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(1515-1558) The fourth wife of Henry VIII. After the death of Jane Seymour, a new wife was sought for Henry, but his reputation preceded him; his main choices rejected him, making Anne of Cleves the front runner. The daughter of a German Duke, Anne was 24 when she married Henry in early 1540 but, unknown to her until later, Henry was repulsed by her. Described as pretty by everyone else, Henry (who was nearly fifty, obese, and had leg ulcers by then) said of his first sight of her "I like her not". Their introduction was a disaster, owing to mutual misunderstanding, beginning the marriage on a tenuous note.

After six months of marriage, Henry had the marriage annulled and offered to Anne property and estates in exchange that she remain in England. Initially devastated, Anne accepted and lived her days in wealth, answering to no man but to Henry, now as his "dear sister".
Anne of Cleves was olive-skinned, unlike the pallid Jane Seymour, and lacked the sophistication of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Her unfamiliar German manners, exotic clothes, and German speech did not help matters. Henry, put off by her body, whined incessantly about how "ugly" that she was, suspecting that she wasn't a virgin, disregarding her sheltered upbringing and overprotective mother; at 24, Anne believed that a kiss from a man would make her pregnant.
Anne of Cleves, humiliated and hurt by the king, outlived Henry and his other wives, enjoyed the love of her stepchildren and her people, and died a contented woman.
by Lorelili January 03, 2011
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