The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Season 1 Episode 4

Anne of Cleves

0
Aired Unknown Jan 22, 1970 on BBC Two
8.1
out of 10
User Rating
5 votes
2

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Episode Summary

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Religious strife between Catholics and Protestants continues to swell in Europe. To try to balance the Catholic threat of France and Spain, Thomas Cromwell persuades King Henry into a political marriage with the sister of the Protestant German Duke of Cleves. Sadly, the artist Hans Holbein, assigned the task of painting the prospective bride, takes artistic liberties, and Henry is unpleasantly surprised when his bride arrives and is not the beauty portrayed in her portrait. Though alone in a foreign land, Anne is shrewd enough to negotiate a divorce from Henry, and remains in England, well cared for, as “the King’s sister.” Her success is not shared by Cromwell, however, who is executed for his role in arranging the disastrous marriage. Though not mentioned in the series, Anne of Cleves outlived all the other wives of Henry VIII..moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The funniest marriage.

    8.0
    An episode that is lighter than some of the other ones. It is of course the marriage that ended without too much fuss. What is surprising, is that the writer found so many opportunities for inserting comedy.



    The marriage of Henry and Anne was an arranged affair and the accepted history claims that both were somewhat startled when they finally met. Hans Holbein's painting may have been one of history's first violations against truth in advertising. The introduction of Henry to his future wife is rather funny. (Ironically, the only actress in the episode known for her comedic roles, Mollie Sugden, plays a very serious role.)



    At times it reminded me of screwball comedies. Anne of Cleves certainly knows what she wants and even outwits Henry at times. According to this play, it was her idea not to consummate the marriage. When a German prince comes to the British court in disguise to ask Henry for advice about divorce, it all gets hilarious.



    In the second half political and religious complications take centre stage again. Anne proves to be aware of her role in the struggle between Catholics and Protestants. She's also one of the first to realize that Cromwell's days as Henry's adviser are numbered. However, Cromwell's downfall deserved more attention than it gets here.moreless
  • Anne of Cleves - Ugly? Unwanted? Didn't Want Either?

    10
    Anne of Cleves is a difficult wife to write about. She was not wanted by King Henry VIII and was cast off by him within 6 months. She was a princess from Germany that Cromwell brought to shore up a German Protestant Alliance. It was an utter failure and he died for such a mistake. He probably should have left well enough alone since Henry was not pressing for marriage after Jane and he had his son. What a loss. Anne survived and was successful in getting a good settlement. It would have been a disgrace to be sent back to Germany so she stayed. She volunteered herself to be thought of as "the king's sister" and took care of his children. What more could she ask for? The irony is that if she was ugly, and that is in question, the King at that time wasn't very attractive either. This teleplay tells a good story and is well told.moreless
James Mellor

James Mellor

Hans Holbein

Guest Star

Mollie Sugden

Mollie Sugden

Lotte

Guest Star

Elvi Hale

Elvi Hale

Anne of Cleves

Guest Star

Wolfe Morris

Wolfe Morris

Thomas Cromwell

Recurring Role

Bernard Hepton

Bernard Hepton

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

Recurring Role

Basil Dignam

Basil Dignam

Bishop Gardiner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Artist Hans Holbein painted numerous portraits of members of the court of Henry VIII. Though Henry criticized his portrait of Anne of Cleves as being far too flattering it did not cause Holbein to lose his position at court. He would die, apparently of the plague, in 1543.

    • Blooper: In the opening scene Henry mistakenly refers to Archbishop Cranmer as Cromwell.

    • Thomas Cromwell was executed in the Tower of London on July 28, 1540. His arrangement of the disastrous marriage between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves had been used against him by political enemies and led to his arrest and subsequent execution. Future English Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell was his second great grand nephew.

    • Anne of Cleves received a generous settlement after the dissolution of her marriage to Henry VIII and remained in England for the rest of her life. She died in 1557 at the age of 41, the final surviving wife of Henry VIII.

  • QUOTES (15)

  • NOTES (3)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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