Happy Birthday, Anna of Cleves and Henry VIII!

by Heather R. Darsie On this day of 28 June in 1515, a little baby girl was born in the Holy Roman Empire whose life would be dramatically shaped by international politics. The baby was christened, “Anna,” after her paternal aunt. “Anna” was a family name on her maternal side, as well. Anna of Cleves’ great-grandmother through Maria of Juelich-Berg was Anna of Saxony. Anna … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Anna of Cleves and Henry VIII!

Anna of Cleves is Sent to Richmond

by Heather R. Darsie On 24 June 1540, Henry VIII of England sent his new wife to his palace of Richmond. 24 June was a Monday, and the couple’s joint birthday that Friday, 28 June. Henry, who was terrified of illnesses, told Anna the move was for her safety. The Plague and the dreaded English Sweat surged in the summertime. Anna, having no reason to … Continue reading Anna of Cleves is Sent to Richmond

The Scandalous Marriage of Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther

by Heather R. Darsie On 13 June 1525, forty-one-year-old Martin Luther married twenty-six-year old Katharina von Bora. Katharina was given to the Church at a young age. By her early twenties, she and several other nuns in the Marienthron convent were familiar with Luther’s teachings and wished to practice them. They became fed up with religious life, and wanted to leave the convent. Katharina von … Continue reading The Scandalous Marriage of Katharina von Bora and Martin Luther

The First Cracks in Anna of Cleves’ Marriage to Henry VIII

By late February 1540, it was already obvious to Henry VIII that the political situation between Anna of Cleves brother, the young Duke Wilhelm, and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was serious. Most members of Anna’s German party who came with her across Imperial and French territory to England had left for the United Duchies of Juelich-Cleves-Berg. Henry faced the very real concern that his … Continue reading The First Cracks in Anna of Cleves’ Marriage to Henry VIII

Poor Relief in Reformation England, Germany, and the Netherlands

by Heather R. Darsie** Attempts at providing poor relief increased in the late 16th century. Some of the more overt changes happened in Elizabethan England, and in the Netherlands and Germany. This is in part due to religious changes.  In this essay, trends in charitable giving and social changes in poor relief due to the Reformation in England, Germany, and the Netherlands are explored. Poverty … Continue reading Poor Relief in Reformation England, Germany, and the Netherlands

When Henry Met Anna: The German Account

by Heather R. Darsie On 1 January 1540, Henry VIII surprised his new bride, Anna of Cleves. For centuries, it was believed that Henry VIII found Anna of Cleves ugly at worst and was not attracted to her at best. The main sources for this rumor were depositions specifically created for the annulment of their marriage. The depositions were taken in June and July 1540, … Continue reading When Henry Met Anna: The German Account

The Increasing Horrors of War in 16th Century Western Europe

by Heather R. Darsie The 16th century saw rapid changes in military capabilities. The medieval knight and a knight’s form of armor and fighting reached peak efficiency by around 1450. After 1450, advances in military science made armor more and more vulnerable. The advent of pike attacks and guns made armor almost ineffective, and the flat walls of many fortifications made excellent targets for canon … Continue reading The Increasing Horrors of War in 16th Century Western Europe

16th Century Religious Reformation: What Did the Term “Reform” Mean?

by Heather R. Darsie The idea of ‘reform’ is multifaceted, with its meaning changing from Reformer to Reformer. This article looks at the German Martin Luther’s,  itinerant German-turned-Swiss preacher Melchior Hoffman’s, and Swiss Heinrich Bullinger’s basic thoughts on church reform. It is by no means inclusive of all their ideas, but is hopefully a springboard for further discussion. Martin Luther, who famously posted his 95 … Continue reading 16th Century Religious Reformation: What Did the Term “Reform” Mean?

Elector Johann Friedrich: Anna of Cleves’ Powerful Brother-in-Law

by Heather R. Darsie Please note that this article first appeared at On the Tudor Trail. Johann Friedrich Wettin, Elector of Saxony, was born 30 June 1503 to Elector John of Saxony and his first wife Sophia of Mecklenburg. Sadly, Sophia passed away on 12 July 1503, shortly after Johann Friedrich’s birth.  Johann Friedrich was born in Torgau, Saxony. His father married again, bringing Johann Friedrich … Continue reading Elector Johann Friedrich: Anna of Cleves’ Powerful Brother-in-Law

If by Land or by Sea

by Heather R. Darsie Anne of Cleves by Hans Holbein, 1539 Anna von Kleve, known to English speakers as Anne of Cleves, left her homeland in December 1539 to join her new husband, Henry VIII of England. The two had been married by proxy a couple months earlier, in October. After Henry successfully negotiated the marriage alliance with Anna’s younger brother Wilhelm, Duke of Cleves … Continue reading If by Land or by Sea