The six wives of King Henry VIII were a disparate group of women united only by their marriages to Bluff King Hal.
There is a famous rhyme describing their various ends:
‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived‘.
Henry’s first wife, Katharine of Aragon, was the youngest child of the ‘Catholic Kings’ of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella; she and Henry were married for over twenty years.
His second wife, Anne Boleyn, was the daughter of an ambitious knight; she was executed after three years of marriage.
His third wife, Jane Seymour, died after less than two years of marriage, having finally produced a son and heir for Henry.
His fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, was divorced mere months after the wedding, for Henry found her unattractive and was already courting his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.
Catherine Howard was executed after less than two years of marriage.
The king settled upon the twice-widowed Katharine Parr as his sixth wife. She outlived the mercurial king.
List of Henry VIII’s Wives in Order
Click on any of the links below to learn more about each of Henry VIII’s six wives.
Catherine of Aragon
In 1509, the wedding of Henry VIII and Catherine took place in a private ceremony in the church of the Observant Friars outside Greenwich Palace. She was 23 years old, and King Henry was just days away from his 18th birthday.
Catherine and Henry had three children together – two sons called Henry who both died in their infancy and Mary.
Henry Divorced Catherine in 1533 because their marriage was “blighted” because it had not produced a male heir.
King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, his second wife, in a secret ceremony at Whitehall Palace in January 1533. Anne was pregnant at the time of the wedding and gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I six months later.
Anne was beheaded in May 1536 on charges of adultery, treason, and inceste.
Henry VIII married Jane Seymour just 11 days after Anne Boleyn’s execution. Jane was the only one of Henry’s wives to give him a son who survived infancy – the future King Edward VI.
Jane died 12 days after the birth of her son from what is believed to have been postpartum complications.
Anne of Cleves
Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves for political reasons in January 1540. The marriage was never consummated and was declared null and void six months later.
Anne was given a generous settlement by the king and was referred to as the “King’s Beloved Sister” for the rest of her life.
Henry VIII married Katherine Howard in July 1540. She was just 19 years old at the time, making her Henry’s youngest wife.
Katherine was beheaded in February 1542 on charges of adultery.
Henry VIII married Catherine Parr in July 1543. She was his sixth and final wife.
Catherine outlived Henry and went on to marry Thomas Seymour after the king’s death.
How many wives did Henry VIII have?
Henry VIII had six wives: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. He divorced two of his wives (Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn), he beheaded two of his wives (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard), and one of his wives (Jane Seymour) died shortly after giving birth. His last wife, Catherine Parr, outlived him.
How many of Henry VIII wives were Executed?
Henry VIII executed two of his wives – Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. Anne Boleyn was charged with adultery, treason, and incest, while Katherine Howard was charged with adultery.
What happened to Henry VIII Wives?
He divorced two of his wives (Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn), he beheaded two of his wives (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard), and one of his wives (Jane Seymour) died shortly after giving birth. His last wife, Catherine Parr, outlived him. An easy rhyme to remember this is – Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "The Six Wives of Henry VIII – Facts, Images & Biographies" https://englishhistory.net/tudor/monarchs/henry-viii-wives/, January 31, 2015