Anne of Cleves: Henry’s discarded wifeMay 11th, 2009 - 11:55 pm ICT by GD
Criterion has brought out “Alexander Korda’s Private Lives,” a four-disc set of Korda’s biopics. The collection includes “The Private Life of Henry VIII”; “The Rise of Catherine the Great”; “Don Juan”; and “Rembrandt.” The best of the works in this selection is undoubtedly “The Private Life of Henry VIII” (1933).
The film has a cheerful air of sexual revelry which is effectively tempered by the genuine melancholy disposition in Charles Laughton’s rendering of the lumbering monarch. His Henry adaptation of VIII is at the same time a critical and empathetic. There is some kind of a little boy hungry for love, and the film’s attitude toward him is one of friendly contempt. It is this blending of shades that lends the charm to Henry’s character. Henry is presented as a man of qualities who is not really cut out for one steady marriage. He is shown to be a soul hungry for love. As he negotiates a divorce with Anne of Cleves on their wedding night, Henry tells her that she is “the nicest girl I ever married. “Anne of Cleves was King Henry VIII’s fourth wife. The marriage was a very brief one. All the people were surprised but the spouses were both rather relieved.
Anne was not endowed with the best physical charms and was referred to as ‘Flanders mare’ by Henry who told his courtiers and his ambassadors that Anne’s appearance refrained him from performing his conjugal duties. It is not really known what Anne’s reactions were, but she did agree to a quick annulment of the marriage, much to Henry’s relief. However, she remained in England for the rest of her life.
Her readiness for the annulment made Henry rather happy and even grateful perhaps, so that he gave her a generous income and gifted her many homes. She was an honored guest on Henry’s court. She enjoyed an independent lifestyle. She had a liking for gambling and a fondness for English ale. Anne remains a shadowy figure, of whom very little is known.
Historians have often speculated how the History of England might have taken a different course had Anne’s lack of physical charms not cost her a place on the throne of England.
Tags: alexander korda, anne of cleves, annulment, catherine the great, charles laughton, courtiers, don juan, english ale, flanders mare, fondness, generous income, great don, independent lifestyle, king henry viii, physical charms, private life, private lives, revelry, shadowy figure, wedding night