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Episode
32

Henry VIII - The King With Six Wives

First published on
March 3, 2020
History
-
14
minutes
Kings & Queens
UK politics

His 36-year rule saw England break ties with the Catholic church and two of his six wives lose their heads.

Today we're taking a look at Henry VIII of England, and his unfortunate wives.

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Transcript

[00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, the show where you can learn fascinating things about the world while improving your English. 

[00:00:16] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about King Henry the Eighth of England and his six wives. 

[00:00:26] He's probably the most notorious of all of the British monarchs, and today we are going to learn about exactly why that is. 

[00:00:36] Before we get right into it, this is just your usual reminder for those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, iVoox, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts that you can get the transcript and key vocabulary and bonus podcasts over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:56] The transcript also comes in lovely new animating form, so that's a bit like subtitles, and also in PDF form. 

[00:01:03] So do check that out if you haven't done so already. 

[00:01:07] You can find out more at leonardoenglish.com/subscribe. 

[00:01:13] Okay, then, Henry the Eighth and his wives. 

[00:01:16] Now you may know a little bit about Henry the Eighth, or maybe you know nothing.

[00:01:23] If you have heard of him, you probably imagine a huge greasy fat man who had a fondness for executing his wives. 

[00:01:33] Henry the Eighth was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. 

[00:01:40] His 36-year rule saw England break ties with the Catholic church and two of his wives lose their heads. 

[00:01:52] Today we are going to tell the story of exactly how that happened. 

[00:01:57] So let's start with wife number one, Catherine of Aragon.

[00:02:04] When Henry became King in 1509 he was only 17 years old. 

[00:02:10] Within six weeks he had married Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. 

[00:02:20] Catherine was also the widow of Henry's older brother Arthur, who had died seven years before. 

[00:02:30] Henry was very fond of Catherine. 

[00:02:32] It was said that he loved her dearly and she fell pregnant several times. 

[00:02:38] However, she failed to produce a son, the all-important male heir, and the only child to survive from Henry and Catherine's marriage was a daughter, Mary, who was born in February, 1516.

[00:02:57] Henry was pretty obsessed with producing a son and his eyes soon started wandering towards other women who he hoped would be able to provide him with the all-important, much desired, male heir

[00:03:15] He became particularly fond of one of his Queens ladies in waiting - so a lady-in-waiting is a sort of fancy personal assistant - and the lady-in-waiting that he had eyes for was called Anne Boleyn.

[00:03:33] However, Henry couldn't marry another woman, he was already married, and divorce was illegal in the eyes of the Catholic church. 

[00:03:43] One of the only ways in which a marriage could be undone was if it could be proved that the marriage was not valid in the first place. 

[00:03:54] So Henry claimed that his marriage to Catherine was invalid because she had previously consummated her marriage with her ex husband - so consummated means basically that they had had sex - despite Catherine assuring him that they hadn't. 

[00:04:14] Long story short, the Pope refused to annul the marriage and Henry, instead of just deciding that that was fair enough and he should just continue his marriage with Catherine, he broke all ties with the Catholic church, made himself head of the newly formed Church of England, divorced Catherine, and married Anne Boleyn.

[00:04:40] So this brings us on to wife number two, Anne Boleyn. 

[00:04:45] Henry had previously had an affair with Anne's sister, Mary, which I guess isn't necessarily a good way to start off a relationship. 

[00:04:56] In any case, within nine months of getting married Anne Boleyn gave birth to a child.

[00:05:04] However, the child was a girl, Elizabeth. 

[00:05:07] The long-awaited male heir was still eluding him. 

[00:05:13] Anne also fell pregnant several times after that, but had a series of miscarriages and stillborn children. 

[00:05:22] And as you might have gathered or guessed by now, Henry wasn't the most loyal of kings or the most loyal of men, and he started having more affairs

[00:05:36] When Anne cottoned on to this, when she realised what was going on, she got very angry with him and instead of just saying, "yup sorry, that was me. I apologise for that", he accused her of adultery, he accused her of having an affair, and also of treason

[00:05:58] And if there was one thing that you didn't want to do, it was to get on the wrong side of Henry the Eighth, to make him angry.

