Was Anne of Cleves really a dog?

Nein, it iss zat Catherine Howard who iss a real bitch. Ach, you meant "dog" as ugly voman! HeHe!

One nice thing about the TV series the Tudors is that it takes me from my usual alternative history scenarios about North American history to thinking about British history.  In this case, Anne of Cleves, whom I think there is a lot of historical misinformation.  On the other hand, there were two dangerous things to be in Henry VIII’s England, one of his wives or one of his friends.  Being one of his friends was dangerous since he was like a mad dog, especially when crossed.

In the case of Henry VIII, believe it or not, he was an insane romantic.  Despite Charlie Brooker’s theories in How TV Ruined Your Life about TV lying to you about love, Old King Harry had his weird ideas that came from Romances.  In Anne’s case, he thought he would show up in disguise and she would immediately recognise him as her true love.  Instead she couldn’t figure out who the fuck this crazy Englander was and started ripping him a new arsehole auf Deutsch, which was a disappointment for Harry that I don’t think he got over.

The pairing may have cost the matchmaker his head (at least I think it does in the series).  Henry began to diss poor Annie in pretty much every way he could.  Eventually the marriage was annulled and she was called the King’s beloved sister.  Harry and Anne went on to have a platonic relationship.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that Anne was called all sorts of nasty things about her looks after Henry’s ill fated first meeting: such as calling her his “Flanders Mare”.  But other contemporary descriptions aren’t as nasty. Anne was described by the French ambassador, Charles de Marillac, as tall and slim, “of middling beauty, and of very assured and resolute countenance”. It is said that she was dark haired, with a rather swarthy complexion, appeared solemn by English standards, and looked old for her age.

I seriously doubt we are going to hear any English descriptions that will be too flattering of Anne’s beauty since Henry didn’t like to be contradicted, and was rather possessive of his women. It’s that homicidal jealous streak that cut down on Henry’s marriage prospects with most of the eligible European Noblewomen saying they would rather die than marry Henry knowing full well they would might get “the cut” if they did. Anyway, there are some speculations that Anne may have been attractive out there. In fact, I think one historian has posited that she may have been the most attractive of his wives.

One can only guess.

Henry should have listened to this advice:

Oh yeah, this was meant in the metaphorical sense of the term “dog” as ugly woman as opposed to be being some form of canid.

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