Dark Secrets About Henry VIII’s Love Life

By Carole 1 year ago

1.  He Was So Secretive - why did he marry his wives in private?

Image source: History On This Day
When it comes to the sexual secrets of Henry VIII, you can't get much more secretive than marrying five out of your six wives without your public being aware.  That is exactly what the King did.  He didn't want the masses to know so he could still pass himself off as single and ready to mingle!

2. He Wanted An Heir - and would go to any lengths

Image source: Wikimedia
The English court was completely absorbed with Henry unable to father a son.  All his children were female and he was desperate for an heir.  He thought about marrying one of them off and hopefully gaining a grandson or ......... ditch the wife and trade her in for a younger model!

3. Infidelity Was Part Of His Life - his body needed it!

Image source: All That's Interesting
King Henry resorted to the occasional casual encounter, as we know, discreetly arranged by his gentlemen.  Maybe to hide the guilt, he saw adultery as an essential bodily function, like eating and sleeping and of course, the needs of the King's body must be met - that was an order!

4. He Confided His Affairs To His Closest Friends - but they turned the tables on him

Image source: Getty Images
Henry preferred to keep his extra marital liaisons known to only a small circle of loyal intimates.  These were his chief minister, his gentlemen of the chamber and his closest friends.  When they became disgruntled at the way the King treated them, they broke their silence and were sent to be executed.

5. He Slept With Mary Boleyn - Anne Boleyn's sister

Image source: HistoryExtras
Henry reluctantly admitted in a letter that he had slept with Mary Boleyn, elder sister of Anne.  Mary was besotted with the King but he used her, as he did with the majority of his 'women'.  The admission was said to be a deliberate slur on her sister, when Henry had started tiring of her.

6. He Married His Brother's Widow - Catherine of Aragon

Image source: www.history.com
On April 21, 1509, Henry Tudor succumbed to tuberculosis and his son succeeded him. The 17 year old Prince Henry became King Henry VIII.  Awkwardly, one of his first acts was to marry his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon.  He didn't want to, although his future tangled love life became much worse and more complicated than this.

7. He Liked Sisters - double the lust!

Image source: Smithsonian Magazine
So how did Henry pick his future wife?   He was already sleeping with the beautiful Mary Boleyn with whom he is said to have fathered two children and after growing tired of her, set his sights on her younger sister Anne.   Anne was no push over and rejected Henry's advances at the start, making her more desirable to him.

8. He Danced All Night With A Mysterious Woman - and he was barefoot

Image source: Reddit
In 1513, when Henry was staying in Lille before the siege of Tournai, he partied all night, dancing with a mysterious “
Madame the Bastard,
”.  He was barefoot and in his shirt sleeves.  After returning to England, he received a letter from her maid of honour, enquiring when he was going to marry the 'Madame' because he told her he would.  He wasn't even single at this time.

9. He Picked A Heck Of A Woman

Image source: Royal Central
By 1525, Henry was completely done with Catherine and was falling head over heels for Anne Boleyn.  Anne was young, intelligent and charismatic, not at all interested in becoming another of Henry's floozies!  However, Henry got his way and Anne eventually succumbed to him.

10. He Was A Babe - women flocked to him

Image source: BBC
Henry VIII was undoubtedly a brutal man but bear in mind that he was actually pretty hot! Despite the rather rotund portraits from his later life, Henry was a complete stud, tall, athletic and incredibly charismatic. Women adored him and became besotted with him until he turned on them, which he regularly did.

11. Religious Conflict With Anne Boleyn - so he made new rules

Image source: www.history.com
Just because he thought that marrying Anne Boleyn would give him a son, Henry VIII set off the English Reformation. This massive schism would create a vicious religious conflict that continued for many centuries but Henry didn’t care one jot.  If it suited him, he was happy.

12. He Kicked His Wife Out - before the divorce was official

Image source: Heritage Daily
Henry and Catherine had been married for 24 years, a very long time in those days!  In the end, not a second of that mattered to Henry.  Before their divorce had even become official, he unceremoniously banished her from the court.  Her rooms were then given to Anne Boleyn.

13. He Was Technically A Bigamist - married again before divorce went through

Image source: The Anne Boleyn Files
Henry actually married Anne Boleyn before his split from Catherine of Aragon became official.  He had spent almost a quarter of a century waiting for a son and to no avail.  Finally, several months after marrying Anne Boleyn, Henry had his marriage to Catherine declared null and void.  This means he was married to two women at the same time!

14. He Kept Sleeping Around - it was a drug

Image source: www.history.com
So how did Henry VIII cope with his miserable marriage to Anne Boleyn? - the same way he’d coped with his miserable marriage to Catherine of Aragon.  He filled his time with gathering mistresses.  Having a thing for sisters, he started seeing Madge Shelton, as well as her sister, Mary!

15. He Let His New Mistress Move In - when his wife was recovering from a miscarriage

Image source: Surrey Live
Even though his wife had recovered from her miscarriage, Henry was done and dusted with her. First, he began refusing to grant political offices to her family and then decided to move in his latest mistress, 28 year old Jane Seymour, into swanky new rooms at the palace.

