LOVES of the King

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The Many Loves
of King Henry VIII's Life

Do you have a picture depicting the King showing love from the series?
Add it to the Photo album for the slideshows for each love
by clicking "photos" on the top bar & "albums".

See also :
Mistresses of the Kingpage
and Timeline of the King's Wives page

(no doubles & sized as other pics
and the timeline should have dates)

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Historian Lucy Wooding in her 2009 book "Henry VIII" when speaking of Henry's legacy says :

In "personal terms, he failed to secure the loyal marriage which he had idealized and felt himself betrayed by a succession of those closest to him. In particular, he was failed by the two wives he most dearly loved...The turbulent years of the 'King's Great Matter' were a watershed for Henry, betrayed by Queen Katherine of Aragon and Queen Anne Boleyn in turn. Katherine, who had always been so quiescent, angered and appalled the king by her resistance to his attempts to declare their marriage a sham. Anne, who had so beguiled and bewitched him and who was surely the great love of his life, despite all his efforts had failed to make him happy, to give him a son, to be devoted and supportive once they were married, rather than tempestuous, jealous and flirtatious. This succession of bitter minor betrayals from the woman for whom he had done so much surely prepared the way for him to believe that she had also betrayed him in sordid, multiple and incestuous adultery."

Queen Katherine of Aragon
First Love
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Short timeline of Romance:
  • Betrothed at 18 to 12 year old Henry - 1503, after the sudden death of her husband & Henry's older brother, Arthur.
  • Henry VII sends Katherine from court because she and the 15 year old Prince Henry are spending too much time together getting too close to each other, this isn't good for the King as he is trying to marry Henry off to Eleanor of Austria c. 1506
  • Henry says that he "Desires her [Katherine] above all other women and longs to wed her". In 1509 18 year old Henry marries 23 year old Katherine.
  • A son is born & Henry has "never been so in love" with his queen (Starkey) - 1511 but sadly their son dies 52 days later
  • Rumours of an affair with Anne Stafford, Lady Hastings [[[Anna Buckingham]]] swirl at court c. 1510 - 13
  • 6 or 7 pregnancies between 1509 - 1518 takes its toll on Katherine's looks
  • Henry takes two mistresses Elizabeth Blount c. 1514 - 1518 & Mary Boleyn c.1521-1525
  • Henry stops visiting her bed in 1524
*Click here for more detailed timeline

History of Romance & quote source:
  • "In the first 6 years of her marriage to Henry, Katherine was 'lively and gracious'. She was young and pretty and sometimes flighty, She presided over jousts and the Court of Love. She was a powerful political influence on the King, and, for a few months, she ruled England as regent. She showed herself able, at least as able as Henry, and under her regency Tudor England won its greatest military victory before the Armada. She was religious. But the God she worshipped was the God of Battles. In her thirties, Katherine lost most of this. She lost her looks, her political power and her husband's love. She had also failed to give him a son. But she found something that replaced them all: the love of God. She also retained the love of the people. For like her, most Tudor women lost their looks and their figures in child bearing. And many took to religion as consolation. The difference was that Katherine performed on a wider stage." - David Starkey's Six Wives
  • "On 11 June 1509, fifty days after Henry VII's death, Henry and Katherine were married and they had a spectacular joint coronation. Henry wrote to his father-in-law that 'My wife and I be in good and perfect love as any two creatures can be'. This appears to have been more than mere flattery, but any passion from Henry's side seems to have evaporated within the first five years of marriage. Yet chivalry, admiration, friendship and respect for her lineage remained. Katherine was a significant influence on Henry, particularly in the early years of their marriage, although his respect for her opinion was partly based on the usefulness of the alliance between England and Spain. Katherine was devoted, from the beginning of her marriage, to the young man who had rescued her after six years of insult and deprivation. Her obvious attachment to her husband was touching and pleased the court. Katherine has been described as Henry's first love; she was certainly the first woman he publicly displayed affection for. Her good looks and exotic appeal may have encouraged Henry to marry her without worrying about the rest of the dowry or the theological objection to marrying one's brother's widow. Henry is said to have bragged openly at court about how his wife had been a virgin on their wedding night, which later he dismissed as 'spoke in jest, as a man jesting and feasting says many things which are not true'. Doubts about their marriage would come later, when Katherine was older and unattractive" ~ Kelly Hart The Mistresses of Henry VIII (2009)

