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Hans Holbein's painting contained hidden messages that the prospective bride, whom Henry had never seen, was unattractive, Franny Moyle told the Cheltenham Literature Festival. When the king met Anne, he is said to have accused his ambassadors of bringing him a 'Flanders mare'. They had been sent to Cleves in Germany to provide a written description but when they complained she wore veils and high collars, Henry sent court painter Holbein to do him a portrait.
She's a little flat, she's a bit vanilla. The diplomats told Henry that Anne couldn't dance, couldn't speak English and had no sense of humour. But of course, he can't, because if he puts the king off he's in real trouble as well,' Miss Moyle said. Despite his disappointment Henry took Anne, 24, as his fourth wife in The king, 49, was struggling with impotence and is said to have spent four nights failing to consummate their marriage, blaming her unattractiveness.
Despite his disappointment Henry VIII took Anne, 24, as his fourth wife in , but their marriage was annulled six months later. Anne had ly been set to marry the Duke of Lorraine's son, but the marriage was cancelled in after being declared unofficial. However, Henry got out of his own union by claiming Anne was still betrothed to the Duke's son, because there was no document present which declared it dissolved. Following their separation, Anne was referred to as 'the King's Beloved Sister' and received both Richmond Palace and Hever Castle as part of her settlement.
Henry and Anne became friends and she was invited to his court frequently by way of gratitude of her not contesting the annulment. German-born Holbein travelled to England in in search of work and quickly built a good reputation for himself. As well as producing the portrait of Anne of Cleves, he also depicted Henry himself in what became the monarch's most famous image. Only three of his six siblings survived infancy - and he succeeded his father as king following his death on 22 April, Henry VIII was well known for his six marriages, all of which ended in some sort of tragedy - divorce or death - but the Tudor king was also known for other, stranger things.
He was known to self-medicate, even going as far as making his own medicines. A record on a prescription for ulcer treatment in the British Museum re: 'An Oyntment devised by the kinges Majesty made at Westminster, and devised at Grenwich to take away inflammations and to cease payne and heale ulcers called gray plaster. He was also a musician and composer, owning 78 flutes, 78 recorders, five bagpipes, and has since had his songs covered by Jethro Tull.
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