[00:06:07] And Anne Boleyn got on the wrong side of Henry the Eighth.

[00:06:11] Just three years after they were married, Henry had her beheaded, executed in the Tower of London. 

[00:06:21] And only days after Anne's head was separated from her body, Henry took his third wife, Jane Seymour. 

[00:06:31] Most historians actually believe that Henry and Jane had been having an affair while Henry was still married to Anne Boleyn and that actually it was Jane who had pushed Henry to execute Anne Boleyn, her love rival.

[00:06:50] In any case, they were married for just over a year before Jane gave birth to a son, Henry's third child and his first male heir

[00:07:01] Finally, the long awaited male heir had arrived for the King. 

[00:07:05] Unfortunately, due to problems during childbirth, Jane died 12 days later. 

[00:07:12] Henry was apparently distraught, incredibly upset, and Jane is actually the only one of Henry's wives to be buried beside him. 

[00:07:23] Henry stayed a bachelor, at least from a marriage point of view, for the two years after Jane's death. 

[00:07:31] But then it was on to wife number four.

[00:07:35] One of his advisors had suggested that he sought a European alliance, or European partnership, and had suggested that he marry one of the two daughters of the Duke of Cleves in Germany. 

[00:07:52] Henry agreed to this, but he asked for their pictures so he could choose which one of the daughters to marry. 

[00:08:00] So a kind of 16th century version of Tinder, but if Henry the Eighth swipes right on you, you seem to have a 33% chance of losing your head.

[00:08:14] Anyway, he decided that Anne of Cleves was the more attractive of the daughters, and he agreed to marry her. 

[00:08:22] But when she arrived in England, Henry saw her in real life, in the flesh, and he was furious, saying that she wasn't nearly as attractive as the woman in the picture. 

[00:08:36] He tried to stop the wedding from going ahead, from happening, but he wasn't able to - the arrangements had already gone too far. 

[00:08:46] Reluctantly, he married Anne and nicknamed her "his ugly wife". 

[00:08:53] And the marriage wasn't to last for long. 

[00:08:55] He requested a divorce and they were separated six months later, although it was said that they actually remained on pretty friendly terms even after being separated.

[00:09:08] I guess Anne didn't want to argue with Henry on this one, as she had seen what had happened to his previous wife named Anne. 

[00:09:17] If you've lost track of how many wives we're on now, I wouldn't blame you. 

[00:09:22] This is Anne, Anne of Cleves. 

[00:09:24] This was number four. 

[00:09:27] Almost immediately after the annulment, the cancellation, of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, he married Catherine Howard, who was a beautiful 16 year old - yes, I did say 16 year old - who was also a cousin of Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn. 

[00:09:50] By the time that Henry married Catherine, he was an overweight 49 year old. 

[00:09:57] And he was obsessed with his new young bride, calling her his "rose without a thorn."

[00:10:03] So far so good, the King was in love, but there were rumours that Catherine was unfaithful, that she was having an affair with another man from court

[00:10:17] These rumours did seem to have quite a lot of truth behind them, and Catherine obviously hadn't learned rule number one of being married to Henry the Eighth: don't annoy him, don't get on his wrong side .

[00:10:33] Unfortunately, the rumours were too much for Henry to handle, and 18 months after they were married, Catherine was beheaded, her head chopped off, in exactly the same place as her cousin in the Tower of London. 

[00:10:50] So that was wife number five. 

[00:10:52] One might have thought that Henry would have decided, okay, I'm not having that much luck with marriage.

[00:11:00] I think I'll just leave it there. 

[00:11:03] But you'd be mistaken. 

[00:11:05] A year and a half after wife number five was executed, he took wife number six. 

[00:11:13] But this time he wasn't looking for excitement or love. 

[00:11:16] He was looking for a companion. 

[00:11:19] Someone to nurse him as he grew old. 

[00:11:23] And he settled on Catherine Parr. 

[00:11:25] Another Catherine, but this time, one that was a little more mature and a little more faithful

[00:11:34] For Catherine Parr, things did actually go pretty well. 

