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On this day in history, the 16th July 1557 (some sources say the 15th), Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves died at her home, Chelsea Old Manor, the former home of Catherine Parr. She was only 41 but she was the last surviving wife of Henry VIII and on the 3rd August 1557 Anne was taken from Chelsea to Westminster to be buried. She is the only one of Henry VIII’s wives to be buried at Westminster Abbey and her tomb is on the south side of the High Altar. It is decorated with carvings of a crown and her initials, AC, skulls and crossed bones, and a lion’s head. It is a sad fact that Anne, as Elizabeth Norton points out, “is often portrayed as the least significant of Henry’s wives” but that she was actually “an international figure of some prominence” and a woman who used her intelligence to survive the English court and become an independent woman. Just like Catherine of Aragon, she did not accept the annulment of her marriage and still thought of herself as Henry’s wife and Queen, and subsequently his widow, but she made the best out of the situation. [x]

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♔ “Henry’s six wives were each expected to be Queen, lover, companion, and mother to a Tudor dynasty. Most failed, and for them, there was rejection or execution. But their story has become one of the great historical myths, and one of their children, Elizabeth, England’s greatest ruler.”

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→ AU: Henry VIII’ Six Wives as fairy tales characters REDONE

Anne of Cleves as  The Donkeyskin princess

She went to her fairy godmother who advised her to make impossible demands as a condition of her consent: a dress the color of the sky, a dress the color of the moon, a dress as bright as the sun, and finally, the hide of his marvelous donkey. Such was the king’s desire to marry her that he granted all of them. The fairy godmother gave her a marvelous chest to contain all she owned and told her that the donkeyskin would make an excellent disguise. The princess fled and eventually found a royal farm where they let her work in the kitchen, despite her ugliness in the donkeyskin. On feast days, she would dress herself in the fine gowns her father had given her, and one such day, the prince came by her room and peeped through the keyhole. He fell in love at once, fell ill with his longing, and declared that nothing would cure him but a cake baked by Donkeyskin, and nothing they could say of what a dirty creature she was dissuaded him. When Donkeyskin baked the cake, a ring of hers fell in it. The prince found it and declared that he would marry only the woman whose finger it fit. Every other woman having failed, he insisted that Donkeyskin try, and it fit. When she had dressed herself in her fine gowns, his parents were reconciled with the match. Donkey-skin later found that her father had remarried to a beautiful widow and everyone lived.

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Inspired by lochiels

Tudor Queens and their mottos

Elizabeth of York (1466-1503)

Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)

Anne Boleyn (c. 1501-1536)

Jane Seymour (c.1508-1537)

Anne of Cleves (1515-1557)

Kathryn Howard (c.1523-1542)

Catherine Parr (1512-1548)

Mary Tudor [Mary I of England] (1516-1558)

Elizabeth Tudor [Elizabeth I of England] (1533-1603)