Monday, March 17, 2014
The German bride
Henry VIII remained wifeless for two years after the death of Jane Seymour. But the need to secure an alliance with countries supporting reformation and a split from the Catholic Church led him to seek a fourth wife. His ambassador in selecting a suitable candidate was portrait painter Hans Holbein, who was commissioned to capture likenesses of various noblewomen.
At the German court of the Duke of Cleves, Holbein painted miniatures of the duke's two sisters, Amelia and Anne. Anne won the beauty contest, and was sent to London for a royal wedding. Holbein must have used a little "artistic license," however, because Henry didn't find his fiancee the least bit attractive--even calling her a "Flanders mare." Henry went through with the marriage ceremony but within six months had obtained an annulment.
It was an amicable split, with Anne gaining the new title of "The King's Sister" and several properties, including Hever Castle, former home of Anne Boleyn's parents. She survived both Henry and his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, and even attended the coronation of Henry's successor, Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon.
This adaptation based on Holbein's portrait sets Anne of Cleves apart from Henry's other wives in one respect: no black veil!