The Truth About Henry VIII's Wives

Probably one of the most scandalous times in history, or specifically U.K. history, is the reign of Henry VIII. Now Henry VIII had it all: a strong kingdom, good looks, and he could have anyone he wanted. King Henry VIII ruled England for over 30 years in the 16th century, creating the beginnings of the English Renaissance and the revolution of the Protestant Reformation (via History). However, the most famous thing about him was the fact that he had six insane marriages and some even more insane affairs on the side.

The common phrase you hear when you mention Henry VIII's wives is: "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived!" And that's because that's how it went from the first wife to the last, in order. From illicit affairs to secret rendezvous, betrayals to beheadings, King Henry VIII was basically living a soap opera in real life. And that's why people are so enamored with him even today.

He ended up beheading two of his wives

Henry VIII was with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, for over 20 years (1509-1533) and had a daughter together, Mary (via Historic Royal Palaces). However, Henry was hellbent on having a son so he started having affair after affair. Eventually, he found his way to the alluring Anne Boleyn and carried out a seven-year affair. Now Anne said that she would give him a son, only if the king would marry her instead. So what did he do? He literally changed the church in order to divorce Catherine, and be with Anne. Yet, Anne could never conceive a son and ended up giving birth to Elizabeth I. Now, no one really liked Anne so people started rumors that she was having an affair, and so the king chopped off her head for it (via History).

Henry married his third wife, Jane Seymour, almost immediately after Anne Boleyn's death in 1536, and this marriage was short-lived. After a year together, they had a son named Edward, but Jane passed away soon after. Next, he had a short marriage with Anne of Cleves (six months in 1540), then went on to marry again to Catherine Howard (1540-42). This also ended in her head getting chopped off for cheating on him. Henry VIII then ended up with Catherine Parr one year later. Marrying in July 1543, the two stayed together until his death in 1547. So to put it simply, his love life was crazy. But there's a lot more to it, that most people don't know (via History).

Three of the wives were related

Oddly enough, a few of the wives of Henry VIII have another thing in common, besides their ex-husband. Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn had familial ties to two other of Henry's wives. Catherine Howard, the fifth wife, and Boleyn were actually first cousins. Catherine's father, Lord Edmund Howard, was the brother of Anne Boleyn's mother, Lady Elizabeth Howard. However, the two royals never actually met since they had such a large age difference of 15 years. Another morbid tie to one another is that they're the only two wives to be beheaded by King Henry (via

Along with Catherine, Boleyn was also second cousins with another wife, Jane Seymour. However, the two actually hated each other. Seymour was Boleyn's lady-in-waiting, and the two allegedly got in a squabble. Jane had a necklace with a portrait of Henry VIII and Anne lost it (via Factinate).

Apparently, Henry VIII had an affair with Anne's sister and mother

So get ready for this fact, because it's a doozy. Now before Henry VIII met Anne Boleyn, he was actually having a long-term affair with her sister, Mary Boleyn. Now it's unknown how long the affair lasted, but a lot of rumors came out of it. According to The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric William Ives, it was believed that both of her children were sired from Henry VIII.

It doesn't stop there. Apparently, Henry VIII carried out an affair with Anne Boleyn's mother, Elizabeth Boleyn, the Countess of Wiltshire. She was a lady-in-waiting for Elizabeth of York and Catherine of Aragon. And according to the novel Anne Boleyn by Marie-Louise Bruce, apparently, Elizabeth's beauty caught Henry's eye at one point. However, this was mainly hearsay at the time, but it's a little twisted to think about now.

Jane Seymour was the only wife to receive a queen's funeral

In 1547, Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, died due to complications from childbirth after three days of labor. Her stepdaughter, Mary I, and she were extremely close, and Mary ended up acting as the chief mourner. According to Alison Weir's novel The Six Wives of Henry VIII, this meant that for one full year after Jane's death, 29 mourners followed Mary around. The significance of 29 was that it was one for each year of Jane's short life (via Factinate).

Seymour was the only wife to be given a queen's funeral, which meant a beautiful funeral and subsequent burial in a vault under St. George's Chapel in Windsor. Apparently, there were multiple lavish ceremonies in honor of her, along with a mass of people to sing to her resting place 24/7 (via The Freelance History Writer). Along with that, Henry chose to be buried next to her over any other wife or family member.

Anne of Cleves was rewarded for being okay with divorcing Henry VIII

Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, isn't very well known in general. And that's because the couple only lasted a few weeks together. After Jane's untimely death, Henry was single for two years but was awaiting the arrival of his newly betrothed. He originally saw Anne in a painting, but when he saw her in person, it was a different story. Once he caught sight of her, he called her "The Mare of Flanders," which basically means he called her super unattractive. And afterward, asked for a quick annulment (via National Geographic Kids).

But unlike most people, she was 100 percent okay with it. She was more than happy to annul the marriage, and something strange happened. Henry was so shocked that she was OK with it, that he rewarded her. She was given two houses, a generous allowance, and the two ended up being friends (via Owlcation

Henry owned over 70 flutes and wanted to be a musician

Before Henry started loving the lavish life of being a king, he actually wanted to be a musician. Apparently, he thought of being a king as a pit stop before his music career could take off. He loved performing, singing, and composing music. He loved it so much that he actually had a huge collection of musical instruments.

The collection contained over 70 flutes, 70 recorders, 10 trombones, 14 trumpets, and five bagpipes, to name a few. His music career did have some good moments. Allegedly, a song he made called "Pastime with Good Company" became a huge hit and spread across the country (via Music Teacher's Helper).

Along with that, it's said he would create music to seduce his second wife, Anne Boleyn. One legend says that Henry wrote the famous folk song "Greensleeves" anonymously. However, that's never been confirmed, and probably never will (via Factinate).