His first marriage to Catherine was a political choice for alliance with Spain. Jane, his third wife, he seems to have held in affection if not passion. Anne of Cleves he sent packing home with an annulment once he'd actually met her. Of the final two Catherines, he executed Catherine Howard while Catherine Parr acted more as a caregiver than wife because by then he was old, obese, syphilitic and covered
However, one of his marriages has passed through time as a symbol of romance-his second marriage to Anne Boleyn. For her he broke from the Roman Catholic Church and became head of the new
Church of England. Not too many love affairs have inspired a new
Anne Boleyn was the one who managed to captivate his heart. She was charming enough and cunning enough to hold out for marriage before succumbing to his advances. But then she had her older sister Mary, once Henry's mistress, as an example of how not to
One of the oldest love songs we know, "Greensleeves," has been attributed to Henry, although the authorship is unproven. The words certainly seem to apply to their situation.
He sang for her, wrote poetry for her and wooed her in the best romantic fashion of "courtly love" of that age.
Did she love him in return? It's difficult to separate the man from the crown. She assuredly loved the package deal that made her Queen. In his early years before his fast and rich living ruined his health, Henry was a handsome man. Perhaps she did love him.
The end was a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Anne
somehow exchanged the shrewdness that made her Queen for shrewishness and proceeded to annoy the wrong people who then preyed on Henry's jealousy as well as his practical need for an heir.
Anne died by beheading. A tragic romance if the story ended
there. Somehow Henry's remaining four marriages seem anti-climatic.
Sometimes it's difficult to know when to stop with a romance- when they fall in love, when they get married, after a long life together, till death do us part?
Henry just didn't know when to quit. But then if you've been
married six times, you must be an optimist if not a romantic.