Welcome. Thank you for joining us.
It is my pleasure. I rarely get interview requests.
Why do you suppose that is?
I'm probably the least interesting person in the Tudor period. My story isn't considered "sexy" and therefore lacks modern appeal. Actually, it lacked appeal back in the day as well.
I have to say, your English is excellent!
Thank you. I have had a few hundred years to work on it.
First off...I'm not really sure how to address you. Your Highness? Anne? Duke's sister? King's sister?
Anne is fine, though I prefer Anna to avoid being confused with all those English girls named Anne. Anne and Elizabeth--you can't get away from those names in England.
Ok. Anna, you were HenryVIII's fourth wife...
I was not.
Our marriage was invalid and annulled. So we were not really married.
Yes, I'm aware of that, but historians tend to refer to you as Henry's fourth wife for the sake of simplicity.
I understand, but it still irritates me. It is historically inaccurate. Catherine Howard was his fourth wife.
Yeah, about that...what did you think of her?
Flighty, silly little thing. She was pretty and charming, but nothing more.
How about Katherine Parr?
She was all right. A dependable girl with good sense.
What were your feelings about the annulment? Were you upset at all?
No. I was all for it. Henry wasn't my type at all, and given his history I'd say I dodged a bullet there.
I've read the letter you wrote to him regarding the matter. Nicely done! It's not easy to find a way to tell a man you don't mind if your marriage is invalid while at the same time telling him how fond you are of him and how much you respect him.
*smiling* That was a good one, wasn't it?
So what was it like being the king's honored sister?
It was wonderful! I got all the benefits of being royal without the responsibilities, and I didn't have to sleep with Henry. I understand he was quite a looker in his youth, but by the time I got to England he'd seen better days--much better days. As I wasn't a blood relative he wasn't constantly trying to pawn me off for an alliance. I never gave him any trouble and he appreciated that. He knew I wanted nothing from him, unlike his courtiers and advisors.
Did you ever miss your home in Cleves?
Occasionally, but life was far more pleasant for me in England. Had I gone back my brother might have berated me for the whole annulment thing. I much preferred the autonomy that Henry allowed me. I had a comfortable income and lands. I could go to court when I wanted, but mostly I preferred the country. Hever Castle was lovely in the spring.
Little is known about you, other than a few basic facts. You were raised mainly to think of domestic concerns, but in England you developed a love of ales and gambling.
Henry's ales were far superior to what my brother had available. Back in Cleves, I was allowed only a glass of wine with dinner. In England I could drink what I wanted, when I wanted. You have no idea the sense of freedom one gets from something so small.
Was your brother controlling then?
No more so than any brother of our class. But Henry was by far more generous, of course he could afford to be.
Back to the gambling...were you any good?
I was brilliant! People dreaded my coming to court because they knew they would be down a few pounds before the week was out.
So you played for money?
Not always. I also played for clothing, jewels...one time I won a horse.
And you never lost?
Certainly I lost, but I won more often. I only bet big when I knew I could win.
Good strategy. Did you ever bluff?
Yes. That's when I lost.
Tell us about the real Anna.
I'm not sure what you want to know. I liked to grow flowers. I loved pretty clothes. Reading was a favorite pastime.
Were you at all religious?
One of the things we do know is that you seemed to handle all the fuss over your marriage with unflappable calm. Did you ever get angry?
When I saw a child or an animal being mistreated, that made me angry.
What is your favorite color?
Will you be available for any more questions if our readers have something they want to know?
Thank you for your time, Anna.
You are welcome.
***end of interview***
Well there you have it: Anne of Cleves, in her own words. Thanks for reading. Join us next time for an intimate chat with Catherine Howard, Henry's fifth, I mean fourth wife.