend her last years isolated from all public life.


Catherine as a girl, by Juan de Flandes painted from life in 1485


Catherine  by Michael Sittow


Young Catherine of Aragon, by Michel Sittow


Catherine of Aragon




Anne Boleyn
queen of England
Boleyn also spelled Bullen
born 1507?
died May 19, 1536, London, Eng.

second wife of King Henry VIII of England and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. The events surrounding the annulment of Henry’s marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and his marriage to Anne led him to break with the Roman Catholic church and brought about the English Reformation.

Anne’s father was Sir Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde. After spending part of her childhood in France, she returned to England in 1522 and lived at Henry’s court and drew many admirers. A desired marriage with Lord Henry Percy was prevented on Henry’s order by Cardinal Wolsey, and at some undetermined point the king himself fell in love with her.

In 1527 Henry initiated secret proceedings to obtain an annulment from his wife, the aging Catherine of Aragon; his ultimate aim was to father a legitimate male heir to the throne. For six years Pope Clement VII, under pressure from Henry’s rival Charles V, refused to grant the annulment, but all the while Henry’s passion for Anne was strengthening his determination to rid himself of his queen. About Jan. 25, 1533, Henry and Anne were secretly married. The union was made public on Easter of that year, and on May 23 Henry had the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, pronounce the marriage to Catherine null and void. In September Anne gave birth to a daughter, the future queen Elizabeth I.

Anne’s arrogant behaviour soon made her unpopular at court. Although Henry lost interest in her and began liaisons with other women, the birth of a son might have saved the marriage. Anne had a miscarriage in 1534, and in January 1536 she gave birth to a stillborn male child. On May 2, 1536, Henry had her committed to the Tower of London on a charge of adultery with various men and even incest with her own brother. She was tried by a court of peers, unanimously convicted, and beheaded on May 19. On May 30 Henry married Jane Seymour. That Anne was guilty as charged is unlikely; she was the apparent victim of a temporary court faction supported by Thomas Cromwell.



Anne Boleyn


Anne Boleyn


Portrait of a Woman, inscribed "Anna Bollein Queen",
Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1532–36.


Queen Anne Boleyn


Anne Boleyn  and
Mary Boleyn in the Tower
by Edouard Cibot

Anne Boleyn in the Tower by Edouard Cibot (detail)




Mary Boleyn

Mary Boleyn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mary Boleyn (c. 1499/1500–19 July 1543) was a member of the English Boleyn family, which enjoyed considerable influence during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. Mary was the sister of Queen consort Anne Boleyn; some historians claim she was the younger sister, but her children believed Mary was the elder sister, as do most historians today.

Mary was one of the mistresses of King Henry VIII and allegedly had two of his children. Mary was also, allegedly, a mistress of Henry VIII's rival, King Francis I of France.

Early life
Mary was born at Blickling Hall, Norfolk and grew up at Hever Castle, Kent. She was the daughter of a wealthy diplomat and courtier, Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard. There is no concrete evidence of her exact date of birth, but it was sometime between 1499 and 1508. Most scholars and historians now favour an earlier date of about 1499. There is firm documentary evidence to suggest that she was also the eldest of the three Boleyn children who survived infancy. The evidence suggests that the surviving Boleyns believed Mary to have been the eldest child; in 1597, her grandson, Lord Hunsdon, claimed the title of “Earl of Ormonde” on the grounds that he was the Boleyns’ legitimate heir. According to the strict rules of aristocratic inheritance, if Anne had been the elder sister, the title would have belonged to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth—since a title descended through the eldest female line in the absence of a surviving male line.

It was once believed that it was Mary who began her education abroad and spent time as a companion to Archduchess Margaret of Austria; but it is now clear that it was her sister, Anne. Mary was kept in England for most of her childhood.

It was not until 1514 that she was sent abroad. Her father secured her a place as maid-of-honour to the King’s sister, Princess Mary Tudor, who was going to Paris to marry King Louis XII of France. After a few weeks, many of the Queen's English maids were ordered to leave but Mary Boleyn was permitted to remain, probably because of her father's position as the new English ambassador. Even when Mary Tudor left France after her husband’s death on 1 January 1515, Mary Boleyn remained at the court of Louis' successor, Francis I of France and his queen Claude of France.

Royal affair in France
Mary was joined in Paris by her father, Sir Thomas, and also her sister, Anne, who had been studying in the Netherlands for the last year. Mary supposedly embarked on several affairs, perhaps including one with King Francis I himself. Although some historians believe that the reports of her sexual escapades are greatly exaggerated, the French king referred to her as "The English Mare" and as "una grandissima ribalda, infame sopra tutti" ("a great prostitute, infamous above all").

