King Henry VIII was married six times over the course of his life, to six different women. Which of his six wives did Henry love the most?
Jane Seymour was likely Henry VIII’s favorite wife. She was the only one of Henry’s six wives to provide him with a son, and the only one to be given a queen’s burial beside him. He was also fond of Catherine of Aragon, but their lack of a son was an insurmountable problem for Henry.
For more on the wives of Henry VIII and which he loved the most, read on.
Divorced, Beheaded, Died
Henry VIII became the king of England in 1509 at the age of 17. Soon after, he married Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of King Ferdinand of Spain, and also the widow of Henry’s older brother, Arthur.
Henry was determined to have a male heir to continue his line. He and Catherine had multiple pregnancies, but only one of their children survived into adolescence. The surviving child was their daughter, Mary I, who was born in February 1516.
Henry and Catherine were married between 1509 and 1533, by far the longest of Henry’s marriages, but there was one insurmountable issue between the couple: their lack of a son.
Henry had an affair during their marriage, with Elizabeth Blount, one of Catherine’s attendants. In 1519, Elizabeth gave birth to an illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy.
As Henry looked elsewhere for a legitimate son, he turned his attentions to Anne Boleyn, another attendant of Catherine’s. He asked the Pope permission for a divorce, claiming that Catherine was not a virgin because of her previous marriage to Arthur (something that Catherine denied).
The Pope refused but Henry divorced Catherine anyway, founding the Church of England as the new official state religion. Catherine remained in good standing with the monarchy until her death in 1536.
Henry and Anne Boleyn had shared a brief affair in the 1520s but Anne refused to be a mistress, leading to Henry’s divorce. They married in 1533, with Anne giving birth to Elizabeth I.
Anne became pregnant again later but each pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth and Henry lost faith in his wife’s ability to produce a male heir. She reacted angrily to Henry’s extramarital affairs, leading to Henry accusing her of conducting affairs of her own. There was likely no basis for Henry’s accusations but he had her beheaded in 1536, two days after their divorce.
Just days after Anne’s death, Henry married Jane Seymour, another former lady-in-waiting to both of his previous wives. Jane and Anne knew each other well and Anne was furious at being pushed aside for Jane. In October 1537, Jane gave birth to Henry’s only legitimate son, Edward VI.
The birth was a difficult one for Jane and she suffered from serious complications, dying weeks later. Jane is buried alongside Henry, at his request, suggesting that she occupied a special place in the king’s heart.
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived
A couple of years after Jane’s death, Henry sought a European alliance by marriage. It was suggested that he should pick either Anne or Amelia, the daughters of the Duke of Cleves in Germany.
Henry was shown portraits of the two sisters and chose Anne, who appeared the more attractive of the two. On meeting Anne in person, Henry was very disappointed by her appearance. Even so, the betrothal was already set and Henry married Anne of Cleves in January 1540.
Just six months later, Henry suggested a divorce, which Anne accepted, along with a hefty settlement. Despite the nature of their meeting and separation, there were seemingly no hard feelings between Henry and Anne.
Later that year, Henry married Catherine Howard, another lady in waiting, this time of Anne of Cleves. Henry, now overweight and immobile, was very fond of his 19-year-old bride, but Catherine was soon accused of conducting affairs.
Henry had Catherine executed, the second of his wives to be beheaded for adultery. In Catherine Howard’s case, the accusations might have been accurate.
A year after Catherine Howard’s execution, Henry married his sixth and final wife, and third Catherine, Catherine Parr. She was twice widowed and an educated woman who forged strong relationships with Henry’s three legitimate children.
Catherine convinced Henry that his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, should be part of the order of succession. Henry VIII died in January 1547, survived by Catherine Parr, though she died just a year later in 1548.