[00:11:38] She became a trusted confidant of Henry's and had a large influence on his court

[00:11:45] And most importantly, she managed to escape execution, actually outliving Henry by a year after his death in 1547. 

[00:11:56] So if you need a reminder, because I certainly think I would need a reminder, we had wife number one Catherine of Aragon, divorced. 

[00:12:07] Wife number two, Anne Boleyn, executed

[00:12:11] Wife number three, Jane Seymour, died after complications from childbirth. 

[00:12:18] Wife number four Anne of Cleves, separated after being considered to ugly. 

[00:12:24] Wife number five, Catherine Howard, executed

[00:12:28] And wife number six, Catherine Parr, survived. 

[00:12:33] So is there a moral to this story? 

[00:12:37] Well, I'm not too sure, perhaps you can see one that I can't. 

[00:12:40] I guess the moral at the time was "if Henry the Eighth wants to marry you, you should think very carefully before you say yes".

[00:12:51] Henry the Eighth was evidently a ruthless individual. 

[00:12:56] And being his wife was a very thankless task. 

[00:13:02] Okay that is it for Henry the Eighth and his wives. 

[00:13:07] I hope that this has been an interesting introduction to one of Britain's most famous kings, and of course his mostly unfortunate waves. 

[00:13:17] As a reminder, you can get the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:13:24] The transcript is now nice and animating, so that's a bit like subtitles, but actually cooler because you can press on a word and your browser will give you the definition, which I, for one, thing is pretty neat.

[00:13:38] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:13:42] I'm Alastair Budge and I'll catch you in the next episode. 

[END OF PODCAST]


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[00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, the show where you can learn fascinating things about the world while improving your English. 

[00:00:16] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about King Henry the Eighth of England and his six wives. 

[00:00:26] He's probably the most notorious of all of the British monarchs, and today we are going to learn about exactly why that is. 

[00:00:36] Before we get right into it, this is just your usual reminder for those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, iVoox, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts that you can get the transcript and key vocabulary and bonus podcasts over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:56] The transcript also comes in lovely new animating form, so that's a bit like subtitles, and also in PDF form. 

[00:01:03] So do check that out if you haven't done so already. 

[00:01:07] You can find out more at leonardoenglish.com/subscribe. 

[00:01:13] Okay, then, Henry the Eighth and his wives. 

[00:01:16] Now you may know a little bit about Henry the Eighth, or maybe you know nothing.

[00:01:23] If you have heard of him, you probably imagine a huge greasy fat man who had a fondness for executing his wives. 

[00:01:33] Henry the Eighth was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. 

[00:01:40] His 36-year rule saw England break ties with the Catholic church and two of his wives lose their heads. 

[00:01:52] Today we are going to tell the story of exactly how that happened. 

[00:01:57] So let's start with wife number one, Catherine of Aragon.

[00:02:04] When Henry became King in 1509 he was only 17 years old. 

[00:02:10] Within six weeks he had married Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. 

[00:02:20] Catherine was also the widow of Henry's older brother Arthur, who had died seven years before. 

[00:02:30] Henry was very fond of Catherine. 

[00:02:32] It was said that he loved her dearly and she fell pregnant several times. 

[00:02:38] However, she failed to produce a son, the all-important male heir, and the only child to survive from Henry and Catherine's marriage was a daughter, Mary, who was born in February, 1516.

[00:02:57] Henry was pretty obsessed with producing a son and his eyes soon started wandering towards other women who he hoped would be able to provide him with the all-important, much desired, male heir

[00:03:15] He became particularly fond of one of his Queens ladies in waiting - so a lady-in-waiting is a sort of fancy personal assistant - and the lady-in-waiting that he had eyes for was called Anne Boleyn.

[00:03:33] However, Henry couldn't marry another woman, he was already married, and divorce was illegal in the eyes of the Catholic church. 

[00:03:43] One of the only ways in which a marriage could be undone was if it could be proved that the marriage was not valid in the first place. 

[00:03:54] So Henry claimed that his marriage to Catherine was invalid because she had previously consummated her marriage with her ex husband - so consummated means basically that they had had sex - despite Catherine assuring him that they hadn't. 

