1508/9 - 1537
Married: 1536 - 1537 (Died)
Surviving Children: Edward VI
In May 1536, Henry married Jane Seymour. Unlike his previous wives, Jane never had a coronation and so was never crowned queen. In October 1537, Henry finally got his wish with Jane giving birth to the future King Edward VI. Sadly, Jane died less than two weeks after the birth. While opinion is divided as to what caused her death, it is generally assumed that it was a result of a complication from pregnancy.
Jane was laid to rest in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Upon Henry’s death, he was buried beside her. Their son Edward would die at Greenwich in 1553.
Anne of Cleves
1515 - 1557
Married: Jan. - July 1540 (Annulled)
Surviving Children: None
Following Jane Seymour’s death, Henry spent time in mourning. As time passed, the King and his ministers felt that England needed a foreign ally against the Catholic Church. Hans Holbein the Younger was dispatched to paint a likeness of Anne, with which Henry found favour.
However, on Anne’s arrival to England, Henry expressed concerns that Anne was already married (her figure looked too voluptuous to him for her to be a maiden). While he was eventually convinced that she was free to marry, and the marriage did take place, he was unable to consummate their marriage. The marriage was annulled months later. Anne was given a settlement in compensation for the annulment.
She spent the rest of the king's life in England, maintaining her own household separate from Henry's. Anne, however, kept up friendly relationships with the king and his children for the rest of her life, ultimately outliving both Henry and Edward.
1518x1524 - 1542
Married 1540 - 1542 (Executed)
Surviving Children: None
Next in line to marry King Henry VIII was Katherine Howard – maid of honour to Anne of Cleves. By the time they married in July 1540, Henry was forty-nine years old, while Katherine a young woman (her exact birthdate remains uncertain). No longer a young man, Henry had become corpulent, and an old jousting wound in his leg had opened and caused him much pain.
Katherine was accused of treason for failing to disclose her sexual history prior to her marriage with Henry, and for illicitly meeting with another man during the marriage. Just months after being stripped of her title of queen, Henry had Katherine beheaded in February 1542.
1512 - 1548
Married 1543 - 1547 (Widowed)
Surviving Children: Mary Seymour (died in infancy)
The last of Henry VIII wives was Katherine Parr, who he married in July 1543. She proved to be a kind wife who looked after Henry in his sickness, and a good stepmother to the king’s three children, Mary, Elizabeth and Edward.
Katherine had many ties to the royal family from a young age. She was named after Katherine of Aragon, and the Parr family were close to the original royal couple. Her friendship with Mary, Henry's daughter, was how she eventually met Henry. She is descended from King Edward III - all of Henry's wives were descended in some way from the Plantagenets.
Katherine’s evangelical zeal for Protestantism made her many enemies in Henry’s court who tried to turn the king against her. However, she convinced Henry she was loyal to him. Henry trusted her so much that in the event of his death, he named her Queen Regent. The king died at fifty-five in January 1547.
Though remembered as one of Henry's wives, Katherine has her place in history: with four husbands, Katherine Parr is England's most-married queen. She was also an important patron of letters and the arts, as well as being the first woman to be published under her own name. She was a key early influence on her stepdaughter Elizabeth I.