Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

I am currently reading this book. I have always been fascinated with Henry the VIII and his family. My ninth grade English teacher recommended this book, and I have just now gotten around to reading it. There has been a lot of Tudor related literature pop up in the past year. The movie "The Other Boleyn Girl," the series on TV "The Tudors," it is all so interesting. I am not usually good at reading non-fiction. I read to get lost in something, and it is hard for me to fall into non-fiction. But the author of this book also writes fiction books, I have read two of them: The Lady Elizabeth (about Henry and Anne's daughter) and Innocent Traitor (about Lady Jane Grey). Both were very good, so I thought I would give this one a try. I love it, it reads like a novel and I am captivated by it. Since I haven't finished it, here are some little-known facts or some that I found interesting.

  • Anne Boleyn was probably not the harlot most people expect her to be. Only one of the men she was accused with sleeping with confessed. Most of the times she was accused of being with the men, she was pregnant or had just had a miscarriage, making it unlikely she was actually with them.
  • Jane Seymour was courted by Henry VII while Anne Boleyn was still alive. She and Henry were married the day after Anne lost her head.
  • Katherine of Aragon (Henry's first wife) was first married to his brother Arthur who was destined to become King of England. About six months after they were married he died. It was decided then that Katherine would marry Henry, who was younger, but eventually Henry VII tried to get out of the arrangement to make a more attractive marriage. Queen Isabella of Spain (Katherine's mother and the same Isabella in the story of Columbus) had died, and her husband no longer had full control of Spain.
  • Katherine claimed until she died that the marriage between her and Arthur was never consummated. At this time it was believe that if a man were to marry his brother's wife, they would be cursed. Because it turns out that the marriage would not be recognized based on a statement from the Pope, Henry and Katherine were allowed to get married. However, when Henry wished to divorce Katherine, he used her previous marriage to try and say the marriage was never valid.
  • In Henry's eyes, he would have only had two valid marriages, Jane Seymour (who died in childbirth) and Katherine of Parr (who outlived Henry).
  • Katherine Howard was Anne Boleyn's cousin. Sadly, she was also beheaded.
  • Katherine Howard was also Henry's youngest wife, she was 15. The others were at least in their twenties which is unusual in a time when most girls were married by 14.
I do recommend this book to anyone who finds the Tudors interesting. It is a good read.