  • "I am yours, Henry R, forever" - Written by Henry in a gift of a beautifully illuminated book which had once been his mother's, which he gave to Katherine.
Mistress Elizabeth (Bessie) Blount
Playful Passion
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Actress : Ruta Gedmintas

Short Timeline of Romance:
  • At 23 Henry first 'notices' a very young Bessie (possibly 12/13 years old) at a Christmas Mummery - 1514
  • She becomes his first 'official' mistress c.1516
  • Gives birth to an illegitimate Son Henry Fitzroy in 1519 (she is approximately 18 years old)

History of Romance & Source:
  • " The first [mistress] was the young, talented and exquisitely beautiful Elizabeth Blount. She became Henry's mistress soon after her arrival at Court as one of the Queen's Ladies in 1513 and in 1519 she gave him a son, Henry Fitzroy. Six years later, as we have seen, Henry recognised the boy and created him Duke of Richmond. But the birth marked the beginning of the end of the love affair: babies, Henry seems to have felt, were for wives and not for mistresses, who should inhabit a more ethereal realm of chivalric fantasy.- David Starkey's Six Wives

  • Bessie was approximately 17 when she reached the height of her power in 1518. However in 1514, Henry danced with her so much that even the docile and accepting Queen Katherine of Aragon was so jealous that she persuaded Henry to exclude her from the Twelfth Night festivities. By 1517 the king was reputed to be in the chains of love with her,” and in the spring of 1519, Bessie gave birth to a son who was Henry Fitzroy (son of the king). Once she had fulfilled her main purpose, she was married off to Gilbert Tailboys, 1st Baron Tailboys of Kyme, one of his courtiers whose family was said to have a history of insanity, and was remembered fondly by Henry with the occasional New Years gift

Lady Mary Boleyn
Amourous Affair
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Short Timeline of the Romance:

  • From the ages of 15 - 19, Mary was at the French court of Francis I who described her as "a great prostitute, infamous above all" & "the English Mare" 1514- 1519
  • Rumours were that she was recalled home due to her affairs with various men at the French court, including Francis I.c.1519
  • A marriage to Sir William Carey was arranged in 1520. Their marriage was attended by the 29 year old King.
  • Exact dates are hazy but it is thought she was the King's mistress circa 1521 - 1525 (ages 22 - 26)

History of the Romance & Source:
  • "In 1522, Elizabeth Blount, with Wolsey's help was married off...At the same time, Henry transferred his affections to a new mistress; Mary, elder sister of Anne Boleyn. Mary was married to William Carey, one of the king's favourite Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber.......Carey became a rich man; while Thomas Boleyn was made Viscount Rochford.These transactions might seem to turn Mary into the merest prostitute, with her husband and father as her pimps. But Mary, if her later behaviour is anything to go by, had been in love with Henry, and being in love, had done what came naturally." - David Starkey's Six Wives

Queen Anne Boleyn

Grand Passion
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Short Timeline of the Romance:
  • Anne returns to England from France in 1521 (she is approximately 20 years old)
  • She debuts in court at a pageant, the "Chateau Vert" as "Perseverance"where Henry first sees her. March 1522
  • She is secretly betrothed to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland's son in c. 1523
  • Henry through Wolsey splits up the romance and Anne is sent from court returning mid 1525
  • By 1526, Henry is besotted with Anne and writes a series of love letters to her for over a year.Henry offers her the title of "Maitresse en titre" (Official Mistress) which she refuses saying her "maidenhead belongs to my husband" (see : Anne Boleyn Controversies page )
  • Anne relents after Henry offers her marriage and they become secretly betrothed to each other.- New Year 1527
  • For 6 years from 1527 - 1533, there ensued an extraordinary period of time where the King had only eyes for Anne with no hint of any other mistresses.
  • Some historians believe they were married in secret in November 1532 however by January 25, 1533 they had officially married. It is probable that Anne was pregnant by then. (she is approximately 31 years old and Henry is 42)
  • King Henry considered his marriage to Katherine was never sanctified by God and it was officially annulled May 23, 1533.
  • Anne was crowned Queen of England on June 1st, 1533
  • She gave birth to Princess Elizabeth on September 7 1533.
  • After two miscarriages, Anne fell out of favour with the King and when Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex joined with the catholic faction to bring down the reformist faction, she was arrested and found guilty of adultery and incest which was a treasonable offense for a queen in May 1536 and beheaded. Their marriage was also annulled 2 days prior strangely making the offenses null.

