Henry VIII Wives – Why did Henry VIII Have 6 Wives?

Henry VIII Wives – Tudor History

Why did Henry VIII have six wives? Henry VIII six wives

Portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Tudor period in England  *1485 and 1603 was marked by the transition from Middle Ages to the early Modern period.

Who were Henry VIII Six Wives?

        1. Katherine of Aragon.
        2. Anne Boleyn.
        3. Jane Seymour.
        4. Anne of Cleves.
        5. Kathryn Howard.
        6. Catherine Parr.


How many of Henry VIII six wives did he have beheaded?

Henry VIII had two of his six wives beheaded – Anne Boleyn m.1533 – 1536 (Executed) and Katherine Howard m.1540 – 1542.

  • Catherine of Aragon m. 1509 – 1553 (Marriage Annulled)
  • Anne Boleyn m.1533 – 1536 (Executed)
  • Jane Seymour m.1536 – 1537 (Died)
  • Anne of Cleves m.1540 (Marriage Annulled)
  • Kathryn Howard m.1540 – 1542 (Executed)
  • Katherine Parr m. 1542 – 1547 (Widowed)

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Henry VIII was among the most notable and instrumental Tudor monarchs. He was the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty who ruled over England from 1509 to 1547.

Henry VIII famously married a total of six times, something which became a vital historical point as few other European monarchs in medieval ages could match this feat.


However, Henry didn’t marry all his wives for a single motive. Instead, he had a multitude of motives for marrying so many times.

Here are some of the key reasons why Henry VIII married six times

In Search for an Heir – Henry Viii Spouse

Henry VIII’s first wife was Catherine of Aragon. She remained married to Henry VIII for nearly 24 years. Catherine gave birth to six children but only a daughter, Mary, survived.

Upon her failure to produce a male heir, Henry was disappointed and thus decided to pursue a second marriage. However, he met strong resistance when he attempted to have his marriage with Catherine annulled.


Pope, cardinal and bishop. Supreme catholic priests in cassocks.

The attempt incurred him the disfavor of the Catholic Church. In reciprocating it, Henry VIII broke away from the Church and proclaimed a separate Church of England.

For Love – Henry VIII Spouse

Henry’s second marriage to Anne Boleyn served two purposes. He wanted a male heir and hoped that a second wife may be able to secure it for him. He also loved Boleyn and had been courting her for several years.

After having his marriage with Catherine annulled, Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. However, this second marriage dashed both his ambitions.

Boleyn gave birth to a daughter who would become Queen Elizabeth but she failed to produce a male heir. Ultimately, Henry VIII lost the love he had once felt for her and had her executed.

Henry also married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, because he had fallen in love with her. Like Anne Boleyn, this romantic episode also ended in the execution of his wife over various charges.


For Political Reasons

When Henry VIII married a fourth time, it was to Anne of Cleve’s who hailed from Protestant Germany. Henry had already broken away from the Catholic Church.

With this marriage, he hoped to forge a political alliance with the Protestant princes of Germany who were also opposed to the Church.

However, soon after marrying Anne of Cleve’s, Henry VIII realized that he didn’t need the alliance after all.

So he had his marriage to Anne of Cleve’s annulled.

For Companionship – Henry VIII wives

Towards the later part of his life, Henry VIII had grown ill and faced a variety of health problems. He felt a need to have a companion. It was this that prompted Henry VIII to marry a sixth time, this time to Katherine Parr.

When Henry died in 1547, Parr was still alive. During his life, she played a vital role in bringing the king and his daughters closer. She married again after Henry’s death. Her new husband was Thomas Seymour. However, she died within a year of Henry in 1548.