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Henry claimed he was so repulsed by Anne’s body that he could not fulfill his marital obligations, and to get out of the union, alleged she was still pre-contracted to the Duke of Lorraine’s son because no document could be produced that dissolved the betrothal.

But in her most recent new novel ‘Anna of Kleve’ Weir claims that Henry may have realised his new wife was not a virgin but did not want to cause a scandal or damage his alliance with Cleves by revealing her impropriety.

Weir believes that by the time of his fourth marriage Henry would have been well acquainted with a female body after childbirth and would have recognised the signs.

Henry VIII 'may have divorced Anne of Cleves because she already had a baby with someone else'



Portrait of Anne of Cleves

Sarah Knapton
1 June 2019
The Telegraph

Henry VIII may have set aside his fourth wife Anne of Cleves because she had already conceived a baby with someone else, the author and historian Alison Weir has claimed.

The German aristocrat was Queen of England for just seven months before the marriage was declared unconsummated and annulled in July 1540.

Henry claimed he was so repulsed by Anne’s body that he could not fulfill his marital obligations, and to get out of the union, alleged she was still pre-contracted to the Duke of Lorraine’s son because no document could be produced that dissolved the betrothal.

But in her most recent new novel ‘Anna of Kleve’ Weir claims that Henry may have realised his new wife was not a virgin but did not want to cause a scandal or damage his alliance with Cleves by revealing her impropriety.

Weir believes that by the time of his fourth marriage Henry would have been well acquainted with a female body after childbirth and would have recognised the signs.

Images and descriptions from the time suggest that Anne was a very attractive woman, giving Henry no physical reason to take against his new bride.

Speaking at The Hay Festival, she said: “Was some scandal locked away in Anna’s past? It is inconclusive, and speculative but I think you might find it convincing.”


Alison Weir at the Hay Festival

Weir discovered that on the morning after the wedding night Henry had told several courtiers, including Thomas Cromwell, that he believed Anne was not a virgin.

He confided to Cromwell: “I liked her before not well, but now I like her much less, for I have felt her belly and her breasts and as I can judge, she should be no maid.”

Weir said: “I puzzled for a long time what Henry meant by these remarks. Was he just trying to find a way out? What if he was telling the truth? Henry VIII had had vast experience of women, he’d been married three times and must have known the difference between a female body that had borne children and one that hadn’t.

“A man whose previous wives and mistresses had had between them a total of 15 pregnancies, would surely have been able to recognise the signs. Were Anna’s loose breasts and belly indicative of her being pregnant?

“Loose flesh can be the consequence of losing weight and its common for a bride to lose weight before her wedding. But the other tokens Henry mentions, which included stretch marks, might argue against a more innocent explanation.”

Weir believes that Anne may have been seduced by ‘one of her many cousins’ while living at the court of her brother William V, Duke of Julich-Cleves-Berg, a duchy and state of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany.


Portrait of Henry VIII

Or she may even have been a willing partner to seduction, being the granddaughter of William II of Cleves, dubbed ‘the babymaker’ after siring 63 illegitimate children.

Weir says it is telling that when providing grounds for annulment Henry placed greater reliance on the pre-contracted marriage than he did on non-consummation so that Anna’s body would not be examined, thus revealing a previous pregnancy. Accusing her of fornication would have caused a diplomatic incident with Cleves, Weir concludes.

And unlike Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon, Anne never contested the annulment.

Henry’s 17th century biographer Lord Herbert, who had access to lost sources also later claimed there were ‘secret causes’ why the king had put aside his new wife, which had never come to light at the time.

“Could those secret causes be connected with Henry’s oft-voiced doubts about Anna’s virginity?” said Weir.

“There can be little doubt that if she contested the case he would have used them against her, and that’s why one good reason she did not.”

Anne was also said to be promiscuous after the annulment, but never remarried as potential suitors were dissuaded by ongoing rumours that the king may eventually take back his former bride. There was even gossip she had a secret child by Henry while he was married to Katherine Howard.

After the separation Henry and Anne became close friends, and the king gave her a generous settlement and four of his finest houses, referring to her in documents as his ‘beloved sister.’

Weir also believes she has uncovered a new portrait of Anne, which was found at Hever Castle, in Kent, where Anne lived after her annulment.

“If this portrait is Anne of Cleves it could be it’s an image unknown to historians,” she said.

“It’s highly likely. The sitter is seated in a high statuss chair, high status clothing. She is wearing mourning clothing and no jewellery. Maybe she was mourning the death of Henry VIII.”



https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/201...-baby-someone/