History of the Romance & Source:

  • "Anne kept Henry in suspense for over a year. He cajoled and pleaded. He made promises and gave gifts. Above all he wrote letters.... These letters......belong to the fantastical world of the masques and revels where Henry had first glimpsed Anne. It is the realm of Courtly Love, with its conventions, its artifice and its elaborate games with words. Henry's previous extra marital relationships, with Elizabeth Blount and with Mary Boleyn, had remained at this level. But, at some point, Anne wrought an alchemy. She turned Henry's stilted sighs into real passion. She made him, for the first and last time in his life, fall properly in love. Like his rival Wyatt , he experienced the vicissitudes of passion: 'now joy, now woe' He burned for fulfilment - in vain. And the least patient of men, he had to school himself to wait." - David Starkey's Six Wives

  • "My mistress and friend: I and my heart put ourselves in your hands, begging you to have them suitors for your good favour, and that your affection for them should not grow less through absence. For it would be a great pity to increase their sorrow since absence does it sufficiently, and more than ever I could have thought possible reminding us of a point in astronomy, which is, that the longer the days are the farther off is the sun, and yet the more fierce. So it is with our love, for by absence we are parted, yet nevertheless it keeps its fervour, at least on my side, and I hope on yours also: assuring you that on my side the ennui of absence is already too much for me: and when I think of the increase of what I must needs suffer it would be well nigh unbearable for me were it not for the firm hope I have and as I cannot be with you in person, I am sending you the nearest possible thing to that, namely, my picture set in a bracelet, with the whole device which you already know. Wishing myself in their place when it shall please you. This by the hand of Your loyal servant and friend" H. Rex <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"></a>

Queen Jane Seymour

A Perfect Match
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Short Timeline of the Romance:
  • Jane had been at court for more than 6 years serving as lady-in-waiting to both Queen Katherine of Aragon and Queen Anne Boleyn
  • While Queen Anne Boleyn was pregnant, the King stayed at Wolf Hall (the Seymour home) during a hunt and that may have been where he first noticed Jane . (Jane was approximately 26 years old & Henry was 44)- November 1535
  • Henry has a jousting accident and lays unconscious for 2 hours and Queen Anne Boleyn loses her baby 5 days later - January 1536
  • Ambassador Chapuys writes that Henry has a "new love" in February 1536
  • The betrothal of Henry and Jane is announced the day after Anne is executed May 20, 1536
  • Jane Seymour was proclaimed Queen on June 4, 1536 though she was never actually crowned due to a plague in London although some say it was because Henry wanted to make sure that she fulfilled her duty by giving him a son.
  • On October 12 1537 Jane gives birth to a son Edward VI.
  • Jane dies on October 24, 1537 (aged 28). Henry was said to have worn all black for three months and did not remarry for another three years. She is the only wife to be buried by his side.
  • Even when Henry had married his other wives, Jane's image continued to appear in royal dynastic portraits as Queen Consort because she was the mother of the heir to the throne.

History of the Romance & Source:

  • "For Henry, as we have seen, being in love, or at least being able to imagine himself in love, was a prerequisite for marriage. But he tended to fall in love with a woman only when he was falling out of love with another one. It was thus that Anne succeeded Catherine and thus in turn, as her own star waned, that Anne had been displaced by Jane. But Jane died while Henry was still in love with her -- or, at least , not much out of it. Moreover, the fact that she died giving him a son meant that he came to love her more dead than alive. In these circumstances, the machinery of love on the rebound did not come into play and the post of Queen lay vacant". David Starkey's Six Wives.