[00:04:14] Long story short, the Pope refused to annul the marriage and Henry, instead of just deciding that that was fair enough and he should just continue his marriage with Catherine, he broke all ties with the Catholic church, made himself head of the newly formed Church of England, divorced Catherine, and married Anne Boleyn.

[00:04:40] So this brings us on to wife number two, Anne Boleyn. 

[00:04:45] Henry had previously had an affair with Anne's sister, Mary, which I guess isn't necessarily a good way to start off a relationship. 

[00:04:56] In any case, within nine months of getting married Anne Boleyn gave birth to a child.

[00:05:04] However, the child was a girl, Elizabeth. 

[00:05:07] The long-awaited male heir was still eluding him. 

[00:05:13] Anne also fell pregnant several times after that, but had a series of miscarriages and stillborn children. 

[00:05:22] And as you might have gathered or guessed by now, Henry wasn't the most loyal of kings or the most loyal of men, and he started having more affairs

[00:05:36] When Anne cottoned on to this, when she realised what was going on, she got very angry with him and instead of just saying, "yup sorry, that was me. I apologise for that", he accused her of adultery, he accused her of having an affair, and also of treason

[00:05:58] And if there was one thing that you didn't want to do, it was to get on the wrong side of Henry the Eighth, to make him angry.

[00:06:07] And Anne Boleyn got on the wrong side of Henry the Eighth.

[00:06:11] Just three years after they were married, Henry had her beheaded, executed in the Tower of London. 

[00:06:21] And only days after Anne's head was separated from her body, Henry took his third wife, Jane Seymour. 

[00:06:31] Most historians actually believe that Henry and Jane had been having an affair while Henry was still married to Anne Boleyn and that actually it was Jane who had pushed Henry to execute Anne Boleyn, her love rival.

[00:06:50] In any case, they were married for just over a year before Jane gave birth to a son, Henry's third child and his first male heir

[00:07:01] Finally, the long awaited male heir had arrived for the King. 

[00:07:05] Unfortunately, due to problems during childbirth, Jane died 12 days later. 

[00:07:12] Henry was apparently distraught, incredibly upset, and Jane is actually the only one of Henry's wives to be buried beside him. 

[00:07:23] Henry stayed a bachelor, at least from a marriage point of view, for the two years after Jane's death. 

[00:07:31] But then it was on to wife number four.

[00:07:35] One of his advisors had suggested that he sought a European alliance, or European partnership, and had suggested that he marry one of the two daughters of the Duke of Cleves in Germany. 

[00:07:52] Henry agreed to this, but he asked for their pictures so he could choose which one of the daughters to marry. 

[00:08:00] So a kind of 16th century version of Tinder, but if Henry the Eighth swipes right on you, you seem to have a 33% chance of losing your head.

[00:08:14] Anyway, he decided that Anne of Cleves was the more attractive of the daughters, and he agreed to marry her. 

[00:08:22] But when she arrived in England, Henry saw her in real life, in the flesh, and he was furious, saying that she wasn't nearly as attractive as the woman in the picture. 

[00:08:36] He tried to stop the wedding from going ahead, from happening, but he wasn't able to - the arrangements had already gone too far. 

[00:08:46] Reluctantly, he married Anne and nicknamed her "his ugly wife". 

[00:08:53] And the marriage wasn't to last for long. 

[00:08:55] He requested a divorce and they were separated six months later, although it was said that they actually remained on pretty friendly terms even after being separated.

[00:09:08] I guess Anne didn't want to argue with Henry on this one, as she had seen what had happened to his previous wife named Anne. 

[00:09:17] If you've lost track of how many wives we're on now, I wouldn't blame you. 

[00:09:22] This is Anne, Anne of Cleves. 

[00:09:24] This was number four. 

[00:09:27] Almost immediately after the annulment, the cancellation, of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, he married Catherine Howard, who was a beautiful 16 year old - yes, I did say 16 year old - who was also a cousin of Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn. 

[00:09:50] By the time that Henry married Catherine, he was an overweight 49 year old. 

[00:09:57] And he was obsessed with his new young bride, calling her his "rose without a thorn."