16. He Moved On Quick - 10 days after wife's execution

Image source: Getty Images
In a move that didn't surprise anyone, 45 year old Henry VIII became engaged to the young Jane Seymour, 20 years his junior.  Anne Boleyn had been executed only 10 days earlier.  This would have created a scandal if it had been anyone else but for Henry, it was business as usual!

17. Not That He Cared - he was heartless

Image source: Windsor
Jane Seymour died soon after childbirth and during an agonizing labor, Henry was told it wasn't looking good for both mother and baby to be saved, only one of them.  Henry gave the order to save the child as he could get himself another wife when he required one.  Talk about heartless!

18. His Advisor Made A Horrible Mistake - it's funny!

Image source: Factinate
Thomas Cromwell was one of the most powerful men in England, that is until he suggested that Henry marry the 25 year old German Duchess, Anne of Cleves. It seemed like it could be a perfect match.  Anne’s father could prove a vital ally if a religious war was to break out.

 19. ........ He Agreed To A Marriage Without Meeting Her

Image source: On This Day 
Henry sent one of the best portrait artists in the world to paint Anne Of Cleves so that he could judge her for himself.  When the painting finally made it back to him, Henry was convinced she was his dream girl and Thomas Cromwell assured him that she was.  So that was that, until .....

20. .... And Regretted The Decision Instantly

Image source: The Mary Sue
When they finally met, Henry VIII took one look at Anne of Cleves and realized he’d made a huge mistake!  Whether it was her looks or her personality, Henry was already searching for an exit plan before they had even tied the knot.  They lasted barely six months and apparently, the marriage was not even consummated.

21. His Sister's Maid Caught His Eye - she was soon in his bed

Image source: WikiWand
One of Henry's 'lady friends' was Jane Popincourt who was the maid of his sister, Mary.  He was seen dancing with her and it is thought she danced straight into his bed.  Jane was refused entry to France by King Louis XII, due to her immorality.  Henry sorted it by gifting her £100, a fortune by today's standards.

22. Adultery Was His Middle Name - he couldn't stop!

Image source: PlanBee
An entry in the Privy Papers for 1537 by William Webbe claimed that Henry had stolen away his mistress and enjoyed her favours - how polite!  The names of various other women have been proposed as mistresses of Henry or as mothers of  his illegitimate children.

23. Eyes Wandered When His Wife Was Pregnant - as did his hands!

Image source: History On The Net
Couples were supposed to refrain from sleeping together during part or all of the wife’s pregnancies, and it was during Catherine of Aragon’s first confinement that King Henry’s court was rocked by a scandal.  It implicated him with Anne Hastings, one of his wife’s waiting women.

24. He Relied On Discretion Of Friends - to keep his sordid secrets

Image source: The Tudor Society
Despite living at the heart of a busy court, Henry had lots of opportunities for romance. He drew on the discretion of his friends, such as William Compton, whose house in Thames Street provided a private location for liaisons, accessible by barge.  It was all very cloak and dagger!

25. His Mistress Gave Him A Son .... and he acknowledged it!

Image source: HistoryExtra
In 1519, Henry's mistress Bessie Blount gave birth to his son. She named him after his father and young Henry Fitzroy became the scandal of the English Court.  If a king gave birth to an illegitimate child, they wouldn't admit it but Henry proudly acknowledged the boy as his own!

26. Dancing Was His Convenient Hobby -so he could 'borrow' maids of honour

Image source: HistoryExtras
Even under the scrutiny of his courtiers, Henry found the perfect vehicle for his many flirtations.  His love of masques and dancing gave him a licence for intimacy and he would borrow maids of honour to rehearse elaborate pageants that required dancing, costumes and song, the wording being very suggestive.

27. Anne Boleyn Wasn't That Interested - and it drove him crazy

Image source: National Geographic
When it comes to Henry’s relationship with Anne Boleyn, a mystery arises. Apparently, it was Anne’s refusal that maintained Henry’s interest in her.  Story has it that seven years before their secret marriage, Anne refused to consummate her relationship with the King.

28. Menopause Was An Inconvenience - he needed a son

Image source: Bio.com
Catherine had gone through the menopause in around 1525 and Anne didn't conceive until the end of 1532.  As Henry was more than keen to have a son and heir,, it's hard to believe that he would have remained celibate throughout this period - so who was he sleeping with?  The list will have been as long as your arm!.

29. He Made His Wife His Sister - confusing!

Image source: HistoryExtra
In one of the most awkward titles in history, after Henry had annulled his marriage to Anne of Cleves, he dubbed her “
The King’s Sister
.”  That’s just about as bad as it can get!  This meant he could carry on cavorting with no conscience (not that he had one anyway). Anne would end up getting the last laugh as she was one of the rare wives who managed to outlive Henry VIII.

30. His Next Wife Was The Youngest Yet - even by his standards

Image source: All Thats Interesting
Whatever it was, Anne of Cleves just didn’t do it for 46 year old Henry.  However, a mere 17 year old girl by the name of Catherine Howard, certainly did!  Henry realized that political marriages weren’t for him.  They never worked out so he went back to marrying whoever he had the hots for!

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