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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars rescues this neglected wife from obscurity, 30 Oct 2009
This review is from: Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride (Hardcover)
This most neglected of Henry the Eighth's wives, Anne of Cleves created no scandal, was not involved in political intrigue, was not beheaded or imprisoned; lived an uneventful life and seemingly was liked by all who met her, including Henry once he was no longer married to her.

Elizabeth Norton has not unearthed anything new about Anne but she has done a good job in presenting the known facts in a clear and readable manner. Anybody writing Anne's biography is limited by the fact that so few personal details were known about her and she was perceived as being of little political or social importance after her brief marriage to Henry the Eighth ended as she had no power to promote faction or advancement at the Henrician court so her movements and thoughts were seen by the chroniclers of the times as unimportant. Neither did Anne of Cleves leave any diaries or personal letters that might reveal her true thoughts about her marriage and divorce - as opposed to her dutiful stance to promote her family's interest.

Little is known about the early youth of this obscure German princess from Cleves but Elizabeth Norton provides more details about her family background which is interesting. The narration follows Henry's choice of Anne as his fourth wife and rejection of her on their marriage night,and although the real reason for this is still unclear it appears to foreshadow the rejection of Caroline of Brunswick on her wedding night by the future George the Fourth - lack of personal hygiene, which must have indeed been dire given the very low standards of the age. Following her apparently relucatant acceptance of the divorce Anne settled for a quiet and prosperous life as the King's Dear Sister. Elizabeth Norton shows that, in a different less dramatic way, Anne of Cleves was just as much a victim of Henry as his other wives in that, despite her desire to return to Cleves Henry frustrated this by the terms of the settlement and even after his death her attempts to do so were fruitless.

The book is lavishly illustrated with full colour plates of Anne, and the people and places familiar to her. However, I was puzzled by the attribution of plate 52 as a portrait of Elizabeth the First; the features of this woman bear no relation to any accredited portraits and the features are impossibly youthful given her dress is late Elizabethan.

I enjoyed this biography of Anne of Cleves and I recomend it to anybody wanting to know about Anne of Cleves.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jan 2010 12:40:30 GMT
Affodell says:
Lavishly illustrated, maybe, but the book cries out for a map of Cleves, Juliers, Guelders and other "German" duchies and states at the time.

Posted on 30 Apr 2010 22:24:39 BDT
microfiche says:
This review does justice to the book. The book is a good read. I think it is as thorough as one can get about Anne of Cleves without spending years in in-depth research. I disagree with the author's assertion that Anne strove to get re-married to Henry after he executed Katherine Parr, though David Starkey made the same assertion in his Six Wives Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII She may have said she was more handsome than Katherine Parr; but it was hardly sour grapes about losing in the marriage stakes since she's also reputed to have said that Katherine was about to bear a heavy load. While Henry lives, her brother the Duke of Cleves might have sought a re-marriage. To have the powerful Henry VIII as an ally would be a boon in his struggle with the Emperor Charles. Anne did not put in a claim to widowhood benefits until after Katherine Parr's death, when Edward's Council was making it hard for her to keep up her estates and thus the respect of her neighbours.

I agree with the comment that the book should have had a map of the Low Countries, so we'd know where Cleves was and how Anne got from there to Calais.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Feb 2011 23:22:19 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Feb 2011 23:22:56 GMT
Simon Davis says:
Henry executed Katherine Howard, his fifth wife not Katherine Parr who was his sixth and final wife and who outlived him.
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