[00:10:03] So far so good, the King was in love, but there were rumours that Catherine was unfaithful, that she was having an affair with another man from court

[00:10:17] These rumours did seem to have quite a lot of truth behind them, and Catherine obviously hadn't learned rule number one of being married to Henry the Eighth: don't annoy him, don't get on his wrong side .

[00:10:33] Unfortunately, the rumours were too much for Henry to handle, and 18 months after they were married, Catherine was beheaded, her head chopped off, in exactly the same place as her cousin in the Tower of London. 

[00:10:50] So that was wife number five. 

[00:10:52] One might have thought that Henry would have decided, okay, I'm not having that much luck with marriage.

[00:11:00] I think I'll just leave it there. 

[00:11:03] But you'd be mistaken. 

[00:11:05] A year and a half after wife number five was executed, he took wife number six. 

[00:11:13] But this time he wasn't looking for excitement or love. 

[00:11:16] He was looking for a companion. 

[00:11:19] Someone to nurse him as he grew old. 

[00:11:23] And he settled on Catherine Parr. 

[00:11:25] Another Catherine, but this time, one that was a little more mature and a little more faithful

[00:11:34] For Catherine Parr, things did actually go pretty well. 

[00:11:38] She became a trusted confidant of Henry's and had a large influence on his court

[00:11:45] And most importantly, she managed to escape execution, actually outliving Henry by a year after his death in 1547. 

[00:11:56] So if you need a reminder, because I certainly think I would need a reminder, we had wife number one Catherine of Aragon, divorced. 

[00:12:07] Wife number two, Anne Boleyn, executed

[00:12:11] Wife number three, Jane Seymour, died after complications from childbirth. 

[00:12:18] Wife number four Anne of Cleves, separated after being considered to ugly. 

[00:12:24] Wife number five, Catherine Howard, executed

[00:12:28] And wife number six, Catherine Parr, survived. 

[00:12:33] So is there a moral to this story? 

[00:12:37] Well, I'm not too sure, perhaps you can see one that I can't. 

[00:12:40] I guess the moral at the time was "if Henry the Eighth wants to marry you, you should think very carefully before you say yes".

[00:12:51] Henry the Eighth was evidently a ruthless individual. 

[00:12:56] And being his wife was a very thankless task. 

[00:13:02] Okay that is it for Henry the Eighth and his wives. 

[00:13:07] I hope that this has been an interesting introduction to one of Britain's most famous kings, and of course his mostly unfortunate waves. 

[00:13:17] As a reminder, you can get the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:13:24] The transcript is now nice and animating, so that's a bit like subtitles, but actually cooler because you can press on a word and your browser will give you the definition, which I, for one, thing is pretty neat.

[00:13:38] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:13:42] I'm Alastair Budge and I'll catch you in the next episode. 

[END OF PODCAST]


[00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English, the show where you can learn fascinating things about the world while improving your English. 

[00:00:16] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about King Henry the Eighth of England and his six wives. 

[00:00:26] He's probably the most notorious of all of the British monarchs, and today we are going to learn about exactly why that is. 

[00:00:36] Before we get right into it, this is just your usual reminder for those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, iVoox, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts that you can get the transcript and key vocabulary and bonus podcasts over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:56] The transcript also comes in lovely new animating form, so that's a bit like subtitles, and also in PDF form. 

[00:01:03] So do check that out if you haven't done so already. 

[00:01:07] You can find out more at leonardoenglish.com/subscribe. 

[00:01:13] Okay, then, Henry the Eighth and his wives. 

[00:01:16] Now you may know a little bit about Henry the Eighth, or maybe you know nothing.

[00:01:23] If you have heard of him, you probably imagine a huge greasy fat man who had a fondness for executing his wives. 

[00:01:33] Henry the Eighth was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. 

[00:01:40] His 36-year rule saw England break ties with the Catholic church and two of his wives lose their heads. 

[00:01:52] Today we are going to tell the story of exactly how that happened. 

[00:01:57] So let's start with wife number one, Catherine of Aragon.

[00:02:04] When Henry became King in 1509 he was only 17 years old. 