She returned to England in 1519, where she was given the position of maid-of-honour to Catherine of Aragon.

Royal mistress
Soon after her return, Mary was married to Sir William Carey, a wealthy and well-connected courtier, on February 4, 1520, and Henry VIII was a guest at the couple's wedding ceremony. At some point, Henry VIII and Mary began an affair, although the timing is unclear. The affair was never publicized, and Mary never enjoyed the kind of fame, wealth and power that acknowledged mistresses in France and other countries sometimes had. The affair is believed to have ended prior to the birth of Mary's second child, Henry Carey, in March 1526. Her first child, Catherine was born in 1524.

During the affair or sometime after, it was rumored that one or both of Mary's children were fathered by the king. One witness noted that Mary's son, Henry Carey, bore a resemblance to Henry VIII. John Hale, Vicar of Isleworth, some ten years after the child was born, remarked that he had met a,'young Master Carey," who was the king's purported bastard child. No other contemporary evidence exists to support the argument that Henry was the king’s biological son.

Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, had previously been married to Henry's elder brother Arthur, but Arthur had died only a few months later, when he was a little over 15 years old. Henry later used that fact as the justification for the annulment of his marriage to Catherine, on the grounds that her marriage to Arthur (assuming it was consummated) created an affinity between Henry and Catherine. When Mary Boleyn became Henry's mistress, a similar affinity existed between Henry and Anne. According to church law, because Mary had been Henry's mistress, the subsequent marriage of Henry to Mary's sister was just as illegal as that of Henry to Catherine of Aragon. As Henry was a man who was educated in theology, it is likely that he was aware of this impediment.

Sister’s rise to power
Mary Boleyn's sister, Anne, returned to England in January 1522, achieving considerable popularity at the royal court. The sisters were not particularly close and Anne moved in different social circles.

Although Mary was alleged to have been more attractive than her sister, Anne seems to have been more ambitious and intelligent. When the king took an interest in her, she refused to become his mistress, being shrewd enough to wait give in to his sexual advances until it was the most advantageous. By the middle of 1527, Henry was determined to marry her. This gave him further incentive to seek the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

A year later, when Mary's husband died during an outbreak of sweating sickness, Henry granted Anne Boleyn the wardship of her nephew, Henry Carey. Mary's husband had left her with considerable debts, and Anne arranged for Henry to be educated at a respectable Cistercian monastery. Anne interceded to secure Mary a small annual pension of £100.

Second marriage
In 1532, when Anne accompanied Henry to Calais on a state visit to France, Mary was one of her companions. Anne was crowned Queen on June 1, 1533 and gave birth to her first daughter (later to become Queen Elizabeth I) on 7 September. In 1534, Mary secretly married soldier William Stafford. Because Stafford was a commoner with a small income, most historians believe their union to have been a love match. When the marriage was discovered, Anne was furious, and the Boleyn family disowned her for marrying beneath her station; the couple were banished from the royal court.

Mary's financial circumstances became so desperate that she was reduced to begging the king’s adviser Thomas Cromwell to speak to Henry and Anne on her behalf. Henry, however, was indifferent to her plight; so, Mary asked Cromwell to speak to her father, her uncle, and her brother, but to no avail. It was Anne who relented, sending Mary a magnificent golden cup and some money, but still refusing to receive her at court. This partial reconciliation was the closest the two sisters came, since it is not thought that they met after Mary's court exile.

Mary's life between 1534 and her sister's execution on May 19, 1536 is difficult to trace. There is no record of her visiting her parents, nor did she visit her sister Anne or her brother George Boleyn when the latter was imprisoned in the Tower of London. There is also no evidence that she sent correspondence. Like their uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, she may have thought it wise to avoid association with her now-disgraced relatives.

Mary and her husband remained outcasts, living in retirement at Rochford in Essex. After Anne’s execution, their mother retired from the royal court, dying in seclusion just two years later; her father, Thomas, died the following year. After the deaths of her parents, Mary inherited some property in Essex. She seems to have lived out the rest of her days in anonymity and relative comfort with her second husband. She died in her early forties, on July 19, 1543.




Jane Seymour
queen of England

born 1509?, England
died Oct. 24, 1537, Hampton Court, London

third wife of King Henry VIII of England and mother of King Edward VI. She succeeded—where Henry’s previous wives had failed—in providing a legitimate male heir to the throne.