Queen Katherine Howard
A Mad Infatuation
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Short Timeline of the Romance:

  • Katherine arrived at court in early 1540 or late 1539 as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves. (aged approx 15/18)
  • Henry and Katherine were married July 28, 1540.
  • By a spring of 1541, rumours were circulating around court about an affair between Katherine and Thomas Culpepper and by the summer, Thomas Cranmer was investigating them.
  • November 1541, Henry is informed that her pre-marital life was not "without stain" and she was arrested on the 22nd.
  • December 10, 1541 her alleged lovers, Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham are executed.
  • February 13, 1542 Katherine is beheaded aged approximately 18 - 20 years old. The next day the King celebrates valentine's day without his queen.

History of the Romance & Source:

  • " the winter of 1541-2, the ambassador [Chapuys] had known Henry for a dozen years. He had seen him change from a fit, if florid, forty-year-old to the prematurely aged and bloated monster he had become a decade later. He had witnessed his reaction to Anne Boleyn's execution and to Jane Seymour's death. But he had never seen him behave as he did over Catherine Howard. 'This King', he reported on 3 December 1541, 'has wonderfully felt the case of the Queen, his wife.' 'He has certainly shown', he continued 'greater sorrow and regret at her loss than at the faults, loss or divorce of his preceding wives'. ,, Indeed, the contrast was so great that Chapuys felt the need to offer what we might call a little psychology to explain it. He did so by means of a homely comparison. 'I should say'. he wrote. 'that the King's case resembles very much that of a woman who cried more bitterly at the loss of her tenth husband than she had cried on the death of the other nine put together, through all of though all of them had been equally worthy people and good husbands to her.' 'The reason', Chapuy's tale continued. '[was] that she had never buried one of them without being sure of the next. But after the tenth husband she had no other one in view, hence her sorrow and her lamentation.' 'Such', Chapuys concluded, 'is the case with this King, who does not seem to have any plan or female friend to fall back upon.' It can be put more simply. Previously, with the exception of that ever-sainted Jane Seymour, Henry had abandoned his wives. Now, he felt, a wife had abandoned him. He did not like it." - David Starkey's Six Wives

Queen Catherine Parr
Perfect Companions

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Short Timeline of the Romance:

  • 1542 - Catherine was in a "love match" with Thomas Seymour but this was broken up when she caught the king's eye and she saw it as God's calling to marry the King.
  • They were married on July 12, 1543. All the royal children were present for the ceremony.(she is 31 and he is 52)
  • Summer 1546 - an arrest warrant is issued for her reformist ways but she manages to survive this by appealing to the King.
  • Henry dies on January 28, 1547 and Catherine marries Thomas Seymour in May of the same year.

History of the Romance & Source:

  • Although the distance of time and account of days neither is long nor many of your majesty's absence, yet the want of your presence, so much desired and beloved by me, maketh me that I cannot quietly pleasure in anything until I hear from your majesty. The time, therefore, seemeth to me very long, with a great desire to know how your highness hath done since your departing hence, whose prosperity and health I prefer and desire more than mine own. And whereas I know your majesty's absence is never without great need, yet love and affection compel me to desire your presence.
    Again, the same zeal and affection force me to be best content with that which is your will and pleasure. Thus love maketh me in all things to set apart mine own convenience and pleasure, and to embrace most joyfully his will and pleasure whom I love. God, the knower of secrets, can judge these words not to be written only with ink, but most truly impressed on the heart. Much more I omit, lest it be thought I go about to praise myself, or crave a thank; which thing to do I mind nothing less, but a plain, simple relation of the love and zeal I bear your majesty, proceeding from the abundance of the heart. Wherein I must confess I desire no commendation, having such just occasion to do the same.
    I make like account with your majesty as I do with God for his benefits and gifts heaped upon me daily, acknowledging myself a great debtor to him, not being able to recompense the least of his benefits; in which state I am certain and sure to die, yet I hope in His gracious acceptation of my goodwill. Even such confidence have I in your majesty's gentleness, knowing myself never to have done my duty as were requisite and meet for such a noble prince, at whose hands I have found and received so much love and goodness, that with words I cannot express it. Lest I should be too tedious to your majesty, I finish this my scribbled letter, committing you to the governance of the Lord with long and prosperous life here, and after this life to enjoy the kingdom of his elect.
    From Greenwich, by your majesty's humble and obedient servant,
    Katharine the Queen.
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The Kings Loves