[00:02:10] Within six weeks he had married Catherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. 

[00:02:20] Catherine was also the widow of Henry's older brother Arthur, who had died seven years before. 

[00:02:30] Henry was very fond of Catherine. 

[00:02:32] It was said that he loved her dearly and she fell pregnant several times. 

[00:02:38] However, she failed to produce a son, the all-important male heir, and the only child to survive from Henry and Catherine's marriage was a daughter, Mary, who was born in February, 1516.

[00:02:57] Henry was pretty obsessed with producing a son and his eyes soon started wandering towards other women who he hoped would be able to provide him with the all-important, much desired, male heir

[00:03:15] He became particularly fond of one of his Queens ladies in waiting - so a lady-in-waiting is a sort of fancy personal assistant - and the lady-in-waiting that he had eyes for was called Anne Boleyn.

[00:03:33] However, Henry couldn't marry another woman, he was already married, and divorce was illegal in the eyes of the Catholic church. 

[00:03:43] One of the only ways in which a marriage could be undone was if it could be proved that the marriage was not valid in the first place. 

[00:03:54] So Henry claimed that his marriage to Catherine was invalid because she had previously consummated her marriage with her ex husband - so consummated means basically that they had had sex - despite Catherine assuring him that they hadn't. 

[00:04:14] Long story short, the Pope refused to annul the marriage and Henry, instead of just deciding that that was fair enough and he should just continue his marriage with Catherine, he broke all ties with the Catholic church, made himself head of the newly formed Church of England, divorced Catherine, and married Anne Boleyn.

[00:04:40] So this brings us on to wife number two, Anne Boleyn. 

[00:04:45] Henry had previously had an affair with Anne's sister, Mary, which I guess isn't necessarily a good way to start off a relationship. 

[00:04:56] In any case, within nine months of getting married Anne Boleyn gave birth to a child.

[00:05:04] However, the child was a girl, Elizabeth. 

[00:05:07] The long-awaited male heir was still eluding him. 

[00:05:13] Anne also fell pregnant several times after that, but had a series of miscarriages and stillborn children. 

[00:05:22] And as you might have gathered or guessed by now, Henry wasn't the most loyal of kings or the most loyal of men, and he started having more affairs

[00:05:36] When Anne cottoned on to this, when she realised what was going on, she got very angry with him and instead of just saying, "yup sorry, that was me. I apologise for that", he accused her of adultery, he accused her of having an affair, and also of treason

[00:05:58] And if there was one thing that you didn't want to do, it was to get on the wrong side of Henry the Eighth, to make him angry.

[00:06:07] And Anne Boleyn got on the wrong side of Henry the Eighth.

[00:06:11] Just three years after they were married, Henry had her beheaded, executed in the Tower of London. 

[00:06:21] And only days after Anne's head was separated from her body, Henry took his third wife, Jane Seymour. 

[00:06:31] Most historians actually believe that Henry and Jane had been having an affair while Henry was still married to Anne Boleyn and that actually it was Jane who had pushed Henry to execute Anne Boleyn, her love rival.

[00:06:50] In any case, they were married for just over a year before Jane gave birth to a son, Henry's third child and his first male heir

[00:07:01] Finally, the long awaited male heir had arrived for the King. 

[00:07:05] Unfortunately, due to problems during childbirth, Jane died 12 days later. 

[00:07:12] Henry was apparently distraught, incredibly upset, and Jane is actually the only one of Henry's wives to be buried beside him. 

[00:07:23] Henry stayed a bachelor, at least from a marriage point of view, for the two years after Jane's death. 

[00:07:31] But then it was on to wife number four.

[00:07:35] One of his advisors had suggested that he sought a European alliance, or European partnership, and had suggested that he marry one of the two daughters of the Duke of Cleves in Germany. 

[00:07:52] Henry agreed to this, but he asked for their pictures so he could choose which one of the daughters to marry. 

[00:08:00] So a kind of 16th century version of Tinder, but if Henry the Eighth swipes right on you, you seem to have a 33% chance of losing your head.

[00:08:14] Anyway, he decided that Anne of Cleves was the more attractive of the daughters, and he agreed to marry her. 