Jane’s father was Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall, Savernake, Wiltshire. She became a lady in waiting to Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and then to Anne Boleyn, who married the King in 1533. Henry probably became attracted to Jane in 1535, when he visited her father at Wolf Hall, but, though willing to marry him, she refused to be his mistress. That determination undoubtedly helped bring about Anne Boleyn’s downfall and execution (May 19, 1536). On May 30, 1536, Henry and Jane were married privately.

During the remaining 17 months of her life Jane managed to restore Mary, Henry’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon, to the King’s favour. Mary was a Roman Catholic, and some scholars have interpreted Jane’s intercession to mean that she had little sympathy with the English Reformation. The future Edward VI was born on Oct. 12, 1537, but, to Henry’s genuine sorrow, Jane died 12 days later.

Jane’s family enjoyed Henry’s favour until the end of his reign. On the accession of Edward VI to the throne, Jane’s brother, Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, became regent as lord protector with the title duke of Somerset. Another brother, Thomas Seymour of Sudeley, was lord high admiral from 1547 to 1549.


Jane Seymour




Anne of Cleves
queen of England

born Sept. 22, 1515
died July 16, 1557, London

fourth wife of King Henry VIII of England. Henry married Anne because he believed that he needed to form a political alliance with her brother William, duke of Cleves, who was a leader of the Protestants of western Germany. He thought the alliance was necessary because in 1539 it appeared that the two major Roman Catholic powers, France and the Holy Roman Empire, were about to join together to attack Protestant England. That threat prompted Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, to arrange the marriage to establish ties between England and the Lutheran enemies of the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V.

On Jan. 1, 1540, Anne arrived in England to meet her fiancé for the first time. Five days later the wedding took place. Henry was keenly disappointed, Anne being less attractive than he had been led to expect, and he soon came to resent her lack of sophistication and limited command of the English language.

When the alliance between the Catholic powers failed to materialize, the marriage became a political embarrassment and was annulled by an Anglican convocation (July 9, 1540). Anne acquiesced and was rewarded with a large income, on the condition that she remain in England. She lived at Richmond or Bletchingley, with occasional visits to court, until her death.


Anne of Cleves, by
Hans Holbein the younger, 1539


Anne of Cleves




Catherine Howard
queen of England

died Feb. 13, 1542, London

fifth wife of King Henry VIII of England. Her downfall came when Henry learned of her premarital affairs.

Catherine was one of 10 children of Lord Edmund Howard (died 1539), a poverty-stricken younger son of Thomas Howard, 2nd duke of Norfolk. Henry VIII first became attracted to the young girl in 1540, when he was seeking to end his politically motivated marriage to Anne of Cleves, to whom Catherine was a maid of honour. He had his marriage to Anne annulled on July 9, and on July 28 Henry and Catherine were privately married. He publicly acknowledged her as queen on August 8.

For the next 14 months Henry appeared to be much enamoured of his bride. But in November 1541, he learned that before their marriage Catherine had had affairs: Henry Mannock, a music teacher; Francis Dereham, who had called her his wife; and her cousin, Thomas Culpepper, to whom she had been engaged. After her marriage to Henry, Catherine had made Dereham her secretary, and it is probable—though still unproved—that she had committed adultery with Culpepper.

The king, initially incredulous, became incensed with these revelations. On Feb. 11, 1542, Parliament passed a bill of attainder declaring it treason for an unchaste woman to marry the king. Two days later Catherine was beheaded in the Tower of London.


Portrait miniature of Catherine Howard,
Hans Holbein the younger


Catherine Howard by
Hans Holbein the younger


Catherine Howard by Hans Holbein the younger




Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr

queen of England

born 1512
died September 7, 1548

sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII of England (ruled 1509–47).

Catherine was a daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendall, an official of the royal household. She had been widowed twice—in marriages to Edward Borough (died c. 1529) and to John Neville, Lord Latimer (died 1542 or 1543)—by the time she married Henry on July 12, 1543. Her tactfulness enabled her to exert a beneficial influence on the king during the last years of his reign. She developed close friendships with the three children Henry had by previous marriages and devoted herself to their education. A humanist, she was friendly with Protestant reformers. Timely access to the king saved her from conservatives, especially Stephen Gardiner, who were bent on her destruction in 1546.

After Henry’s death in January 1547 Catherine married a former suitor, Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, who was admiral of England from 1547 to 1549, but she died shortly after giving birth to a daughter. A learned and deeply religious woman, she wrote A Lamentacion or Complaynt of a Sinner in the last year of her life.



Catherine Parr
by William Scrots


Catherine Parr


Catherine Parr



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