In today’s Key Stage 3 History blog on the Tudors we look at the story of Henry VII and his six wives.
My father was the definitive Tudor. He was strong, charismatic, intelligent – and a bit of a romantic. So romantic he worked his way through six wives! He married the first when he was only seventeen. Catherine of Aragon. She had been married to his older brother, Arthur, but when Arthur died young, she married Father. I’ve heard she deeply loved him but as she made life very difficult for my mother I have no sympathy. She had one child, my sister Mary, but no sons. And my father desperately wanted a son to inherit his throne.
That was when he met my mother, the beautiful Anne Boleyn. They fell in love so Father divorced Catherine so he could marry her. I was born soon after. Now, I know I was a grave disappointment. I was, after all, a girl and not the longed for boy. But Father could see that I was a true Tudor. I had the Tudor looks and the intelligence and even though he was sometimes horrible to me, I know he loved me the best of all his children in the end.
But Mother did not have a son. So my father accused her of having affairs with several other men. She was found guilty and was beheaded when I was two. I don’t really remember her. But I do remember every step-mother that followed.
Mother was replaced by Jane Seymour. I think my father truly loved her. And she was the wife who gave him a son, my brother Edward. But she died giving birth to him.
Father was heartbroken. But he wanted another son. He arranged a marriage with Anne of Cleves because he saw a painting of her and thought she looked pretty. Unfortunately for her, paintings don’t always tell the truth. She was ugly. And she didn’t speak English. So Father divorced her almost as soon as the wedding was over.
By now he had fallen for the charms of Catherine Howard. She was one of Anne of Cleve’s ladies-in-waiting. He was in his forties, she was fifteen. An unlikely match, I’m sure you’ll agree. And she proved totally untrustworthy. She wasn’t at all faithful to him and when Father discovered that she was having an affair, he had her beheaded, just like my mother.
And finally there was another lady-in-waiting, Katherine Parr. She really looked after him, And he died before her, so she survived.
People remember Father’s wives like this – Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived. Quite an eventful life, don’t you think?