[00:08:22] But when she arrived in England, Henry saw her in real life, in the flesh, and he was furious, saying that she wasn't nearly as attractive as the woman in the picture. 

[00:08:36] He tried to stop the wedding from going ahead, from happening, but he wasn't able to - the arrangements had already gone too far. 

[00:08:46] Reluctantly, he married Anne and nicknamed her "his ugly wife". 

[00:08:53] And the marriage wasn't to last for long. 

[00:08:55] He requested a divorce and they were separated six months later, although it was said that they actually remained on pretty friendly terms even after being separated.

[00:09:08] I guess Anne didn't want to argue with Henry on this one, as she had seen what had happened to his previous wife named Anne. 

[00:09:17] If you've lost track of how many wives we're on now, I wouldn't blame you. 

[00:09:22] This is Anne, Anne of Cleves. 

[00:09:24] This was number four. 

[00:09:27] Almost immediately after the annulment, the cancellation, of his marriage to Anne of Cleves, he married Catherine Howard, who was a beautiful 16 year old - yes, I did say 16 year old - who was also a cousin of Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn. 

[00:09:50] By the time that Henry married Catherine, he was an overweight 49 year old. 

[00:09:57] And he was obsessed with his new young bride, calling her his "rose without a thorn."

[00:10:03] So far so good, the King was in love, but there were rumours that Catherine was unfaithful, that she was having an affair with another man from court

[00:10:17] These rumours did seem to have quite a lot of truth behind them, and Catherine obviously hadn't learned rule number one of being married to Henry the Eighth: don't annoy him, don't get on his wrong side .

[00:10:33] Unfortunately, the rumours were too much for Henry to handle, and 18 months after they were married, Catherine was beheaded, her head chopped off, in exactly the same place as her cousin in the Tower of London. 

[00:10:50] So that was wife number five. 

[00:10:52] One might have thought that Henry would have decided, okay, I'm not having that much luck with marriage.

[00:11:00] I think I'll just leave it there. 

[00:11:03] But you'd be mistaken. 

[00:11:05] A year and a half after wife number five was executed, he took wife number six. 

[00:11:13] But this time he wasn't looking for excitement or love. 

[00:11:16] He was looking for a companion. 

[00:11:19] Someone to nurse him as he grew old. 

[00:11:23] And he settled on Catherine Parr. 

[00:11:25] Another Catherine, but this time, one that was a little more mature and a little more faithful

[00:11:34] For Catherine Parr, things did actually go pretty well. 

[00:11:38] She became a trusted confidant of Henry's and had a large influence on his court

[00:11:45] And most importantly, she managed to escape execution, actually outliving Henry by a year after his death in 1547. 

[00:11:56] So if you need a reminder, because I certainly think I would need a reminder, we had wife number one Catherine of Aragon, divorced. 

[00:12:07] Wife number two, Anne Boleyn, executed

[00:12:11] Wife number three, Jane Seymour, died after complications from childbirth. 

[00:12:18] Wife number four Anne of Cleves, separated after being considered to ugly. 

[00:12:24] Wife number five, Catherine Howard, executed

[00:12:28] And wife number six, Catherine Parr, survived. 

[00:12:33] So is there a moral to this story? 

[00:12:37] Well, I'm not too sure, perhaps you can see one that I can't. 

[00:12:40] I guess the moral at the time was "if Henry the Eighth wants to marry you, you should think very carefully before you say yes".

[00:12:51] Henry the Eighth was evidently a ruthless individual. 

[00:12:56] And being his wife was a very thankless task. 

[00:13:02] Okay that is it for Henry the Eighth and his wives. 

[00:13:07] I hope that this has been an interesting introduction to one of Britain's most famous kings, and of course his mostly unfortunate waves. 

[00:13:17] As a reminder, you can get the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:13:24] The transcript is now nice and animating, so that's a bit like subtitles, but actually cooler because you can press on a word and your browser will give you the definition, which I, for one, thing is pretty neat.

[00:13:38] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:13:42] I'm Alastair Budge and I'll catch you in the next episode. 

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